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Permanent care order

Permanent care order

A child subject to permanent care order is in their guardian’s care under the authority of the child protection order made by the Childrens Court. It is not an arrangement made by Child Safety using the authority of the Child Protection Act 1999section 82(1)

Attention

Child Safety’s responsibility is limited to:

  • recording a Permanent care order―case plan in ICMS soon as practicable after the order is granted
  • completing a case plan review, if requested by the child or the child’s permanent guardian
  • providing support, if requested and approved
  • providing agreed financial supports, including the fortnightly caring allowance and, in exceptional circumstances, additional financial supports.

Note

The permanent guardian will continue to receive the fortnightly caring allowance for a child.

Give information to a child, parents and guardian when a permanent care order is made

When a permanent care order is made, give the following information to the child, their parents and the permanent carer.

Give the child:

  • written notice that the order was made, including details outlined in the Child Protection Act 1999, section 63(b). Draft a letter specifically for the individual child, depending on their age and ability to understand
  • a copy of the brochure Permanent care order: Information for children and young people
  • a certified copy of the permanent care order. Keep the original order on the child’s file
  • verbal and written information about the charter of rights for a child in care and its effect (Child Protection Act 1999, schedule 1). Consider the child’s age or ability to understand when deciding how the information will be provided
  • information about the permanent guardian’s obligations under the Child Protection Act 1999,  section 79A
  • information about the complaints process in case they have concerns that the permanent guardian is not meeting their obligations
  • information about how to contact Child Safety if they have questions, concerns or want to request a review of their case plan.

Give the parents:

Give the permanent guardian:

Give either the child or permanent guardian:

  • the child’s child health passport
  • the child’s Medicare card. (Give the card to the child if they are 15 years or over and listed as the cardholder.)
  • an original or certified copy of the child’s birth certificate, if relevant. Keep one original birth certificate on the child’s file. (Refer to Obtain a birth certificate for a child.)
  • the child’s tax file number, if applicable
  • a certified copy of the child’s Aboriginality certificate, if applicable. Keep the original on the child’s file
  • the child’s NDIS documentation, if relevant, including a copy of the current plan
  • information about the Australian Government’s Transition to Independent Living Allowance (TILA) funding, if the child is 15 years or older. (Refer to Assist the young person to access Transition to Independent Living Allowance.) 

Amend the permanent guardian’s details in ICMS

When a carer is granted permanent guardianship of a child, update the following details in ICMS:

  • in the carer entity approval tab: 
    • create a new approval of carer entity type as permanent guardian
    • add the child for whom the approval applies
    • record the start date as the day the order was granted
    • record the scheduled expiry date as the order expiry date
  • in the child’s placement event, make sure the carer’s role is changed to permanent guardian. Note―the placement event must remain open in order for the permanent guardian to receive the fortnightly caring allowance for the child.

If the permanent guardian:

  • does not intend to provide a placement to another child, make sure the other current ‘carer entity’ approval is ended
  • does provide a placement to another child, make sure the current approval entity type is recorded in the carer entity approval tab.

Respond to a complaint by a child or family member

Under the Child Protection Act 1999,  section 80B, a child or a member of a child’s family may make a complaint to Child Safety if they honestly and reasonably believe a permanent guardian is not meeting their legal obligation to:

  • comply with the charter of rights for a child in care
  • provide help with the child’s transition to adulthood
  • maintain the child’s identity and connection to their culture of origin
  • maintain the child’s relationship with their parents, family members and other people significant to the child. 

The complaint may be made for the child or member of the child’s family (with their consent) by another person.

Note

The Childrens Court may have decided, when making the order, that some obligations of a permanent guardian did not apply or did not apply fully, if:

  • they were not in the child’s best interests
  • there was a significant risk to the safety of the child or anyone else living with the child.

Respond to a complaint about a permanent guardian by advising the person making the complaint that they may:

  • talk to the senior team leader or CSSC manager (of the CSSC that applied for the permanent care order)
  • contact the Complaints Unit directly on 1800 080 464 (free call). Staff at the Complaints Unit will talk to the complainant and decide whether to manage the complaint or refer the matter to the relevant region.

Respond to a request for support after a permanent care order is made

A permanent guardian may contact Child Safety to request support by asking for a review of the child’s case plan. The CSO will:

  • consult the senior team leader or senior practitioner about the request
  • arrange a meeting with the permanent guardian to discuss the request and make an assessment of the child’s support needs.

Refer to the policy Support for children in the care of long-term and permanent guardians.

Refer the permanent guardian to a family support service

If it is assessed that the required support can be provided by an intensive family support service or an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander family wellbeing service:

Provide child related costs in exceptional circumstances

In exceptional circumstances, a permanent guardian may be eligible for child-related costs if the need is identified in the child’s case plan and is considered necessary to ensure the child’s wellbeing and best interests.

Advise the permanent guardian about child support

If the permanent guardian is a relative of the child, advise them that they may be eligible for child support and can contact the Child Support Agency on 131 272 or visit the Child Support website.

Consider the high or complex support needs allowances in exceptional circumstances

In exceptional circumstances, a CSSC manager may approve the high support needs allowance or complex support needs allowance (for no more than 6 months) for a child subject to a permanent care order, if the child’s case plan shows that:

  • the child has emerging special needs
    or
  • the permanent guardian needs assistance to establish a care environment for the child to meet the child’s ongoing needs. 

Refer to the policy High support needs allowance, the procedure High support needs allowance, the policy Complex support needs allowance and the procedure Complex support needs allowance

Transition to adulthood for a child subject to a permanent care order

A young person subject to a permanent care order:

Family contact

The permanent guardian is responsible for providing the opportunity for ongoing contact between the child and the child’s family members unless otherwise ordered by the Childrens Court.

Note

Child Safety has no legal authority to facilitate or monitor family contact arrangements for a child subject to a permanent care order.

Regulation of care

Unless a permanent guardian plans to provide care to a child in the custody or guardianship of the chief executive, they are not:

Respond to other issues that may arise for a permanent guardian

Separation or divorce of permanent guardians

If permanent guardians separate or divorce, both continue to hold guardianship responsibility for the child subject to the order. They will need to negotiate plans for the child’s daily care, taking into consideration:

  • the child’s views
  • the circumstances of the separation or divorce.

Practice prompt

If a permanent guardian applies or intends to apply for a family law court order for the child, consult Court Services about the level of involvement Child Safety will have in the family law court proceedings.

Only one permanent guardian can continue to receive the fortnightly carer allowance after the separation or divorce. If the child’s daily care is to be shared, the permanent guardians will need to decide who will receive the allowance. The permanent guardian who receives the allowance may (but is not obligated to) pay part of the allowance to the other permanent guardian.

If a permanent guardian re-partners or remarries, there is no legal requirement for the new partner to be assessed or approved to care for the child by Child Safety.

Succession planning for a child subject to a permanent care order

A sole permanent guardian or a permanent guardian couple may document details of a nominated person or people they wish to be considered as the child’s guardian in the event of their death.

While their wishes are not legally binding, by informing Child Safety or recording their wishes in a will, they enable Child Safety (should it be required) to consider inviting a nominated person to apply to become an approved carer for the child.

Practice prompt

If a child has two permanent guardians and one dies, permanent guardianship of the child is the responsibility of the surviving guardian. If the surviving guardian is not able and willing to continue caring for the child, consider an appropriate child protection order.

In the event of the death of a sole permanent guardian or permanent guardian couple, make arrangements as soon as possible to seek an appropriate child protection order, as guardianship of the child will revert to the child’s parents.

If a permanent guardian (either a sole guardian or part of a permanent guardian couple) is diagnosed with a terminal illness, consider:

  • if the terminally ill guardian or both guardians is/are able and willing to continue to fulfil their role as the child’s guardian during the course of the illness
  • if the surviving guardian will be able to fulfil their responsibility as the child’s guardian after their partner’s death.

In both circumstances, consult the senior team leader and the OCFOS lawyer about making a referral to the DCPL for an application to the Childrens Court to:

  • revoke the permanent care order
    and
  • seek an order granting long-term guardianship to the chief executive.

Respond to a request by a permanent guardian for an alternative care arrangement

Attention

A permanent care order does not enable the guardian to give the care of the child to another person.

If a permanent guardian does  give the daily care of the child to another person (or if they nominate someone to take over the child’s daily care), and it appears that the arrangement is in the child’s best interests and is the most appropriate arrangement for meeting the child’s emotional and physical needs:

  • Consult with the senior team leader and the OCFOS lawyer about a referral to the DCPL to revoke the child protection order and seek an order granting long-term guardianship to the chief executive.
  • Invite the person caring for the child to apply to become an approved carer. To ensure continuity of care for the child, facilitate a provisional approval of the carer applicant. (Refer to Procedure 6 Complete the assessment requirements for provisional approval.)

If a permanent guardian advises they are no longer able and willing to meet their responsibilities as the child’s permanent guardian:

  • Obtain and consider the child’s views before deciding the best way to proceed.
  • Review the case plan and explore all options available to the child.
  • Consult the senior team leader and the OCFOS lawyer to consider whether it is in the child’s best interests to make a referral to the DCPL for an application to:
    • revoke the child protection order
      and
    • seek a child protection order granting long-term guardianship to the chief executive or another suitable person.

Review a permanent care order―case plan

The case plan for a child subject to a permanent care order may be reviewed:

  • if requested by a child or permanent guardian
  • as an outcome of a complaint made about the care provided to the child by the permanent guardian 
  • if the child is no longer in the permanent guardian’s direct care and decisions need to be made about the child’s protection and care needs and wellbeing. (Refer to Respond when a child is no longer in a permanent guardian’s direct care.)

To review the case plan:

  • Contact the child and the permanent guardian to gather information about their current circumstances.
  • Assess the child’s current circumstances.
  • Complete a child strengths and needs assessment.
  • Meet with the child and permanent guardian to undertake a collaborative review of the case plan and determine if other action is required, such as:
    • providing assistance to address any identified needs
    • seeking to revoke the permanent care order and make another order.
  • Create an ongoing intervention event for the child in ICMS and create a new case plan. Record the outcomes of the meeting.
  • Take relevant action.

Respond when a child is no longer in the permanent guardian’s direct care

Attention

A permanent guardian is required to advise the chief executive in writing if the child is no longer in their direct care and to advise where the child is living, if known (Child Protection Act 1999, section 80A).   

If a permanent guardian advises that a child subject to a permanent care order is no longer in their direct care:

  • Seek information from them to confirm the child’s current whereabouts and the circumstances leading to the change.
  • Have direct contact with the child (if the child’s address is known) as soon as possible to assess their immediate safety and wellbeing and determine if a review of their case plan is required.
  • Review the child’s protection and care needs and wellbeing and take any further action that is required in line with the Child Protection Act 1999, section 80A(3).
  • Assess whether the permanent guardian is prepared to resume direct care of the child and if the child is prepared to return to the direct care of the guardian.
  • Assist the child and guardian to resolve the issues leading to the child leaving and enable the child to return to the guardian’s care. Consider whether a family support service may be able to provide relevant support. (See Refer the permanent guardian to a family support service.)
  • Review whether the permanent care order is appropriate for meeting the child’s ongoing protection and care needs and consider if a referral to the DCPL is needed.
  • Take the following action if the child is not returning to the permanent guardian’s care:
    • Cease the fortnightly caring allowance and advise the guardian this has occurred.
    • Inform the guardian of their responsibility to advise Centrelink that the child’s care arrangement has ended, if applicable.
    • Update the child’s placement details and location in ICMS.

If the child’s whereabouts are unknown, make reasonable attempts to locate them, by contacting:

  • the child’s permanent guardian to discuss possible places the child may be
  • the child’s school or education facility
  • the child’s parents, siblings or other family members
  • the child’s friends
  • professionals or agencies currently or recently in contact with the child
  • Centrelink, if considered appropriate in the circumstances. (Refer to Procedure 2 Take action if a child and family cannot be located.)

Practice prompt

Consider whether the child needs to be reported to the QPS as a missing person.

Consider if the permanent care order needs to be varied 

Consult with the senior team leader and OCFOS lawyer about a referral to the DCPL to revoke the child protection order and seek an order granting guardianship to the chief executive if:

  • the permanent guardian is no longer able and willing to be the child’s guardian and fulfil their obligations under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 80
  • the permanent guardian can no longer fulfil their guardianship responsibilities but wants to continue to care for the child while they are in the chief executive’s custody or guardianship
  • an investigation and assessment has been finalised with a ‘Substantiated— ongoing intervention continues’ outcome, and it is assessed that the child is at unacceptable risk of harm, and the guardian is not willing to work with Child Safety to address the concerns.

In all these circumstances, meet with the child, permanent guardian, family and other relevant people to review the case plan. (Refer to Review a permanent care order―case plan.) 

If the case plan is for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child, arrange, with the consent of the child and family, for an independent person to assist them to participate in the decision-making process. (Refer to Procedure 5 Decision making for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.)

If an application to revoke the order is made to the Childrens Court, while the application is proceeding:

  • The permanent guardian will:
    • continue to have guardianship rights and responsibilities for the child
    • be treated by the court as a parent and afforded the same appeal rights
    • be a respondent in the proceedings.
  • The child’s parents will:
    • have appeal rights
    • be respondents in the proceedings.

Refer to Procedure 3 Refer to the Director of Child Protection Litigation to apply, extend, vary or revoke a child protection order.

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