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Assess and approve carers

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This page was updated on 14 September 2020. To view changes, please see page updates

Respond to prospective carer enquiries

A person interested in becoming a foster carer or kinship carer is likely to seek detailed information before they make a decision to apply to be a carer. They may obtain this from:

  • a CSSC, RIS or PSU 
  • a local foster and kinship care service 
  • online publications, such as Become a foster or kinship carer 
  • the Queensland foster and kinship care recruitment line.

Respond to an enquiry about becoming a foster carer

Foster carers may be an individual, or two or more individuals, approved by Child Safety to provide family-based care in their own home for a child who is in the custody or guardianship of the chief executive , or subject to a care agreement  under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 51ZE.

Any Queensland resident aged 18 years and over may express an interest in becoming a foster carer. A foster carer can be male, female, single, married or partnered, a same sex couple, working full or part time, a full-time homemaker or retired, and from any cultural background.

A RIS or CSSC who receives a foster care enquiry will refer the caller to the Queensland foster and kinship care recruitment line on 1300 550 877.

Note

The Queensland foster and kinship care recruitment line provides: 

  • a tailored response to an enquirer’s questions
  • resource material on caring
  • a referral of the enquirer’s contact details to a local foster and kinship care service, for follow-up recruitment actions.

When provided with an enquirer’s details by the Queensland foster and kinship care recruitment line, a local foster and kinship care service will contact the enquirer and respond to any further questions or issues raised. It may:

  • provide additional information
  • invite the enquirer to an information session
  • complete an initial interview with the enquirer
  • discuss home safety requirements and leave the enquirer with the Home safety checklist for self assessment.

When provided with information about a foster care enquiry, from either the Queensland foster and kinship care recruitment line or a local foster and kinship care service, the PSU or CSSC will record the details in ICMS , including:

  • creating a person record  for the enquirer, if one does not exist
  • creating an EOI /application in the EOI/application tab in ICMS and selecting Yes to the enquiry prompt
  • if the outcome of the enquiry is known, recording it as continue or self-select out
  • allocating the EOI/application to the relevant PSU.

Respond to interest about becoming a kinship carer

Child Safety has a legislative responsibility to consider, as a first option, placing a child in care with kin. A kinship carer may be any of the child’s relatives who is a person of significance to the child, or anyone else who is a person of significance to the child, and who is approved by Child Safety to provide a care arrangement for a particular child.  Refer to the policy Kinship care.

A CSO  or a foster and kinship care service may actively search and make contact with the child’s extended family and other networks, to identify prospective kinship carers. Alternatively, family or community members may contact a CSO to discuss their interest in caring for the child.

Initially, the CSO or foster and kinship care service will explore the prospective kinship carer’s interest and capacity to provide care to the particular child. They will:

  • provide the person with information about being a kinship carer
  • discuss the proposed care arrangement for the child
  • outline the key requirements and assessment process associated with carer approval
  • address any other questions or issues, such as how the changed caring relationship may impact on the child and other family members.

A foster and kinship care service may invite the person to an information session about becoming a carer.

The CSO will:

  • obtain the child’s and family’s view about the proposed care arrangement
  • discuss any conflicting views expressed by the child or family with the senior team leader.

Arrange an initial interview with a prospective kinship carer

To assist the person in making an informed decision about caring for the child, the PSU, CSSC or foster and kinship care service will complete an initial interview with them.

If this is undertaken by a CSO, discuss a range of matters including:

  • the role of approved carers in supporting the child’s safety, belonging  and wellbeing
  • the responsibilities of Child Safety in case planning and making key decisions about the child, including where the child will live
  • the role of a foster and kinship care service in assessing, training and supporting approved carers
  • an outline of the daily care needs of the child, and if relevant, the expectation for the child’s carer to undertake specified actions outlined in the case plan
  • the importance of working as part of the child’s safety and support network with the CSO, the foster and kinship care service support worker and others in the child’s safety and support network. 

The prospective kinship carer will also require information about the carer application process, including the requirements for them to:

  • complete a written application form, which requires them to self-disclose any criminal history and provide information about all household residents
  • apply for and obtain a blue card or exemption card from Blue Card Services
  • complete a health and wellbeing questionnaire.

The CSO or foster and kinship care service will explain that the assessment process focuses on the applicant’s capacity to meet the needs of the particular child, and includes:

  • checks of child protection history  and personal history  for the applicant and adult household members
  • a study of the household premises and the applicant’s commitment to safe practices around children, including the need to meet the safety requirements for pools, firearm storage, smoke alarms, hot water systems and electrical switch safety
  • a medical check from the applicant’s general practitioner (GP)
  • referee checks (undertaken by the assessor)
  • interviews with the applicant, and as appropriate, other household members, to assess their ability to meet the standards of care  outlined in the Child Protection Act 1999, section 122
  • an assessment report, summarising the findings from the above components, and making a recommendation to the CSSC manager to approve or refuse the application.

If conducting the initial interview, the CSO will record the initial interview details in the pre-application tab in ICMS.

Address concerns about the prospective kinship carer’s suitability

If concerns about a person’s suitability to be a kinship carer become apparent before they complete a carer application, it is important to:

  • discuss the concerns with the person as they arise 
  • assist them to make an informed choice about whether to proceed with a carer application or to self-select out.

Should the prospective kinship carer choose to proceed with a carer application, they cannot be prevented from doing so.

Help the prospective kinship carer to complete a carer application

If the prospective carer has decided to commit to the application and assessment process, they may require assistance. Provide the following forms and information:

The CSO will be guided by the Application for approval —form 3 APA—Guide to completion, and explain:

  • the need to apply for and be granted a blue card or exemption card by Blue Card Services, including for people who are considered to be adult household members. 
  • the disclosure statement and privacy notice included in the APA form, and provide the applicant with Duty of disclosure—a fact sheet for carers 
  • the consent sections in the APA form requiring the signatures of the applicants and all adult household members
  • who may be considered a household member and an adult household member. 

The Child Protection Act 1999, schedule 3, defines a member of a person’s household as including:

  • someone who lives in the person’s home 
    and
  • an adult who, because of the nature of their contact with the child and the context in which that contact happens, may create an unacceptable level of risk to the child.

Attention

An adult household member does not include a parent of the child in care who may be living in the person’s home, or is a regular visitor to the home.

For the purposes of the carer application and assessment, the CSSC manager will determine whether a person who lives in a separate dwelling at the carer’s premises, or who is a regular and frequent household visitor, is an adult household member.

Receive and process application documents

Although foster and kinship care applicants may be in contact with a local foster and kinship care service, they are required to lodge the carer application forms at a PSU or CSSC.

If an application is incomplete at the time it is submitted, ask the applicant or the adult household member to supply the required information before accepting the application.

The Child Safety representative receiving the application forms will ensure the application is ‘properly made’ by checking:

  • the Application for approval—Form 3 APA, Part A, is correctly completed, signed and dated by the applicant and each adult household member of the household
  • the Carer applicant health and wellbeing questionnaire is completed.

Save all documents into iDocs, ensuring you copy and paste the hyperlinks to the documents in ICMS using the ICMS / iDocs hyperlink functionality.

Tip

The applicant’s biological or step-children and any child who is in the long-term guardianship of the carer applicant should be recorded as a household member. Children in care placed with the carer are not listed on the APA form, as the applicant is not the legal parent of these children.

Verify identity for the Application for Approval - Form 3 APA

The requirements for verifying identity depend on the nature of the form being completed. 

The Application for approval—Form 3 APA, Part B requires a Child Safety representative or a staff member of a foster and kinship care service to verify the identity of the carer applicant if they already hold a current, valid blue card or exemption card:

  • by sighting their blue card or exemption card 
    and
  • one other form of identification, as listed on the APA form, Part B.

There is no need to verify identity of an adult household member who already holds a current, valid blue card or exemption card.

Support carer applicants apply for a blue card 

If the carer applicant and adult household members do not have a current blue card, they will be required to begin th eblue card or exemption card application to complete their APA form.

Advise the carer applicant that to commence their blue card application they are required to verify their identity through the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) before they can begin their blue card or exemption card application. Once the carer applicant has completed the verification of identity through TMR, they will be provided with an online account number which will need to record on the APA Form. 

Inform the carer the online account number is used to link the carer applicant to Child Safety as a volunteer (and to enable them to apply for a blue card at no cost).  CSU will use the information in the APA form to link the carer applicant.

Once the APA form is properly lodged with CSU, Blue Card Services will advise the applicant when they have been linked with Child Safety and can then begin their blue card or exemption card application through the online application portal.

Record the lodgement date

A carer application must be ‘properly made’ before it can be lodged. This means the forms are correctly completed, signed and dated by the applicant, and each adult member of the household, and include all appropriate identification documents, or the confirmation of identity form, and lodged at the CSSC or PSU.

Once the application documentation is properly made, complete Part B of the APA form.

The properly made date will either be

  • the date the forms were provided by the applicant to the CSSC or PSU

or

  • if the application is found to be incomplete after it has been provided to Child Safety, the date the missing information is obtained and the forms resubmitted. The amended date is recorded as the new properly made date in the APA form, Part B. Re-attach the documentation to the EOI/application in ICMS and immediately advise CSU of the update.

Time sensitive

The 90-day period for deciding the initial carer application starts from the date the application is 'properly made'.

Update records in ICMS

When an application is lodged, create person records for the secondary carer and all household members, where applicable, and add them as relevant parties to the EOI/application in ICMS.

When the application has been properly made, record details in the lodgement/withdrawal tab in ICMS and attach a copy of the completed:

  • APA form
  • verified identification documents, where available
  • Carer applicant health and wellbeing questionnaire.

Assess an applicant requiring provisional approval

The Child Protection Act 1999, Division 3A, and Child Protection Regulation 2011, section 24, allows for the provisional approval of carer applicants if the following requirements are met:

  • The person has applied to become a foster carer or kinship carer and the application has not yet been decided.
  • The person agrees to be issued with a certificate of approval as a provisionally approved carer for a child.
  • The outcomes of child protection, personal history and criminal history checks indicate the applicant does not pose a risk to the child’s safety.
  • All members of the applicant’s household are suitable persons to associate on a daily basis with the child.
  • The applicant is able and willing to protect the child from harm.
  • A brief assessment indicates the applicant is able and willing to meet the standards of care outlined in the statement of standards.

Attention

The provisional approval process is not intended to be used to circumvent the requirements that foster and kinship carers need to meet in order to be approved to care for children.

Consider the provisional approval of a carer applicant

A foster or kinship carer applicant may be provisionally approved in order to facilitate an urgent care arrangement for a child, and in circumstances where it is not possible or in the child’s best interests to be placed with an approved foster or kinship carer or licensed care service. 

Provisionally approved carers are approved to provide care to a specific child for a time-limited period of 60 days, with one possible extension for a further 30 days.

This type of approval is usually considered for family members or other people already well known to the child, to enable the child to be immediately placed in their care. The carer’s application to be a foster or kinship carer (the substantive application) must be decided within the 60–90-day period of provisional approval. If the substantive application is not finalised within the timeframe, the child must be removed from the care arrangement.

Attention

If the substantive foster or kinship carer application is not decided within the 60-day, or where extended, the 90-day period of provisional approval, the child must be removed from the care arrangement, as provisional approval cannot be extended beyond 90 days. Further provisional approval cannot be granted, even if a new application for approval is lodged.

To avoid the requirement to place the child in another care arrangement, it may be appropriate to extend the timeframe for deciding the substantive application prior to the expiry of the provisional approval.

Complete the assessment requirements for provisional approval

Prior to proceeding with the assessment, provide the foster or kinship carer applicant with a copy of Carer fact sheet 1: What is provisional approval ? and seek their agreement to proceed with provisional approval for the particular child.

The carer application documents relating to their substantive application to be foster or kinship carer (refer to Receive and process application documents) must be properly made and recorded in ICMS. 

If the applicant agrees to the proposed care arrangement and to the additional steps to obtain provisional approval, the following assessment actions are required:

  • The CSU  manager makes a determination that the applicant is a suitable person to be provisionally approved, and that adult members of their household are suitable to associate on a daily basis with the child.
  • The CSU, or CSAHCS if after hours, conducts criminal history checks of the carer applicants and adult members of their household who do not have a valid blue card, or who hold a blue card that is not yet authorised by CSU.
  • The CSO  or an external assessor completes a Provisional approval assessment report.
  • The Form 2: Household safety study, Part 1, is completed to ensure the household premises are physically safe, or there is a clear plan to resolve any identified safety issues.

Request urgent child protection, personal and criminal history checks

Urgent child protection, personal and criminal history checks may be required when it is intended to place the child in the proposed care arrangement within 48 hours or sooner. When the request is made within business hours:

  • Seek approval from the CSSC senior team leader or manager to request urgent child protection, personal history and criminal history checks.
  • Contact the CSU by phone, or if after hours, the CSAHCS, to advise them of the need for the urgent checks.
  • Email the completed QPS—Urgent S95 request—business hours to the CSU, or the QPS—Urgent request (after hours)to the CSAHCS.
  • Ensure all completed application forms are attached to the EOI /Application in ICMS.

The CSU will provide the child protection, personal and criminal history check results to the CSSC as soon as practicable, but if there are delays, the regional director may grant provisional approval. (Refer to Decide the outcome of the provisional approval assessment.)

If, as part of the provisional approval process, the CSU identifies that an applicant or adult household member has criminal history, relevant details of the criminal history may be provided to an external assessor where it is considered necessary that the information be considered as part of the assessment.  For further information about providing personal history information to external assessors, refer to If the application is eligible to progress. 

Request urgent after-hours checks

Where an urgent care arrangement is being made after hours (between 3:30pm and 8am, Monday to Friday and weekends) with a carer applicant who is being assessed for provisional approval, child protection, personal and criminal history checks will be completed by the CSAHSC. A rationale for why the check is urgent must be provided, as outlined in the QPS —Urgent request (after hours).

The CSO will seek approval from the CSSC senior team leader or manager before contacting CSAHCS and providing them with a rationale for why the check is urgent.

The CSO making the after-hours request will:

  • complete all mandatory fields in the QPS—Urgent request (after hours) form and email it with the other necessary documentation to CSAHSC
  • phone to confirm receipt of the request
  • attach all completed forms to the EOI/Application in ICMS.

Attention

Decisions required after hours about a carer applicant’s suitability and subsequent provisional approval will be made by the duty executive officer.

If the duty executive officer provisionally approves a carer applicant, CSAHSC staff will record the following information in ICMS to create the carer entity and the care arrangement:

  • If not previously created by the CSSC or PSU, create the EOI/Application including all household members.
  • Record the application lodgement details and the verification of identity information in the lodgement/withdrawal tab.
  • Record the outcome of personal history checks and provisional assessment recommendation details in the assessment tab.
  • Record the details of the provisional approval decision made by the duty executive officer in the approval/refusal tab.

The CSSC or PSU is responsible for immediately finalising the requirements for the application to be properly made and sending all required forms and identification documents, where available, to the CSU on the following business day.

In circumstances where a care arrangement has been made by the CSAHSC, the Date properly made will not be updated once all required documentation is completed.

Complete Part 1 of the household safety study

As part of the assessment, discuss home safety with the applicant, including water safety and supervision, as outlined in The ABC of pool safety. Provide a copy of this information, regardless of whether or not the applicant has a pool.

Explore the applicant’s compliance with the five areas that are legally required for all Queensland homes:

  • pool safety
  • electrical switch safety
  • smoke alarms
  • safety of hot water system
  • firearms storage.

Due to the urgency of the required care arrangement, the applicant may not be fully compliant with the requirements at the time of the assessment. If safety risks are identified, develop a plan with the applicant to address any risks, and fully detail any risks or vulnerabilities for the child in the Form 2: Household safety study. The CSSC manager, regional director or duty executive officer will take these risks into account before making the decision whether to grant provisional approval.

In circumstances when the risk is significant to the child’s safety, the carer applicant may not be granted provisional approval.

Complete the assessment report for provisional approval

In some circumstances, the assessment may be undertaken by an external assessor.

If possible, the assessment will involve a meeting with the applicants in their own home. The assessor will:

  • obtain the views of the child and family about the proposed care arrangement
  • make a brief assessment of the applicant’s ability to meet each of the standards of care, using the Provisional approval assessment report. (Refer to the practice guide Provisional approval assessment guidelines.)
  • identify the strengths of the proposed care arrangement, in addition to any risks or vulnerabilities for the child or other children in the household.

Note

If an external assessor is undertaking the provisional approval assessment, relevant information obtained from the CSU checks (including the criminal history check) will be provided to the assessor, as the information needs to be considered as part of the assessment. (Refer to If the application is eligible to progress.)

After the assessment interviews:

  • complete a brief assessment using the Provisional approval assessment report  
  • complete Form 5: Approval decision—Provisionally approved carer in ICMS to record the outcomes of the child protection and personal history checks
  • complete part 1 of Form 2: Household safety study
  • attach both reports to the EOI/application in ICMS, and record the recommendation details in the assessment tab in ICMS.

Decide the outcome of the provisional assessment

The CSSC manager is delegated to provisionally approve a carer applicant, if the applicant and all adult household members are assessed by the CSU manager as not posing a risk to the child’s safety.

The regional director (or duty executive officer if after hours) will make the decision to provisionally approve the carer, if the outcome from personal history or criminal history checks are not yet available.

The regional director is responsible for provisionally approving applicants who are also Child Safety employees.

The decision maker will take into account:

  • The outcome of personal history checks undertaken by the CSU or CSAHCS.
  • Consideration of any self-disclosures by the applicant or adult household members as recorded in the APA form.
  • The brief assessment of the applicant’s ability to provide care consistent with the statement of standards.
  • The applicant’s ability and willingness to protect the child from harm.
  • Any relevant information from Child Safety records.
  • Whether the applicant meets the mandatory household safety study requirements.
  • The views of the child and family about the proposed kinship carer for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island child.
  • Whether the care arrangement will enable the child to continue their connections with kin or community.
  • Whether the care arrangement for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child provides for the optimal retention of the child’s connection with parents, siblings and other people of significance to the child under Aboriginal tradition and Island custom .
  • The views of the child about the proposed care arrangement and, if they do not support the placement, the reasons they provide.

Attention

The regional director (or the duty executive officer if after hours) may provisionally approve an applicant prior to the completion of personal history checks undertaken by CSU in urgent circumstances, taking into consideration the factors outlined above.

In such circumstances, the CSSC or CSAHCS is responsible for reviewing ICMS and providing the decision maker with any relevant child protection history about the applicant and household members to help with the decision.

Issue a certificate of approval for a provisionally approved carer

Following a decision by the CSSC manager, regional director or duty executive director to provisionally approve the applicant:

  • Issue a Certificate of Approval—Provisionally approved carer for each child to be cared for by the provisionally approved carer.
  • Advise the applicant of the decision in writing, using the Letter of approval as a provisionally approved carer.
  • Complete a Placement agreement with the carer within three working days. (Refer to Arrange a placement meeting and complete a placement agreement.)
  • Enable the carer to access resources availbale on the website Connecting with carers by providing a hyperlink or printing copies of information about being a carer.
  • Ensure the carer understands their obligations:
  • Set up or create a new carer vendor in SAP by clicking ‘generate vendor number’ in Carepay.
    • complete the online Vendor master data eform, using the carer’s vendor number from Carepay, (or the ICMS carer entity ID number) prefixed with FP, as the ‘Previous Account No’ of the eform ie FP987654
    • forward the form to your nominated endorser and select the Approver Group DCSYW Vendor for approval. Once approved the form will be automatically send to  Queensland Shared Services Finance, Master Data Unit to be set up in SAP. (Refer to the Vendor and customer master data policy and procedure.

The provisional certificate of approval has effect for 60 days from the date of initial approval recorded on the Form 5: Approval decision—Provisionally approved carer. 

Extend the approval expiry date

Provisional approval can be extended past 60 days, once only, for up to a further 30 days if:

  • the existing certificate of approval is current
  • the extension is considered desirable and appropriate to meet the needs of the child named on the certificate
  • the carer agrees to the extension of the expiry date.

If the CSSC manager decides an extension to the expiry date is warranted:

  • Record the provisional approval extension details in the approval/refusal tab in ICMS.
  • Provide the carer with a new Certificate of Approval—Provisionally approved carer, with all of the existing details and conditions, and the new expiry date.
  • Advise the provisionally approved carer to return the original certificate of approval to the CSSC manager within 2 days.
  • Attach a copy of the new certificate of approval to the EOI/Application in ICMS and provide a copy to the foster and kinship carer service,  where relevant.

Attention

If the 60-day period, and extension of 30 days where granted, has lapsed, further provisional approval cannot be granted, even if a new application for approval is lodged.

Amend the certificate of approval

Under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 138C, a provisionally approved carer’s certificate of approval can be changed in some limited circumstances, to restrict or impose specific conditions on the carer’s approval, such as when:

  • The carer is not meeting the statement of standards or a condition of the certificate of approval.
  • The carer has contravened a provision of the Child Protection Act 1999.
  • The certificate was issued because of a materially false or misleading representation or declaration, orally or in writing.
  • The carer agrees to the amendment.
  • Further information has been obtained about the carer’s application.
  • It is considered necessary or desirable because of a circumstance prescribed under a regulation.

If the CSSC manager decides that an amendment is warranted and the provisionally approved carer has not applied for the amendment:

  • A PSU or CSSC Child Safety practitioner will meet with the provisionally approved carer to discuss the reason for the amendment.
  • The CSSC manager will provide written notice to the provisionally approved carer, stating:
    • the proposed amendment and the grounds for the amendment
    • that the decision to amend a provisional certificate of approval is not a reviewable decision (a decision for which they can apply to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) for a review).

The provisionally approved carer will be asked to deliver the original certificate of approval to the CSSC manager. The stated period in the written notice must be no less than 2 days after the notice is given, as required by the Child Protection Act 1999, section 141.

Following provision of the written notice:

  • Issue a new Certificate of Approval—Provisionally approved carer including the amendment and providing all of the details that were recorded on the original certificate, including any existing conditions.
  • Retain a copy of the new certificate of approval on the carer’s file.

The amendment of a provisional certificate of approval does not affect the carer’s pending application for approval as a foster or kinship carer.

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

Cancel or suspend provisional approval

A provisionally approved carer’s certificate of approval will be suspended or cancelled if:

  • The CSU determines that a carer or adult household member, based on the outcome of criminal checks conducted by the QPS, is not a suitable person, and this information is provided after the regional director or duty executive officer has provisionally approved the applicant. (Refer to Issue a certificate of approval for a provisionally approved carer.)
  • The substantive application  for approval as a foster carer or kinship carer has been refused.
  • The carer or other adult household member is issued with a negative notice or negative exemption notice, an application for a blue card or exemption card is withdrawn, or a current blue card or exemption card is suspended or cancelled.

If the CSSC manager decides to suspend or cancel a provisionally approved carer’s certificate of approval:

  • A PSU or CSSC Child Safety practitioner will meet with the carer to discuss the reason for the suspension or cancellation.
  • The CSSC manager will provide the provisionally approved carer with written notice, using Letter of suspension/cancellation (PAC),  from the M&S  event in the ‘approval’ tab , outlining:
    • the reasons for the decision to suspend or cancel the certificate of approval
    • that the suspension or cancellation, in and of itself, does not affect the carer’s application for approval as a foster or kinship carer
    • that there is no right to seek review by QCAT
    • that the provisional certificate of approval must be returned to the CSSC manager.

The provisionally approved carer will be asked to deliver the original certificate of approval to the CSSC manager. The stated period in the written notice must be no less than 2 days after the notice is given, as required by the Child Protection Act 1999, section 141.

The CSSC manager must ensure that written advice of the decision is forwarded to the CSU manager.

Note

Someone who has been a provisionally approved carer will not be referred to QFKC for an exit interview, as their substantive application is still to be assessed and decided.

Arrange the initial carer assessment

The assessment and approval of a carer’s application is prescribed by the Child Protection Act 1999, sections 133–135 and the Child Protection Regulation 2011, sections 2223.

Overview of the carer assessment process

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 assesses and confirms a foster care applicant’s competencies during their participation in pre-service training.
  • The CSU  completes child protection and personal history checks on the applicant and adult household members.
  • Blue Card Services determines whether the applicant and adult household members are eligible to hold a blue card.
  • The PSU or CSSC  facilitates a medical check of the applicant and requests a report from their general practitioner (GP).
  • An assessor, in most instances from the foster and kinship care service, 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 Form 2: Household safety study on the applicant’s home and premises and assesses their commitment to safe practices around children.
  • The assessor requests and assesses relevant information from two referees who know the applicant.
  • Completion of an assessment report, making recommendations to approve or refuse the application.

Attention

Foster and kinship care services 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 carer assessment report, refer to the Form 3A: 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.)
 

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.

Tip

The Application for approval—Form 3 APA 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 either the aggrieved or the respondent
  • traffic history from Queensland, as specified in the Child Protection Act 1999, schedule 3
  • child protection history for children residing in the applicant household
  • 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

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

If the person has been residing in New Zealand, the CSU will complete a child protection history check. If the person has been residing in another country, the CSSC manager will require:

  • the written consent of the applicant or adult member of the carer’s household
  • advice from DMS, who will consult with Court Services  as to how the information can best be sourced.

For some jurisdictions, the request for child protection history checks may need to be translated, which may extend the process.

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.

Criminal history checks for international jurisdictions may be undertaken at the discretion of the CSSC manager. Child Safety does not have formalised agreements to seek overseas criminal history for carer applicants or their adult household members, except for New Zealand. Due to the variation across jurisdictions, the CSSC or PSU should seek advice from Court Services in the first instance.

If the applicant 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.

The CSSC manager has the discretion to proceed with the application without international child protection and criminal history check information, or to decide that a full assessment is unable to be undertaken without the completion of international checks.

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 provides their signed consent for Child Safety to undertake these child protection and personal history checks in the Application for approval—Form 3 APA. The CSU is unable to start the checks without sighting this consent in the APA 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 form. The only exception to this is if a regional director or duty executive officer has granted provisional approval. (Refer to Assess an applicant requiring provisional approval.)

Request a medical check

The purpose of a medical check is to ensure that any physical or mental health issues for the applicant will not prevent them from being able to meet a child’s safety, wellbeing and belonging needs and the standards of care.  

Check the applicant has signed the authority to release medical information section of the Carer applicant health and wellbeing questionnaire, as this provides their written consent for their GP to release their medical information.

Attention

With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions for travel and community interactions, contact arrangements required for carer assessment and tranining are no longer any different to any other activities allowed in the community. With this change, the Foster and kinship carer assessments during COVID-19 will only be used in exceptional circumstances; for people actively in isolation, identifying as having cold/flu symptoms, a COVID-19 diagnosis or being in close contact with someone who has. 

The 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.

The PSU or CSSC will forward the following documents to the applicant prior to their medical appointment, and request that the applicant provides these documents to their doctor:

Tip

The Medicare benefit is payable to carer applicants in these circumstances. Where there is a gap between the GP cost and the Medicare rebate, the carer will initially meet that expense. Requests for reimbursement will be paid for the gap paid by the carer applicant,  supported by a receipt of this payment and provided to the PSU or CSSC. The GL account code 530201 (Medical services) will be used.

The PSU or CSSC will:

  • provide a copy of medical check results to the external assessor, if consent has been given by the applicant on the Carer applicant health and wellbeing questionnaire
  • attach a copy of the doctor’s report, or if a health care plan has been developed for managing an applicant’s illness, if provided,  to the EOI/application in ICMS and record details of the report under ‘additional sources of information’ in the assessment tab in ICMS
  • ensure that the original, completed doctor’s report is retained on the applicant’s file.

If the applicant has a communicable disease

If an applicant has a communicable disease, for example HIV or hepatitis, ask the treating medical practitioner to include additional relevant information including information 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 applicant’s 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 experiencing ill health.

The applicant’s willingness to share information about their health condition, if they are approved, with a child in their care and their parents, will also be considered in the assessment interviews.

Ask assessor to undertake referee checks

Two referee checks are a mandatory component for the assessment of carer applicants and are initiated by the assessor after the assessment interviews.

One referee may be nominated by the applicant. The other will be chosen by the assessor. Potential referees 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.

The assessor can complete a referee check by phone, or if this is not possible, can make a written request to the referee. If this is undertaken by a CSO, complete the Letter to referee in ICMS and attach the Referee questionnaire for carer applicants or the Employer reference for carer applicant, and post it to the referee.

Inform the referee that information they provide may be discussed, partially or in full, with the applicant, as part of the assessment process.

When assessing the information obtained from a referee, consider:

  • its relevance to the applicant’s ability to meet the safety, wellbeing and belonging needs of children
  • whether the information confirms or conflicts with the information already collected and observations made during the assessment process
  • the relationship the referee has with the applicant and the length of time the referee has known the applicant.

Discuss any concerns raised by the referee with the applicant and if necessary, seek further clarifying information from the referee, or another referee.

The assessor will include the information provided by referees in Form 3A: Foster carer assessment and recommendation form—initial approval only or the Kinship carer initial assessment report.

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 Consider the immunisation status of the carer family.

Record mandatory training by applicant

A foster carer applicant is required to complete mandatory pre-service training. (Refer to Procedures and guidelines for quality care: foster care training.) Details of their participation are included in the Form 3A: Foster carer’s assessment and recommendation form—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 pre-service 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. (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.

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 form for an initial carer assessment 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 approval—Form 3 APA, Part A
  • 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 
    • 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 health and wellbeing questionnaire

  • medical check from the applicant’s GP
  • referee checks.

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

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 pre-service 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 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 pre-service 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 Respond to changes in a carer’s circumstances.)

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.

Determine the need for discretionary information

At any time during the assessment process, it may be identified that additional information is necessary to strengthen the carer assessment. Examples include information from:

  • an applicant’s employer about their employment history
  • other foster and kinship carer services, if an applicant was previously approved as a carer either in Queensland or interstate
  • specialist medical reports or a health care plan, for example, regarding an applicant’s mental health, or to provide information about the management of a communicable disease such as HIV or hepatitis
  • international child protection or criminal history checks, if an applicant or adult household members haves previously lived overseas for 6 months or more. (Refer to International child protection and criminal history checks.)

The CSSC manager will decide if discretionary information of this nature is required to inform their decision to approve or refuse the application, and if so, how the request will be progressed.

Note

If the applicant does not consent to Child Safety obtaining the discretionary information, the assessor will tell them 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.

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:

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 2016  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 with 90 days of the lodgement date, it is possible to extend the timeframe, but only once. The CSSC 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 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 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 Arrange 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 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.

Classify files as sensitive

The PSU will classify the Child Safety employee’s carer records (both ICMS and paper records) as sensitive. If a foster and kinship care service is assessing or supporting the Child Safety employee as a carer, advise them of the need to classify all relevant electronic and paper files as sensitive

The CSSC manager with case responsibility for a child placed with the approved carer, including when provisionally approved, will make the decision about whether the child’s ICMS record should also be classified as sensitive.

If the employee withdraws their application, or it is refused, or they cease being a carer, there is no change to the sensitivity classification for the employee’s records, but the sensitivity classification on the child’s ICMS records may be removed by the CSSC manager.

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 Conflict of interest declaration form  to the employee and their line manager
  • provide a copy of the 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 Assess an applicant requiring provisional approval.)

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:

  • classifies relevant electronic and paper files as sensitive
  • 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 carers.)

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 the Code of Conduct for the Queensland Public Service)
  • 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 carers.)
  • 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 Assess an applicant requiring provision approval.)

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 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 all applications for a blue card or exemption card, or the validation of a blue card, and 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 CCC 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

When an application for 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 approval—Form 3 APA 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 assessment process required for the initial carer application and assessment process, requiring:

  • an Application for approval—Form 3 APA (APA form), Part C by the applicant

  • a Carer applicant health and wellbeing questionnaire to be completed by the applicant
  • personal history and child protection history checks by CSU 
  • a Form 2:Household safety study by the assessor
  • a medical check from the applicant’s general practitioner (GP)
  • referee checks, undertaken 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 commence the renewal assessment process 3 months prior to the expiry of the carer’s certificate of approval, by providing the carer with:

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

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.

Blue card renewal

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  prior to the expiry date of the blue card or exemption card.

Attention

Renewing expiring Blue cards

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

If they do not apply to renew their card before it expires, they will not be able to continue providing foster or kinship care (that is, if they are caring for a child, the child 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 form, Part C is correctly completed, signed and dated by the applicant and each adult household member of the household
  • a completed Carer applicant health and wellbeing questionnaire has been completed and provided.

Once the application documentation is properly made, complete Part D of the APA 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 APA form, Part D.

Attention

Approved carers must provide the APA 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 and complete the Application for approval—Form 3 APAPart A.

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 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 Form 3B: 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  Form 3B: 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
  • two referee checks.

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 PSU or CSSC will start the medical check process by providing the carer with the required documents to give to their GP.
  • 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.)

Information from the medical check

Applicants are required to provide information for a medical check when applying to renew their approval. (Refer to Request a medical check.) The PSU will forward the following documents to the applicant prior to their medical appointment, so they can provide to their doctor:

  • a copy of the completed Carer applicant health and wellbeing questionnaire
  • Letter to general practitioner
  • General practitioner’s report on carer applicant for the doctor to complete and return to Child Safety.

The PSU will:

  • provide a copy of General practitioner’s report on carer applicant to the external assessor, if the applicant has provided their signed consent in the Carer applicant health and wellbeing questionnaire
  • attach a copy of the doctor’s report, or the health care plan (if applicable), to the EOI/application in ICMS and record details of the report under Additional sources of information in the assessment tab in ICMS
  • ensure that the original, completed doctor’s report is retained on the applicant’s file.

Record the outcome of the medical check, in the relevant section of the Kinship carer renewal assessment report or the Form 3B: Carer applicant assessment and recommendation—Renewal of approval only.

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.

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.
  • There is a new adult household member.
  • 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 3 modules of standard training for the first renewal of approval, and 8 hours of advanced training before the second renewal of their approval, as well as any other training requirements referenced as a condition to their certificate of approval.

Note

Kinship carers are not required to complete standard and advanced 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:

  • Form 3B: Carer applicant assessment and recommendation form—Renewal of approval only  or the Kinship carer renewal assessment report
  • Form 2: Household safety study
  • Foster carer agreement (for foster care applicants only).

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 Form 3B: 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, exemption card or the validation of a blue card, where applicable, and all suitability checks, as documented in the Form 4: Approval decision
  • whether the applicant continues to be a suitable person to be an approved carer, including for a kinship 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

When a new person becomes an adult household member and has completed the New adult household member form together with the appropriate blue card application form, after an application for 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)).

Further reading

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 CCC.

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, sections 237, 239 or 297. 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, sections 237 and 239, 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), sections 237 and 239, 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 CCC 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. (Refer to the Vendor and customer master data policy and procedure.)
  • Ask the foster and kinship care service to complete a new Household safety study and submit this to the CSSC manager.

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 initial application for 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.
  • 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 pre-service training.

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.

To facilitate urgent personal history checks for the spouse:

  • Ask the spouse to complete the New adult household member form and either a blue card application, blue card validation or exemption card  application form.
  • Verify the spouse’s identity for a blue card application. 
  • Send the relevant forms to the CSU  for processing.

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 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 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 Arrange a placement meeting and complete a placement agreement.)

Change in carer relationships—ending of a spousal relationship

If a spousal relationship ends and 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 approval—Form 3 APA. The existing certificate of approval remains in place until their individual applications are decided. The carers will not be required to repeat pre-service 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.

Changes in carer household membership

Carers are required to advise Child Safety:

  • if a person intends to become a member of the household – refer to Practice guide Adult household member guidelines
  • if a person has stopped being a member of the household.

If another adult intends to join a carer household, or if any child who lives in the carer household is turning 18 (including children placed by Child Safety):

  • Create a new EOI/application for the new adult household member from the existing carer entity record for each adult who intends to join the carer household and manually add the person to the relevant parties in the application.
  • Request that the adult completes the New adult household member form and the appropriate blue card application form. (Refer to Receive and process application documents.)
  • Verify the person’s identity for a blue card application.
  • Attach the completed New adult household member form, and blue card application form and associated identification documents, where available, to the EOI/application in ICMS and immediately email the CSU to advise of the availability of documentation in ICMS so that personal history checks will be conducted.
  • Consider interviewing the new adult household member in relation to their views about foster and kinship care, and their role within the carer household, or asking the foster and kinship care service to complete this interview.
  • Record the new adult household member application details in the ‘new AHM’ tab in ICMS.
  • Record the suitability decision details in the ‘new AHM’ tab in ICMS, following the outcome of personal history checks undertaken by the CSU.

The suitability decision for a new adult household member is based on personal history check outcomes and other matters relevant to deciding suitability, such as the person’s employment, history, physical health or mental health.

The process for decision making about suitability has a number of decision-making points, and while overall suitability is determined by the CSSC manager, the CSU manager is delegated to determine if an adult household member is either suitable or not suitable, based on their child protection and personal history.

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.

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