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The panel of Independent Assessors was established in 2018 to help caseworkers determine the best permanency option for a child or young person in Out Of Home Care.
These questions and answers have been prepared to assist you in understanding:
We have also prepared some responses to commonly asked questions, such as:
Independent Assessors provide a vital resource for DCJ and non-government service providers, enabling caseworkers to progress permanency plans for children and young people who have come in contact with the child protection system. Independent Assessors provide an independent view and can help caseworkers determine the best permanency option for a child or young person. The panel system is a flexible and independent way to seek advice and operates on a fee for service basis. DCJ monitor assessor quality, availability and cultural competence, and acts on any supply gaps to better meet children and young people’s needs.
An Independent Assessor is commissioned to undertake impartial, high quality assessments about the quality of relationships a child or young person is developing with their caregivers. The assessment is designed to assess the suitability of each of the permanency pathways available to the child or young person, and to make recommendations about permanency case plan goals.
Independent Assessors play a significant role in engaging with family members and other significant people in the child or young person’s life, to positively influence permanency case planning.
Depending on the qualifications and background of each independent assessor, the assessments they may undertake include:
The Independent Assessors on the panel have different areas of expertise and geographical coverage. For more information, see the list of Independent Assessors.
ndependent Assessors were selected via a rigorous, two-stage procurement process led by a DCJ evaluation committee comprising of representatives from Child & Family, Open Adoption Permanency Services and Procurement.
The committee evaluated applications based on:
To access an Independent Assessor, first view the list of Independent Assessors.
The list provides information about each Independent Assessor’s area of expertise and service coverage. Once you have identified one or more suitable assessors, the DCJ or non-government service provider case managing the care of the child or young person can contact them to discuss:
DCJ staff can access templates on the DCJ intranet to help scope the referral and obtain an estimation of time and cost from the Independent Assessor at DCJ staff templates.
Permanency decisions for children and young people in OOHC are important. It is important that suitably qualified people are helping caseworkers make those decisions. As part of the procurement process, assessors provided their resumes and outlined their qualifications and professional experience. You can ask an Independent Assessor for this information if you are interested.
Please discuss your preference for specific cultural competence directly with your shortlisted Assessor/s as part of your selection process.
Yes. Independent Assessor panel members have agreed that their contact information can be made available to both DCJ and its non-government service providers.
Service providers may freely use the panel to contract an Independent Assessor. However, DCJ disclaims any legal liability or otherwise regarding a service provider’s decision to use a particular Independent Assessor.
Given the rigour involved in establishing a panel of high quality Independent Assessors, DCJ districts should always allocate independent assessment work to panel members.
In instances where there are no suitable or available panellists in a particular area, try to identify an Independent Assessor from another location who is willing and available to travel.
In instances where no locally available or culturally suitable Independent Assessor from the panel can be identified, the Director Adoption Services (for adoption matters), or Director Community Services or Operations (or their delegate) can approve engagement of an Independent Assessor outside of the panel.
In these cases, you should inform the panel secretariat at IndependentAssessorsProject@facs.nsw.gov.au to guide expansion of the panel in areas of need.
All Independent Assessors on the panel are required to meet performance requirements about delivering a quality service, on time. These requirements are set out in the service level agreement outlined in the panel deed.
We’ll use feedback gained through referrals and periodic surveys about timeliness, the standard of service, quality, cost, and communication to support continuous improvement among panel members. This information will also help to select Independent Assessors for future referrals and to identify training needs.
A Secretariat and Steering Committee has been established to monitor the operation of the panel and act if any performance issues are identified.
An Independent Assessors peer-to-peer network has also been established to provide mutual support and share learning.
n the first instance, you should discuss any issue with the relevant Independent Assessor directly.
The service level agreement outlined in the panel deed includes performance expectations about responding to and reporting on these kinds of discussions.
If direct discussion fails to resolve a concern or complaint, you can raise the issue through your caseworker, Manager Casework, or to the Contract Manager (in Statewide Contracts, Partnerships) by emailing IndependentAssessorsProject@facs.nsw.gov.au
We value your feedback on the DCJ policies, procedures and communication that support you in the assessment work you do. It can help us improve our services to children and young people in the child protection system and the way we work with you.
If you have a complaint, feedback or idea that you would like to tell us about, please speak to the caseworker who has contracted your service or contact the Independent Assessor Contract Team.
Wherever possible it is best to raise your concerns on a case by case basis with the caseworker who has contracted your services. They are in the best position to resolve any immediate concerns you may have, or to refer your complaint to the relevant area.
It is encouraged to resolve concerns at the local level and follow DCJ district or non-government provider processes.
For general matters, ask to speak directly to the Manager, Casework. If the Manager Casework is unable to resolve your concerns you can ask for the issue to be referred to the Manager Client Services.
For open adoption matter, if your matter remains unresolved after speaking with the Casework team, you can forward the matter to the Open Adoptions and Permanency Team via the mailbox at Adoption.PermanentCare@facs.nsw.gov.au.
For a guardianship matter, if the matter remains unresolved after using local processes, you can contact the guardianship and open adoption team for advice on other avenues to resolve your concerns at email@example.com
If you have any outstanding concerns, you can refer the matter to the Independent Assessor Contracting team at IndependentAssessorProject@facs.nsw.gov.au.
DCJ is committed to handling issues and complaints in a way that respects people’s privacy and the confidentiality of the matter. The only people who will have access to information about your complaint are those who are working on resolving it.
If you have any concerns about the confidentiality of your complaint, please tell the person who is handling it.
The DCJ complaint handling policy is also available online.
The panel of Independent Assessors panel is an ‘open panel’, meaning that from time to time, based on any known gaps or shortages, we’ll open it for new applications.
We’ve set up a ‘register of interest’ process via the NSW eTendering website for new applications.
To provide services to the NSW government, you also need to register as a supplier on buy.nsw.gov.au.
Please send any questions about the registration of interest process to IndependentAssessorsProject@facs.nsw.gov.au.
01 Feb 2023
We acknowledge Aboriginal people as the First Nations Peoples of NSW and pay our respects to Elders past, present, and future.
Informed by lessons of the past, Department of Communities and Justice is improving how we work with Aboriginal people and communities. We listen and learn from the knowledge, strength and resilience of Stolen Generations Survivors, Aboriginal Elders and Aboriginal communities.
You can access our apology to the Stolen Generations.