At times, urgent out-of-home care is required for a range of unexpected reasons to ensure a child's safety. In circumstances where unexpected care is required, a child may be placed in the care of a family member or other person significant to the child who is not already approved as a carer under s.79(2)(a) of the Children and Community Services Act 2004 (the Act) in accordance with regulation 4 of the Children and Community Services Regulations 2006 (Regulations). This is referred to as an interim placement arrangement and requires checks on the person providing the care to determine whether the arrangement is safe for the child. These carers are referred to as "interim carers".
Unlike foster carers, who anticipate and expect the assessment process before they can care for a child, interim carers often assume this responsibility in unexpected circumstances. It takes time for interim carers to adjust to the impact of this on all aspects of their lives, including establishing practical arrangements.
Before, but within 5 working days of, a child entering an interim placement, conduct initial safety checks and assessment in accordance with regulation 4A of the Regulations.
A decision about whether to continue with the carer assessment must be made within 5 working days of the child entering the interim placement.
If the initial steps are not completed within 5 working days, the child must enter a new placement arrangement.
If the carer is not approved in accordance with regulation 4 of the Regulations within 6 months, the child must be moved to a new placement arrangement.
Decisions regarding Interim placements for Aboriginal children must adhere to the Child Placement Principle and decisions regarding interim placements for culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) children must adhere to the guidelines as set out in s. 80 of the Act. For more information, see Chapter 3.4 – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle and Guidelines for the placement of children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
Interim placements must be made in accordance with the best interests of the child.
Section 3 of the Children and Community Services Act 2004 (the Act) defines 'family'.
'Significant other' is not defined in the Act but includes adults who:
The initial safety assessment
must include initial checks to help to determine whether the placement arrangement is safe. The interim placement arrangement
checklist (in related resources) outlines the mandatory requirements, which include the requirements in regulation 4A of the Regulations as well as the following:
Before making a placement arrangement for an Aboriginal child, including an interim placement, you
must consult with:
Initial Safety Checks – Interim carer and Household Members 18+ years
Before the child enters the interim placement arrangement, the following guidance represents the minimum tasks required prior to the completion of 3(a-d) in the regulations.
Complete a search of Assist and the FDV Triage Application for information about the family member, significant other and any other adult household members. If the search reveals adverse information that suggests the applicant may be unsuitable to care for the child, further assessment should not proceed unless the Assistant District Director or District Director has considered the information and approves the continuation of the assessment.
Before, or as soon as practicable but within 5 working days of, a child entering the interim placement arrangement the proposed interim carer
must complete the:
Form 395 Record Check Consent Form (related resources)
must be signed by the interim carer and as a matter of policy, by all other adults in the household. All children ten years of age and above who live in the household are required to be listed in the applicant's
Form 395. The signed forms
must be sent to the Screening Unit the next working day. Where this does not occur, all adults in the household should be present at the initial visit and you or another officer
must return the following working day to obtain the completed statutory declaration and record check consent forms.
As part of the initial assessment when taking the child to the home (or preferably before the interim placement arrangement occurs) a home and environment assessment to be undertaken and completion of
Form 715 - Environmental Checklist for Foster Care Applicants (related resources)
must be undertaken. If the Statewide Referral and Response Service has arranged the placement arrangement, district staff
must conduct the home visit the next working day.
A Working with Children (WWC) Check application
must be lodged within five days of a child in the CEO's care entering an interim placement arrangement.
Provide an application form for a WWC Check if the applicant does not have a current WWC Card. Also provide a separate WWC application for their spouse or de-facto partner (if applicable) and any other adult household members. Complete part 6 and 7 of the application and assist the applicant to complete the other sections. Advise the applicant that they must submit this form within five days of the child entering their care and to advise the SCPW when it is submitted so the receipt number can be listed on
If the applicant has a current WWC Card, record the card number and expiry date on
Form 560. For further information refer to Chapter 3.1 – Working with Children Card - application and renewal requirements for carers.
Complete the relevant forms (related resources). This form includes prompt questions to assess safety and to begin to assess the carer against the competencies outlined in regulation 4. Assessing an individual against these competencies begins prior, or within 24 hours of a child's placement and forms the basis of a full carer assessment if the placement arrangement continues past the first five days.
When assessing the child's safety in the proposed interim placement, you should consider initial safety checks and assessment including:
Outcome of Assist and Family and Domestic Violence Incident Reports Search for applicants and household members and how any risk identified will be managed (Competency 2 and 5)
Are there any regular visitors to the home and outcome of checking Department's client records and how any risk identified will be managed (Competency 2)
Any issues identified from the environmental checklist and sighting where the child will be sleeping. Include how these issues will be managed (Competency 2)
How the applicants plan to manage informal contact with the child's family within the requirements of the Departments 2 and 3
How long the applicants are able to care for the child (Competency 1), and
How the applicants plan to keep the child connected to culture, community and Country in the first five days of placement (Competency 1).
Subject to their age and level of understanding, children must be provided the opportunity to participate in any important decisions affecting them, including planning for interim arrangements. Subject to their age and ability, provide relevant information in a manner and language that they understand.
When the relevant forms (see related resources) are completed, the Assistant District Director or District Director decides whether to approve the interim placement. If the placement is not approved, the child
must not enter a placement arrangement with the individual and an alternative arrangement must be sought.
Where the Assistant District Director or District Director has approved the interim placement and the child enters an interim placement with the applicant, SCPWs must:
A case planning decision about whether to proceed with a carer assessment for ongoing care
must be made within five days of the child's interim placement.
This decision is based on the applicant's willingness to provide ongoing care, consent to complete record checks and screenings, and an initial safety check and assessment that this is a viable care arrangement. The carer must be told that they are not yet an 'approved carer' until they have undergone a full carer assessment.
If a decision is made not to continue, an alternative placement must be identified, and the child moved. The details must be updated in Assist and the Screening Unit advised.
If a decision is made to proceed with the interim placement, you must complete assessment of the family or significant other carer.
If the decision is made not to proceed or an assessment is not approved within 6 months, the child must enter an alternative care arrangement. For further information refer to the Interim Placement Policy (related resources) and Chapter 3.1 – Family or Significant Other Care.
If the decision is for the carer assessment to proceed, SCPWs must confirm the WWC Check was applied for within five working days, record the details on Form 560, and update Assist with the application number and date lodged.
If a WWC Check has not been applied for, this must occur immediately or an alternative placement must be arranged for the child.
Learning and development is central to supporting interim placement arrangements. While this is anticipated by foster carers, it may be viewed as unnecessary and unwelcome by family or significant others who become interim carers. When engaging interim carers, ensure you are patient and supportive of learning.
Aboriginal family who become interim carers often have multiple family, work and cultural responsibilities to manage alongside any engagement with the Department. The impact of harmful policies that led to the Stolen Generations may mean that it is exceptionally difficult to consider being "assessed" by the Department.
You should invest time with Aboriginal family interim carers to explore cultural differences including Aboriginal child rearing practices to prevent bias during assessment and build trust and rapport.
For more information on Carer Support Planning, refer to Chapter 3.1 – Family or Significant Other Care.