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Respond to prospective carers

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This page was updated on 22 November 2021. To view changes, please see page updates

Carer application requirements

Any Queensland resident aged 18 years and over may express an interest in becoming a foster carer, or a kinship carer for a specific child. Applicants can be single or partnered, or a grouping of adults in an individual household who will share the day-to-day responsibilities for the child’s care.

Table of legislative requirements - carer applications
Authority Description Refer to 
Child Protection Act 1999, section 133(3) The applicant must use the approved application form, signed by the applicant and adult household members.

Application for approval—Form 3 APA

Child Protection Act 1999, section 133(3) and (4)
 

The applicant will disclose:

  • who lives in their household
  • their own criminal history
  • the criminal history they know or suspect, relating to household members
Application for approval—Form 3 APA
Working With Children (Risk Management and Screening Act) 2000 schedule 1, section 14(1) Requires carers to be issued with a blue card before commencing care of a child. Ensure blue card applications are lodged
Working With Children (Risk Management and Screening Act) 2000 schedule 1, section 14(2) Requires adult household members of a carer household to be issued with a blue card, before joining the carer household. Ensure blue card applications are lodged
Child Protection Act 1999, schedule 3 Provides a broad definition of members of a person’s household – being more than those residing in the household. Ensure adult household members are identified
Child Protection Act 1999, section 132

To be eligible to hold a certificate of approval, the applicant may be:

  • an individual, or two or more individuals who hold a certificate jointly
  • a person living with their spouse may only hold a joint certificate of approval
  • a person may hold more than one kinship carer certificate.
Ensure the carer application is properly made

To apply to be a foster or kinship carer, an applicant is required to complete:

The applicant and each adult household member are also required to provide their blue card or exemption card details (if they are current card holders), or their account number issued by the Department of Transport and Main Roads as part of the blue card registration process—refer to Online applications for a blue card

Respond to an enquiry about foster care

A CSSC, RIS or PSU who receives a foster carer enquiry will refer the caller to:

The Queensland foster and kinship care recruitment line is funded by Child Safety and 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 provider, for follow-up recruitment actions.

Record the enquiry in ICMS

Record details of the foster care enquiry in ICMS when this information is provided to the PSU by the local foster and kinship care service provider or the Queensland foster and kinship care recruitment line. The PSU will:

  • create a person record for the enquirer if one does not already exist
  • create an EOI/application in the EOI/application tab and
    • select Yes to the enquiry prompt
    • record Continue or Self-select out if the outcome of the enquiry is known
  • allocate the EOI/application to the relevant PSU.

Enable kin to apply to be a kinship carer

A prospective kinship carer may request to be considered as an approved carer for a child they know, or they may be approached by the child’s CSO, or a foster and kinship care service provider (when funded to do so), to explore their interest in becoming a kinship carer for a specific child—refer to Identify the child’s kin.

For information about the importance of facilitating a kinship care arrangement for a child, refer to Explore kinship care as the preferred care arrangement.

To assist the prospective kinship applicant to decide whether to become a carer for the specific child:

  • discuss the Family caring for family guide, and provide a copy
  • encourage attendance at an information session about becoming a carer if one is available, provided by a local foster and kinship care service provider
  • support them through the application process
  • record details of the discussion in ICMS—refer to Record contact with prospective kinship carers.

Provide to the prospective carer an outline of the mandatory carer assessment components, including:

  • their consent to Child Safety completing 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 water safety requirements, and other requirements specific to firearm storage, smoke alarms, hot water systems and electrical switch safety
  • a medical check from the applicant’s general practitioner
  • referee checks of the applicant (undertaken by the assessor)
  • assessment interviews with the applicant, to assess their ability to meet the standards of care outlined in the Child Protection Act 1999, section 122
  • interviews with others in the household, where relevant
  • an assessment report, which includes a recommendation to the CSSC manager to approve or refuse the application
    and
  • to have a current blue card or exemption card from Blue Card Services, for the applicant and each adult household member.

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.

If the person decides to self-select out prior to lodging an application, record the pre-application outcome as 'Self-select out' and the reason in the 'Pre-application' tab in ICMS.

Should the prospective kinship carer decide to proceed with a carer application, they cannot be prevented from doing so as this would prevent them the right to procedural fairness.

Help the prospective kinship carer to complete a carer application

If the prospective carer decides to proceed with the application and assessment, provide them with the carer application documents:

Make sure they are aware of the requirements to:

  • disclose their criminal history and any domestic violence or traffic history
  • apply for a blue card with Blue Card Services, if they don’t already hold a current blue card or exemption card
  • identify and include household member details in their application—refer to Ensure adult household members are identified.

Tell them that Child Safety may share information contained in their application with others, as outlined in the disclosure statement and privacy notice in the APA form, and provide a copy of the Duty of disclosure—a fact sheet for carers.

Further reading

For an explanation of the APA form, refer to the Application for approval—Form 3 APA—Guide to completion.

Ensure adult household members are identified

The Child Protection Act 1999, schedule 3, defines adult household members more broadly than people residing in the carer’s home, and this may include:

  • regular and frequent visitors to the carer household, such as a family member or friend of the carer, even though they continue to have a primary residence elsewhere
  • a person in a relationship with the carer, and who frequently stays at the carers house
  • initially a short-stay guest of the carers, but this extends to a longer live-in arrangement
  • a person living in a separate structure on the carers premises, such as a caravan or granny flat, or a person living in the carer’s house as a tenant or boarder
  • a person who has been living in the carer household as a child and is about to or has just turned 18 years old (including a child placed by Child Safety), and they intend to continue living at the premises or being a regular and frequent visitor to the carer household.

Further reading

For additional information on adult household members of a carer applicant who is being assessed for provisional approval, refer to Complete the assessment requirements for provisional approval.

Adult household members of carer applicants need to be identified early and included in the APA form, to enable an assessment of their suitability to associate with a child in care, as required by the Child Protection Act 1999, section 135(1)(a)(ii) or section 135(1)(b)(iii).

If a new adult household member is intending to join the household after the carer application has been completed, they need to be issued with a blue card or exemption card from Blue Card Services (if they are not a current card holder) before joining the carer household. (Refer to Respond to a new household member).

It may be necessary to:

  • obtain more details from the applicant if it is not clear that the adult person meets the legislative intent of an adult household member
  • provide information about the nature and context of the adult person’s contact with the carer household to the CSSC manager
  • seek a decision from the CSSC manager about their status as an adult household member.

For more information, refer to Gather information about the adult household member.

Attention

An adult household member does not include a parent of the child in care who may be living at the carer applicant’s premises or is a regular visitor to the household. As such, they do not need to apply for a blue card or exemption card.

When the CSSC manager determines that a person is an adult household member, that person is required to complete an application for a blue card or exemption card with Blue Card Services, if they do not already have a current blue card.

Ensure blue card applications are lodged

The Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening) Act 2000, schedule 1, section 14, regards foster and kinship carers, as well as their adult household members, as volunteers engaged in regulated employment.

In addition, the Working With Children (Risk Management and Screening) Act 2000, section 176A prevents a person starting or continuing in regulated employment, without first being issued with a blue card. This applies to foster and kinship carers, and to their adult household members.

The two exceptions to this requirement occur when:

  • the adult household member is part of a provisionally approved carer’s household
    or
  • the adult household member is a young person living in an approved foster or kinship carer household, and is turning 18, or has just turned 18 years old.

Online applications for a blue card
The Blue Card Services online application is undertaken by the applicant as a two-step process, and requires the person to:

  • verify their identity, using the customer reference number from a Department of Transport and Main Roads document, such as:
    • a driver’s license
    • adult proof of age card
    • photo identity card
    • industry authority
  • have a working email address or mobile phone number, to complete the verification process.

Tip

If the blue card applicant does not have a customer reference number with the Department of Transport and Main Roads, or if their photo is older than 6 years and 9 months, let them know to visit the Department of Transport and Main Roads, service centre, to obtain a customer reference number and have a photo taken.

Step one requires the blue card applicant to register for an online account with Blue Card Services. This process will provide the applicant with an online account number – which is the number they will include in the APA form. This step also links their application to Child Safety and enables them to apply at no cost.

Step two is undertaken after Blue Card Services has contacted the applicant (via their email or mobile phone number provided in their online registration) to tell them they can complete their application through their online account. For further information about assisting carers to apply for a Blue Card, refer to Supporting your applicants to apply online.

Paper applications for a blue card

If the carer applicant or adult household member prefers to complete a paper application for a blue card or exemption card:

For further information about assisting carers completing a paper application, refer to Supporting your applicants who apply offline.

Note

It is an offence for person who has previously had a blue card suspended, or received a negative notice from Blue Card Services, or committed a disqualifying offence, or are a restricted person, to apply for a blue card.

Non-Queensland residents

It is a requirement that carer applicants who reside interstate apply for a blue card or exemption card. Information on how to complete the application process for non-Queensland residents is available - refer to Getting a customer reference number for your blue card application.

Receive and process carer application documents

Although foster and kinship carer applicants may be in contact with a local foster and kinship care service provider, they are required to lodge the carer application forms at a PSU or CSSC. If the application is for one or more individuals, a separate Carer applicant health and wellbeing questionnaire is submitted for each applicant, as identified in the following table:

Table: Care application documents
Applicant requirements By carer  By adult household member By household member (under 18)
Application for approval—Form 3 APA One form for all applicants Include details and signature in the APA Include details and signature in the APA
Carer applicant health and wellbeing questionnaire One form per applicant No No

Verify identity

A staff member from Child Safety or a foster and kinship care service provider will verify the identity of a carer applicant by:

  • sighting the current blue card or exemption card if the applicant already holds one, as well as one other form of identification listed in the APA form
  • obtaining a photocopy of the original blue card or exemption card, and the other identification provided
  • signing the back of each photocopy and providing the name of the staff member who verified the identity of the applicant, which agency they are from, and date of verification. 

The identity of an adult household member who already holds a current, valid blue card or exemption card does not need to be verified by providing one other form of identification as listed on the APA form.

Ensure the carer application is properly made

A carer application must be ‘properly made’ before it can be accepted. Check that all fields in the APA form have been completed and are correct. This may require confirming content directly with the applicant, including:

  • the application reflects the applicant’s living arrangement, as required by the Child Protection Act 1999, section 132(3) and section 133(4)
  • previous residential addresses for the past 5 years are included
  • the self-disclosure section includes all information inclusive of fines, charges and convictions
  • regulated care is correctly understood by the applicant as referring to other child-care services provided from the applicant’s home, such as family day care and stand-alone child care arrangements
  • household members include the applicant’s biological children, step-children and any child for whom they are the legal guardian who are residing in the home, as well as information about that person’s relationship to applicant/s
  • adult household membership is broadly defined for the purpose of the application and may also include regular and frequent visitors to the household. (Refer to Ensure adult household members are identified)
  • the blue card or exemption card number for the applicant and adult household members are provided, or where they don’t have a current blue card, the account number issued by the Department of Transport and Main Roads as part of their blue card registration process is provided. (Refer to Ensure blue card applications are lodged)
  • all carer applicants have signed the consent section of the APA form
  • adult household members have completed all the details and signed the household member consent section
  • the carer applicants have individually completed the Carer applicant health and wellbeing questionnaire, including signing their consent for the release of their medical history.

Tip

The APA form also requires the inclusion of any child who is in the long-term guardianship of the carer applicant 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.

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 and completing the Child Safety section of the form the APA form.

Process an application to be a kinship carer in special circumstances

In some exceptional circumstances, Child Safety may process a carer application from the child’s kin, without the legal authority to place the child under the Child Protection Act 1999. This may occur if it is both likely and imminent that the child will come into the custody of the chief executive and require a care arrangement. In this circumstance:

  • confirm the application is properly made—refer to Receive and process carer application documents).
  • do not complete the Child Safety section of the APA form
  • provide the APA form to the Central screening unit (CSU) for the commencement of child protection and personal history checks.

Tip

The Child Safety section of the APA form will be completed when the care agreement has been signed or the child is in the custody of the chief executive. The remainder of the carer assessment will then commence.

Complete the Child Safety section of the APA

A Child Safety staff member will complete the remaining fields in the APA to:

  • add the name and details of the subject child or children, for an applicant applying to be a kinship carer
  • confirm that the applicants and adult household members identity has been verified—refer to Verify identity
  • record the date the application was properly made
  • advise CSU that the application is properly made and is accessible in ICMS.

Time sensitive

The 90-day period for deciding the initial carer application starts from the date the application is 'properly made'—unless the applicant agrees to extend the timeframe for deciding their application. (Refer to Arrange to extend the timeframe for deciding an initial carer application).

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. Attach the documentation to the EOI/application in ICMS and immediately advise CSU of the update.

Record application details in ICMS

When a carer application is lodged and properly made, the PSU or CSSC will create person records for the carer applicant and all household members, 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. Use the ICMS/iDocs hyperlink functionality to save a copy of the documents into ICMS.

The following documents will be saved in ICMS:

  • the APA form
  • verified identification documents
  • Carer applicant health and wellbeing questionnaire.

Version history

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  • Date: 
    Creation of key step to improve accessibility and navigation within the procedure, 'Provide and review care'. Also includes some reviewed content and layout changes.