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Accreditation newsletter - September 2017

A message from the new Children’s Guardian

I’m now into my third month as the new Children’s Guardian in NSW and it has been wonderful meeting and spending time with so many people and organisations committed to the protection of children and young people.

Throughout my career I have worked with vulnerable children and their families. I have experienced firsthand the enormous complexities in intervening in the lives of sometimes troubled families while working as a nurse in Westmead Children’s Hospital, and also during my time at Family and Community Services.

One of the things I most liked about my early career in health and later at FACS was working in an environment with other dedicated professionals who had a very strong, shared commitment to do the very best for the people in our care. And I am looking forward to that same sense of shared purpose in my new role.

The safety of children and young people is at the heart of the work of the Office of the Children’s Guardian. So it is an exciting time for me – to bring my experiences of working with vulnerable communities to a new role that involves working with others to help keep children and young people safe.

Organisations like yours that provide out-of-home care and adoption services play a vital role in our community to support the wellbeing of children.

I’m looking forward to working in partnership with you in the months ahead.

Janet Schorer

Permanency planning

Permanency planning has always been a key element in out-of-home care (see the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998).

This was strengthened in the NSW Government’s 2014 Safe Home for Life Reforms, which placed a greater emphasis on the importance of permanency planning. Giving children and young people in statutory out-of-home care secure and stable placements, also gives those children and young people a stronger chance to achieve better outcomes. The new permanency planning has a focus on placement matching, casework to support permanent placements and case plans that have permanency planning front and centre for all children and young people.

The accreditation team is developing an assessment tool for permanency to guide agency practice and associated resources for the sector and these will be posted on our website as they are developed. For more information see our article on permanency planning.

Reportable allegations

The Office of the Children’s Guardian has created a flowchart to complement the Reportable Allegations process – this is designed to assist designated agencies with notifications of ‘reportable allegations’ and ‘findings’ to the Office of the Children’s Guardian.  If you have any questions about this flowchart, please contact accreditation@kidsguardian.nsw.gov.au

Record keeping and cloud-based technologies

Are agencies able to use cloud-based technology to store client files?  The Office of the Children’s Guardian regularly receives questions from designated agencies about storing client files in ‘the cloud’, and about security implications for records – cloud storage usually means information is stored on a shared server and these servers are often located outside Australia.  We also receive queries about how using cloud storage is considered during accreditation.  

Neither the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 nor the NSW Child Safe Standards for Permanent Care 2015 deal specifically with storing client files in the cloud (see section 168-170 of the Act and Standards 7, 17-20 and 22).

We have developed a fact sheet for guidance on using cloud-based technology which you can find here.

Update on voluntary out-of-home care (VOOHC)

On the 30 May 2017 the Office of the Children’s Guardian wrote to all designated agencies registered to provide VOOHC requiring the submission of your VOOHC policy statements.  The due date for policy submission was 31 August 2017 – if you have not submitted your policy statements, please send these in PDF format without delay to voohc@kidsguardian.nsw.gov.au.

If your agency wishes to withdraw its registration to provide VOOHC, please notify us in writing, copying your agency’s Principal Officer as soon as possible.

If you have any questions about this matter please email us: voohc@kidsguardian.nsw.gov.au

Carers Register

Who is the Primary Administrator for the Carers Register at your agency?  Each agency is required to appoint a Carers Register Primary Administrator. 

This person is the main point of contact for all correspondence from the Office of the Children’s Guardian.  The Primary Administrator also oversees Carers Register operations for your agency including: reporting (across all locations), keeping all staff informed of agency responsibilities, and ensuring all administration tasks required by the Carer’s Register are completed.

If your delegated Primary Administrator has changed, you must advise the Office of the Children’s Guardian. 

The Office of the Children’s Guardian will release further guidance about the Carer’s Register later in 2017.  In the meantime, if you have any questions about this matter please email your query to: carers-register@kidsguardian.nsw.gov.au.

Personalised learning and support plans

The NSW Department of Education uses Personalised Learning and Support Plans (PLSP) to support students learning needs. These plans are designed to assist students to achieve positive education outcomes

Office of the Children’s Guardian assessors are seeking evidence of PLSPs on the files for children and young people during assessments whenever it is identified that a child or young person in statutory out-of-home care requires additional education support.

Further information can be found at the Department of Education website: https://education.nsw.gov.au/disability-learning-and-support/personalised-support-for-learning/personalised-learning-And-support

Contact us

Subscribe to this newsletter – currently this newsletter is sent by email to the Principal Officer at your organisation – if you would like additional staff to receive this newsletter, please email us their contact details at accreditation@kidsguardian.nsw.gov.au

If you need further information or would like to suggest a topic for a future newsletter please contact us at accreditation@kidsguardian.nsw.gov.au.