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3.4.30 Care Plan Decisions and the Care Plan Review Panel

Last Modified: 29-Apr-2022 Review Date: N/A

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Legislation

Overview

Every child in the CEO's care must have a Care Plan. A Care Plan is a written plan that identifies the needs of the child, outlines the steps or measures to be taken to address those needs, and sets out decisions about the care of the child.

Where a Care Plan is approved and a decision within the Care plan is contested and cannot be resolved within the district in the first instance, the matter is referred to the Care Plan Review Panel (the Panel), established by the CEO, for independent review. The information below provides guidance on how to prepare for attending a review of a Care Planning decision by the Panel.  

Note:  CEO refers to the Chief Executive Officer of the Department.


Process Maps

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Information and Instructions

  • Care Planning
  • The Care Plan Review Panel
  • Application for a Review of a Decision
  • Review of Applications
  • Following Written Notice of the CEO Decision
  • Care Planning

    When managing the Care Plan for a child in the CEO's care, you must

    • complete a review of the Care Plan at least every 12 months. The views and wishes of the child, their parents, carers and other people the CEO considers to have a direct and significant in the wellbeing of the child (this may include siblings and other family members), must be considered during the review process.

    • modify the Care Plan if there is a change in care arrangements; where there is new information or a change in circumstances that may influence the planning decisions for the child.

    • Provide a copy of the approved Care Plan (where it is reviewed or modified) to the child, their parents, carers and anyone else who has a direct and significant interest in the child's wellbeing. A copy of the Care Plan should not be provided to a person if the CEO considers this would pose an unacceptable risk to the safety of the child or another person.

    For more information on Care Planning, see Chapter 3.4 Care planning


    A Care Planning decision is any decision set out in a Care Plan, except a Secure Care decision (sections 88G & 91 of the Children and Communities Services Act 2004 (the Act)).  
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    The Care Plan Review Panel

    During a review, the Panel provides applicants, the child or young person, other people significant to the child, including representatives from the district responsible for case management, with an opportunity to be heard and discuss what they believe is in the best interests of the child or young person.

    The Standing Procedures for the Care Plan Review Panel are a combination of legislative requirements and directions of the CEO as to the Panel's procedure and how reviews are undertaken.

    Care Plan Review Panel membership

    • At a minimum, the Panel must consist of a chairperson and two members.
    • Panel members must be external to the Department.
    • The chairperson of the Panel must be legally qualified.
    • There is a requirement that there be at least one Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Panel Member available to sit on a Panel who is involved in reviewing Care Planning decisions for an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander child.

    The Department is required to provide the Panel with support services under s.92(8) of the Act. This support is managed by the Specialist Child Protection Unit (SCPU) and includes:

    • a Senior Advisor for the Panel (Manager – Case Practice)
    • an Administrative Support Officer who provides secretariat services, and
    • oversight of applications for review of Care Planning decisions. 
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    Application for a Review of a Decision

    Who can apply for a review?

    The following people can apply for a review-

    • the child
    • a parent of the child
    • any carer of the child, and
    • any other person considered by the CEO to have a direct and significant interest in the wellbeing of the child (s93 of the Act).

    The people mentioned above must be provided with a copy of the Care Plan, including Care Plan reviews or modifications as soon as practicable (preferably within 14 working days) after preparing or modifying the Care Plan.

    You should provide the people mentioned above with information about the Panel and how to apply for review of Care Planning decisions.  You should maintain records including dates of the distribution of Care Plans and modified Care Plans in the child's case file.

    Under s.89(7) of the Act, you can withhold a copy of the child's Care Plan or modified Care Plan if providing the plan to a person would pose an unacceptable risk to the safety of the child or another person.

    If a decision is made to withhold a copy of the Care Plan from someone, the person must be advised of the reason for the decision in writing and be provided with avenues to seek review if they so choose. 


    If individuals are concerned or have objections about Care Planning decisions, you should encourage them to discuss their concerns with you, the Team Leader and the chair of the Care Planning meeting to determine if the issues can be resolved. This discussion is not mandatory but may assist the individual to better understand what led to the decision.

    There may be an opportunity to negotiate changes to the Care Plan during this discussion. Regardless of the outcome, individuals can then still apply to have Care Planning decisions reviewed by the Panel.

    If changes to a decision are made following a discussion with the chair of the Care Plan, you must provide notification of the changes or modified Care Planning decisions in writing to the people mentioned above.  

    Making an application for a Care Planning decision review

    Where a party to the Care Plan disagrees with a decision or modification to a decision, they can apply to the CEO for a review which will be undertaken independently by the Panel. The child, parents, carers or other individuals significant to the child can also make an application if a decision is made to not supply them with a copy of the child's Care Plan. The Panel reviews the decisions and provides recommendations back to the CEO (or delegate) who then will confirm, vary, or reverse the Care Planning decision, substitute another decision, or re-refer the matter to the Panel for further consideration and report. 

    The review of Care Planning decisions and functions of the Panel are provided for in sections 92, 93, 94 and 95 of the Act.

    If a child wishes to apply for a review of a Care Planning decision, refer them to the Advocate for Children in Care for assistance, support, and advice. You may wish to discuss with the Advocate first before referring the child.

    The Advocate can be contacted via email at: advocate@communities.wa.gov.au


    You should inform all parties that to apply for a review of a Care Planning decision, they must apply within 14 days of the date the Care Plan (reviewed or modified) was received, or the date written notice of the decision to not provide a copy of the Care Plan or modification was received.  In special circumstances, the CEO or delegate may extend this period. For information on delegated authority under the Act, see the Instrument of Delegation (related resources).   

    All applications must be in writing and set out what decisions they are seeking to be reviewed and the reasons a review is being sought.

    There are three application forms available:

      • Form 417 – Application for a Review of Decision Not to Provide a Care Plan or Modification
      • Form 418 – Application for a Review of a Care Planning Decision
      • Form 419 – Application by a Child or Young Person for Review of a Care Planning Decision

    Applications to review a Care Plan decision by the Panel should be emailed to CRP@communities.wa.gov.au or forwarded to: 

    The Secretariat

    Care Plan Review Panel

    Department for Communities

    Locked Bag 5000

    Fremantle WA 6959 

    A person can submit their written application in other forms, if it identifies the decisions to be reviewed and why the review is being sought.

    Where a person cannot complete a written application due to language, disability, or other barriers, they can contact the Panel Secretariat to request assistance via:


    Decisions that can be reviewed by the Panel

    Care Planning decisions made about a child in the CEO's care (but not a child in provisional protection and care) can be reviewed by the Panel. Care Planning decisions that can be reviewed by the Panel include:

      • Decisions about care arrangements.
      • Decisions about contact between the child and a parent, sibling or other family member of the child, or any other person who is significant to the child.
      • Decisions about the needs of the child including support services to be provided to the child.

    Decisions that cannot be reviewed by the Panel

    The Panel cannot review the following:

      • Any decision about a child who is in provisional care (s 89(3) of the Act).
      • Any decision about a child entering or remaining in Secure Care (s 91 of the Act).
      • Any decision or order made by the Court.
      • A decision by the Department about whether to apply for a Protection Order.  
      • Any complaint about a service provided, or not provided by the Department.

    For information on the complaints process, see Chapter 4.1 Complaints management. 

    If there is an application before the Children's Court to revoke and replace a protection order, Care Planning decisions, such as those referring to a child's care arrangement, remain in force until the new application has been determined by the Court. These Care Planning decisions can subsequently be reviewed by the Panel.

    If during the revoke and replace proceedings, an interim order is made which relates to a Care Plan decision under review, the Panel will suspend the review. 


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    Review of Applications

    ​Applications are referred to the chairperson of the Panel to confirm if a hearing will be granted. Hearings are generally scheduled within 3-6 weeks of the CEO or delegated officer's referral for review.

    The Panel must convene a hearing unless the chairperson determines a hearing is unnecessary because:

    • the Panel has recently reviewed the same matter and no new facts or information have been presented, or
    • the issues are narrow and can be determined without the need for a hearing.

    If the chairperson decides a hearing is unnecessary, written notice of this decision and the reasons for it must be provided by the Panel Secretariat.

    Written notice of the hearing

    The Panel Secretariat will advise of the application, details of decisions for review, and the date and location of the hearing once granted in writing to the following individuals:

    • the applicant;
    • any other person considered by the CEO to have a direct and significant interest in the child's wellbeing; and
    • the officer who chaired the Care Plan meeting/s, case manager, Team Leader) and District Director.   

    The interested parties and district representatives are invited to submit materials for consideration to the Panel (Written Submissions) prior to the hearing.

    All parties to the hearing are provided with information about the hearing and review process.

    Written submissions

    Where an applicant, interested party, or district worker wish to provide information for consideration on Care Planning decisions prior to the hearing, a written submission can be made. Written submissions are an opportunity for all parties to be heard during hearings.

    When advising others on how to complete a written submission or undertaking one yourself, you should:

    • include contextual information relating to the Care Planning decision being reviewed

    • explain why the decision made was in the best interests of the child

    • be aware that a copy of your written submission will be provided to the applicant prior to the hearing. This will allow the applicant to respond during the hearing

    • be aware that the applicant can also provide a written submission. They will be asked to detail why they believe the decision was not in the child's best interests. This will be provided to you so you can respond during the hearing

    • be aware that other interested parties can also provide a written submission to the Panel. You will be provided a summary of these only

    • submit your written submission to the Panel at least 10 days before the hearing via email at CRP@communities.wa.gov.au, and

    • advise the applicant and any other interested party that if they are going to submit a written submission, they should send it via the above email address at least 10 days before the hearing.

    The Panel Secretariat will exchange any district or applicant written submissions at least five working days before the hearing date. The Panel chair has the discretion to choose not to distribute information on the following grounds:

    (a) the disclosure endangers, or is likely to endanger, a person's safety or psychological health;

    (b) it is a record of confidential counselling with a child or a child's relative and the Chairperson reasonably believes that the information is not materially relevant to the Panel proceedings; or

    (c) it is information personal to a child, a child's relative or a child's carer and the Chairperson reasonably believes that it is not materially relevant to the Panel proceedings. (clause 33 Standing Procedures).

    How to prepare for hearings

    Prepare your written submission based on the Written Submission Template (related resources). The template guides you to include relevant case background information, a response to the application to the Panel, and any additional information.

    Consider who is best placed to represent the district at the hearing. At minimum, the case manager, Team Leader, and the chair of the Care Plan meeting should attend. The District Director or Assistant District Director may choose to attend, particularly for applications regarding decisions about a care arrangement. Consider if specialist staff, such as an Aboriginal Practice Leader or district psychologist should attend, particularly if they have provided consultation on the decision being reviewed.

    Review the application and the applicant's written submission if provided and respond to any points that require clarification during the hearing.

    Reflect on the decision subject to the review and the rationale for this decision. For example, if the decision relates to contact and supervision requirements, prepare to respond to questions about who is supervising the contact, location, and frequency. Consider what would need to change for contact to be unsupervised and the timeframe this could be achieved in.

    Case Management when an application is lodged or is in progress

    Discuss any key changes made during a formal hearing or review meeting with any party not present. This conversation should occur within one week of the hearing or review. Any new Care Planning decisions should not be implemented within 14 calendar days of distributing the Care Plan, unless the changes are urgent or need to be implemented sooner for safety reasons.

    Even where a Care Planning decision is being reviewed, s.93(8) of the Act states that the decision continues to have effect, unless the CEO or their delegate directs otherwise. This means you can implement Care Planning decisions even if an application for review or an outcome of that review is pending.

    The CEO or their delegate may direct a decision to be suspended until the Panel concludes deliberation if the implementation of the decision:

    • may disadvantage or pose a risk to the child

    • will change the status quo of the previous plan, and/or,

    • will make the Panel's review redundant. This is particularly relevant for applications regarding proposed changes for a child's care arrangement. You should consult and seek approval from your Regional Executive Director in these cases.

    Hearings

    Panel hearings are to be conducted in a fair and impartial manner that is culturally appropriate, respectful and sensitive to the relationships of the parties attending the hearing given their role in the ongoing care and planning for the child.

    As deemed appropriate by the case and circumstances, hearings should be held with as minimal formality as possible. It is preferable for the Panel to meet with each party in person, but parties can link in via telephone or video conference as needed.

    You should place all documents on the child's case file and child history file for the Panel.  Access to the child's files is coordinated by the Senior Advisor or Secretariat of the Panel.

    Who is present during the hearing

    In addition to Panel members, Departmental officers independent of the district will be present during the hearing. These individuals do not take part in the Panel deliberations and may include:

    • The Panel Secretariat: Their role is to maintain a record of proceedings from the hearing. This is not a transcript, but a summary of key points raised by the applicant, interested parties and district representatives. 

    • A Senior Advisor: They are present to provide advice to the Panel on any queries on departmental practices or policies.

    • An Aboriginal Senior Advisor: Who will be present for hearings regarding Aboriginal children in the CEO's care.  

    • A person with specific relevant background: In cases relating to a child from a culturally or linguistically diverse background, the Panel may seek advice from a person with relevant background.

    The Panel may invite a person with relevant knowledge or expertise to assist the Panel with a particular application. Persons invited to assist the Panel are not members of the Panel and are not permitted to be involved in Panel deliberations.

    If a party requests an interpreter or the Panel considers an interpreter is required (including an AUSLAN interpreter), the hearing should not proceed until an interpreter is present, ideally in person but where that is not possible via telephone conference /video link. It is the responsibility of the Panel Secretariat / Senior Adviser to organise any interpreters required for the Hearing. For more information, refer to Chapter 4.2. – Language Services Booking and Payment.

    Role of support persons during hearings

    Applicants and interested parties can bring a support person to the hearing. A support person may be a family member, friend, support worker, advocate or lawyer.

    During the hearing, applicants are encouraged to describe the basis for their application and answer questions of the Panel in their own words. The Chair should allow the support person to assist the applicant in presenting his/her views if required. The support person can take notes.

    The hearing schedule

    The Panel meets with the applicant first to hear their submission. Interested parties invited to the hearing meet with the Panel individually to provide their views on the application.

    The applicant will be asked to re-attend with district representatives to hear the written submissions and summaries of feedback from other interested parties. Written submissions and feedback summaries do not reflect the position of the Panel but are used during deliberation.

    The district representatives will be asked to respond to and discuss their rationale for the Care Planning decision, including why this decision was in the child's best interests.

    The applicant will be provided the opportunity to ask the district representatives any questions in relation to the district's submission.

    The Panel must ensure that a party is made aware of any relevant allegation or other matter of a detrimental nature regarding them upon which the Panel may base a conclusion or recommendation.

    All parties to the hearing can take notes during the hearing but audio and visual recording is not permitted.

    Panel deliberations and report

    The Panel will consider the written submissions, verbal submissions, and any other relevant materials provided during the hearing as part of their deliberations.

    The Panel observes the principles and relevant sections of the Act, including those referring to the Child Placement Principle, in carrying out its functions. For more information on the principles, see the Introduction to the Casework Practice Manual.

    The Panel may adjourn a hearing and request additional information before providing recommendations to the CEO. At the conclusion of the hearing and deliberations, the Panel will prepare a report for the CEO with its recommendations and a rationale for how it came to these findings. Wherever possible, the Panel will provide their report to the CEO or their delegate within 21 working days.

    CEO decision and written notice of the decision

    The CEO or delegate will consider the Panel's recommendations alongside other relevant information and make a decision based upon the best interests of the child. The CEO or delegate must:

    • confirm, vary, or reverse the Care Planning decision or decision made under section 89(7)
    • substitute another decision for the Care Planning decision, or
    • refer the matter back to the Panel for further consideration and report.

    The time for this review and decision process is additional to the 21 days noted above.

    The CEO or their delegate should provide written notice of their decision and reasons why to the applicant, interested parties, and the district representatives.

    State Administrative Tribunal

    If a party is dissatisfied with the CEO's review of the decision, they can seek a review of the decision through the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT)  (s.94 of the Act). 

    If a SAT review results in the modification of the child's Care Plan, this modification must be reflected in the Care Plan for 12 months unless the CEO is satisfied that there has been a significant change in the facts or circumstances of the case or new facts or circumstances have arisen following the SAT decision.


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    Following Written Notice of the CEO Decision

    ​A decision by the CEO or their delegate following a review by the Panel constitutes an instruction to the district and must be implemented as soon as practicable. You should make any modifications to the Care Plan and notify the child, parents, carers, and other individuals significant to the child as soon as possible.  You should discuss the outcome and impact of the decision on the child's care and on case management.

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