“The PSA directs members (Caseworkers) to not take primary responsibility in drafting and or implementing Behaviour Support Plans (BSP).
In cases where a BSP is required, caseworkers are directed to create a file note on the child’s profile in ChildStory stating ‘In accordance with a direction from my union (PSA,) I will not take primary responsibility for drafting and or implementing a Behavioural Support Plan for (name of CYP).
I have referred this to my MCW recommending that a suitably qualified psychologist and or behaviour support expert is engaged to develop and implement the BSP. This is in the best interest of the (name of CYP).’
For many years, members, especially those who are Caseworkers in Out of Home Care (OOHC), have been raising concerns about Behavioural Support Plans (BSPs) with the PSA.
PSA officials and delegates have been raising members’ concerns with the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) Executive over the past 2 years, including at Joint Consultative Committees in 2022.
Currently the Department’s guidelines state that Caseworkers are able to develop BSPs in foster and family-based care, such as relative and kinship care.
Caseworkers have pointed out that the guidelines also state that ‘Positive Behaviour Support’ training is foundational and does not qualify a staff member as a behaviour support expert.
PSA Surveyed members on BSPs in October 2021. Some 266 members responded. Members overwhelmingly reiterating the concerns the PSA has been raising with the Department at a state level. View survey results HERE
- 89% of respondents agreed that they did not “feel sufficiently qualified to develop, write and implement a BSP” (Q7)
- 96% of respondents stated that BSPs should be undertaken by other specialists such as psychologists (Q19)
- Workload (84%) and complexity (79.5%) were the two main obstacles Caseworkers identified in doing BPSs (Q10)
The following comments in the survey reflected members views:
“Every child in OOHC should have the attention of a professional psychologist who can understand what they are trying to tell us in their behaviour.”
“Children and families deserve better structured and professional plans by a trained professional. This will have a positive impact on the young person’s placement and stability.”
“I do not feel that I am qualified to write up a BSP, and that me doing so is a disservice to the young people and children we work with.”
“DCJ need to stop tasking EVERYTHING with caseworkers – it’s ridiculous.”
“The BSP becomes just a document and not a tool that young people and carers can actively use to assist with concerning behaviours esp. self-harming, suicidal attempts.”
“Psychologists should be writing these (BSPs) and if they do not have the capacity, then the Department should look to employ suitably qualified and trained staff to assist with the workload.”
Members have clearly stated that having Caseworkers develop, write and implement BSPs is at odds with best practice. Caseworkers repeatedly emphasised that, as they are not behaviour support experts, BSPs are not of the quality that children, young people and their carers deserve. This fact is reflected in the data collected in the Casework Study the Department undertook across 17 locations in 2020/2021 (note the PSA survey had double the number of respondents to BSP compared to the Casework Study). The average time caseworkers undertook in all aspects of developing, consulting, writing and facilitating a BSP was only 92 minutes. As one respondent so succinctly stated:
“The children we work with deserve better.”
With this feedback from members and as BSP’s continue to be a significant issue,
“The PSA directs members (Caseworkers) to not take primary responsibility in drafting and or implementing Behaviour Support Plans (BSP). In cases where a BSP is required, caseworkers are directed to create a file note on the child’s profile in ChildStory.”