What is Kinship Care?

If the Victorian Child Protection Service requires an out-of-home care placement for a child or young person in need of protection, this will include placement with:

  • an approved kinship carer
  • an accredited foster carer through a community service organisation, or
  • a residential care provider.

When a child or young person needs an out-of-home care placement, it is a legislative requirement that kinship care be explored before other placement options are pursued. As a kinship carer, you provide the child or young person in your care with a connection and shared family history, culture and identity. This will usually provide a less traumatic experience of child protection intervention for them and their family.

Kinship and foster care are often referred to as home-based care because they occur in a home setting.

Kinship care is the care provided by relatives or a member of a child or young person’s social network, when they cannot live with their parents due to safety and protective concerns.

Aboriginal kinship care is care provided by relatives or friends of an Aboriginal child or young person who cannot live with their parents, where Aboriginal family, community and Aboriginal culture are valued as central to the child or young person’s safety, stability and development.

Kinship placements occur as a result of child protection intervention, either voluntarily or under a Children’s Court order, and are supported and supervised by Child Protection or a community service organisation (agency).

Privately arranged or informal kinship care

Privately arranged or informal kinship care are terms that may be used to describe arrangements where children and young people are cared for by relatives without any child protection intervention.

While this manual is aimed at kinship carers who care for children and young people subject to child protection intervention, privately arranged or informal kinship carers may also find information in this manual useful.

Safety screening

Before placing a child with a kinship carer, Child Protection completes a preliminary assessment and mandatory safety screening.

This includes:

  • a national police history check for every member of the household over 18 years
  • an assessment of the previous history of the potential carer(s) through a review of the department’s Client Relationship Information System
  • an assessment of the primary carer’s likelihood to pass a Working with Children Check (WWCC).

Police checks

To be approved as a kinship carer, Child Protection will conduct a national police check on you and anyone else over the age of 18 who usually lives in the house. Information from the police check is only shown to those who are deciding if you can be approved as a kinship carer.

You may still be approved as a kinship carer if you have a criminal record, but this will depend on the individual circumstances.

When child protection is considering whether a criminal record affects the suitability of the kinship carer, they will take into consideration:

  • what the crime was
  • why you, or any other adult in the home, committed the crime
  • how long it has been since the crime was committed
  • if this could put a child or young person at risk.

Working with Children Clearances

Kinship care is considered to be ‘child-related work’ under the Working with Children Act 2005 and all primary kinship carers, approved by the Victorian child protection program, must hold a Working with Children Clearance (WWCC). This includes current, new and respite kinship carers.

Managed by Immediate MSpark