Protection & Care - Children in Care

Contributed by JessicaPeake and TamekaBrown and current to 27 July 2018

If you are a child in care, or know a child in care, the Department have a guide called 'All about being in care'. This guide can answer some questions you may have about being in care, what it means to be in care and how you can have a say. If you have any questions or are worried, have a talk to your Caseworker.

Child's Rights

For a full list of a child's rights in care, the Department have developed a Charter of Rights for children zero to six years, seven to twelve years and thirteen to eighteen years. They can be found on the Department's website.

Child Representative

The Department, a parent or the Court may sometimes request a Children's Representative be appointed - especially for children who are school-aged. A Child Representative is a lawyer who acts for the child.

Child Representatives act either on 'instructions' or 'best interests'. 'Instructions' means that the lawyer will take into consideration what the child is wanting, while 'best interests' will mean the lawyer will act in a way that represents what is best for the child, given the considerations in section 8 of the Act.

Instructions must be taken from a child who is deemed mature enough to understand what is happening and what they want.

The Child Representative is able to explain to the Court what the child is wanting, and can explain the procedure of the Court and the decisions being made about them to the Child. The lawyer will listen to any views expressed by the child and recommend what arrangements will be best for the child. The lawyer will also usually talk to people involved in the child's life, for example, teachers and doctors.

The Guidelines for Child Representatives in Protection Proceedings on the Children's Court of WA website provides more detailed information.

Ongoing Support from the Department after turning 18

The Department will generally begin planning for the future with a young person in care as they approach 18 years of age. Often, the Department is able to continue providing support and assistance for young people after leaving care up to the age of 25 years.

Moving into independent adult life can be tricky, so the Department should be talking with a young person and their carer about what 'independent living' will look like for them.

By the time a young person is fifteen, the Department will be checking in to make sure their receiving appropriate skills and education to succeed as an adult. This may include participating in an independent living skills program.

Planning for a child's future is important. A child can discuss their goals with the caseworker and make sure they know where to find support. Some things to plan for include:
  • housing;
  • work;
  • further study - TAFE, university or an apprenticeship;
  • money and how to get it; and
  • any other supports that might be needed.
Leaving Care Services are available to young people who have left the care of the Department. These Services provide advice, referral and support in areas of employment, housing, health and other matters. They can provide ongoing support until a young person turns 25 years of age.

A young person should talk with their Caseworker about which Leaving Care Service is closest to them, so they know where to get support.

Also be aware of the Transition to Independent Living Allowance (TILA). TILA assists young people to make the transition from some types of out-of-home care to independent living. TILA is a one-off allowance of up to $1,500 in goods and services.

The Advocate for Children in Care can also provide advocacy services to help care leavers resolve issues and have decisions reviewed, and support them in using formal complaints and review processes.

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