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Types of care arrangements

Care arrangements come in various forms, including:

  • family based and residential care arrangements
  • short-term and long-term care arrangements
  • care arrangements with kinship carers or foster carers
  • for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people, on their mob’s country or off country.

Practitioners need to understand all care arrangement types to determine which option will best meet the needs of the child.

‘Out-of-home care placements are a central feature of child protection services and one of the biggest challenges facing the Queensland child protection system’.

Taking Responsibility: A Roadmap for Queensland Child Protection, p. 251 

Family based care

The most common form of care arrangement involves family-based care, where children live with approved foster or kinship carers.

Short-term care

Short-term carers provide ongoing, daily care to children for up to two years while Child Safety works towards reunifying the child with their family. Carers also work closely with Child Safety to support safe, regular contact between the child and their family.

Long-term care

When children can’t return to live with their parent, long-term care gives them a safe and stable home until they are 18 years of age or beyond.

Short breaks

Some carers offer short breaks (previously referred to as respite) for children placed with other foster and kinship carers. Carers who offer short breaks will talk to their agency about their availability.

When they are new to providing care, carers may initially offer short breaks as they build experience and confidence before considering providing short-term or long-term care. 

Foster care

Foster carers have been assessed and approved to care for children who are in need of a care arrangement. To determine their suitability, they go through a rigorous assessment process that includes:

  • pre-screening
  • checks of:
    • criminal history
    • domestic and family violence history
    • child protection history
  • applying for a Blue Card (to work with children)
  • pre-service training
  • taking part in face-to-face interviews with an assessor.

The manager of the CSSC where the foster carer is geographically located is the delegated decision maker for approving the application.

Kinship care

Kinship carers are members of a child’s family or community who are assessed and approved to care for children who require a care arrangement. The term ‘kin’ refers to a child’s relatives and ‘kith’ are persons from the child’s or family’s community, often friends or neighbours (O’Neill, 2011; Bromfield and Osborn, 2007). 

Kinship carers have a pre-existing relationship with the child or young person. For example, they may be their aunt, grandparent, cousin, neighbour, soccer coach or teacher. The care arrangement focuses on the child’s safety and support network coming together to care for the child.

In emergent cirumstances where kin are identified as a care option for a child immediately seek provisional approval. Complete a short assessment on identified kin, based on the statement of standards (Child Protection Act 1999, section 122). (Refer to the practice guide Provision approval assessment guidelines.) This is to enable the child's care arrangement to begin straight away, while a detailed and more comprehensive assessment is completed. Staff from the Placement Support Services and the senior team leader will be able to help with completing the provisional approval processes and forms.

The CSSC manager of the CSSC with case management responsibility for the child is the delegated decision maker for kinship care approval.

If urgent provisional approval is required and central screening checks have not been obtained, the regional director is the delegated officer. (For detailed information, refer to procedure Provide and review care.)

Residential care

A residential care arrangement is where young people live with other young people, supported by youth workers. They live in premises owned or rented by an organisation funded and licensed to provide the service. This type of care arrangement is for young people over the age of 12 and may take various forms such as semi-independent living, a therapeutic residential service, and safe houses in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The Hope and Healing framework (2019) guides the provision of residential care services. It identifies a young person's fundamental needs for physical, emotional and cultural safety, nurturance, development and healing from trauma.

Supported independent living

In a supported independent living care arrangement, a small number of young people (15 years or older) live in a residential setting, supported by case/youth workers on a structured support model. Workers generally do not live in the house but provide external support through regular visiting. This model of care provides young people with opportunities to develop life skills which will support their transition to adulthood.

Therapeutic residential care service

A therapeutic residential care service prioritises young people with complex to extreme needs who are unable to be placed in foster or kinship care, or other forms of residential care. This care arrangement is a time-limited (12–18 months) therapeutic environment designed to help young people to begin healing from the impact of trauma.

The residentials are staffed by care practitioners with enhanced intervention skills. They use trauma-informed models of care, which are based on a framework for service delivery that integrates knowledge and understanding of how trauma affects a young person’s life (Wall et al, 2016). Child Safety works in partnership with the therapeutic service to identify, establish and maintain connections between the young person and family; their community and culture; and others significant to them.  

This intensive model of care also uses a network approach that includes our Queensland Health, Department of Education and Queensland Police Service partners.

Indigenous community residential care and family intervention services (safe houses)

Indigenous community residential care and family intervention services (commonly known as safe houses) are residential services specifically designed to meet the particular needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. They are located in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, to enable children to safely remain in, or return to, their communities of origin.

Other entities

The Child Protection Act 1999, section 82(1)(f), allows other entities to provide care to children where it is identified that a particular arrangement is best suited to meet the child’s specific care and support needs.  Examples of a care arrangement with another entity include:

  • non-family based care provided by a private or not for profit organisation funded by Child Safety (as a child related costs – placement and support package) that is

    • not licenced
    • whose licence application has been lodged and not yet granted, or
    • where the address of the service is new and yet to be added to the organisation’s licence.
  • mental health facilities
  • other private health facilities
  • Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors (Accommodation Support and Respite Services) and
  • service providers located interstate.


As children placed with another entity in accordance with section 82(1)(f) are not monitored via a licencing arrangement or a carer approval process, they require additional monitoring to ensure that the standards of care for the child are met.

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