Contact

Follow this procedure when managing contact between a child placed in out-of-home care and their family.

Introduction

Contact includes visits, letters and cards, phone calls or other communication, and may include overnight stays and trips.

Contact can be between a child and a parent, sibling, extended family or other people significant to the child.

For children in care, the case plan should support and promote the child’s relationship with family, community and connection to culture.

Contact must promote the child’s best interests and should be trauma informed. Purposeful and skilfully managed contact informed by good assessment will assist a child's development and recovery.

Contact arrangements are part of the child's case plan, endorsed by a case planner and should be reflected in the Looking After Children (LAC) care and placement plan.

Only people given contact rights by a court order or approved for contact by child protection may have contact with a child in care. Contact supervisors must be clear about who is approved for contact.

When people not approved for contact arrive at a scheduled contact session, they should not be permitted to have contact with the child unless first approved by child protection. See Contact – advice.

Procedure

Case practitioner tasks

  • As soon as possible following placement or a change of placement, develop or review the contact plan in the LAC care and placement plan in accordance with court-ordered conditions and the child's case plan. Consult with the care team as you develop or review the contact plan.
  • Provide printed information  about contact to parties involved in the contact arrangements, including the contact supervisor, carers and family members.
  • Undertake an assessment of any person arriving at a contact visit or seeking to have contact who is not already approved, including consideration of a national police history check.
  • Seek endorsement from your supervisor and case planner for significant changes to contact arrangements for children under a care by Secretary order or a long-term care order. A decision to make a significant change to a child’s contact arrangements are subject to internal review processes. If changes are made, a clear rationale for the decision must be recorded on CRIS.
  • If contact arrangements are facilitated and supervised by a third party such as a case support practitioner, provide them with the contact plan, risk assessment and expectations about observation and recording to be completed for each contact session.
  • Make sure that CRIS requirements are completed including mandatory screens and records of activity, decisions and the rationales for these. 

Supervisor tasks

  • Make sure that CRIS requirements are completed including records of activity, decisions and the rationales for these.
  • Provide ongoing supervision and support.
  • Assist the case worker to determine next steps.

Case planner tasks

  • Determine whether a person with a disclosable criminal history should be approved to have contact.
  • Endorse significant changes to contact.
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