The Department for Child Protection (DCP) uses a ‘care team approach’ when working with children and young people and their families. A child’s care team includes the child or young person, family members, carers, the DCP case worker and other professionals, such as therapists, educators or kinship support workers, who may be involved in supporting the child or young person and their carers.
The child’s care team works together to make decisions, ensuring that the child or young person’s needs and best interests are identified and addressed. This is managed through the development, implementation and review of the child’s case plan.
There are a wide range of considerations that must be made by DCP case workers when seeking a placement for a child or young person. These include, but are not limited to, a child or young person’s connections to their family and community, their physical and mental health needs, their culture, disability, behaviour, language, religion, daily routine and likes and dislikes.
The most important factor when deciding on the most suitable placement is ensuring the child or young person is protected from harm, and is placed in a safe, nurturing, stable and secure environment.
Consideration must also be given to the impact of the placement on any existing children or young people in a placement and whether the placement poses any risks to the safety of the carer or other children and young people in the household.
For Aboriginal children and young people, placement decisions must follow the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle, which supports the placement of Aboriginal children with members of their family or community wherever possible. This helps ensure that Aboriginal children maintain their connections to family, community and Country.
Promoting safety and stability for children and young people is the cornerstone of the department’s practice approach. Planning for permanence recognises that children need consistent, predictable and loving relationships as well as a sense of connectedness and belonging to family and community.
The early years of a child’s life are the most crucial for developing attachment relationships and permanence and stability supports children to develop these relationships with their caregivers. Children who experience constant change can have compromised outcomes in wellbeing, attachment, self-esteem, development of identity and access to education and health care.
Children and young people require a stable foundation from which their relationships, identity, values and cultural knowledge can develop. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people, this foundation may be formed through multiple attachments with caregivers and relationships within extended family, kinship and community networks.
The DCP case worker will work together with the people closest to the child or young person to ensure they are well cared for and have every opportunity to reach their potential. The amount of contact you have with the DCP case worker will depend on the individual needs and circumstances of the child or young person.
Where an assessment has found there is a possibility that the child or young person may be reunified with their biological parents, the caseworker will work closely with the child or young person, the carer, family and other services to provide intervention that ensures safety and reduces the risk of future harm.
For children and young people who are placed under long term guardianship orders, the role of the case worker is to support them to receive quality, stable care that is tailored to their needs and to ensure they feel connected and empowered.
Case planning is an important process that puts the child at the centre of everything we do. A quality case plan is based on a holistic assessment of the child and family’s needs and strengths, and ensures that any intervention is focused on achieving the best outcomes for the child or young person.
Under the child safety laws, every child in the Custody or under Guardianship of the Chief Executive must have a case plan that is developed and reviewed every six months in partnership with children, families, carers and relevant professionals. The case plan may be shared with members of the child’s care team or with services to whom the child is being referred, to ensure a shared understanding of the child’s needs.
If you have any concerns or issues, first discuss these with the child’s case worker. You can also request a meeting of the child’s care team if you believe this will be of assistance or speak with your placement support worker.
If the issue is not resolved through speaking with the case worker, ask to speak the Supervisor or the Manager of the regional office where the child or young person is allocated. If you continue to be concerned, you can make a complaint via the DCP Central Complaints Unit on 1800 003 305 or complete the online complaints form.