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Assess and approve carers

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This page was updated on 14 September 2022. To view changes, please see page updates

Overview of the initial carer assessment process

The assessment and approval of a carer’s application is prescribed by the Child Protection Act 1999, chapter 4, division 3,  and the Child Protection Regulation 2011, sections 2223.

Child Safety and foster and kinship care services are responsible for undertaking or facilitating different parts of the carer assessment processes:

  • The foster and kinship care service provider assesses and confirms a foster care applicant’s competencies during their participation in 'Getting ready to start training' (previously called ‘pre-service training). This may have commenced prior to the carer applicant submitting an application for assessment.
  • The CSU  completes child protection and personal history checks on the applicant and adult household members.
  • Blue Card Services makes the decision to issue or refuse a blue card or exemption card to the applicant and adult household members. Foster and  kinship care service providers will assist the carer applicant and any adult household members throughout the blue card application process. 
  • An assessor, in most instances from the foster and kinship care service provider, completes assessment interviews of the applicant and, where relevant, other household members, addressing the applicant’s ability to meet the statement of standards, and their suitability to be a carer.
  • The assessor completes a Household safety study on the applicant’s home and premises and assesses their commitment to safe practices around children.
  • The assessor completes an assessment report, making a recommendation to approve or refuse the application, and submits this to PSU.
  • The PSU coordinates the  Carer assessment panel if applicable, prior to the CSSC manager making a decision to approve or refuse the carer application.

Attention

Foster and kinship care service providers are community based organisations, licensed under the Child Protection Act, sections 124–130, to provide care services for children. They are responsible for:

  • local level foster care recruitment activities and (for some services) the identification of prospective kinship carers
  • assessing foster and kinship carer applicants and making a recommendation to the Child Safety decision maker about the approval or refusal of a carer’s application
  • the training, supervision and support of carers.

For guidance when completing the initial carer assessment report, refer to the Guidelines for completing an assessment report—Initial approval only or the Kinship carer initial assessment report guidelines.

Child Safety assessors will use the carer templates in ICMS. External assessors will use the carer assessment templates of the same name:

Note

All  carer assessment templates  and other carer resources are available on the Child Safety internet.

The CSSC manager (or the regional director, for applicants who are Child Safety employees) is delegated to approve or refuse a foster or kinship carer application. (Refer to Decide the outcome of the application.)

Determine the need for discretionary information

Discretionary checks can be considered  when additional information is required to inform the delegated officer’s decision about whether the carer applicant is a suitable person to be approved as a foster or kinship carer. The Child Protection Regulation 2011, section 26, enables the CSSC manager or PSU manager to consider discretionary information for this purpose.

Discretionary information can:

  • be requested at the commencement of the carer assessment—prompted by information provided by the applicant in their application documents
  • be requested at any time during the assessment process—prompted by the assessor, usually from information obtained during assessment interviews
  • arise from other Child Safety sources, such as from the CSU assessment, or the applicant’s ICMS history not referenced in the CSU outcome letter.

Discretionary information includes information from other parties, such as:

Once approved by the delegated officer, some discretionary checks can be actioned by assessors (such as referee checks) while some may require the CSSC manager or PSU manager to action (such as a request for medical information.)

If the applicant does not consent to the additional information being obtained, the assessor will:

  • explain that their reasons for not consenting will be recorded in their assessment report
  • advise that the absence of the information may affect the CSSC manager’s ability to be satisfied that they are suitable to be approved as a foster or kinship carer.

Consider requesting medical information

Practice prompt

It is important to explore if there are health conditions that could impact an applicant’s ability to cope with the physical and emotional demands of this care role, now and in the future. In some circumstances this may require additional input from a suitability qualified medical professional.

The purpose of gathering discretionary medical information is to explore if physical or mental health issues for the applicant may prevent them from fulfilling their responsibilities as a carer, such as the daily care of the child and meeting the standards of care.  Requests may include:

To determine whether discretionary medical information is needed, review the completed Carer applicant health and wellbeing questionnaire and the Application for initial approval—Form 3A  and take into account:

  • the nature of past medical conditions
  • the past use or misuse of drugs
  • the nature of any current illness or disability.

A need for discretionary medical information may be identified at any other time throughout the assessment process, such as where the assessor identifies concerns about the applicant’s health that may affect their suitability as a carer. This might arise from additional information provided during assessment interviews, or inconsistencies between the information in interviews, and what has been provided in the carer application documents. If this occurs the assessor will:

  • proactively explore additional relevant information with the applicant. (Additional information provided with the consent of the applicant may negate the need for further medical information to be supplied by an applicant’s GP.)
  • discuss any remaining concern with the CSSC manager or PSU manager as soon as possible.

When a need for discretionary medical information (including a GP medical check) is identified, discuss with the CSSC manager or PSU manager. The CSSC manager or PSU manager, as the decision maker, will decide if there is a basis for requesting discretionary medical information.

Time sensitive

The early provision of information from the assessor will enable the CSSC manager or PSU manager to make an informed decision about the need for discretionary medical information, and also allow sufficient time to meet the requirements of the Child Protection Act 1999, section 143(1) or section 143A.

Request a GP medical check or medical information

The CSSC manager or PSU manager may decide to request the applicant attend a GP medical check, or to request medical information from a treating physician or mental health specialist. For example, for an applicant with a communicable disease, such as HIV or hepatitis, additional information may be sought from their treating medical practitioner about:

  • the type of communicable disease and related universal precautions
  • the level of risk of transmission to others
  • the impact of the communicable disease, if any, on the person’s capacity to care for children, including the impact of any changes in health
  • any health precautions required by others in the household to minimise risk of transmission of the communicable disease, for example, vaccination
  • a copy of the applicant’s care plan for the management of the condition, where developed
  • the applicant’s understanding of the communicable disease, compliance with their health care plan.

Attention

A carer applicant cannot be refused approval to become a carer based solely on the existence of a communicable disease. The CSSC manager will take into account the medical report or health care plan, the applicants understanding and compliance with universal precautions, the risk of transmission to others, and the capacity of the carer to care for a child in care, including during periods when they are experience ill-health.

Following the decision to request additional medical information, discuss the decision with the assessor and determine who will complete the following actions:

  • contact the applicant to explain why the additional information is necessary to determine the applicant’s overall suitability to be approved as a carer
  • explain what information will be sought and how this will occur
  • seek the applicant’s views and consent
  • explain  that Child Safety will reimburse the applicant for any gap cost between the medical fee and the Medicare rebate (use the GL account code 530201, Medical services).

If the applicant does not agree to the request, the request cannot proceed. Clearly document their views and the reasons for them in the assessment report.

If the applicant agrees with the request, the following additional tasks will be actioned:

Note

The applicant’s signed consent does not compel a doctor to release records or speak about the client. If a doctor does not provide the requested information, it is the applicant’s responsibility to request that the doctor releases information on their behalf, for the purposes of the assessment.

Review the medical information

The CSSC manager or PSU manager will review the information from the GP or medical specialist to determine if any clarification or additional information is required. This might include, where relevant:

  • advise on how the condition may impact on the applicant’s capacity to provide care to a child placed in their care by Child Safety, and if so, in what ways
  • for a communicable disease, information about the risk of transmission to others.

Consider requesting referee checks

The purpose of conducting a referee check is to obtain a character reference about the applicant, from a person who knows them well. Referee checks are a discretionary element to the carer assessment and can only be requested by the CSSC manager or PSU manager, who must have a basis for making this request. The manager will take into account information from:

  • carer application documents
    or
  • the assessor, such as concerns identified during assessment interviews, or inconsistencies from different sources. 

A referee check may include:

  • the applicant’s biological son or daughter who is no longer living with the applicant
  • the applicant’s employer, if the applicant works or volunteers in child-related employment
  • a person who is not related to the applicant
  • if the applicant is a Child Safety employee, the applicant’s line manager.

Following a decision to request a referee check, the assessor will:

  • discuss the decision and the reasons for it with the carer applicant, including why the additional information is necessary to determine the applicant’s overall suitability to be approved as a carer 
  • seek their views about the request
    and
  • if the applicant does not agree to the request, document their views.

If the applicant refuses to consent, the request cannot proceed.

Complete the referee check

If the applicant agrees to the request, support the applicant to complete the Discretionary check consent form.

Arrange for the following tasks to be actioned by the assessor:

  • assist the applicant to identify a suitable referee such as a personal contact:
    • who is not related to the applicant but has known them in a personal capacity (preferably for 5 years or longer)
    • who has some knowledge of how they interact with children and their lifestyle
    • request an additional referee, if the nominated referee is specific to only one of the dual carer applicants. 
  • make contact with the referee, by phone or in writing, to request a referee check, and make sure they are aware the information provided by them is not confidential from the applicant
  • gather appropriate information using the Referee questionnaire for carer applicants as a guide
  • facilitate the completion of the request in a timely way, including responding to any delays.

If the nominated referee declines to provide a reference for the applicant, ask them to indicate why. Recontact the applicant to nominate an alternative referee.

Review the information from the referee

When assessing information obtained from the referee consider:

  • whether the information confirms or conflicts with the information already collected, and observations made, during the assessment process
  • the relationship and length of time the referee has known the applicant.

The assessor will discuss any concerns raised by the referee with the applicant and where necessary, seek further clarifying information from the referee.

Consider requesting information from a foster and kinship care service provider

The completed Application for initial approval—Form 3A provides information about whether the applicant has previously applied or been approved as a carer in Queensland, interstate or overseas. In these circumstances, the CSSC manageror PSU manager will consider whether to request information from that service provider.

This request is a discretionary element to the carer assessment and can only be requested by the CSSC manager or PSU manager, who must have a basis for making the request. The manager will take into account information from:

  • carer application documents
  • the assessor, such as concerns identified during assessment interviews, or inconsistencies from different sources. 

Following a decision to request this information, the assessor will:

  • discuss the decision and the reasons for it with the carer applicant, including why the additional information is necessary to determine the applicant’s overall suitability to be approved as a carer
  • seek their views about the request.

If the applicant agrees to the request, support the applicant to complete the Discretionary check consent form.

If the applicant does not agree to the request, document their views. If the applicant refuses to consent, the request cannot proceed.

Request child protection and personal history checks

Child protection and personal history checks are an important aspect of determining suitability. All foster and kinship carer applicants and adult members of their household are subject to child protection and personal history checks. This includes adults who joined the household of an applicant after an application has been lodged and properly made. Refer to Receive and process carer application documents.

Tip

The Application for initial approval—Form 3A (APA initial) provides the CSU with the applicant’s signed consent for Child Safety to undertake these checks. The CSU is unable to start the checks without sighting the applicant’s and adult household members’ signed consent.

However, the parent of the child, if living in the carer applicant’s home, is not subject to child protection and personal history checks, if the child was placed in the care of the carer applicant by Child Safety.

The CSU manager is delegated to obtain information from the QPS  and from other jurisdictions where relevant. Checks undertaken by CSU include:

  • child protection history within Queensland
  • child protection history interstate and from New Zealand, if the applicant or adult household members have resided there for 6 months or more
  • domestic violence orders and domestic violence applications  in Queensland, where the person was the aggrieved 
  • child protection history for children residing in the applicant household
  • traffic history from Queensland, as specified in the Child Protection Act 1999, schedule 3
  • a national criminal history check if an adult household member enters into an existing carer household and they do not hold a current blue card.

International child protection and criminal history checks

If the person has been residing in New Zealand for more than six months, the CSU will complete a child protection and criminal history check.

For carer applicants and adult household members who have previously resided overseas for 6 months or more in a country other than New Zealand, the CSSC manager has the discretion to request international child protection and criminal history checks.

For child protection or criminal history checks in countries other than New Zealand, consult with Court Services as to how the information can best be sourced. For other jurisdictions, the request for child protection and criminal history checks may need to be translated, which may extend the process.

If the person has undertaken a migration process, they may have already provided their criminal history to the Department of Home Affairs. In this situation, the CSSC manager can request a copy of the information provided for that purpose from the carer applicant.

The CSSC manager has the discretion to proceed with the application without international child protection checks, other than New Zealand, or to decide that a full assessment is unable to be undertaken without the completion of international child protection checks.

Note

International child protection and criminal history checks may not be able to be obtained from some countries.

Some countries may not recognise certain abuses against children. This means that, while no history is recorded, concerns may still exist.

Provide information to the CSU

Immediately after the carer application is lodged and deemed to be properly made,  and all necessary documentation is attached in ICMS , email the CSU to enable them to proceed with the child protection and personal history checks. 

Tip

The applicant and adult household members provide their signed consent for Child Safety to undertake these child protection and personal history checks in the Application for initial approval—Form 3A (APA initial.) The CSU is unable to start the checks without sighting this consent in the APA initial form in ICMS.

Respond to outcome decision from the CSU

The CSU manager is delegated to make the decision about whether the carer applicant and all adult household members are:

  • not suitable, based on their child protection and personal history checks 
    or
  • eligible to progress to the next stage of the carer assessment process.

If the application is not suitable to progress

If the CSU manager determines that the application is not suitable to progress, based on child protection and personal history checks, they will:

  • refuse the application
  • advise the applicant and the CSSC manager of the decision in writing within 10 days, outlining a statement of reasons and information about review rights
  • attach a copy of all written advice in ICMS.

The CSSC or PSU will:

  • record the refusal decision in ICMS
  • create an alert on each applicant’s person record, with the start date as the date the decision was made.

If the carer applicant applies for a review of the decision by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT), the CSSC or PSU will re-open the closed EOI /application and record the reviewable decision  details in the ‘approval/refusal tab in ICMS.

If QCAT overturns the refusal decision and the carer is subsequently approved:

  • Provide relevant approval documentation to the approved carer, the foster and kinship care service if applicable, and Carepay .
  • Record the QCAT decision in ICMS.
  • Advise the CSU of the amended decision.
  • Close the alert that was created when the application was previously refused. 

Attention

If a child has been placed with a provisionally approved carer prior to child protection and personal history checks results being provided by the CSU, and the CSU subsequently determines that an applicant is not suitable, remove the child from the care arrangement immediately and cancel the Certificate of Approval—Provisionally approved carer in ICMS.

If the application is eligible to progress

The CSU outcome report will be provided to the CSSC manager and PSU manager. The report analyses the child protection and personal history information directly relevant to the decision, but is not a summary of all the information obtained.

The CSU will attach all relevant documents to the EOI/application in ICMS.

The CSSC or PSU will provide a copy of the CSU report to the external assessor,  ensuring that any information that identifies or is likely to identify a notifier has been removed. In addition, information identifying a person’s youth justice history will be removed, unless it is exempted under the Youth Justice Act 1992, part 9.

If the external assessor is a contracted fee-for-service professional, they will first be provided with Confidentiality and privacy information for private contractors and panel participants.

A certificate of carer approval must not be provided to the carer until the CSU manager has advised the CSSC of the outcome of the child protection and personal history checks for all adult people included in the APA initial form. The only exception to this is if a regional director or duty executive officer has granted provisional approval. (Refer to Provisional assessment and approval.)

Provide advice in specific applicant matters

The assessor will consider the following matters, if relevant to the applicant’s circumstances:

  • immunisation status and views on immunisation of a child in care
  • responding when one of the applicant parties is unable to participate in the assessment
  • providing information about the provision of other regulated child-care in the home
  • varying the assessment requirements for an approved kinship carer who requires a subsequent initial assessment.

Make sure the assessor explores the immunisation status of the applicant

Carers may be at increased risk of acquiring a vaccine-preventable disease or transmitting it to others. Due to the risks associated with placing a child in care with an unimmunised carer family, it is important to make sure that the assessor explores:

  • the applicant’s immunisation as a child
  • the immunisation they may have had as an adult
  • the immunisation status of children currently in the carer household  - is it consistent with the National Immunisation Program schedule
  • the applicant’s views about childhood immunisation
  • whether they are willing and able to arrange for the immunisation of children placed in their care.

The National Immunisation Program has specific vaccination recommendations for people who work in close contact with children, such as carers, including:

  • the adult whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine, for which a booster is recommended every 10 years
  • the measles mumps rubella (MMR) vaccine
  • chicken pox (varicella), if not immune
  • influenza.

Although a carers immunisation status and views cannot be considered grounds for refusal of approval, it is important to make sure the assessor includes this information in the carer assessment report.

For information on how a carers immunisation status impacts on care arrangement matching, refer to Procedure 5, Consider the immunisation status of the care arrangement.

Provide advice if one applicant cannot participate in the assessment process

Attention

If a person is living with his or her spouse, the person may only hold a certificate of approval jointly with the spouse (Child Protection Act 1999, section 132(3)).

The nature and location of an applicant’s employment can affect the carer assessment process, for example, when one of the applicants is working interstate or overseas, or they have long absences from the home due to employment in the defence forces or mining industry.

If contacted by an external assessor seeking advice about how to respond when a prospective carer applicant is genuinely not available to be assessed along with their spouse, provide the following advice:

  • The available applicant may lodge an application as a single applicant, enabling their participation in Getting ready to start training (for a foster care applicant) and the assessment process to be commenced and completed.
  • If approved, the applicant will be issued with a certificate of approval in their name only.
  • When the unavailable spouse returns to the carer household, the approved carer and the spouse will submit a new application for initial approval, along with other forms required to progress the application—such as a blue card or exemption card application, and the Carer applicant health and wellbeing questionnaire.
  • The assessment as joint applicants will proceed without the need for the approved carer to undertake child protection and personal history checks or to participate in Getting ready to start training (for foster care applicants).
  • If the applicants are approved, a new certificate of approval in both applicants’ names will be issued.
  • The previously approved single carer will be asked to return the previous certificate of approval.

In these circumstances, the CSSC or PSU will progress child protection and personal history checks relating to the spouse, and ensure all other assessment requirements are completed prior to submitting the application to the CSSC manager. The CSSC or PSU will update ICMS.

Provide advice if the carer operates other regulated home-based services

Some applicants may be providing, or may intend to provide, other regulated home-based services such as family day care or a stand-alone care service. (For further information, refer to Provision of other regulated services from the home.)

When an applicant advises that regulated home based services are being provided, or when this becomes apparent at any stage during the application or assessment process, the assessor will discuss this with the applicant. They will determine how the provision of other home-based care services could affect the applicant’s capacity to provide quality care to children placed with them as a foster or kinship carer.

Provide advice if an approved kinship carer requires a subsequent initial assessment

Attention

When an approved kinship carer has applied to provide care for another child who is kin, a new APA initial form for a carer assessment child is required.

It is not necessary for the applicant to go through the full kinship carer assessment process:

  • if the CSO or external assessor is to begin a kinship assessment relating to another child who is proposed to be placed with the approved kinship carer (such as the sibling of the child in the current care arrangement)
    and
  • the kinship carer’s assessment was completed within the last 2 years.

Assessment requirements in these circumstances will be guided by the Kinship carer initial assessment report guidelines, and will require:

  • the kinship carer to lodge a new Application for initial approval—Form 3A (APA initial).
  • updated child protection and personal history checks, undertaken by the CSU
  • a Household safety study
  • a Kinship carer initial assessment report, providing updated information to inform the approval decision, such as:
    • changes to the carer’s personal circumstances since the previous assessment report, including adult household members, refer to Respond to changes in a carer’s circumstances.)
    • the impact the proposed care arrangement may have on the child currently placed with the carer
    • the views of the subject child about the proposed care arrangement, refer to Obtain the views of the child and parents.
    • the views of the CSO and the foster and kinship care service who have been in regular contact with the carer since the previous assessment (and information about the frequency and nature of their contact)
    • the additional supports the carer may require to meet the needs of the subject child.

If the certificate of approval was issued within the last two years, and unless indicated by the applicant’s circumstances, there is no requirement to complete an additional Carer applicant health and wellbeing questionnaire.

The new assessment report, together with the initial assessment report for the original carer approval decision, will be submitted to the PSU manager and the CSSC manager.

Record mandatory training by applicant

A foster carer applicant is required to complete mandatory Getting ready to start training (previously called pre-service training). Refer to Foster carer training guidelines. Details of their participation are included in the Foster carer assessment and recommendation—initial approval only, from information provided by the foster and kinship care service.

The PSU will record the carer’s training details in the M&S activities tab in the carers monitor and support screen in ICMS.

Note

Kinship carers are not required to complete Getting ready to start training, but they may choose to do so. (Refer to the policy Foster care training.)

Obtain the views of the child and parents

Child Safety is responsible for providing children with the opportunity to participate in decision-making, such as decisions about where and with whom they will live.

The kinship carer assessment will include the child’s views about the proposed care arrangement, and information about the nature and quality of the relationship that the child has with the applicant. This information will be documented in part 1 of the Kinship carer initial assessment report. (For more information refer to the Kinship carer initial assessment report guidelines.)

Regardless of who is completing the kinship carer assessment, the CSO responsible for the child will provide this information in part 1 of the kinship carer assessment report, or provide the information to the assessor, and also include:

  • details of the subject, for a proposed kinship care arrangement
  • a genogram of the family, ecomap or an Aboriginal family circle
  • the child’s case plan and their strengths and needs, or a copy of the case plan and child’s strengths and needs assessment.

If the child’s CSO has already sought the child’s views about the proposed care arrangement, as part of the initial process of identifying potential kinship carers for the child, then this information can be documented in the assessment.

For an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child, a decision about where a child will live is a significant decision under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 6AA(2). The CSO will advise the child of their right to have an independent person to help them have a say and participate in this decision. (Refer to the policy Decisions about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.)

If the child nominates someone to be their independent person, arrange for the independent person to facilitate the child’s participation, and complete the Independent person form in ICMS.

Arrange the assessment of interstate carer applicants

If a prospective kinship carer resides in another state, territory or in New Zealand, and they are interested in providing care for a particular child in care in Queensland, the CSO will:

  • provide information to assist the person to make an informed decision about applying to care for the particular child
  • explain the application requirements, including the need for a blue card or exemption from Blue Card Services. 
  • outline the carer assessment process and provide the prospective carer with the forms required to make the application. (Refer to Help the prospective kinship carer to complete a carer application.)

Advise the prospective kinship carer  to contact Blue Card Services and provide their details, and request that a Remote pack to be sent to them. 

If the person lodges an application and it has been properly made, the CSO will:

  • email the CSU to request that child protection and personal history checks of the applicant and adult household members be undertaken
  • complete the Request for Interstate Assessment - Initial Kinship Carer Assessment template
  • obtain signatures from the CSO with case responsibility for the child, and from the senior team leader
  • attach any supporting documentation, such as assessment information about the child, and the CSU outcome report if available.

The Interstate Child Protection Protocol requires child protection and personal history checks to be completed prior to sending the interstate assessment request to the receiving State, unless there are exceptional circumstances or this is otherwise negotiated. The results of the checks should be included with the material forwarded to the receiving state. (Refer to Request child protection and personal history checks.)

Provide all information to the IL team at Court Services. 

Note

The IL team will forward the request and accompanying documentation to the IL officer in the other jurisdiction.

If the CSU manager subsequently advises that, based on child protection and personal history checks, the applicant is not suitable, contact the Queensland IL team immediately. The team will withdraw the assessment request from the other jurisdiction.

Attach the completed assessment report and other forms to the EOI/application in ICMS.

Arrange to extend the timeframe for deciding an initial carer application

Time sensitive

The timeframe for deciding an initial foster and kinship carer application is 90 days after the application is properly made. If the application is not decided within this timeframe, the application must be refused. Refusing an application is a reviewable decision.

If the initial carer application is unlikely to be decided within 90 days of the lodgement date, it is possible to extend the timeframe, but only once. The CSSC manager or PSU manager is delegated to make this decision, and will:

  • contact the applicant before the 90-day period ends, and discuss the reason for their application not being decided within the 90 days
  • seek the applicant’s agreement to extend, and provide the new timeframe for deciding the application
  • send the Letter requesting an extension to Form APA, available in the carer entity in  ICMS, to the applicant, asking them to return the signed agreement.

The CSO will:

  • record the application extension details in the lodgement/withdrawal tab in ICMS (to ensure the application expiry date is updated)
  • place a copy of the letter and signed agreement from the applicant on the applicant’s file and attach a copy to the EOI/application in ICMS
  • advise the assessor of the new application expiry date.

Respond if the blue card application is refused

If an application for a blue card is refused by Blue Card Services, they will provide the applicant with a negative notice and inform them of the process for a review of the decision.

If the affected person appeals the decision by Blue Card Services, the CSSC manager may temporarily suspend any further assessment of the carer application until the outcome of the review is determined.

Note

CSU will record an alert of blue card declined on the applicant’s and/or adult household member’s person record in ICMS. (Refer to Procedure 1 Information that requires an Integrated Client Management System alert.)

Leave the alert open after the blue card declined review date in the alert, in case the applicant or adult household member makes a carer application in the future.

If no review process is initiated, or if the Blue Card Services decision is upheld by QCAT, the carer application must be refused by the CSSC manager or PSU manager. Update ICMS records.

Respond to a decision to withdraw the application

If a carer applicant advises the assessor or CSO that they not want to proceed with the carer application:

  • Ask the applicant to provide advice of this decision in writing.
  • Record the application withdrawal details in the lodgement/withdrawal tab in ICMS.

Respond when a carer applicant is also a Child Safety employee

Being a Child Safety employee and an approved carer may present a number of challenges. It is important for employees to fully consider the issues and potential challenges prior to submitting a carer application.

Respond when a Child Safety employee is interested in being a carer

Child Safety employees may express an interest in becoming a foster or kinship carer. Like any other person, their application to become an approved carer will be voluntary.

A Child Safety employee who submits an application to be a kinship carer will only be accepted if they meet the legislative definition of kin (which is that they are a relative of the child or anyone else of significance to the child—refer to the Child Protection Act 1999, schedule 3).

It is not reasonable or likely to be in the best interests of a child to attempt to prevent an employee from making an application to be a kinship carer.

Attention

A Child Safety employee who has no pre-existing connection or relationship with the child, prior to the intervention by Child Safety, does not meet the legislative definition of kin and cannot apply to be approved as a kinship carer for the child.

A Child Safety employee in a non-direct service delivery role may lodge an application when it is considered appropriate by the regional director. Refer to the policy Placement of children with Child Safety employees.

If an employee who submits an application to be a foster carer is employed in a direct service delivery role, they may only be approved or provisionally approved as a foster carer if the regional director is satisfied exceptional circumstances apply and the foster carer applicant meets approval requirements.

Exceptional circumstances include:

  • The employee’s substantive position is in a direct service delivery role, but they are currently seconded to a non-direct service delivery role.
  • A child in a rural and remote area has a care arrangement identified for them, but it is not immediately available, and no other options are immediately available. The employee may be assessed as a foster carer in order to provide short-term care for the child until the intended care arrangement becomes available.

A ‘direct service delivery role’ refers to one in which the responsibilities and duties predominantly include telephone, written or in-person contact with children or families receiving a service from Child Safety.

A ‘non-direct service delivery role’ refers to one in which the responsibilities and duties exclude, or include only limited, telephone, written or in-person contact with children or families receiving a service from Child Safety.

Prior to a Child Safety employee lodging a carer application, the PSU or CSSC manager will inform the employee about the potential challenges, risks and processes associated with the employee’s possible future role, including discussing:

  • potential or actual conflicts of interest, such as when the employee may be improperly influenced in the performance of their duties and responsibilities because of their private interests (Refer to the Conflicts of interest policy support document)
  • confidentiality issues that may arise due to the employee’s access to records that would not normally be available to approved carers
  • the potential risk to professional reputation or livelihood, should a standards of care review or harm report arise in relation to the quality of care provided to a child placed with them. In extreme cases, the nature of the allegations may require disciplinary action to be taken in relation to the employee.

If the employee decides to proceed, they must inform their line manager of their intention to lodge a carer application and also that the line manager may be contacted to provide a referee report in relation to the employee’s application.

Arrange for the assessment of an employee's carer application

A Child Safety employee is subject to all the same requirements for carer assessment as any other carer applicant. (Refer to Overview of the initial carer assessment or Arrange for renewal of approval.)

The assessment will be undertaken by a Child Safety practitioner or external assessor who has no personal or professional relationship with the employee.

If this is not possible, for example, in rural or remote locations, a senior team leader or senior practitioner will complete the assessment. In these circumstances, the CSSC manager will put in place strategies to enable the employee to clearly separate their two roles and manage conflict of interests. For example, the CSSC manager will arrange for another senior practitioner within the region to attend the assessment panel if a senior practitioner known to the Child Safety employee has assessed the carer application.

During assessment interviews with the employee, the assessor will discuss and consider the impact of any conflict of interest, confidentiality issues and proposed management strategies on the employee’s ability to meet the safety, belonging  and wellbeing needs of the child.

The timeframe for deciding the application may be extended by the CSSC manager, if considered necessary. (Refer to Arrange to extend the timeframe for deciding an initial carer application.)

Complete the conflict of interest declaration form

In some circumstances, being an employee and an approved carer may cause the employee to experience a conflict of interest. Employees are responsible for recognising and declaring conflicts of interest and seeking advice from their manager if unsure as to whether a conflict of interest may exist.

Managers and employees are responsible for assessing whether a Conflict of interest declaration form is required. The manager should provide guidance and support to the employee in managing and resolving conflicts of interest.

Attention

Storage of and access to the completed Conflict of interest declaration form is restricted. (Refer to the Conflicts of interest policy support document.)

 

Complete the advice to regional director form

If a CSO or other Child Safety practitioner has completed the carer assessment, they are responsible for completing the Advice to regional director  form. If an external assessor is responsible for completing the carer assessment, seek advice from the PSU regarding who will complete this form.

The CSSC manager for the catchment area where the carer applicant resides is responsible for contacting the employee’s line manager seeking their contribution to completion of the Advice to regional director form. If the CSSC manager and the employee’s line manager are the same person, the senior practitioner will also participate in the discussion for the purpose of completing this form.

In addition to outlining the current or anticipated issues associated with the applicant being both a carer and an employee, outline:

  • proposed monitoring and support strategies for addressing or preventing any identified issues
  • the views of the child and their parents regarding the proposed care arrangement, if the employee has applied to be a kinship carer.

Provide a copy of the assessment report and the completed Advice to regional director form to the applicant.

Decide an employee’s carer application

The regional director is responsible for deciding to approve or refuse all carer applications from Child Safety employees. In making a decision, the regional director will consider:

The regional director will:

  • make any comments specific to the employee’s proposed or actual carer role in the Advice to regional director form
  • document the decision to approve or refuse the application and the reasons for the decision
  • record any relevant comments on either the Form 4: Approval decision or the Form 5: Approval Decision—Provisionally Approved Carer
  • complete the Conflict of interest declaration form, Section 3, if applicable
  • provide a copy of the completed Conflict of interest declaration form  to the employee and their line manager
  • provide a copy of the  completed Advice to regional director  form to the employee and their line manager, and to the foster and kinship care service responsible for the ongoing monitoring and support of the carer.

If an immediate care arrangement is required with a Child Safety employee, the applicant may be provisionally approved by the regional director, or the duty executive officer if after hours, prior to placing the child. (Refer to the policy Placement of children with Child Safety employees .)

Take additional actions following approval or refusal decision

Following completion of all relevant documentation by the regional director, the relevant PSU or CSSC resumes responsibility for attending to all remaining procedural requirements, including the need to inform:

  • the employee of the decision and review rights
  • the employee’s line manager of the decision
  • the foster and kinship care service responsible for ongoing monitoring and support of the carer.

Respond when an approved carer is or becomes an employee

An approved carer who is subsequently appointed to a position in Child Safety, including a traineeship or student placement, is able to continue to provide care.

To facilitate the separation of roles, case responsibility for the child will not, where practicable, be held in the CSSC where the Child Safety employee is in a direct service delivery role.

The CSSC manager will ensure that the PSU or the foster and kinship care service:

  • advises the employee of their obligation to inform their line manager of their carer role, or possible carer role
  • meets with the approved carer or carer applicant within two weeks of their commencement as an employee, to discuss the:
    • potential challenges, risks and processes associated with their dual role or future carer role (Refer to the Conflicts of interest policy support document)
    • roles and responsibilities of the Child Safety employee in the work context, including any anticipated impact their carer role may have on their work and conflicts of interest, and any proposed management strategies for dealing with this, if applicable.

When the employee indicates an intention to continue in their role as an approved carer, the CSSC manager is responsible, in the first instance, for negotiating the employee’s line manager’s involvement in contributing to the completion of the Advice to regional director form. Record the outcome of all related discussions in the form.

When the CSSC manager and the employee’s line manager is the same person, the senior practitioner will also participate in discussions for the purpose of completing the form.

If the employee or their line manager identifies a conflict of interest, the employee will complete the Conflict of interest declaration form, Section 1 and provide this form directly to their line manager for their completion of Section 2. (For further information, refer to the policy Conflict of interest.)

If the employee decides to withdraw their application, or to cease being a carer, ask them to provide the advice in writing.

If the employee proceeds with the carer application:

  • Provide a copy of the completed Advice to regional director  form to the employee.
  • Forward the completed form to the regional director, either:
    • for their information only, when an approved carer has just become a Child Safety employee
      or
    • to be used for the regional director’s approval or renewal decision.
  • Forward the Conflict of interest declaration form, if applicable, to the regional director, for their completion of Section 3.

Support Child Safety employees who are approved carers

A Child Safety employee who is an approved carer will not be directly involved as an employee in the case work or decision making for any child placed with them. They are able to be involved in decision making for the child in their role as the child’s carer.

All approved carers who are Child Safety employees will be subject to the usual monitoring and support processes. (Refer to Provide support to the carer.)

During the development or review of a placement agreement or a foster carer agreement, the CSO or other Child Safety practitioner will:

  • remind the approved carer of their responsibility to ensure appropriate use and disclosure of official information (Refer to Privacy and confidentiality.)
  • seek information from the CSSC responsible for the child regarding any identified issues or concerns about the approved carer’s role as an employee and an approved carer
  • review conflicts of interest and management strategies, as documented in the Advice to regional director form, and where applicable, update management strategies
  • identify the monitoring and support strategies to be implemented.

Note

The employee and their line manager are responsible for the ongoing implementation of the policy Conflict of interest, including when changes to an employee’s circumstances may affect their carer role and require the completion of an amended Conflict of interest declaration form.

Arrange the assessment of a renewal of approval for a Child Safety employee

An application by a Child Safety employee for renewal of their approval as a kinship or foster carer will be invited, assessed and decided in accordance with usual procedural requirements. (Refer to Arrange for renewal of approval.)

Ask the assessor to take into account and document in the Advice to regional director form:

  • the approved carer’s management of confidentiality issues for the previous 1- or 2-year period of approval
  • the approved carer’s management of conflicts of interest, if applicable, for the previous 1- or 2-year period of approval
  • any other information relevant to the person’s dual role as a Child Safety employee and an approved carer for the previous 1- or 2-year period.

All assessment and approval documentation usually provided to the PSU for the CSSC manager’s decision making will be forwarded to the regional director, along with the Advice to regional director form and if applicable, the Conflict of interest declaration form.

Upon receipt of the approval decision, the responsible CSSC or PSU will attend to all remaining procedural requirements.

Following the decision to grant renewal of approval, the foster and kinship care service or Child Safety officer responsible for supporting the carer will:

  • review support arrangements with the approved carer.  (Refer to Provide support to the carer.)
  • continue monitoring the quality of care provided, including issues associated with confidentiality and conflicts of interest.

If the decision is to not renew the carer’s approval, refer to Refuse the application for other reasons.

Decide the outcome of the application

The CSSCmanager is delegated to approve or refuse foster and kinship care applications, except for when the applicant is a Child Safety employee, in which case the regional director holds the delegation.

If a CSSC manager is not available, the PSU manager can approve or refuse an application. The CSSC manager can also grant provisional approval when the applicant and adult household members are assessed as not posing a risk to the child’s safety.

The regional director, or the duty executive officer if after hours, may grant provisional approval in urgent circumstances, prior to the completion of child protection and personal history checks undertaken by CSU. (Refer to Provide the finalised assessment to the delegated officer.)

The regional director must decide the outcome for carer applicants who are Child Safety employees. (Refer to Arrange for the assessment of an employee’s carer application.)

Attention

In this context, ‘CSSC manager’ specifically means the manager of the CSSC in the geographical area where the carer resides. An exception is where the application is for a kinship carer who resides in another geographical area and case responsibility for the child is to be transferred to the CSSC where the applicant resides. In these circumstances, the CSSC manager with case management responsibility for the child is responsible for the approval of the kinship carer.

Receive assessment documents

The PSU will receive all carer assessment reports and other documentation supporting the carer assessment, from the assessor, on the correct template. 

Child Safety assessors will use the assessment templates in ICMS. External assessors will use the same templates, accessible from the Resources and publications page on the  Child Safety internet.

If the applicant is a Child Safety employee, the assessor, or the PSU for an external assessor, will also provide the Advice to regional director form and the Conflict of interest declaration form. (Refer to Arrange for the assessment of an employee's carer application.)

Note

The assessor is required to provide the applicant with a copy of the final report. This enables them to read the assessment and gives them the opportunity to make written comments about the information in the report, for the decision-maker’s consideration. The applicant will be asked to sign and return the assessment report.

If there is insufficient, missing or contradictory information in the report provided by the assessor, the PSU will contact the assessor and request further information to be provided. This may require the assessor to provide an addendum to the assessment report.

Convene a carer assessment panel

Regional assessment panels can assist in deciding initial carer and renewal applications. They are made up of representatives from Child Safety, Queensland Foster and Kinship Care (QFKC), foster and kinship care services, and others with specialist knowledge to help in decision making. Refer to the handout Carer assessment panel guidelines.

Panels may also be used as a consultative forum by agencies and assessors for advice on potentially complex assessments or when consideration is being given to suspending or cancelling a carer’s certificate.

The PSU is responsible for overseeing and coordinating regional carer assessment panels and for providing secretariat support. It determines which matters will be referred to a panel and invites guest attendees as required.

Panel participants will receive a copy of the carer assessment documentation at least 1 week prior to the meeting, including the outcome of child protection and personal history checks from the CSU. External panel members will be provided with Confidentiality and privacy information for private contractors and panel members.

In addition to making a recommendation for approval, the panel may also consider:

  • the type of care for which approval is given
  • the number, ages and genders of children for whom the applicant has the characteristics, capacity and capability to care
  • special conditions that need to be applied to the carer’s certificate of approval.

Approve the carer application

Prior to granting approval, the decision maker must be satisfied the applicant meets all of the legislative requirements. (Refer to the Child Protection Act 1999, sections 133, 134 and 135, and the Child Protection Regulation 2011, sections 22 and 23.)

The CSSC manager will consider all information provided, together with the legislative and policy requirements for suitability, including:

  • the outcomes of the applicants and adult household members application for a blue card
  • all personal history checks, as recorded on the Form 4: Approval decision
  • information in the carer assessment report
  • whether the applicant is a suitable person to be an approved foster or kinship carer
  • the views of the child and family about the proposed kinship carer for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child.

To approve the application, the CSSC manager (or regional director for a Child Safety employee) will record the approval decision, along with any relevant comments, on the Form 4: Approval decision, and sign the form.

When the application is approved, advise the applicant that:

  • their application has been approved
  • they are legally obliged to inform Child Safety of specific changes in their circumstances and that copies of the Change in carer circumstances - Form 39 will be posted to them, in case they need to complete it in future.

Following the provision of the above advice to the approved carer:

  • Record application outcome details in the approval/refusal tab in ICMS, with a scheduled review date of 3 months prior to expiry.
  • Provide the following to the approved carer:
  • Attach final copies of the assessment report, the Form 4: Approval decision, the certificate of approval and the letter of approval to the EOI /application’ in ICMS.
  • Place the final assessment report and the Form 4: Approval decision on the approved carer's file.
  • Provide a copy of the certificate of approval and the letter of approval to the carer’s foster and kinship care service.

Note

The CSSC manager may decide the outcome of an application prior to the finalisation of personal history checks for a new adult household member who joined the household after the application was lodged.

Issue a certificate of approval

A foster carer is approved to care for any child placed in their care by Child Safety,  and issued with one certificate of approval, as outlined in the Child Protection Act 1999, section 133. A kinship carer requires a separate certificate of approval for each child for whom they are approved to care.

The certificate of approval records the following details:

  • the name of the approved carer or the approved carer couple
  • the date of approval
  • the length of time for which the approval has effect
  • the expiry date
  • conditions of approval, if conditions are considered necessary by the decision maker
  • the signature of the approving CSSC manager or regional director, and the date of approval.

These details will pre-populate into the certificate of approval created in ICMS, with the exception of the date and signature.

Should the conditions of approval change, an amendment to the certificate of approval is required.

Attention

Two adults in a spousal relationship are to be issued with a joint certificate of approval that shows both of their names on the certificate of approval.

Initial approval

The certificate of approval will be issued with an expiry date 1 year after the date of initial approval, as recorded on the Form 4: Approval decision.

Renewal of approval

The certificate of approval will be issued with an expiry date of 2 years from the date of expiry on the previous certificate of approval.

If the original certificate has already expired, the expiry date will be 2 years from the date of the decision to grant the renewal of approval, as recorded on the Form 4: Approval decision.

Attention

A certificate of approval as a kinship carer cannot be amended to change the child for whom the carer is approved.

Finalise the foster carer agreement

A Foster carer agreement is a written agreement, negotiated between each foster carer and their foster and kinship care service and Child Safety, that:

  • sets out the terms and responsibilities between the foster carer, the foster and kinship care service, and the Child Safety
  • includes a plan for meeting the carer’s ongoing development and support needs.

If a foster carer agreement was not completed by the assessor with the carer as part of the approval process, it will be completed by the foster and kinship care service and the carer as soon as possible after the issuing of the certificate of approval, and prior to a child being placed with the carer.

Note

A foster carer agreement is not completed for a kinship carer, as their support needs are specific to the child placed in their care and are recorded in the placement agreement. Support activities that require follow-up for a kinship carer will be recorded as a kinship care support follow-up activity in the carer’s monitor and support screen in ICMS.

Although the foster carer agreement is usually completed by the assessor as part of the carer approval process, the CSSC manager may also be involved developing the foster carer agreement. The agreement will outline:

The assessor or the foster and kinship care agency will provide the CSSC manager with a copy of the agreement, signed by the foster carer, for the signature of the CSSC manager. Attach a copy of the signed foster carer agreement to the carer’s monitor and support screen in ICMS and file the original on the carer’s file.

Activities identified in the foster carer agreement may be recorded as foster carer agreement follow-up activities created in the carer’s monitor and support screen in ICMS.

Refuse the application on blue card or exemption card grounds

The Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening) Act 2000,  section 175, prevents Child Safety from allowing a person to commence as an approved foster or kinship carer, or as in the case of a provisionally approved carer, allowing them to continue as approved foster or kinship carer, without a blue card.

When an application for initial approval or renewal of approval is refused by the CSSC manager and the refusal is due to blue card or exemption card grounds:

Refuse the application for other reasons

When an application for initial approval or renewal of approval is refused by the CSSC manager (or the regional director for a Child Safety employee) and the refusal is not on blue card or exemption card grounds:

When an application for renewal of approval is refused, the carer’s approval status will automatically be updated and the end date will reflect the Not approved decision date as recorded in the approval/refusal tab in ICMS.

The CSU must be notified of the decision to refuse an application, if:

  • the applicant does not seek a review of the decision within 28 days of receiving the letter
  • the applicant seeks a review of the decision and the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) upholds Child Safety’s decision.

If the person applies for the decision to be reviewed by QCAT, reopen the closed EOI/application and record reviewable decision details in the approval/refusal tab in ICMS.

If QCAT amends the decision and the carer is subsequently approved:

  • Provide relevant approval documentation to the approved carer, the foster and kinship care service, if applicable, and Carepay. 
  • Record the QCAT decision in ICMS.
  • Advise the CSU of the amended decision.
  • Close the alert that was created when the application was refused.

Refusal when the initial application is not decided within the required timeframe

Tip

Refusing an application due to the application expiring is a reviewable decision.

If an initial carer application is not decided within the 90-day period, or within the period of extension as agreed in writing, the application must be refused. In these circumstances, the CSSU or PSU manager will:

  • provide the applicant with written notice of the decision within 10 days, using the Letter of refusal—expiry of application
  • record the refusal decision on Form 4 and as Not approved in the approval/refusal tab in ICMS
  • not record an alert on the applicant.

When an application for initial approval is not decided within the 90-day period, or within the subsequent extension period as agreed in writing, the proposed carers will need to submit a new Application for initial  approval—Form 3A (APA initial) if they wish to proceed with an application.

When the person applies for a decision to be reviewed by QCAT, reopen the closed EOI/application and record reviewable decision details in the approval/refusal tab in ICMS.

Arrange for renewal of approval

An approved foster or kinship carer is required to renew their approval 1 year from the date of their initial approval and every 2 years after that.

The renewal of a carer’s certificate of approval is similar to the application requirements for initial carer applicants. The following application forms must be lodged by the carer prior to the expiry of their certificate of approval, and deemed to be properly made by Child Safety:

The assessment process for a carer renewal application is similar to the assessment requirements for an initial carer applicant, and include:

  • personal history and child protection history checks completed by CSU 
  • a Household safety study, completed by the assessor
  • an assessment of the application, including assessment interviews with the carers, household members and relevant others
  • completion of an assessment report, making a recommendation to approve or refuse the application
  • the issue of a new certificate of approval if the application is approved.

In addition, the approved carer and adult household members must hold a current blue card or exemption card.  

Invite an application for renewal of approval

Regardless of whether the assessment process will be undertaken by a CSO or an external assessor, the PSU is responsible for inviting a foster or kinship carer to renew their certificate of approval.

The PSU will monitor foster and kinship care service providers' responsibility to commence the renewal assessment process 3 months prior to the expiry date of the carer's certificate of approval. Foster and kinship care service providers will support carers to commence their renewal assessments by providing the carer with:

Note

A long-term guardian or a permanent guardian does not need to renew their approval for the child subject to their guardianship. They only need to renew their carer approval if they intend to provide a care arrangement for other children in care.

Ensure the details of the adult household members of a carer household are included in APA renewal form,  including their blue card or exemption card number.

Where a new adult household member is identified, ensure their details have been provided to the CSSC by the carer on the New adult household member form, and they have been issued with a blue card or exemption card prior to joining the carer household. (Refer to Respond to a new adult household member.)

Support carers and adult household members to renew a blue card

The Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening) Act 2000, section 176A, requires approved carers to hold and to continue to hold a current blue card. Blue cards and exemption cards must be renewed every 3 years. 

Blue Card Services will send card holders a reminder to renew their blue card before their card expires. Approved carers and adult household members are required to lodge an application  no sooner than 16 weeks prior to the expiry date of their current blue card or exemption card.

The preferred method to renew their blue card is through their online account with Blue Card Services, as this will enable blue card applicants to manage their renewal application themselves. For further information about renewing their blue card or exemptiion card via their online account, refer to the resource, Supporting your card holders to renew online.

If the carer or aduly household member does not have an online account with Blue Card Services, advise them they:

or

Attention

As long as a carer submits the blue card renewal application  before their current blue card expires  they can continue to provide foster or kinship care —even if the new blue card has not been issued by the time the previous one expires.

If they do not apply to renew their blue card before it expires, the child placed in their care by Child Safety will not be able to remain in the care arrangement.

Ensure the renewal application is properly made

Foster and kinship carer applicants are required to lodge the carer application forms, and blue card documents if relevant, at a PSU or CSSC.

The Child Safety representative receiving the application forms will check if the application is ‘properly made’ by confirming that:

  • the APA renewal form is correctly completed, signed and dated by the applicant and each adult household member 
  • the applicants current blue card or exemption card number is included in the APA form, as well as that of all adult household members
  • new adult household members are identified, and their blue card or exemption card number is provided, or if they do not hold a current card, the online account number from Blue Card Services,  as provided to them through the Blue Card Registration process, is included. (Refer to Ensure blue card applications are lodged.)
  • a completed Carer applicant health and wellbeing questionnaire has been completed and provided.

The Child Safety representative will complete the Child Safety section of the APA renewal form. The lodgement date will either be the date the forms were provided by the applicant to the CSSC or PSU, or (if the application is subsequently found to be incomplete by the CSU and returned to the CSSC or PSU), the date the missing information is obtained and the forms are resubmitted by the carer applicant. The amended date is recorded as the new lodgement date in the Child Safety section of the APA renewal form.

Attention

Approved carers must provide the APA renewal and other required forms to the PSU or CSSC, prior to the expiry of their current certificate of approval. If their existing certificate of approval has expired before the carer makes an application, it cannot be progressed as an application for renewal of approval.

The applicant will need to lodge an  Application for initial approval—Form 3A.

Record the renewal in ICMS

When the application is properly made:

  • Create an EOI /application for renewal from the carer entity record in ICMS.
  • Record the application lodgement and verification of identity details, including that of any new adult household members in the lodgement/withdrawal tab.
  • Attach all relevant forms and other documents to the EOI/application in ICMS.

As identification was verified when processing the initial carer application, there is no need to verify the identity of an applicant or a household member, unless a blue card or exemption card application is completed as part of the assessment process.

Respond when a carer decides to cease being a carer

If an approved carer indicates they do not wish to renew their carer approval, the PSU will tell the carer, or arrange for the foster and kinship service to tell the carer to:

  • provide notice of their decision in writing
  • ask the carer to return their certificate of approval, as required by the Child Protection Act 1999, section 141A, and to return the Carer Business Discount Card
  • inform the carer about available supports, for example, counselling or referrals, when the cessation occurs due to difficult personal circumstances
  • notify the CSU immediately
  • complete the Advice to Queensland Foster and Kinship Care (QFKC): End of carer approval form, and email the form to the QFKC.

For a foster carer, the requirement to surrender their certificate of approval takes effect 21 days after Child Safety is notified of the decision to cease being a carer, or if a later day is stated in their written notice, on the later day. For a kinship carer or a provisionally approved carer, the surrender takes effect on the day the notice is given, or if a later day is stated in their written notice, on the later day.

Update the ICMS records by amending the carer’s approval status in ICMS to Surrendered, and recording the reason why the carer has decided to cease being a carer.

Begin the renewal assessment process

The assessment of the application for renewal of approval will focus on changes since the previous assessment, and include demonstrated examples of how the applicant has provided care in a manner consistent with the legislated statement of standards,  and met other suitability requirements. (Refer to Guidelines for completing an assessment report—Renewal of approval only or Kinship carer renewal assessment report guidelines.)

Alternatively, if there has been limited or infrequent contact with the carer in the preceding 1- or 2-year period, or there have been significant issues of concern regarding the quality of care provided by the applicant or their suitability, the assessment will need to be more comprehensive, and will include structured assessment interviews.

The foster and kinship care service responsible for supervising and supporting the carer since their previous carer assessment usually completes the renewal assessment,   However, it may also be completed by a contracted fee-for-service professional. (Refer to the  Foster carer applicant assessment and recommendation—Renewal of approval only.) The core requirements to be completed by the assessor include:

  • assessment interviews with the applicant and household members
  • interviews or information from other sources relevant to the assessment
  • a household safety study.

Child Safety is responsible for part of the renewal assessment requirements:

  • CSU will complete child protection history and personal history checks, and make the decision as to whether the application is eligible or not suitable to progress to the next stage of the carer assessment process.
  • The CSO for the child (currently or previously) in the care arrangement will provide information about the carer’s role and capacity in meeting the child’s need for safety, wellbeing and belonging.

The CSSC manager will determine the need for additional discretionary information. (Refer to Determine the need for discretionary information.)

Request child protection history and personal history checks

Once a renewal application has been properly made and the application lodgement details have been recorded in ICMS, immediately email the CSU to advise them to proceed with the child protection and personal history checks. (Refer to Request child protection and personal history checks.)

Provide the assessor with information for the assessment

The CSU outcome report will be provided to the CSSC and PSU managers, advising that the applicant is either eligible or not suitable to progress to the next stage of assessment, based on the outcome of the child protection and personal history checks.

CSU outcome report

If the CSU manager decides that the application is eligible to progress, provide the assessor with a copy of the CSU report, ensuring that any information that identifies, or is likely to identify a notifier, has been redacted (removed). In addition, remove information about a person’s youth justice history, unless an exemption under the Youth Justice Act 1992, part 9 applies. (Refer to If the application is eligible to progress.)

Interview of child in the care arrangement

Where possible, the assessor will seek to obtain and consider the views of any child currently or previously in the care arrangement. The CSO and the child’s safety and support network will, in consultation with the child, provide advice on who is best placed to talk directly with the child, and areas to explore when talking with the child. This is likely to be a person the child knows or nominates.

Information provided by the CSO

The CSO with current or previous case responsibility for a child currently or previously in the care arrangement will be contacted by the assessor and asked to provide information. Respond in a timely way when providing the required information to the assessor. Seek the advice of the senior team leader about providing sensitive information that needs to be considered in the assessment.

Note

The assessor may seek information from additional sources, including a community visitor, school staff or early childhood centre staff who have contact with the child currently in the care arrangement, and (where appropriate) a previous foster and kinship care service involved in supporting the carer since the previous carer approval.

Confirm new adult household members

If the assessor becomes aware of new adult household members, they will:

  • tell the carer of their legal obligation to immediately complete a Change in carer circumstances—Form 39 and provide this to the CSSC or PSU
  • provide information about the adult person’s proposed contact with the carer household, to the CSSC manager, for their decision about whether this person meets the legislative intention of an adult household member
  • provide this information immediately to the CSSC manager.

The Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening) Act 2000, section 176A, states that person must not join or continue to remain part of the carer household as an adult household member, without holding a current blue card or exemption card. If this continues, a new care arrangement will be required for children placed with the carer by Child Safety.

For information about the two exceptions to this requirement, refer to Ensure blue card applications are lodged.

Other changes in the carer’s household

If the carer has notified Child Safety that their circumstances have changed since the last assessment, provide this information to the assessor, as it may impact on the carer’s continued suitability. (Refer to Respond to changes in a carer's circumstances.)

Provide the assessor with information about the change in the carer’s circumstances, such as:

  • The carer is providing other regulated care services from the home.
  • There is a change in household membership
  • Criminal, traffic or domestic violence history of the applicants or adult household members has changed.
  • The applicant’s spousal relationship has changed since the last assessment.
  • The applicant’s health or employment demands have changed.

The outcome of standard of care reviews or harm reports 

If concerns have been raised about the carer being able to meet the standards of care since the last assessment, including the investigation and assessment of harm reports, any relevant information from the assessment and outcome will be provided to the assessor.

Consider the applicant’s participation in mandatory training

A foster carer applicant will need to demonstrate that they have completed mandatory training. Requirements differ depending on how long they have been a carer.

It is mandatory for foster carers to complete Starting out training  for the first renewal of approval, as well any other training requirements referenced as a condition to their certificate of approval.

Note

Kinship carers are not required to complete Starting out training, but they may choose to do so.

Receive and review the renewal assessment documents

The PSU will receive all carer assessment reports and other documentation supporting the carer assessment from the assessor, on the correct template:

If the applicant is a Child Safety employee, the assessor (or the PSU if the assessment is undertaken by an external assessor) will also complete the Advice to regional director form and the Conflict of interest declaration form. (Refer to Arrange for the assessment of an employee's carer application.)

The PSU will:

  • attach a copy of the final Foster carer applicant assessment and recommendation form—Renewal of approval only or the Kinship carer renewal assessment report to the EOI/application in ICMS
  • create a Form 4: Approval decision, adding information from the suitability checks, and for a kinship carer applicant, the details of the child in or proposed to be placed with the carer
  • record the quality assurance details, and the assessment recommendation details, in the assessment tab in ICMS
  • inform the CSSC manager that the assessment report and relevant assessment information is available in ICMS and provide the Form 4: Approval decision to the CSSC manager, or regional director if the applicant is a Child Safety employee.

File copies of all interview records, reports, handouts and self-assessments on the applicant’s paper file.

Decide the outcome of the application for renewal

Unless an application is withdrawn by the applicant in writing, or refused based on an adverse personal history, the CSSC manager (or the regional director if the applicant is a Child Safety employee) will approve or refuse the application.

Where possible, the renewal decision should be made within 3 months of the date the application was properly made. If an application for renewal is unlikely to be decided within 3 months, and more time is required, ensure the applicant is advised of the delay and the reasons for the delay.

When deciding the outcome of an application for renewal of approval, the CSSC manager, or the regional director where applicable, will consider all assessment information and the legislative and policy requirements for suitability, including:

  • the outcomes of all applications for a blue card relating to the carer applicant and adult household members
  • the outcome of suitability checks relating to the carer applicant and adult household members, as documented in the Form 4: Approval decision
  • whether the applicant continues to be a suitable person to be an approved carer
  • whether the applicant has demonstrated an ability to provide care to the child in a manner consistent with the statement of standards, for the preceding 1- or 2-year period
  • whether the applicant is providing or intending to provide other regulated services from the home and the impact this could have on their capacity to continue to provide quality care to children placed with them
  • the views of the child and family about a person’s suitability to be a kinship carer for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child, if applicable
  • the Advice to regional director form and if applicable, the Conflict of interest declaration form (for an applicant who is a Child Safety employee).

The approval decision may be informed by the convening of an assessment panel. (Refer to Convene a carer assessment panel.)

Note

If a new adult household member completes the New adult household member form and a Blue card application form, after an application for initial approval or renewal of approval has been properly made, the approval process for the carer applicant may be completed:

  • before the new adult household member is issued with a blue card or exemption card 
    or
  • prior to Blue Card Services validating the new adult household member’s existing blue card (Child Protection Act 1999, section 135(2)).

Approve the application for renewal

To approve the application, the CSSC manager (or the regional director for an applicant who is a Child Safety employee) will record the approval decision, along with any relevant comments, on the Form 4: Approval decision, and sign the form.

Following approval by the CSSC manager, or the regional director where applicable:

  • Attach a final copy of Form 4: Approval decision to the EOI/application in ICMS.
  • Record application outcome details in the approval/refusal tab in ICMS, with a scheduled review date of 3 months prior to expiry.

When the application is approved, advise the approved carer that:

  • their application for renewal has been approved
  • they are required to inform Child Safety of specific changes in their circumstances on the Change in carer circumstances - Form 39 .

Following the provision of the above advice to the approved carer:

  • Complete the Letter of renewal as a foster carer or Letter of renewal as a kinship carer created in ICMS
  • Issue a Certificate of Approval—Foster carer or Certificate of Approval—Kinship carer.

Attach a copy of the certificate of approval and the letter of approval to the EOI/application in ICMS and provide a copy of the certificate of approval and the letter of approval to the foster and kinship care service, if applicable.

Note

A kinship carer requires a separate certificate of approval for each child for whom they are approved.

Refuse the renewal application

If the application for renewal of approval is refused by the CSSC manager, or the regional director where applicable, refer to Refuse the application for other reasons.

Finalise the reviewed foster carer agreement

The Foster carer agreement is reviewed by the carer and the assessor or the foster and kinship care service at least 1 year from the date of a foster carer’s initial approval and every 2 years after that, as part of the process to renew the carer’s approval. The review is a collaborative process involving a discussion with all parties.

The CSSC or PSU may also be involved in this process, particularly if standards of care matters or other concerns about the carer’s capacity to meet the safety, belonging and wellbeing needs of children have arisen in the past.

The review will consider what has been undertaken or achieved during the period of the agreement, and consider whether strategies need to be developed to assist the foster carer to meet the goals. During the review, the carer should be encouraged to raise any issues affecting them, including:

  • their relationship with Child Safety and the foster and kinship care service
  • any positive outcomes or learnings associated with their provision of foster care
  • the effect of the last care arrangement on the foster carer and their family
  • any difficulties experienced and reasons for these difficulties
  • any supports required
  • their readiness for other types of care arrangements
  • any changes to the original agreement in relation to the type of care and age range of children placed.

Practice prompt

Any changes made to the Foster carer agreement should be made in consultation with, and with the agreement of, the carers.

The carers, the assessor or the foster and kinship care service will sign the agreement, signifying the recorded information is a true and correct record of discussions held. The foster and kinship care service will ask the CSSC manager to read the agreement and sign it to signify Child Safety’s acknowledgment and agreement.

The CSSC will:

  • provide the foster carer with a copy of the final, signed Foster carer agreement  
  • attach a copy to the carer’s renewal EOI/application in ICMS
  • file the signed, original Foster carer agreement on the foster carer’s file, with the foster and kinship care service retaining a copy, where applicable.

Consider an additional, early review of the foster carer agreement

  • If there are there are ongoing concerns in relation to the quality of care provided to children, ask the foster and kinship care service to arrange for an early review of the carer’s foster carer agreement. For example, if:

  • it is assessed that the carer has not met the standards of care, following the outcome of a standards of care review or the investigation and assessment of a harm report
  • there is a change in carer circumstances that may require a review, for example, a change to personal history for the foster carer or an adult household member, such as a new criminal charge or conviction
  • the foster carer intends to provide care for other children, for example, by becoming a family day care provider
  • the carer requests a review of their Foster carer agreement.
  • Attach a copy of the Foster carer agreement to the carer’s monitor and support screen in ICMS. Activities identified in the review of the foster carer agreement may be recorded as follow-up activities in the carer’s monitor and support screen in ICMS.

Respond when the spousal relationship ends during the renewal

A carer’s joint renewal application ceases to be valid if the couple separates after the renewal application has been lodged and is in progress and:

  • the expiry date of their previous certificate would have lapsed had the renewal application not been properly made  prior to its expiry 
    and
  • only one carer wishes to continue caring.

To obtain approval for the carer who wishes to continue as a carer:

  • Ensure the carer submits an initial application to be a carer.
  • Progress urgent provisional approval of the carer to enable the placement of any children to continue, where applicable.
  • Progress the initial application in accordance with the usual assessment process; however, the carer will not need to repeat mandatory training they have previously completed.
  • Leave the joint renewal EOI/application open in ICMS until the carer is granted provisional approval and withdraw the renewal EOI/application once the carer is provisionally approved.

The approval decision for the carer will include an assessment of how their new circumstances will affect their ability to meet the safety, belonging and wellbeing needs of any children in their care. Previously gathered assessment information can be used in the new approval decision, so there should be no need to gather new initial assessment information.

If the application is approved:

  • Issue the carer with a new initial certificate of approval.
  • Complete a new foster carer agreement, where applicable.
  • Review the placement agreement for any child in the care of the carer, where applicable.

Respond when a carer’s certificate of approval requires amendment, suspension or cancellation

Under the Child Protection Act 1999, Child Safety will consider whether a carer’s certificate of approval needs to be amended, suspended or cancelled, in circumstances where a carer:

  • is not meeting the legislated statement of standards  
  • is not meeting a condition of the certificate of approval
  • requests an amendment or agrees to an amendment
  • has contravened a provision of the Child Protection Act 1999 
    or if:
    • the certificate of approval was issued because of a materially false or misleading representation or declaration (either orally or in writing)
    • it is considered necessary or desirable because of a circumstance prescribed under a regulation.

Consider an amendment requested by a carer

Any application by a carer to amend their certificate of approval must be made in writing.

Child Safety must make a decision on whether the proposed amendment is necessary within 28 days of receiving the request. If necessary, meet with the carer to discuss the matter before the 28-day period has lapsed.

If the CSSC  manager decides the proposed amendment is necessary, they will:

  • provide written notice to the carer using the Letter of outcome of application to amend, and advise:
    • that the request for an amendment has been granted
    • the details of the amendment that has been made
    • that their certificate of approval has been amended
    • that the amended certificate of approval takes effect on the day the CSSC manager gives notice to the carer that the amendment has been granted, or a later day, if stated in the notice
    • that the carer is required to deliver the original certificate of approval to the CSSC within a specified timeframe, which must not be less than 7 days from the date of the notice (Child Protection Act 1999, section 141)
  • provide the carer with a new certificate of approval that incorporates the amendment. All other details, including date of expiry and any existing conditions, must match the details on the original certificate of approval
  • retain a copy of the new certificate of approval on the carer's file and provide a copy, where relevant, to the relevant foster and kinship care service.

If the proposed amendment is not considered necessary, the application for amendment must be refused and a written notice using the Letter of outcome of application to amend must be provided to the carer within 10 days of the decision being made. (Refer to the Child Protection Act 1999, section 137.)

The notice must:

  • state the reasons for the decision
  • advise that the carer has the right to have the decision reviewed by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) if an application is made within 28 days.

Initiate an amendment

If the CSSC manager decides that an amendment to a carer’s certificate of approval is warranted:

  • Relevant Child Safety practitioners must meet with the carer to discuss the reason for the amendment and explain the process.
  • The CSSC manager must provide written notice to the carer using the Letter of proposed amendment, and state:
    • the proposed amendment and the grounds for the amendment
    • the facts and circumstances forming the basis for the grounds
    • that the carer may make written representations to the CSSC manager within 28 days (or longer, if determined by the CSSC manager) to show why the certificate of approval should not be amended.

If, after considering any written representation by the carer, the CSSC manager still considers an amendment to the certificate of approval necessary, the carer must be provided with written notice of the decision within 10 days of the decision using the Letter of amendment. The notice must:

  • state the reasons for the decision
  • advise that the amended certificate of approval takes effect on the day the CSSC manager gives notice to the carer of their decision, or a later day, if stated in the notice
  • advise the carer that they must deliver the original certificate of approval to the CSSC within the requested timeframe, which must not be less than 7 days (Child Protection Act 1999, section 141)
  • advise that the carer may have the decision reviewed by QCAT if an application is made within 28 days.

After providing written notice to the carer of the decision to amend the certificate of approval:

  • Issue a new certificate of approval that incorporates the amendment and provides all of the details that were recorded on the original certificate, including the date of expiry and any existing conditions.
  • Retain a copy of the new certificate of approval on the carer's file and provide a copy, where relevant, to the foster and kinship care service.

If, at any stage of this process, the CSSC manager decides not to proceed with the amendment, they must provide written notice to the carer of their decision not to amend the certificate of approval.

Suspend or cancel a carer’s certificate of approval

A carer’s certificate of approval may be suspended or cancelled if there is reason to believe the carer cannot provide care to a child that meets the statement of standards and that the issue of concern cannot be appropriately addressed through other means.

Attention

A carer’s certificate of approval will be cancelled by the CSU  manager, where the carer is found to be not suitable as a result of the outcome of child protection and personal history checks. (Refer to If the application is not suitable to progress.)

A suspension of a carer’s certificate of approval should be considered if the grounds for concern are likely to be temporary or if further assessment is required to determine whether the carer’s certificate of approval should be cancelled.

If the CSSC manager is considering the suspension or cancellation of a carer’s certificate of approval, relevant Child Safety practitioners must meet with the carer to discuss the reason for the proposed suspension or cancellation and explain the process.

If the decision is made (by the CSSC or CSU manager) that the suspension or cancellation of the certificate of approval is warranted, the carer must be provided with written notice using either a Letter of proposed suspension or Letter of proposed cancellation, which is to include:

  • the proposed action and the grounds for the proposed action
  • the proposed suspension period (for a suspension of the certificate of approval)
  • advice that the carer may make written representations to the CSSC manager or CSU manager within 28 days (or longer, as determined by the CSSC or CSU manager) to show why the certificate of approval should not be suspended or cancelled.

After considering any representation by the carer, if the CSSC manager or CSU manager still considers the suspension or cancellation of the certificate of approval to be necessary, the CSSC manager or CSU manager will:

  • suspend the certificate of approval for no longer than the proposed suspension period (if the action proposed in the notice was to suspend the certificate of approval) 
    or
  • cancel the certificate of approval (if the action proposed in the notice was to cancel the certificate of approval).

The suspension or cancellation of the certificate of approval takes effect on the day the CSSC manager or CSU manager gives notice to the carer of their decision, or a later day, if stated in the notice.

Following the suspension or cancellation of the certificate of approval, the CSSC manager or CSU manager must provide written notice to the carer of their decision within 10 days of the decision using either the Letter of suspension or the Letter of cancellation. The notice must:

  • state the decision for either suspending or cancelling the carer’s authority
  • state the reasons for the decision
  • advise the carer that they must deliver the original certificate of approval to the CSSC manager within the requested timeframe, which must not be less than 7 days (Child Protection Act 1999, section 141)
  • advise the carer that they may have the decision reviewed by QCAT, if an application is made within 28 days.

If the carer’s certificate of approval has been suspended, the certificate of approval must be returned to the carer at the end of the suspension period, unless the certificate of approval has been cancelled.

Following the period of review, or if the Child Safety decision is upheld, the CSSC manager will ensure the CSU is notified of the suspension or cancellation.

Record the suspension or cancellation in ICMS 

Following the suspension or cancellation of a carer’s certificate of approval, the CSSC manager will ensure:

At the end of the suspension, update the carer’s approval status in ICMS and if the certificate of approval is returned to the carer, close the alert. If the certificate of approval is cancelled following the period of suspension, the alert remains in place.

Refer carer for an exit interview

If the carer does not seek a review of the decision to have their certificate of approval cancelled within the required timeframe, or if they seek a review of the decision and QCAT upholds the Child Safety decision, notify Queensland Foster and Kinship Care (QFKC) of the end of the carer’s approval. QFKC will contact the former carer and offer them an exit interview.

To refer the former carer for an exit interview, complete the Advice to QFKC: End of carer approval form, and email the form to QFKC.

Suspend or cancel a carer’s certificate of approval on blue card grounds

Blue Card Services issues blue cards and exemption cards and monitors the changes in the criminal history of card holders on a daily basis. Blue Card Services, through the CSU, will advise Child Safety of any relevant changes to the criminal history of a carer or an adult household member, for example, if:

  • a blue card or exemption card holder’s card has been suspended because they have been charged with an excluding offence (that is, an offence that excludes them from holding a blue card)
  • a blue card or exemption card holder has a change in their criminal history which is relevant to child-related employment.

Attention

In the case of a suspension or cancellation of an existing blue card or exemption card, the chief executive must suspend an approved carer’s certificate of approval, pending the outcome of any review process initiated under the Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening) Act 2000.

If Blue Card Services decides to issue an individual with a negative notice or negative exemption notice, it means that the person will not be issued with a blue card or exemption card, or, if they already have one, that their blue card or exemption card will be suspended or cancelled. The suspension or cancellation of a carer’s certificate of approval, or the refusal of a carer’s application resulting from a negative notice is referred to as being made ‘on blue card grounds’.

Attention

In these circumstances, the CSSC must take immediate action to suspend or cancel the carer’s certificate of approval.

The decision to suspend or cancel a carer’s certificate of approval on blue card grounds takes immediate effect. The carer is not given an opportunity to provide written representations to the CSSC manager prior to the manager deciding to suspend or cancel their approval.

The CSSC manager must, however, inform the carer of the decision as soon as practicable after the decision is made.

Removal of a child—carer issues

When a carer’s approval is suspended or cancelled on blue card grounds, any child placed with the carer must be removed immediately.

Should the carer subsequently be issued with a blue card or exemption card and the suspension ended, consideration will be given to whether it is in the best interests of any of the children removed to be returned to the placement.

Removal of a child—adult household member issues

When an adult household members blue card or exemption card has been suspended or cancelled by Blue Card Services, a decision must be made about whether to remove a child. In these circumstances:

  • Hold an urgent meeting with the carer and adult household member to discuss what actions they are proposing to take.
  • Find out whether the household member intends to leave the household, and the proposed timeframe in which this would occur.
  • Assess whether the person may pose a risk to the child, even if no longer residing in, or in regular contact with, the carer household.
  • Assess whether the carer had any knowledge or awareness of the criminal history or a change in criminal history of the adult household member.
  • Assess the immediate safety of any child in the care arrangement and determine whether a standards of care review or harm report should be recorded. For example, the adult household member’s criminal acts may have resulted in harm or it is suspected that they have experience harm to the child.

If the adult household member is not planning to leave the household immediately, or will not change their contact with a child in the care arrangement, any child placed with the carer must be removed and the carer’s certificate of approval suspended.

If the adult household member leaves the household immediately, assess whether it is in the best interests of the child to remain with the carer. Take into consideration:

  • how the child’s safety, belonging and wellbeing needs will be met if the care arrangement continues
  • the child’s views—for example, is the child fearful of remaining in the placement?
  • any risk posed to the child because of the ongoing relationship of the household member to the carer
  • the carer’s response to the suspension or cancellation of the adult household member’s blue card or exemption card and the carer’s ability to protect the child in the placement
  • the likelihood of any further contact with the adult household member.

Removal of a child—review of decision

The carer is only entitled to have the decision to remove a child from the carer’s care reviewed if either:

  • the child is subject to a child protection order granting long-term guardianship to the chief executive 
    or
  • the adult household member has left the household, due to the suspension or cancellation of their blue card or exemption card, but it has been assessed that the carer is no longer a suitable person or the carer is no longer able to meet the standards of care required in the statement of standards. (Refer to the Child Protection Act 1999, section 122.)

When this applies, provide written notice of the decision to the carer and the child, and ensure that the notice includes the information specified in the Child Protection Act 1999, section 90.

Cancel a certificate of approval due to a prescribed provision—carer

A carer’s certificate of approval must be cancelled immediately when Blue Card Services cancels the carer’s blue card or exemption card, in accordance with the Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening) Act 2000. Refer to the Child Protection Act 1999, sections 140AB and 140AG(1).

The cancellation of the certificate of approval must occur as soon as practicable after Child Safety is notified of the decision. The CSSC manager must:

  • notify the carer in writing of the decision to cancel their certificate of approval using Letter of cancellation—prescribed provision—carer
  • notify the CSU of the decision.

Refer to Record the suspension or cancellation in ICMS.

Note

There is no right of review if Blue Card Services cancels a blue card or exemption card under a prescribed provision. QCAT cannot review a decision by Child Safety to cancel a carer’s certificate of approval if it is done on blue card grounds.

Suspend or cancel a carer’s certificate of approval due to a prescribed provision—adult household member

When Blue Card Services cancels the blue card or exemption card of an adult household member under a prescribed provision of the Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening) Act 2000,  or under the Child Protection Act 1999, sections 140AC and 140AG, one of the following will occur:

  • The carer’s certificate of approval must be suspended.
  • The carer’s certificate of approval may be cancelled immediately, if there is no likelihood of the adult household member leaving the carer’s home.

The suspension of the carer’s certificate of approval is an interim measure to allow an assessment of whether the adult household member has left or is likely to leave the household, and whether any risk to the safety, belonging and wellbeing of a child in the care arrangement remains.

In suspending the carer’s certificate of approval, the CSSC manager will advise the carer of the decision and the reason for the suspension using the Letter of suspension—prescribed provision adult household member.

If the adult household member leaves the household and the CSSC manager makes a decision to end the suspension, the carer must be provided with a Letter advising end of suspension.

Attention

If the household member does not leave the household, or is not expected to leave in the near future, the carer’s certificate of approval must be cancelled.

To cancel the carer’s certificate of approval (under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 140AG(3)), the CSSC manager must notify the carer in writing using the Letter of cancellation—prescribed provision—adult household member, and advise the carer:

  • of the decision to cancel their certificate of approval
  • of the reason for the cancellation
  • that they may apply to QCAT to have the decision reviewed, within 28 days.

Following the period of review, or if the Child Safety decision is upheld, the CSSC manager must ensure that the CSU is notified of the decision.

Note

The CSSC manager will not suspend or cancel the carer’s certificate of approval if satisfied that the carer is able to meet the child’s safety and wellbeing needs, and the person is no longer a member of the carer’s household.

Suspend or cancel a certificate of approval due to a prohibiting event 

A prohibiting event occurs when an approved carer or an adult member of a carer’s household:

  • is issued with a negative notice or negative exemption notice (except under a prescribed provision under the Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening Act 2000),  or where a suspended blue card or exemption card is cancelled)
  • has their blue card or exemption card suspended by Blue Card Services
  • withdraws an application for a blue card or exemption card or it is deemed withdrawn by Blue Card Services.

Prohibiting event—carer

If the prohibiting event relates to the approved carer, the suspension of the carer’s certificate of approval must occur as soon as practicable after the CSU is notified by Blue Card Services. The CSU will advise the CSSC manager of the notice provided by Blue Card Services.

To suspend the carer’s certificate of approval, the CSSC manager must notify the carer in writing using the Letter of suspension—prohibiting event—carer, and advise the carer of:

  • the decision to suspend the certificate of approval under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 140AC
  • the reason for the suspension.

The suspension of the certificate of approval remains in place until one of the following occurs:

  • The certificate of approval expires.
  • The carer is issued with a blue card or exemption card, and Child Safety ends the suspension of the certificate of approval.
  • The certificate of approval is cancelled under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 140AG.

When the certificate of approval expires, the CSSC manager will ensure that:

  • the carer is advised in writing
  • the CSU is notified.

Should the carer subsequently be issued with a blue card or exemption card, the CSSC manager will ensure that the carer is advised in writing that the suspension of their certificate of approval has ended, using the Letter advising end of suspension.

The carer’s suspended certificate of approval must be cancelled if Blue Card Services issues a negative notice or negative exemption notice and:

  • the carer does not apply for a review of the decision by Blue Card Services about the blue card or exemption card, or the review period has expired
  • the carer applies for a review of Blue Card Services decision and the decision is upheld.

The certificate of approval must be cancelled as soon as practicable and the CSSC manager is to notify the carer in writing using Letter of cancellation—prohibiting event—carer.

Attention

A carer has no right of review regarding the decision to suspend or cancel the certificate of approval in these circumstances. The CSSC manager will ensure that the carer’s status and the alert is updated in ICMS and that the CSU is notified.

Prohibiting event—adult household member

If the prohibiting event relates to an adult household member, the CSSC manager must suspend the carer’s certificate of approval, unless the adult member has left or agrees to immediately leave the carer’s household.

However, the CSSC manager will not suspend or cancel a carer’s certificate of approval if they are satisfied that the person is no longer a member of the carer’s household and does not pose any risk to the safety of a child.

If the household member remains in the household, the CSSC manager will immediately suspend the carer’s certificate of approval and provide written advice to the carer using the Letter of suspension—prohibiting event—adult household member. The written advice is to inform the carer of:

  • the decision to suspend the certificate of approval under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 140AC
  • the reason for the suspension.

If the adult member remains in the carer’s household, the CSSC manager cannot cancel the carer’s certificate of approval until:

  • the 28 days in which the adult household member is able to seek a review of Blue Card Services decision has expired, and they have not applied for a review
  • the outcome of the review is decided in favour of Blue Card Services.

In these circumstances, the adult household member will be advised of their review rights by Blue Card Services, in relation to the decision to issue a negative notice or negative exemption notice.

If the adult household member is subsequently issued with a blue card or exemption card, the CSSC manager will ensure the carer is advised in writing that the suspension of their certificate of approval has ended, using the Letter advising end of suspension.

If the household member remains in the household and the period of review expires or the Blue Card Services decision is upheld, the CSSC manager will provide written advice to the carer using Letter of cancellation—prohibiting event—adult household member. The written advice is to inform the carer:

  • of the decision to cancel their certificate of approval
  • that they may, within 28 days of receiving the notice, apply to QCAT to have the decision reviewed.

Following the period of review or if the decision by Child Safety is upheld, the CSSC manager will ensure that the CSU is notified of the decision.

Refer to Record the suspension or cancellation in ICMS

Suspension or cancellation of a foster or kinship carer’s certificate of approval—failure to apply for a blue card or exemption card or renew a blue card

If a carer or adult household member does not apply for a blue card or exemption card, or to renew their blue card, the carer’s certificate of approval may be suspended or cancelled. (Refer to the Child Protection Act 1999, section 139(5).)

In this situation, an assessment of the circumstances may be undertaken to decide whether to suspend the certificate of approval—to allow further time for the carer or adult household member to apply for a blue card or exemption card or for the renewal of their blue card.

Prior to any decision to suspend or cancel the certificate of approval, the carer must be provided with information about the proposed action. The CSSC manager is responsible for notifying the carer in writing using Letter to carer—show cause notice.

A carer has a right to apply to QCAT to have the decision made by Child Safety to suspend or cancel the carer’s certificate of approval on these grounds reviewed.

At the end of the 28-day show cause period, if the decision is to proceed with the suspension of the certificate of approval, the CSSC manager will notify the carer in writing within 10 days of the decision, using Letter of suspension—failure to apply for a blue card or exemption card, or renew a blue card.

If, within the 28 days, the carer or adult household member is subsequently issued with a blue card or exemption card, the CSSC manager will ensure that the carer is advised in writing that the suspension of their certificate of approval has ended and their approval is reinstated, using Letter advising end of suspension.

At the end of a 28-day period, if the carer or adult household member has still not applied for a blue card or an exemption card or the renewal of their blue card, or the adult household member has not left the carer’s home, the CSSC manager must cancel the carer’s certificate of approval. The CSSC manager will provide written advice to the carer within 10 days of the decision, using Letter of cancellation—failure to apply for a blue card or exemption card, or renew a blue card, and ensure that the CSU is notified.

Refer to Record the suspension or cancellation in ICMS.  In addition, record the blue card or exemption card details on the carer’s person record  are updated in ICMS.

At the end of the suspension, update the carer’s approval status in ICMS and, if the certificate of approval has been returned to the carer, close the alert and update the blue card or exemption card details. If the certificate of approval is cancelled following the period of suspension, the alert remains in place.

Refer for an exit interview—cancellation of a certificate of approval

If the carer does not seek a review of the decision to have their certificate of approval cancelled within the required timeframe, or if they seek a review of the decision and QCAT upholds Child Safety’s decision, notify Queensland Foster and Kinship Care (QFKC) of the end of the carer’s approval so they will contact the former carer to offer them an exit interview.

To refer the former carer for an exit interview, complete the Advice to QFKC: End of carer approval form, and email the form to QFKC.

Respond to changes in a carer’s circumstances

An approved carer’s circumstances may change at any time during the period of their approval. The Child Protection Act 1999, sections 141E, 141F and141G, requires approved carers, including provisionally approved carers, to immediately notify Child Safety in writing:

  • of a change of address
  • of a change in spousal relationship, for example, separation, divorce, new partner or death of a partner
  • of a change in the carer’s criminal or traffic history, including being charged with an offence
  • when there has been, or the carer suspects there has been, a change in the criminal or traffic history of a household member
  • if a carer or a household member has been the aggrieved or a respondent in a domestic and family violence matter
  • of a change in other personal circumstances, for example, significant health issues or excessive employment demands
  • of a change of people living in the carer household or otherwise regarded as an adult household member, excluding children in care
  • of an intention to provide care for other children in their home, for example, as a family day care educator or through the provision of informal care of children.

Attention

When any of these changes occur, the carer is required to complete a Change in carer circumstances—Form 39 and provide this to the CSSC or PSU. 

Take action when advised of a change in carer circumstances

Upon receipt of this information from an approved carer, the CSSC or PSU will:

  • consider whether a review of the foster carer agreement is required. (Refer to Consider an additional, early review of the foster carer agreement.)
  • consider whether a review of the carer’s suitability is required. (Refer to Review carer suitability)
  • update records in ICMS as appropriate
  • forward a copy of the completed Change in carer circumstances _Form CCC to the CSU, except when the change relates to personal circumstances involving health or employment demands.

Address changes

When a carer advises Child Safety that they have changed their primary place of residence:

  • Update the address details in ICMS.
  • Complete a Vendor master data eform located on the QGS SAP Portal reference
  • ECC Shared Services Portal/Finance/Expense/Procurement overview/Vendor Master Data. 
  • Ask the foster and kinship care service to complete a new Household safety study and submit this to the CSSC manager.

Respond to a new adult household member

During routine contact with the carer or a child in the care arrangement, Child Safety or foster and kinship care services staff may become aware of changes, or proposed changes, in the membership of an approved carers household (excluding children placed by Child Safety). In this situation:

  • Tell the carer of their legal obligation under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 141G, to immediately provide this information to the CSSC in writing, using the Change in carer circumstances – Form 39.

  • Advise the carer, and where possible the new or proposed household member, the person may be considered an adult household member under the Child Protection Act 1999, schedule 3, and if so, they will need to:
    • complete the New adult household member form and provide this to the CSSC
    • tell the proposed household member they are required to be issued with a blue card or exemption card from Blue Card Services (if they are not a current card holder) before joining the carer household.
  • Remind the carer to tell the CSSC in writing when the person ceases being an adult household member, using the Change in carer circumstances – Form 39.

Note

There are two exceptions to the requirement for adult household members to be issued with a blue card prior to joining the carer household:

  • the carer is a provisionally approved carer, whose substantive application to be a carer is in progress (refer to the Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening) Act 2000, schedule 1, section 14(2),
  • the person was a child living in the carer household and has just turned 18 years (refer to Child Protection Act 1999, section 148D)

Gather information about the adult household member

An adult household member is not limited to arrangements where a person is living in the carer household permanently or on a continuing basis, as their primary residence.

Consistent with the definition in the Child Protection Act 1999, schedule 3, an adult household member may include a person who:

  • is a regular and frequent visitor to the carer household, such as a family member or friend of the carer, but has their own separate primary residence
  • is a new spouse or partner of the carer and lives in the carers premises (refer to Change in carer relationships—new spousal relationship, for additional information)
  • is in a relationship with the carer, and stays regularly at the carers house, but not full time
  • comes to the carer household as a once-off short-stay guest, but extends this live-in arrangement
  • lives in a separate structure on the carers premises, such as a caravan or granny flat, or is living in the carer’s house as a tenant or boarder
  • has been living in the carer household as a child, and has just turned 18, and intends to continue living at the premises (including a child placed by Child Safety), or will be a regular and frequent visitor.

Explore with the carer, and where possible with the proposed adult household member, the nature or likely nature, of their contact with a child who is placed, or will be placed, with the carer by Child Safety.

Provide all information obtained about the person’s contact with the carer household, to the CSSC manager, to assist their decision making about whether they are an adult household member.

Following the CSSC managers decision that the person is an adult household member, take the following actions:

  • Support the proposed adult household member to apply for a blue card (refer to)
  • Create a person record for the adult household member
  • Attach the completed New adult household member form, and blue card the adults blue card or exemption card number to the EOI/application in ICMS, or the blue card applicants account number provided by the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) through the blue card registration process, and immediately
  • Email the CSU to advise of the availability of documentation in ICMS so that personal history checks will be conducted.

Change in carer relationships—new spousal relationship

A carer living with their spouse may only hold a certificate of approval jointly with their spouse. (Refer to the Child Protection Act 1999, sections 132(3) and 136B.)

Carers must advise Child Safety if they intend to start living with a spouse or wish to hold a joint certificate with another adult, for example, their adult son or daughter.

Prior to the spouse or another adult joining the household:

  • Ensure the carer and their spouse or other adult submit a joint  application for initial approval as foster or kinship carers. The carer’s existing certificate of approval remains in place until the outcome of a joint application is decided.
  • Ensure the spouse or another adult applies for a blue card or exemption card prior to moving into the household. (Refer to Ensure blue card applications are lodged.)
  • Progress the application in accordance with the usual assessment process; however, the original approved carer will not require personal history checks and will not need to repeat mandatory training—Getting ready to start and Starting out foster care training.

Attention

If the spouse intends to live in the household before a joint carer assessment can be commenced or completed, consider completing a provisional assessment as joint applicants. (Refer to Provisional assessment and approval.)

If the initial carer application is approved:

  • Issue the carers with a new joint certificate of approval.
  • Request the return of the previous certificate of approval.
  • Update the carer’s details in ICMS.
  • End the existing carer entity approval in ICMS with an end reason of Surrendered, as a new joint carer entity will automatically be created in ICMS upon approval.
  • Ensure any existing care arrangements are updated in ICMS to reflect the new carer entity.
  • Finalise a new foster carer agreement, submitted at the time of approval by the assessor or foster and kinship care service.
  • Review the placement agreement for any child in the care of a kinship carer, taking into consideration any changes to the support needs for the carer.

If a provisionally approved carer advises that they intend to live, or have started living, with a spouse, the carer’s provisional approval certificate continues to have effect until whichever of the following occurs first:

  • The provisional approval certificate expires.
  • The provisionally approved carer is issued with a certificate as a foster or kinship carer.
  • The provisionally approved carer is given written notice that their application has been refused.

Respond to a joint application from a provisionally approved carer and new spouse

Advise the provisionally approved carer and spouse to complete a joint application for initial approval. Create a new initial carer EOI /application in ICMS for the applicant couple. The joint application must be properly made prior to, or on the same day that the provisionally approved carer’s substantive application is decided.

Note

If the provisionally approved carer’s substantive application is approved, the approval remains valid only if a joint application for initial approval has been properly made and if the new spouse holds a current blue card or exemption card.

If the joint application is approved:

  • Issue the carers with a new joint certificate of approval.
  • Request the return of the previous certificate of approval.
  • End the existing single carer entity approval in ICMS with an end reason of Surrendered, as a new joint carer entity will automatically be created in ICMS upon approval.
  • Ensure any existing care arrangements are updated in ICMS to reflect the new carer entity.
  • For foster carers, attach the new foster carer agreement to ICMS.
  • Review the placement agreement for any child in the care of a kinship carer,  taking into consideration any changes to the support needs for the new carer entity. (Refer to Negotiate the placement agreement.)

Change in carer relationships—ending of a spousal relationship

If a spousal relationship ends, tell the carer of their legal obligation under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 141G, to immediately provide this information to the CSSC in writing, using the Change in carer circumstances – Form 39. If only one of the carers wishes to continue as a carer, the carer must apply in writing to the CSSC manager for an amendment to their certificate of approval. This includes if a spouse dies.

Note

If a spousal relationship ends during the renewal of approval and the expiry data of the certificate would have otherwise lapsed if not for the renewal application, an amendment to the joint certificate cannot be progressed.

When a carer applies for an amendment to their certificate following the ending of a spousal relationship, Child Safety must make a decision on whether to grant or refuse the application for amendment within 28 days of receiving the request.

If necessary, meet with the carer to discuss the matter before the 28-day period has lapsed. The existing certificate of approval remains in place until the application for amendment is decided.

To process the requested amendment:

  • Create a new EOI/application for an amendment to certificate from the existing carer entity record and select the relevant carer requesting the amendment.
  • Assess how the new circumstances of the applicant will impact on any children in their care.
  • Record assessment information and the assessment recommendation details in the assessment tab in ICMS.
  • Record the amendment submission details and amendment outcome details in the approval/refusal tab in ICMS.

If a certificate of approval is amended, the new carer entity will automatically be created in ICMS and the original carer entity approval status will automatically be ended with the end reason as Surrendered.

If the requested amendment is approved:

  • The CSSC manager will provide written notice to the carer using the Letter of outcome of application to amend, and advise:
    • that their request for an amendment has been granted
    • that a certificate of approval has been amended
    • that the amended certificate of approval takes effect on the day the CSSC manager gives notice to the carer that the amendment has been granted, or a later day, if stated in the notice
    • that the carer must deliver the original certificate of approval to the CSSC within a specified timeframe, which must not be less than 7 days from the date of the notice.
  • Provide the carer with a new certificate of approval. The details, including the date of expiry and any existing conditions, must match the details on the original certificate of approval.
  • Retain a copy of the new certificate of approval on the carer's file and provide a copy to the foster and kinship care service, if applicable.
  • Ensure any existing care arrangements in ICMS are updated to reflect the new carer entity.
  • Ask the foster and kinship care service to complete a new foster carer agreement, where applicable.
  • Review the placement agreement for any child in the care of a kinship carer, where applicable.

If the requested amendment is refused, written notice using the Letter of outcome of application to amend must be provided to the carer within 10 days of the decision being made (Child Protection Act 1999, section 137). The notice must:

  • state the reasons for the decision
  • advise that the carer has the right to have the decision reviewed by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) if an application can be made within 28 days.

If an amendment is approved and the carers are also long-term guardians or permanent guardians of one or more children:

  • Manually recreate the joint carer entity for the long-term guardians with an approval type of Long-term guardian or Permanent guardian in ICMS.
  • Enter the original long-term guardianship or permanent guardianship start and end dates into the approval details in ICMS.
  • Include a comment in the approval details explaining that the long-term guardianship or permanent guardianship approval was recreated due to it being surrendered following an amendment to the carer’s certificate.

When both carers wish to be individually approved as a carer, each of them must submit an Application for initial approval—Form 3A (APA initial.) The existing certificate of approval remains in place until their individual applications are decided. The carers will not be required to repeat mandatory training—Getting ready to start and Starting out foster care training. 

The approval decision will include an assessment of how the new circumstances of the applicant will impact on their ability to meet the safety, belonging and wellbeing needs of any children in their care.

If the applications are approved, issue each individual carer with their own certificate of approval and ask the foster and kinship care service to complete a new foster carer agreement for each foster carer. For kinship carers, review the placement agreement for the child in their care.

Personal history changes

Carers are required to advise Child Safety of:

  • any changes to their personal history
  • changes or suspected changes to the personal history of any adult household member.

Provision of other regulated services from the home

Foster or kinship carers may be approved to provide more than one regulated care service from their home, such as family day care or a stand-alone service, such as child care that is regularly provided for children under 13 years for a fee or reward. Depending on the type of care provided, they may be caring for:

  • no more than 7 children at any one time, through family day care
  • no more than 6 children under the age of 13 at the same time, as stand-alone care.

No more than 4 children can be preschool age or under.

If a foster or kinship carer advises Child Safety that they are approved to provide another regulated service from their home, this information will be consider when assessing their initial or ongoing suitability to be approved as a foster or kinship carer.

If a carer advises Child Safety that they are approved to provide another regulated care service from their home, inform the carer that they are required to provide the following information to Child Safety:

  • The type of regulated service (family day care or stand-alone care) being provided.
  • The name of the family day care provider with which the family day care educator (the carer) is affiliated.
  • The number of children at the residence and the number of children they are approved for.
  • The ages of children at the residence, including the ages of the children they are approved to provide care for.

This information will enable the identification, assessment and discussion of any likely impact the provision of other services may have on the quality of services provided to children, and on the ability of the applicant to meet suitability requirements.

Additionally, for family day care educators, the educator’s own children and any other children at the residence are also to be taken into account if those children are under 13 years of age and there is no other adult present and caring for the children. (Children being cared for in foster or kinship care should be included in these numbers of children.)

When a carer has advised Child Safety that they are providing a regulated care service from the home:

  • Update the change in circumstance details in ICMS.
  • Assess the information provided by the carer and consider whether a review of the carer’s suitability and capacity to provide quality care is required.
  • Contact the family day care provider with which the family day care educator (the carer) is affiliated and advise them that the carer is also a foster/kinship carer. Provide details of their approval status (foster or kinship carer), the number of children placed and their ages.
  • Review the foster carer agreement (for a foster carer) or placement agreement (for a kinship carer), if required.

Related forms, templates and resources

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Published on:

Last reviewed:

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    Maintenance
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    Changes to reflect that GP checks and referee checks are not mandatory requirements for carer applicants.
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    Removed content specific to the provisional assessment and approval of carer applicants - in tandem with the creation of a new stand-alone key step 'Provisional assessment and approval'.
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    New carer application forms uploaded. Updated carer assessment templates uploaded, as well as updated guidelines for completing the carer assessment forms.
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