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Respond to concerns about a child's care arrangement

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This page was updated on 06 June 2022. To view changes, please see page updates

These procedures apply to a child who is placed under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 82(1), including care arrangements with other entities—refer to Types of care arrangements.  

Meet legal obligations

Child Safety staff members, employees of family-based and non-family-based care service providers, licensees of care services providing care to children, and adult members of the Queensland community have a range of legal obligations in relation to keeping children safe in care arrangements. In particular:

Who Obligation Legal authority

Child Safety staff
and
Employees of family-based and non-family-based care services

Required, as mandatory reporters, to provide a written report to Child Safety about reasonable suspicions that a child in care has suffered, is suffering or is at unacceptable risk of suffering harm caused by physical or sexual abuse.   Child Protection Act 1999, section 13F
Child Safety staff Required to report to QPS information about alleged harm to a child that may involve the commission of a criminal offence relating to the child. Child Protection Act 1999, section 14(2) and (3)

All adults inclusive of Child Safety staff and 
employees of family-based and non-family-based  care services

Required to report to QPS information that leads the person to have a reasonable belief that a child sexual offence has been or is being committed against a child by another adult. Criminal Code Act 1899, section 229BC
An adult in a postion of responsibiity within an 'institution' providing services to children Required to take steps to remove or reduce risks of a child sexual offence posed by another adult—when the alleged offender is an employee or volunteer with the ‘institution’. Criminal Code Act 1899, section 229BB
Child Safety staff Required to take reasonable steps to ensure a child placed in a care arrangement is cared for in a way that meets the standards of care.

Child Protection Act 1999
section 122

Licensees of care services Required to ensure that the care arrangement complies with the standards of care. Child Protection Act 1999, section 129A
Licensees of care services Required to enable and support staff to report to Child Safety any suspicions of harm caused to a child, or concerns about the standards of care. Child Protection Regulation 2011, section 6

Receive concerns about a child's care arrangement

Staff of a RIS, CSAHSC or a CSSC receiving concerns about a child in a care arrangement, including past or historical allegations, will gather information from the notifier (including a Child Safety staff member) about:

  • the quality of care the child is receiving
  • when the concern was first identified or when the incident occurred
  • if they suspect the child has been harmed by a carer or a member of their household, or by a staff member in a non-family-based care arrangement
  • the impact on the child, if known.

Attention

If the concerns indicate that an urgent response may be required to ensure the child’s immediate safety and wellbeing, consult with the senior team leader about providing this information to the CSSC with case responsibility for the child.

For concerns about harm or suspected harm to a child:

For concerns relating to the quality of care a child is receiving, gather information to assist in establishing if child’s carer or non-family-based service provider is caring for the child in a way that meets the required standards of care—refer to the Child Protection Act 1999, section 122.

For concerns raised about members of the carer’s household or people within their wider network who regularly come into contact with a child placed with the carer, gather information about the child’s safety and wellbeing—refer to Respond to a report of harm by another household member.)

Record the initial information

If the concerns are received by a  RIS,  CSAHSC or a CSSC not holding case responsibility for the child or carer, the RIS, CSAHSC or CSSC will record the concerns in a Standards of care case note in the child's placement event, and include the contact details of the person providing the information. The case note will clearly identify if the person who provided the information is a notifier, so that they are afforded protection in line with the Child Protection Act 1999, section 186.

After recording the concerns in the case note, the information will be provided to the CSSC with case responsibility for the subject child, as well as to:

  • the CSSC with responsibility for the carer, as identified in ICMS (this will usually be the CSSC in the geographical area where the carer resides)
    or
  • the CSSC in whose geographical area the non-family-based care arrangement is located.

If the concerns are received by CSAHCS and urgent action is required to assess the child’s safety, refer to Concerns received by the Child Safety After Hours Service Centre.

Establish who is responsible for leading the response

For a child placed with a carer, the CSSC responsible for the carer approval decision will be responsible for leading and managing the response to the concerns, regardless of whether that CSSC has case responsibility for the subject child.

For a child placed with a non-family-based care service provider, the decision about which CSSC is responsible will be determined on the basis of case responsibility for the subject child, and will also consider:

  • If there is one or more subject children, and case responsibility is held by one CSSC, that CSSC will be responsible for the response.
  • If case responsibility for the subject children is held by different CSSCs, the CSSC responsible for the geographical area in which the non-family-based care arrangement is located will be responsible for the response.
  • If the CSSC responsible for the geographical area in which the non-family-based care arrangement is located does not have any children placed with the service, one of the CSSCs with case responsibility for a subject children will be responsible. This will be negotiated by the CSSC managers who will consider:
    • whether any of the CSSCs have recently conducted a standards of care review or an investigation and assessment relating to the care arrangement or subject child
    • whether any of the CSSCs have a well-established working relationship with the service provider (for example, one CSSC may have placed the most children with the service)
    • whether a CSO with case responsibility for a subject child has a strong working relationship with one or more of the subject children
    • other practical issues, such as which CSSC is located closest to the care service.

The CSSCs involved in the matter may need to further negotiate who will undertake specific actions if:

  • there are multiple subject children and case responsibility for them is held by more than one CSSC
  • the carer has recently moved into a new geographical area, but the CSSC responsible for the carer has not transferred responsibility to the new CSSC.

Take additional actions in response to specific matters

The CSSC responsible for leading the response decision will also complete the following actions:

Additional action required Refer to 
Allegations indicate harm to a child that may involve the commission of a criminal offence. Report the information immediately to the QPS using the Police referral.
A mandatory report of significant sexual or physical abuse is received (Child Protection Act, section 13F.) Advise the Office of the Public Guardian using the OPG—Regional visiting manager contact details.
A child in care has been involved in a critical incident. Complete a critical incident report through the Critical incident reporting management system.
A Queensland Health medical officer has concerns for the child’s immediate safety upon discharge from hospital. Refer to Procedure 2 Respond when the discharge escalation pathway is initiated.
Allegations are received through an Integrated Justice Information Strategy (IJIS) electronic transfer of court result automated email alert. Refer to Procedure 1 Information via an Integrated Justice Information Strategy email alert.

Collaborate to consider how to respond to the concerns

Prior to making a decision about how to respond to non-urgent concerns, the delegated officer (refer to Delegated officer – response to concerns in a care arrangement) will seek and consider information and views provided by:

  • the foster and kinship care service provider or the non-family-based care service provider
  • the CSO for the subject child
  • the CSSC holding case responsibility for another subject child or children
  • the cultural practice advisor for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child or another Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff member (refer to Procedure 1 Seek cultural advice).

If the concerns indicate that an urgent response may be required to ensure the safety of the child in their care arrangement, immediately consult with the senior team leader about how to assess and meet the child’s immediate safety needs.

If the concerns identify the use of a prohibited or restrictive practice, refer to Procedure 5 Respond to the use of prohibited or restrictive practices for a child in the guardianship of the chief executive.

Time sensitive

Within 2 business days of receiving the concerns, the delegated officer will make a decision about how to respond to the concerns. Refer to Possible responses to concerns about a child’s care arrangement.

Do not gather information from, or about, the child or their care arrangement from other service providers or sources until the decision about how the concerns will be responded to has been made by the delegated officer.

Exceptions may occur in limited circumstances, such as having contact with the:

  • region’s Investment and Partnership team who work with the specific service provider
  • the child’s community visitor or Evolve therapist, due to their close contact with the child and their care arrangement.

Practice prompt

Check the current placement agreement to see if it is up to date and whether the documented supports and activities are being actioned.

Involve the service provider

Contact the foster and kinship care service provider or the non-family-based-care service provider, to tell them about the concerns. If contact is to be made by email, ensure appropriate measures are taken to protect sensitive and confidential information being transmitted. Refer to Preventing email breaches for further information.

Where possible:

If it is not possible for the parties to talk together, arrange a one-on-one discussion with the relevant service provider or other CSSC to make sure they can contribute information known to them and that their views about a response decision are considered. 

If the service provider is unable to complete the initial consultation form, ask them to provide the information verbally. Record this information in the Concerns, consultation and response decision form in ICMS.

Involve the Child Safety Officer with case responsibility for the child

Advise the CSSC with responsibility for any other subject child in the care arrangement of the concerns. Ask the CSO for information about:

  • the other subject child’s child protection history (including harm reports and concerns about the standards of care they have received) for the purpose of considering cumulative harm impacts
  • the child’s level of support needs (refer to Determine the child’s level of support needs)
  • information about the child’s specific needs and the resources being provided to meet these
  • the currency of the placement agreement for the child and whether the intended supports are being or have been provided
  • any emerging matters relevant to the care of the child or the care arrangement
  • the frequency, recency and nature of the CSO’s contact with the child and their care arrangement.

If the child’s CSO is not available, contact the senior team leader or senior practitioner to obtain the information.

Consider the child’s needs, circumstances and experiences

In addition to the information provided by the foster and kinship care service provider or the non-family-based care service provider and the other CSSC responsible for a subject child, access relevant ICMS events to identify:

  • episodes of abuse or neglect and adverse circumstances in the child’s history that are indicative of cumulative harm and chronic maltreatment 
  • risk factors demonstrated by past concerns relating to the carer or the non-family based care service provider
  • factors that may exacerbate the vulnerability of the subject child
  • strengths and protective factors.

Consider the additional needs of a child or young person with a gender diverse identity or sexuality—refer to the practice guide, Children with gender and sexual orientation diversity.

Note

A service provider for a non-family-based care arrangement may need to initiate actions after-hours to directly address the immediate safety needs of the subject child or other children in the care arrangement—such as making variations to the staffing roster.

Possible responses to concerns about a child's care arrangement

The CSO from the CSSC responsible for making the response decision will consider the information received from care service providers and other CSSCs (where relevant) and will recommend a response to the concerns to the appropriate delegated officer (refer to  Delegated officer – response to concerns in a care arrangement.)

There are three possible responses:

  1. Harm report – investigation and assessment.
    This response decision is used when it is reasonably suspected that the child may have experienced harm or it is suspected they may have been harmed, due to the actions or inactions of their carer or an adult member of their household, or a staff member in a non-family-based care arrangement. (Refer to Investigate and assess a harm report.)
  2. Standards of care review.
    This response decision is used when it is reasonably suspected that the quality of care provided to a child may not be meeting, or not have met, one or more of the standards of care as outlined in the Child Protection Act 1999, section 122. It is not appropriate to select this response if it is suspected the child may have also experienced harm. (Refer to Complete a standard of care review).
  3. Continue to monitor the standards of care.
    This response decision is used to record concerns in the care arrangement that do not meet the threshold for recording a harm report or a standards of care review. Action is still required to respond to the concerns, and will likely be focused on support, supervision or training aimed to prevent the concerns escalating to a standards of care review or a harm report. (Refer to Continue to monitor the standards of care.)

Before approving the response decision, the delegated officer will also take into account:

  • the length of time the child is in the care arrangement, and the child's age and development—refer to the Child Protection Act 1999, section 122(4)
  • the information and views from the service provider responsible for the carer or non-family-based care arrangement and other CSSCs responsible for a subject child.

Delegated officer - response to concerns in a care arrangement

Response decision Decision maker
Harm report CSSC manager
Standard of care review Senior team leader
Continue to monitor the standards of care Senior team leader

Note

A harm report is not recorded if the concerns notified only indicate risk of harm to a child in a care arrangement.

Action must still be taken to address the risk of harm, such as:

  • reviewing if the child will remain in the care arrangement
  • providing additional support and undertaking intensive case work with the child 
  • providing additional support to the carer or to staff in a non-family-based care arrangement
  • considering a review of carer suitability. (Refer to Review carer suitability.)

After the decision has been approved by the delegated officer:

  • Inform the foster and kinship care service provider or the non-family-based care service provider, and the CSO for another subject child of the response to the concerns.
  • Advise the notifier of the outcome (if they are from a government or non-government agency and they asked to be given this information). Refer to Procedure 1 Provide feedback to government and non-government agencies.

Note

The nominee of a non-family-based care arrangement that is licensed by Child Safety  (refer to the Child Protection Act 1999, section 141D(3)) is required to complete a LCS Form 6: Change in personal circumstances advising that a harm report or a standards of care review has been recorded. They will provide this directly to Child Safety Licensing.

Record the response decision

When the senior team leader or CSSC manager has made the response decision, create a Standards of care event in ICMS. Make sure the relevant parties field includes the:

  • subject child or children
  • carer entity (for an approved carer)
  • care service entity (for a non-family-based care service provider)
  • the person details of a staff member in a non-family-based care arrangement identified in the concerns (create a person record in ICMS if one does not already exist), if applicable.

For a standards of care review or harm report, also record all other children placed with the carer or the non-family-based care arrangement (under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 82(1)) who are not subject children in the standards of care review.

Complete the Concerns, consultation and response decision form in ICMS, documenting:

  • the specific details of the concerns including:
  • other relevant contextual information 
  • the rationale for the response decision
  • who made the decision and the date of the decision.

For a decision to continue to monitor the standards of care, also record the specific support actions that will be taken to address the identified concerns, who is responsible for these actions, and the timeframe for completing them.

Tip

The Standards of care review report is automatically created in ICMS when the Concerns, consultation and response decision form is completed.

The Harm report―I&A event will be automatically generated in ICMS once the Harm report is submitted for approval.

If a mandatory report of harm is received relating to a reportable suspicion of significant harm caused by physical or sexual abuse, (Child Protection Act 1999, section 13F):

Respond to other specific concerns

If a child in a care arrangement is harmed or at risk of harm by their parent during a family contact visit, refer to Procedure 5 Respond to child protection concerns related to family contact. Provide support to the child to access relevant counselling and medical services arising from the harm.

If concerns relate to care provided to a child more than 12 months ago, refer to Respond to historical concerns.

If concerns are received from the Redress Request for Information Team, refer to the Receive concerns through the Redress Scheme.

If concerns are about the care provided to a child subject to a long-term guardianship order to a suitable person or a permanent care order, refer to Procedure 1 Decide the intake response.

If concerns allege harm to a child by another child in the care arrangement, consider and respond to the needs of both children. Refer to Assess harm by another person.

Receive concerns through the redress scheme

The RIS (or CSAHSC if outside of business hours) may receive information from the Redress Request for Information Team, when a person who is alleged to have sexually abused a child in care may pose a current risk to a child in care, because they continue to be:

  • an approved foster, kinship or provisionally approved carer
  • a director, nominee or staff member of a licensed service provider
    or
  • is otherwise identified to have regular contact with a child in care.

The RIS or CSAHCS will refer to the Child safe reporting guidelines under the National Redress Scheme, and take the following actions as relevant:

Respond to a report of harm by a person living outside the care arrangement

If information is received about a child being harmed by a person who does not live or work in the care arrangement, only record a harm report if it is reasonably suspected that the actions or inactions of the carer or non-family-based care service provider has:

  • contributed to the alleged harm
    or
  • failed to protect the child from the alleged harm.

To determine whether to record a harm report in these circumstances consider:

  • the contributing role of the carer or service provider (for example by allowing unsupervised contact contrary to the child’s case plan or placement agreement, resulting in harm to the child)
  • the protective capacity of the carer or non-family-based care service provider and their response to the child (for example, whether they are supporting the child and taking protective action or if they have rejected the child or refused to take action to ensure the child’s safety)
  • the ability and willingness of the carer or non-family-based care service provider to protect the child, including whether they:
    • have an ongoing relationship or connection with the alleged person responsible that will affect their ability to protect the child
    • are able to protect the child but are unwilling to do so, due to identified factors (for example, the alleged person responsible may be a relative or friend of the carer, or an influential person, which may create a conflict of interest and prevent the carer from acting protectively).

If the information received does not indicate that the carer or staff member contributed to the harm the child experienced, and does not indicate that the carer or staff member failed to protect the child from harm, respond to the matter in line with usual intake processes. Refer to Procedure 1 Decide the intake response.

Respond to a report of harm by another household member

If information is received about a child being harmed by a person who is a member of the care arrangement household, record a harm report if the household member is:

  • an adult other than the child’s carer or a staff member in the non-family-based care arrangement where the child is placed
  • another child in care and residing in the care arrangement. Refer to Assess harm by another person.

Attention

The Child Protection Act 1999, schedule 3, provides a broad definition of member of a person’s household. A member includes an adult who has significant in-home contact with the child as well as an adult who is a household resident. This wider definition is used to identify an adult household member in a carer’s household—refer to Gather information about the adult household member.

Concerns received by the Child Safety After Hours Service Centre

If the CSAHSC receives information that does not indicate that a harm report is not appropriate, refer to Record the initial information.

If the CSAHSC receives information that meets the threshold for a harm report, but no further action is required before the CSSC opens on the next business day, the CSAHSC will:

  • record the information in ICMS in a Standards of care case note in the placement event, and include the notifier’s contact details (and whether a notifier from a government or non-government agency requested feedback)
  • email the information to the CSSC responsible for the carer and the CSO with case responsibility for the subject child
  • call the CSSC and CSO the next business day to make sure the email has been received and have located the Standards of care case note in ICMS.

If the CSAHCS receives information that meets the threshold for a harm report and action by the CSAHSC is required before the relevant CSSC opens the next business day, the CSAHSC will:

  • seek approval for the decision to record a harm report from the relevant CSSC manager
  • take any necessary actions to ensure the child’s safety
  • commence the investigation and assessment within the 24-hour response timeframe
  • create a Standards of care event in ICMS
  • complete the harm report and record all actions taken in the Harm report―I&A event in ICMS
  • email the information to the CSSC responsible for the approved carer or, if the child is placed with a non-family-based care service provider, to the CSSC with case management for the child
  • phone the relevant CSSC on the next business day to ensure they are aware of the matter and have located the relevant information in ICMS.

Note

The CSAHSC's responsibility for the matter ends when the relevant CSSC reopens the next business day. The CSSC is then responsible for completing the investigation and assessment. (Refer to Investigate and assess a harm report.)

Continue to monitor the standards of care

The focus of this response is on being proactive and on mobilising additional supports or strategies aimed at addressing the concerns, as promptly as possible. Assessment or investigative actions, such as interviewing the child, carer or staff member about the concerns, are not undertaken as part of this response.

Work together to provide the relevant supports

After a decision has been approved by the senior team leader for the concerns to be responded to with a continue to monitor the standards of care response:

  • Discuss with the foster and kinship care suport worker or the co-ordinator or manager of the non-family-based care arrangement, the targeted supports required to respond to the concerns.
  • Be clear about who is responsible for providing the additional supports, when these will commence and if relevant, their duration.
  • Address any systemic factors identified as contributing to the concerns, such as:
    • overcrowding
    • insufficient access to support and training
    • insufficient sharing of information about the child’s needs and behaviours
    • insufficient matching of the child’s needs and characteristics with the carer’s circumstances, capacity and ability to meet the child’s needs.  

Practice prompt

Supports and actions may include:

  • helping the carer or the staff member in a  non-family-based care arrangement  understand how the standards of care apply to the way they care for the child on a daily basis
  • strategies to address a specific stress being experienced by the care arrangement, for example in response to a personal crisis, a change in the child’s behaviour or household membership
  • assisting the carer or staff in a non-family-based care arrangement to implement safe caring practices when interacting with a child who has experienced sexual abuse or domestic and family violence or displays sexually reactive behaviours.

Record the agreed additional actions and supports in the Concerns, consultation and response decision form in ICMS.

Complete a standards of care review

The focus of this response is on reviewing if the care a child is receiving in their care arrangement has met or is meeting each of the legislated standards of care—refer to the Child Protection Act 1999, section 122.

Plan the standards of care review

Develop a plan in partnership with the foster and kinship care service provider or the non-family-based care service provider, and if relevant, a CSSC responsible for another subject child, prior to commencing the standards of care review.

Tip

The plan can be developed as part of the meeting or telecommunications conference call arranged to initially discuss the concerns—refer to Collaborate to consider how to respond to the concerns.  

The CSSC responsible for the standards of care review will lead the development of a plan to address the key actions, such as:

  • telling the carer or staff member of a non-family-based care arrangement of the standards of care review and explaining they can arrange to have a support person attend the discussion
  • providing and discussing the Information sheet for carers and care service staff
  • planning who will lead the discussion about the concerns with the carer or staff member (refer to Discuss the standards of care concerns with the carer or staff member)
  • checking the current placement agreement to see if it is up to date and whether the documented supports and actions are being actioned
  • talking with the subject child
  • gathering additional information if required
  • developing contingency plans for responding to issues and difficulties that may impede the timely completion of the standard of care review.

Time sensitive

Make sure the plan enables the review to be commenced within 5 working days and completed within 4 weeks of the concerns being received by Child Safety. 

Commencement is defined as when there is a face-to-face discussion with either the subject child, the carer or staff member of the non-family-based care arrangement about the concerns. It is completed when the carer or non-family-based care service provider has been advised of the outcome of the review.

Tip

If there is a joint certificate of approval, make arrangements that enable both carers to participate in the standards of care review discussion.

For a standard of care review in a non-family-based care arrangement the plan will also consider:

  • how to arrange the discussion of the concerns with staff members who work rostered hours outside business hours
  • access the service’s procedures or training documentation, where relevant.

Obtain verbal approval for the plan from the senior team leader and record it in the Standards of care review report in the SOC event in ICMS.

Discuss the standards of care concerns with the carer or staff member

Arrange for the concerns to be discussed with the carer. This can be undertaken by either:

  • the support worker from the foster and kinship care service provider (or another nominated staff member)
  • the CSO or another Child Safety nominated staff member
    or
  • jointly by the CSO and the support worker from the foster and kinship care service provider.

The CSO or other Child Safety practitioner will lead the discussion of concerns with a staff member of a non-family-based care service.

Use solution focused questions or an appreciative enquiry approach to explore:

  • the carer's or staff member's understanding of the specific standards of care being reviewed and how the standards are applied to their daily care of the child
  • their account of the circumstances surrounding the issue or concern
  • aspects of their care role they feel are working well for them, and those presenting challenges at this time.

Tip

Use questions that will allow discussion of situations when the carer or staff member has met the standards of care and, where applicable, not met the standards of care for the child. Refer to the practice kit Care arrangements, Solution-focused questions.

Encourage the carer or staff member to talk about what they may do if a similar situation to the one of concern were to arise again. This may help identify their capabilities and needs, as well as what assistance is required to enable them to meet the standards of care in future. Refer to the practice kit Care arrangements, Appreciative inquiry.

Use the information provided to consider whether there may be additional or different supports that could assist the carer or staff member in their caring role. Refer to the practice kit Care arrangements, Example questions for engaging carers.

Speak with the child about their experience

The CSO will have a face-to-face discussion with the child about their experience of the care arrangement and the identified concerns. Before talking to the child make sure to:

  • Let the child know they can have a support person present.
  • Consider the child’s communication needs and arrange any supports if required.
  • Provide and explain the Information sheet for children and young people.
  • Arrange a location where the child is more likely to feel safe and comfortable.

Attention

When conducting a standards of care review, it is not appropriate to interview the child at school or at a day care centre using powers under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 17.

An Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child may wish to be supported by an independent person. The CSO can assist to make these arrangements. Refer to procedure 5, Make arrangements for an independent person.

Ensure the child is given the opportunity to express their views and wishes, and to raise matters about the quality of care they are experiencing.

Identify contributing factors

Ensure the assessment considers how the actions or inactions of Child Safety and the foster and kinship care service provider or the non-family-based care service provider may have contributed to the concerns. Consider:

  • the frequency, adequacy and nature of contact by the CSO with the child and the care arrangement
  • the frequency, adequacy and nature of support provided by the foster and kinship care service provider to the carer, given the carer’s level of experience and needs and the complexity of the child’s needs
  • the support and supervision provided to the staff member, taking into account their experience and the complexity of the child’s needs
  • the nature and recency of the training provided to the carer or staff member in a non-family-based care arrangement relevant to the concerns
  • whether the key activities in the child’s case plan are being actioned in a timely and responsive way by members of the child’s safety and support network
  • the progress of actions following the outcomes of previous standards of care reviews or harm reports, where relevant
  • the presence of additional stressors in the care arrangement such as changes in the household, personal stress, or issues with the management of the child’s challenging behaviours.

Respond when additional concerns become apparent

Additional concerns received during a standards of care review that do not indicate harm to the child will be recorded as new concerns in the Additional notified concerns section of the Standards of care review report form in ICMS. The concerns will be responded to as part of the open standards of care review.

If harm or suspected harm becomes apparent during the review process:

Recommend an appropriate response to the concerns. The CSSC manager will decide whether a harm report is to be recorded—refer to Delegated officer – response to concerns in a care arrangement.

Record the information in relation to the harm in the open Standards of care review report  in ICMS and identify harm in the ‘outcome decision’ section of the report. A harm report will be automatically created in ICMS. (Refer to Investigate and assess a harm report.)

Decide the outcome of the standards of care review

Complete the Standards of care review report in ICMS

  • Analyse the information obtained from all sources.
  • Consult the senior team leader and senior practitioner.
  • Seek the views of the foster and kinship care service or the non-family-based care service provider, particularly if they have had an active role in the standards of care review.
  • Take into account the contextual and systemic factors that have impacted on the child’s care.
  • Propose an outcome and provide a rationale for this assessment.

Attention

The standards of care review is not solely about the actions or inactions of the child’s carer or staff members in a non-family-based care arrangement.

When the standards of care have not been for the child, it may be due to the individual or collective actions or inactions of the carer or staff members employed by the service provider. The actions or inactions of others– such as Child Safety staff, or the foster and kinship care service provider or non-family-based care service provider may also be contributing factors. It is important to consider all the contributing factors, so that appropriate actions can be taken to prevent a recurrence of the concerns.

A standards of care review will result in one of 2 outcomes:

  • standards met  
  • standards not met.

Standards met

This outcome is recorded if it is determined that:

  • the care provided to the child is in line with the required standards of care
    and
  • there is no indication that the child has experienced harm.

Standards not met

This outcome is recorded when it is determined that:

  • the care provided to the child has not met the required standards of care
    and
  • there is no indication that the child has experienced harm. 

The specific standards of care that have not been met, as outlined in the Child Protection Act 1999, section 122, must be identified.

The standards of care may not be met due to the individual or collective actions or inactions of the carer, care service staff, or Child Safety, as members of the safety and support network.

Tell relevant parties of the standards of care review outcome

When the outcome has been approved by the senior team leader, provide verbal advice of the outcome to:

  • the carer and the manager or coordinator of the foster and kinship care service supporting the carer
  • the manager or coordinator of the non-family-based care service provider—who is then responsible for advising the staff members identified in the standards of care review
  • the subject child, if age and developmentally appropriate
  • each CSO responsible for a child placed with the carer or care service.

Provide written advice of the outcome, only if this is requested , using the:

If a party is not happy with the process or outcome of the review, let  them know they may make a complaint or seek a review of the process. Refer to Respond to a complaint or request for the review of a decision.

Respond when the standards of care are not met

If the standards of care review has an outcome of ‘standards not met’, the actions that need to be taken vary depending on the type of care arrangement:

  • For a child placed with a foster or kinship carer, the CSSC responsible for the standards of care review will ensure the placement agreement for the child is reviewed. The CSSC may also recommend the completion of additional processes where these are relevant, such as:
    • a review of the foster carer agreement, for a foster carer
    • reviewing carer suitability. (Refer to Review carer suitability.)
  • For a child placed in a non-family-based care arrangement, the CSSC responsible for the standards of care review will ensure an action plan is developed by the service provider. (Refer to Ensure an action plan is developed by the non-family-based care service provider.)

Review the placement agreement for a child placed with a carer

Review the placement agreement in partnership with the foster and kinship care service provider, or the non-family-based care service provider to:

  • revise the care tasks relating to the child’s identified needs and family contact arrangements
  • identify any additional supports that will assist the care arrangement to meet and provide the standards of care for the child.

Refer to Review the placement agreement.

Practice prompt

The actions implemented to assist a carer to provide the required standards of care for the child will correlate to the specific standards of care that have not been met, and will be included in the review of the placement agreement.

Review the foster care agreement 

For a child placed with a foster carer, consider whether a review of the foster carer agreement is required. (Refer to Consider an additional, early review of the foster carer agreement). If the carer is supported by a foster and kinship care service provider, the agency will lead the foster carer agreement. The CSSC may also be involved in this discussion if a carer has a history of not meeting the standards of care.

The additional review will examine:

  • the number of children and the types of care arrangement the carer is willing and able to care for
  • the carers learning and development areas and how these will be met
  • elements of support identified by or needed by the carer
  • supports that individual members of the carer’s family need or require
  • any support needs and strategies for managing or resolving conflicts of interest, if applicable, for a Child Safety employee who is also a carer. (Refer to Respond when a carer applicant is also a Child Safety employee.)

Work with the non-family-based care service provider to develop an action plan

If the standards of care review outcome is ‘standards not met’, an action plan will be developed by the non-family-based service provider to address the standards of care that have not been met.  The service provider, will work in partnership with Child Safety to develop a suitable plan to help ensure the standards of care are met and maintained for the child. Refer to Ensure an action plan is developed by the non-family-based care service provider.

Also consider whether an early review of the placement agreement for the child is required. Refer to When to undertake an early review of the placement agreement.

Record the standards of care review

Following the review of the placement agreement (or, for a child placed with a non-family-based  care service provider, the action plan):

  • complete the Standards of care review report in ICMS
  • seek senior team leader approval for the Standards of care review report in ICMS.

When the senior team leader approves the Standards of care review report, the Standards of care event will be closed in ICMS.

Investigate and assess a harm report

An investigation and assessment of a harm report will be allocated to an authorised officer with the required level of skill and experience to manage the specific matter, taking into account: 

  • the complexities of the allegations, including possible barriers to disclosure
  • the subject child’s circumstances and specific needs
  • the involvement of the QPS in investigating the allegations
  • the historical nature of the allegations (if relevant)―refer to Respond to historical concerns.

In line with the Child Protection Act 1999, sections 14(2) and (3), immediately notify the QPS using the Police referral if the information received about the harm to the child involves allegations that indicate the commission of a criminal offence relating to the child. For further information, refer to Procedure 1 Report information to the Queensland Police Service.

If the harm report alleges harm to a child by a carer or an adult member of their household, the investigation and assessment will be undertaken by 2 CSOs, or a CSO and the QPS if a joint investigation is required.

If the harm report alleges harm by a staff member in a non-family-based care arrangement, the investigation and assessment will be undertaken by:

  • an authorised officer nominated by the CSSC manager, together with the manager or coordinator of the non-family-based care arrangement
    or
  • a CSO and the QPS if a joint investigation is required.

If the child is placed in a care arrangement under a care agreement, the consent of the child’s parents is required before the child is interviewed.

Plan the investigation and assessment

Create the Harm report – I&A plan in ICMS, and make sure the planning occurs in partnership with:

  • the foster and kinship care service provider or the non-family-based care service provider
  • the CSO with case responsibility for each subject child
  • the senior team leader and/or senior practitioner of the CSSC responsible for the investigation and assessment
  • the Child Safety planning officer, who will consult with the QPS if a joint response is required—refer to Consult with the Queensland Police Service to decide if there will be a joint response
  • the QPS (if appropriate.)

Tip

The plan can be developed as part of the meeting or telecommunications conference call arranged to initially discuss the concerns—refer to Collaborate to consider how to respond to concerns.  

Consider additional matters as outlined in the Checklist for planning an investigation and assessment of a harm report and the Harm report – I&A plan in ICMS.

Once the planning process is completed:

  • Gain verbal approval for the plan from the senior team leader.
  • Record the plan in the Harm report—I&A plan form under the Investigation and assessment planning tab in ICMS.
  • Provide a copy of the investigation and assessment plan to those responsible for investigation and assessment activities. 

Provide information to relevant parties

If the approved investigation and assessment plan identifies it is appropriate to pre-arrange interviews, determine whether the Child Safety practitioner or the service provider will contact the carer or the staff member of a non-family-based care arrangement. The CSO will contact the child (if age and developmentally appropriate.)

Tell the child and carer or the staff member of a non-family-based care arrangement:

  • that an investigation and assessment will be undertaken in response to concerns received about the care arrangement 
  • of their right to have a support person present during their interview, and to have assistance with identifying options for accessing support.

Provide written advice

Complete the Letter to carer/staff member—advice of harm report. This can be provided to the carer or the staff member at the time of the interview, or at any time prior to the interview.

Also provide a copy of the letter, where relevant, to:

  • the manager or coordinator of the foster and kinship care service or the non-family-based service provider
  • the regional Investment and Partnership team or relevant staff of another government agency, if a care service is funded or regulated by that agency.

Attach a copy of the letter to the Harm report—I&A event in ICMS.

Interview relevant parties

Time sensitive

The investigation and assessment will be commenced within 24 hours from when the decision is made that the concerns meet the threshold for a harm report. It is commenced when the subject child is either sighted or sighted and interviewed by an authorised officer.

In circumstances where the investigation and assessment  cannot be commenced within this timeframe, a QPS officer or health professional may sight the child and provide Child Safety with information in relation to their safety.

The CSSC manager is responsible for seeking the regional director’s advice in situations where it is not possible to commence an investigation and assessment within the required 24 hours.

Gather relevant information in the interviews

Ensure relevant information is gathered that will enable an assessment to be made of:

Attention

The focus of the assessment is not whether a child is in need of protection but on:

  • whether the child has experienced harm in their care arrangement
  • whether the standards of care are being met.

The assessment is also used to determine what action, if any, is required to address any future risk of harm to the child. 

Record all interview information in the Record of interviews form in ICMS from the Information gathering and interviews tab in the Harm report—I&A event.

Interview the subject child

Before interviewing the subject child or subject children make sure:

  • the interview does not occur in the presence of the carer or staff member who is the subject of the allegations
  • the child has been given the Information sheet for children and young people and the contents have been discussed with them (considering their age and ability to understand).
  • the support person (if relevant) has been provided with information to help them understand their role and to ensure they are aware of the requirement for confidentiality under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 188. (Refer to the practice guide The role of a support person.)

Complete face-to-face interviews with each subject child who is able to communicate. If the child has a disability, arrange appropriate communication support or aides required to enable their participation.

Explore the child’s account of the alleged concerns. Gather information about their concerns, worries and experiences in the care arrangement.

Arrange to interview children currently in the care arrangement and any other child who was placed there at the time of the concerns.

If the child is subject to a care agreement, obtain the child’s parents consent to interview the child.

Interview the carer or staff member

When interviewing the carer or staff member, ensure they are treated fairly, without bias, professionally and courteously and that the process is timely.  

Before interviewing the alleged person responsible:

If the carer or staff members asks about recording the discussion, provide the advice they may record the discussion (in a harm report interview).  They are the owner of the interview material they record, and are responsible for retaining  these recordings. Ensure that the carer or staff member is aware that they are not permitted to communicate or publish any part of audio or video recordings to any person, except in accordance with the Child Protection Act 1999.

Make sure that interviews are also undertaken with:

  • other persons allegedly responsible for the harm to the child through their actions or inactions
  • both carers listed on the certificate of approval
  • adult household members or other staff members in the care arrangement who may have relevant information.

Analyse the information

Take a holistic approach and expand the assessment focus beyond whether an alleged incident or abusive action did or did not occur. Include a focus on the risk of future harm, consideration of cumulative harm, and an assessment of whether the standards of care have been and are being met. 

Assess harm

Assess whether the carer’s or staff member’s interactions with the child has had any detrimental effect of a significant nature on the child’s physical, psychological or emotional wellbeing, taking into account the impact of cumulative harm. (Refer to the Child Protection Act 1999, section 9.)

For a detrimental effect to be of a significant nature it will:

  • have more than a minor impact on a child’s physical, psychological or emotional wellbeing
  • be substantial, serious and demonstrable—that is, measurable and observable on the child’s body and/or in the child’s functioning or behaviour.

A detrimental effect of a significant nature is an effect that is likely to be long term (more than transitory) or to adversely affect the child’s health or wellbeing to an extent that the general public would consider unacceptable.

If the actions or inactions of Child Safety staff caused a significant detriment to child, refer to the policy, Response to children who have experienced significant detriment caused by the actions or inactions of Department of Communities, Child Safety or Disability Services.

Further reading

Assess cumulative harm

The investigation and assessment of a harm report will also consider whether prior experiences of harm are likely to exacerbate the effect of trauma the child has previously experienced in their family or a previous care arrangement. 

Consider the likely extent and impact of the cumulative harm by considering whether the child has experienced harm over a prolonged period of time due to the impacts of:

  • recurring incidents resulting from a single recurring adverse circumstance or event, for example, ongoing neglect
  • a series or combination of acts, omissions or circumstances that have a cumulative effect on their safety and wellbeing (Child Protection Act 1999, section 9(4))
  • being subject to multiple, different harmful circumstances and events over a long period or concurrently, for example, a combination of persistent verbal abuse, harsh discipline and exposure to domestic and family violence.

Tip

A child has experienced cumulative harm if the current experience exacerbates the effect of trauma previously experienced by the child and causes detriment to their physical, psychological or emotional wellbeing.

Assess risk of harm

Although the immediate focus of the investigation and assessment is on whether the child has been harmed, the risk of future potential harm to the child in the care arrangement is considered throughout the assessment of the harm report.

During the assessment and investigation, consider:

  • the likelihood that the child will be harmed in the future and the likely level of harm
  • the presence of risk factors in the care arrangement and factors that may offset possible risk
  • the carer’s or staff member’s understanding of the concerns, and their willingness and ability to work with the child’s safety and support network to mitigate future risk
  • evidence that the care arrangement is able to meet the child’s safety needs.

Note

Risk of harm also includes circumstances where the impact of the harm is not yet observable, but harm is a predictable result of what has occurred. (Refer to the Practice kit Child sexual abuse, The impact of child sexual abuse on children.)

If a significant risk of sexual abuse of a child arises, consult with the senior team leader to make sure all legislative and procedural requirements are being followed, including action to protect the child. If the child or another person has been identified as a victim of crime or act of violence, refer to Procedure 5 Victims of crime.

Assess harm by another person

If it is suspected that a child has been harmed but the harm to the child has not been caused by a carer or a staff member of a care service, the investigation and assessment process will consider:

  • how the child is being supported
  • how the carer or staff member has been affected by the harm caused to the child by another person and whether they require additional support (including counselling).

If the alleged person responsible for the harm is another child in care, consider and respond to the needs of this child during the investigation and assessment as well as to the needs of the subject child. Refer the child to appropriate support services (for example, medical or therapeutic services) if required.

Also consider whether:

  • that child, in addition to the subject child, may have experienced harm while in care
    or
  • that child’s harmful actions indicate they may have previously experienced harm (while in the care of their parents or another person) that has not previously been investigated and assessed.

If relevant, record:

  • a separate harm report—with the alleged person (child) responsible as a subject child, where the child’s harmful actions indicate that they may have also experienced harm while in care (for example, emerging age-inappropriate sexually reactive behaviour, where there is no known history of the child being sexually abused)
  • a notification—if the child’s harmful actions indicate the child may have previously experienced harm while in the care of their parents. For example, it may be reasonably suspected that the child was sexually abused while in the care of his or her parents and this has not previously been investigated and assessed by the department.

If a child may have been sexually abused while they were in care, respond in line with the policy Response to children who are sexually abused while in care, and initiate a review of the child’s case plan to meet the child’s specific needs. Refer to Procedure 5, When a child is sexually abused while in care.

Assess the standards of care

Focus the assessment on whether or not the standards of care have been met and are being met for the child. Refer to Discuss the standards of care concerns with the carer or staff member.

Complete the investigation and assessment within the required timeframe

Time sensitive

An investigation and assessment of a harm report will be completed within 6 weeks of the decision that the information received constitutes a harm report.

The response may not be able to be completed in the required timeframe when:

  • the scope and complexity of the assessment requires multiple interviews of a relevant person
  • someone declines to be interviewed, or is currently living in a distant location
  • additional concerns are received before the investigation and assessment is completed, which need to be addressed
  • additional subject children are identified and included in the investigation and assessment
  • the allegations are historical, particularly those that date back years or decades
  • the QPS request Child Safety not to proceed with interviews of relevant parties to  ensure the integrity of the criminal investigation.

If there are exceptional circumstances that prevent the investigation and assessment being completed within the required 6-week timeframe, arrange for the CSSC manager to write to the carer or staff member to advise them of the delay, the reasons for the delay and to provide an estimated completion date.

Respond to specific circumstances during the investigation and assessment

Respond to additional concerns

If additional concerns about a child’s care are received during an investigation and assessment, the concerns will be responded to as part of the current investigation and assessment.

When responding to the additional concerns:

  • record the information in an Additional notified concerns form in the open Harm report—I&A event in ICMS 
  • ensure the concerns are addressed with the child and the carer or staff member and assessed as part of the open investigation and assessment.

Harm to children not recorded as subject children

If it is assessed that other children in care who are living in the care arrangement may have experienced harm, but were not recorded as subject children, record them as subject children in the investigation and assessment and include them in the process.

If it is considered that a child who lives in the household but who is not in care may have experienced harm or be at risk of harm, take action in line with usual intake processes. Refer to Procedure 1 Assess the information and decide the response.

Take action to remove the child

If, during the investigation and assessment:

  • it becomes apparent that the child is at immediate risk of harm or unacceptable risk of future harm in their care arrangement
    and
  • protective intervention would not ensure their safety and wellbeing,

the CSSC manager can make the decision to remove the child from the care arrangement. Refer to Remove a child from a care arrangement.

Attention

The CSSC manager will advise the carer in writing of the reason for the decision using the Letter to carer – removal of a child (section 89). Depending on the child’s order and the type of care arrangement, the carer may have review rights before the QCAT—refer to the Child Protection Act 1999, section 91.

Determine the investigation and assessment outcome

At the conclusion of the investigation and assessment, determine whether the child has experienced harm, or is at risk of harm by:

  • assessing the information that has been gathered
  • considering all contextual factors specific to the child and their care arrangement.

Recommend an outcome of the investigation and assessment for each child, after consultation with the senior team leader, senior practitioner and if required, the CSSC manager, as well as the taking into account the views of the foster and kinship carer service provider or non-family-based care service provider.

Investigation and assessment outcomes

The investigation and assessment of a harm report will record one of the following outcomes:

  • Substantiated—standards not met
  • Substantiated harm—standards met
  • Unsubstantiated—standards not met
  • Unsubstantiated—standards met.

Attention

If the investigation and assessment determines that a child in care has experienced sexually abuse, refer to Procedure 5 When a child is sexually abused while in care,

Taking into account the child’s age and capacity to understand, provide information about services and assistance available through Victim Assist Queensland and consider making an application for assistance on their behalf. Refer to Procedure 5 Victims of crime.

Substantiated―standards not met

The outcome of the investigation and assessment of a harm report is Substantiated—standards not met when it has been determined that:

  • the child has experienced harm or is likely to experience future harm
    and
  • the actions or inactions of the carer or staff member have contributed to the harm.

When this outcome is reached, record at least one of the carers or a staff member as a person responsible for the harm.

This outcome requires the development of an action plan before the investigation and assessment is finalised. The action plan will address issues relevant to ensuring the child receives the required standards of care in the future. (Refer to Develop an action plan for a carer or Ensure an action plan is developed by the non-family-based care service provider.)

Tip

This outcome cannot be used if it is not possible to identify the person responsible for the harm the child has experienced.

Substantiated harm―standards met

The outcome of the investigation and assessment of a harm report is Substantiated harm—standards met when it has been determined that:

  • the child has experienced harm or is likely to experience future harm, but the actions or inactions of the approved carer or staff member have not contributed to the harm (for example, there is no indication a carer or staff member failed to protect a child)
    and
  • there is no indication that the carer, staff member or care service has not met the standards of care required under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 122.

When this outcome is reached, the person responsible for the harm will be either:

  • another adult who resides in, or frequents, the care arrangement
  • another child (if aged 10 years or over and the child is assessed as having the developmental ability or capacity to understand the consequences of their actions)
  • a person responsible who is unable to be identified.

This outcome requires a review of the child’s case plan to ensure the child’s needs, identified during the investigation and assessment, are addressed.

Unsubstantiated―standards not met

The outcome of the investigation and assessment of a harm report is Unsubstantiated—standards not met when it has been determined that:

  • the child has not experienced harm and is unlikely to experience future harm
    and
  • there is an indication that the approved carer or staff member has not met the standards of care required under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 122.

When this outcome is reached, record an Unsubstantiated— standards not met outcome in ICMS.

This outcome requires the development of an action plan before the investigation and assessment is finalised. The action plan will address issues relevant to ensuring the child receives the required standards of care in the future. (Refer to Develop an action plan for a carer or Ensure an action plan is developed by the non-family-based care service provider.)

Unsubstantiated―standards met

The outcome of the investigation and assessment of a harm report is Unsubstantiated—standards met when it has been determined that:

  • the child has not experienced harm and is unlikely to experience future harm
    and
  • there is no indication that the carer or staff member has failed to meet the standards of care required under the Child Protection Act 1999.

When this outcome is reached, record an Unsubstantiated—standards met outcome in ICMS.

No outcome

In exceptional circumstances, it may not be possible to record an outcome for an investigation and assessment. Exceptional circumstances may include if the investigation and assessment cannot be completed, for example, because the concerns are historical and relevant people cannot be contacted.

Do not record this response if the reason for not assessing and investigating the harm report is resourcing or workload issues.

The senior team leader will consult with the senior practitioner to confirm their assessment and provide a clear rationale prior to approving the recording of an investigation and assessment with no outcome.

If it is not possible to record an outcome for a harm report, complete the Harm report—assessment and outcome form in ICMS and record no outcome in ICMS.

Record the investigation and assessment outcome

Record interview information in the Record of interviews form under the Information gathering and interviews tab in the Harm report—I&A event in ICMS, documenting:

  • information about the safety of the child provided by a QPS officer, or the QPS interview of the child where applicable
  • content of interviews with the subject child or children, the carer or staff member, and with other persons.

Complete the Harm report—assessment & outcome form in ICMS, documenting:

  • an assessment of whether the child has been harmed and whether there is an unacceptable risk of harm
  • the person responsible for the harm
  • the assessment of whether the standards of care have been met for the child, and if not, which standards have not been met
  • whether action was taken to move the child from their care arrangement and the reason for this action.

Submit the Harm report—assessment & outcome to the senior team leader for approval.

Advise parties of the investigation and assessment outcome

Following approval of the investigation and assessment of a harm report, provide advice about its outcome to relevant parties. Provide verbal advice to:

  • the child (if appropriate, given their age and level of development)
  • the carer or staff member
  • the foster and kinship care service provider or the non-family-based-care service provider
  • the CSO responsible for any child currently placed with the carer or care service
  • at least one parent of the child, or the long-term guardian.

Provide written advice to the carer or the non-family-based care service provider using the Letter to carer—outcome of harm report or Letter to staff member—outcome of harm report.

Provide a copy of the letter and the action plan, where applicable, to:

  • the manager or coordinator of the foster and kinship care service provider
  • the manager or coordinator of the non-family-based care service provider
  • the regional Investment and Partnerships team, who will forward a copy of the letter to the nominee (for a service provider licensed by Child Safety)
  • other agency responsible for the regulation of another entity, as appropriate.

Attach a copy of the letter to the Harm report—I&A event in ICMS.

If a party is not happy with the investigation and assessment process, tell them they may raise a complaint about a decision or action, or seek a review of the process. Refer to Respond to a complaint or request for the review of a decision.

Provide information to a care service if a staff member is responsible for serious harm

If there are substantiated concerns of a serious nature relating to care provided to a child by a staff member of a non-family-based care arrangement, such as matters resulting in criminal proceedings, ensure that this information is provided to relevant parties in the Letter to staff member—outcome of harm report

Information in the letter needs to be clear and thorough and include sufficient detail to support any action the licensee may need to take in relation to the staff member’s employment status.

Note

A care service licensee is responsible for ensuring the suitability of service employees. Child Safety cannot make decisions on behalf of the service provider about human resource arrangements for their staff. However, if there are concerns about a particular staff member, make sure these concerns are raised with the care service manager or coordinator for their appropriate action.

Provide information to the child’s parents

Provide at least one of the child’s parents with information about the outcome of the investigation and assessment of the harm report.

If the child is subject to a child protection order granting long-term guardianship to a suitable person, advise at least one of the child’s parents only if doing so would be in the child’s best interests, having regard to:

  • the child’s views
  • the nature and extent of the child’s connection with their parents
  • the evidence in support of the allegation
  • any other matter relevant to the child’s safety, belonging or wellbeing needs.

The Child Protection Act 1999, section 15, provides some discretion in relation to the requirement to inform a child’s parents or long-term guardian of the outcome of the investigation and assessment of a harm report if it is a reasonable belief that: 

  • someone may be charged with a criminal offence for harming the child, and providing advice of the outcome of the investigation and assessment may jeopardise an investigation into the offence
    or
  • providing advice about the outcome of the investigation and assessment may expose the child to harm.

Note

A senior team leader can approve a decision not to advise a child’s parent or long-term guardian of the outcome of the investigation and assessment. The decision, rationale and approval process will be recorded in the Information provision following the harm report I&A outcome form in ICMS, in the Harm report—I&A event.

Respond to a complaint or request for the review of a decision

If a person wants to make a complaint about:

  • a standards of care review process or the investigation and assessment of a harm report
    or
  • a decision made in response to a standards of care review or the investigation and assessment of a harm report

provide the person with information about Child Safety’s complaint management process.

Develop an action plan

An action plan is developed to address issues identified in a standards of care review or in the investigation and assessment of a harm report to ensure the children in the care arrangement are safe from harm and that the care they receive meets the required standards of care.

An action plan is required in any of the following circumstances:

Type of response Outcome Type of care arrangement
Standards of care review Standards not met Non-family-based care arrangement
Investigation and assessment Substantiated—standards not met All care arrangements
Investigation and assessment Unsubstantiated—standards not met All care arrangements

 

Time sensitive

The action plan will outline specific actions required to assist maintain the child’s safety and ensure that the care provided meets the required standards of care. The actions are to be completed within 3 months.

An action plan is not required when a standards of care review relating to a carer has an outcome of ‘standards not met’. The child’s placement agreement will be reviewed with the carer and the foster and kinship care service provider. Where relevant, a foster carer agreement may also be reviewed, or a review of carer suitability completed. Refer to Respond when the standards of care are not met.

Develop an action plan for a carer

Work in partnership with the foster and kinship care service provide to develop an action plan for a carer that:

  • addresses the issues identified during the assessment
    and
  • includes actions to ensure the child is safe from harm and that their care meets the standards of care.

The CSSC responsible for the carer will ensure a meeting is arranged to collaboratively develop the action plan with the relevant parties, unless an exception applies. (Refer to Circumstances in which an action plan for a carer is not required.) Relevant parties include:

  • the carer
  • the foster and kinship care service provider
  • the child (if age and developmentally appropriate)
  • the CSO for the child
  • the child’s support person, if the child wishes
  • a member of the PSU, if relevant.

The action plan will focus on what is required to ensure that the child’s safety and the care provided meets the required standards of care and is maintained. The parties will identify the specific actions required and agree who is responsible for the actions—the CSO, the carer, the foster and kinship care service provider, or other relevant people.

Specific actions may include the need to:

  • review the ongoing appropriateness of the care arrangement to meet the child’s needs
  • review the placement agreement and the case plan to ensure there is a shared understanding of the child’s needs and agreement on how they should be met—such as the need for a positive behaviour support plan for a child with challenging behaviours. (Refer to Procedure 5 Develop a positive behaviour support plan.)
  • review the foster carer agreement (for an approved foster carer)
  • review the carer’s suitability
  • amend the carer’s certificate of approval
  • address systemic issues that have contributed to the concerns
  • arrange for the CSO or the foster and kinship care service provider to have more frequent contact with the child and carer.

Make sure:

  • the Harm report action plan is completed in ICMS
  • each party is provided with a copy of the approved plan, (including the child, if age and developmentally appropriate).

Tip

Actions and tasks identified in the action plan will automatically appear as Harm report follow-up activities in the carer’s Monitor and support screen once the action plan is approved by the CSSC manager.

Circumstances in which an action plan for a carer is not required

There are 3 exceptions to the requirement to develop an action plan for a carer when the outcome of the investigation and assessment of a harm report is ‘substantiated—standards not met’ or ‘unsubstantiated—standards not met’.

An action plan is not required if:

  1. a decision is made to cancel an approved carer’s certificate of approval
  2. the child is removed from the kinship carer and there are no other children placed with the carer
  3. the carer surrenders their certificate of approval, or their certificate of approval expires during the course of the investigation and assessment.

If a carer’s certificate of approval is cancelled, and the decision is later overturned by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT), an action plan will be required. (Refer to Respond when a carer’s certificate of approval requires amendment, suspension or cancellation.)

If a carer’s certificate of approval is cancelled, surrendered or expires, the CSSC will consider preparing an action plan and attach it to the carers entity in ICMS, to enable previous concerns to be taken into account if the former carer applies to be approved at a later date.

Implement the action plan for a carer

All parties involved in the development of the action plan are responsible for working in partnership to undertake the agreed actions within the agreed timeframe, and for monitoring and supporting the implementation of the action plan within the designated timeframe.

The CSSC responsible for the carer will assist in this process by:

  • ensuring the placement agreement is current and includes up to date information about the child’s care and support needs and the agreed supports to be provided to the carer
  • having regular contact with the child, the carer and the foster and kinship care service provider, to assist with actions required to meet the child’s needs and support the carer in providing the required standards of care.

The CSO will record information about the implementation of the action plan and related activities in the relevant Harm report follow-up activities in the carer’s Monitor and support screen in ICMS. (Refer to Review an action plan relating to a carer).

If an issue or action requires further follow up, and was not identified in the original Harm report action plan, the CSO will record the details of the additional requirement in a Harm report follow-up activity created in the carer’s Monitor and support screen in ICMS.

Ensure an action plan is developed by the non-family-based care service provider

The non-family-based care service provider is responsible for developing an action plan, in partnership with Child Safety, in the circumstances outlined in Develop an action plan.

The service provider will take the lead and arrange for relevant parties to meet to determine the specific actions required to address the concerns, the timeframes to be met, and the review process. Relevant parties include:

  • staff members of the care service, as identified by the non-family-based care service
  • the CSO with case responsibility for the subject child
  • the child (if age and developmentally appropriate)
  • the child’s support person, if the child wishes
  • the senior team leader or senior practitioner, if required
  • a member of the regional team responsible for Investment and Partnerships, if required
  • a member of the PSU, where relevant.

The action plan will address issues identified during the assessment and include actions to ensure the child is safe from harm and that the care provided meets the required standards of care.

The senior team leader or CSSC manager will ensure that the action plan addresses the identified concerns regarding the child’s safety and the standards of care being provided. Specific actions may include:

  • reviewing the ongoing appropriateness of the care arrangement to meet the child’s needs
  • reviewing the placement agreement and the case plan to ensure there is a shared understanding of the child’s needs and agreement on how they should be met—such as such as the need for a positive behaviour support plan for a child with challenging behaviours (Refer to Procedure 5 Develop a positive behaviour support plan.)
  • providing care service staff members with additional training, supervision and support
  • the service provider changing their policies, procedures or protocols if they are not clear or not aligned with legislation or relevant Child Safety policies
  • strategies to address systemic issues that have contributed to the concerns
  • arranging more frequent contact between Child Safety and the child, preferably in their care arrangement
  • introducing a process to monitor the implementation of the action plan, the placement agreement and the child’s case plan.

The non-family-based-care service provider and CSO will ensure that each party is provided with a copy of the approved plan (including the child, if age and developmentally appropriate).

Before a copy of the action plan is provided to parties, make sure:

  • the senior team leader or CSSC manager has approved the action plan
  • a copy of the action plan is attached to the Harm report—I&A event in ICMS
    or
  • a copy of the action plan is attached to the Standards of care event in ICMS for a standards of care review.

Tip

It is not appropriate for broader licensing issues, or issues that require a long-term solution, to be included in an action plan.

Monitor the action plan

All parties involved in the development of the action plan are responsible for working in partnership to undertake the agreed actions within the agreed timeframe and for monitoring and supporting the implementation of the action plan.

Assist in this process by:

  • ensuring the placement agreement is current and includes up to date information about the child’s care and support needs to assist the care service’s ability to meet the child’s care and support needs
  • having regular contact with the child and the non-family-based care service provider to support actions required to meet the child’s needs and ensure the care the child receives is consistent with required standards of care
  • recording the details of actions and follow-up information in a Standards of care (SOC) follow-up document/communication created in the care service’s record in ICMS.

Review the action plan

An action plan for either a carer or non-family-based care service provider will be reviewed within 3 months. An action plan review meeting, including all people responsible for implementing the action plan, will be convened to review the plan’s progress and the current standards of care the child is receiving.

Child Safety will determine whether or not the issues of concern have been adequately addressed to ensure the care provided meets the required standards of care.

Review an action plan relating to a carer

If the action plan relates to a carer, Child Safety is responsible for reviewing the action plan. The CSO will attach a copy of the minutes of the action plan review to a Harm report action plan review document created in the carer’s Monitor and support screen in ICMS and add any relevant subject children to the record. 

If the review of a carer’s action plan identifies that the concerns remain unresolved after 3-months, or that new standards of care concerns have been recorded within the 3-month period, the CSSC manager will consult with the PSU director and the foster and kinship care service, where applicable, to determine the most suitable action to be taken.

Review an action plan review relating to a non-family-based care service provider

If the action plan relates to a non-family-based care service provider, they are responsible for reviewing the action plan. The service provider will provide the CSSC with a copy of the minutes of the review. The CSO will attach the copy of the minutes to a SOC follow-up document created in the ICMS care service record and include any relevant subject children in the Document or communication information screen via the Documents and communications tab.

If the review of a non-family-based service provider’s action plan identifies that the concerns remain unresolved after 3 months, or that new standards of care concerns have been recorded within the 3-month period, the CSSC manager will consult with the PSU director, the regional team responsible for Investment and Partnerships, and the service provider, to determine the most suitable action to be taken.

Tip

The discussion of suitable actions to be taken in the circumstances may consider such matters as whether:

  • the service provider's action in relation to the employment status of the relevant staff member
  • the service provider’s license should be amended, suspended or cancelled (in extreme circumstances).

Respond to historical concerns

Child Safety will respond to information alleging that harm was experienced by a child in a care arrangement, or that the care provided to the child may not have met the legislated standards of care (Child Protection Act 1999, section 122), regardless of how long ago the care arrangement was in place.

The length of time that has elapsed since the matter was alleged to have occurred, may affect how the response is undertaken. The process will, in part, depend on whether the carer or the non-family-based care service staff member’s whereabouts can be ascertained, whether they agree to discuss their past care of the child, and the records available from that time.

Factors relating to the child and to the care arrangement will also influence the nature of the response, including:

Child factors Care arrangement factors
The child is subject to a child protection order granting custody or guardianship to the chief executive. The relevant person is currently an approved carer; or continues to work in a non-family-based care arrangement.
The child is no longer subject to a child protection order or other ongoing intervention by Child Safety. The subject child is no longer placed in that care arrangement but is in another care arrangement.
The subject person is no longer a child, as they are 18 years of age or older. The non-family-based care service provider continues to operate or has ceased operations.

Historical concerns relating to a child

If concerns are received by the RIS or CSAHSC, or a CSSC that does not hold case responsibility for the child, follow the process outlined in Record the initial information.

The CSSC who is responsible for the child in care will be responsible for considering the information, working in partnership with relevant partners (refer to Collaborate to consider how to respond to the concerns) and recommending to the delegated officer an appropriate response to the concerns (refer to Delegated officer- response to concerns in a care arrangement.  

Standards of care – historical

Recommend a standards of care review to the senior team leader if:

  • the concerns indicate that the care provided to the child did not meet one or more of the legislated standards of care (as outlined in the Child Protection Act 1999, section 122), and there is no information that the child experienced harm or resulting in a suspicion that they were harmed
    and
  • the concerns relate to a currently approved carer or a staff member currently employed by a non-family-based care service provider.

Attention

Contact the Central Screening Unit (CSU) and provide them with the staff members full name and date of birth to confirm if they are a current employee of a non-family-based care service provider.

Complete the standard of care review to the extent that this is possiblerefer to Speak with the child about their experience. If relevant, document the reasonable efforts made to contact relevant parties to the standard of care review.

At the conclusion of the review, record an outcomerefer to Decide the outcome of the standards of care review. Follow other procedural requirements outlined in Complete a standards of care review.

If the concerns relate to a former approved carer who no longer holds a certificate of approval, or to a former staff member of a non-family-based care service provider who is no longer an employee of that service provider or any other non-family-based care service provider, do not record and complete a standards of care review. In these circumstances:

  • For a former carer, open the closed placement event in ICMS for the subject child or children relating to the child’s care arrangement at that time. Record all relevant information in a Standards of Care case note in ICMS. Make sure to add the carer entity to the case note using the ‘refers to’ function.
  • For a former staff member of a non-family-based care service provider who is no longer working in that role or a similar role, create an Intake event in ICMS. Make sure to add the staff member as a relevant party to the intake event, and select Intake enquiry as the outcome.

Note

If the former carer applies to be a carer, the concerns documented in the Standards of care will be addressed during the carer assessment process.

If the former staff member is recruited by a non-family-based care service, the concerns documented in the Intake event will be viewed and considered by Central Screening Unit as part of their checks when assessing that person’s suitability.

Harm report - historical

Recommend a harm report to the CSSC manager if:

  • the concerns indicate that the child experienced harm or it is suspected they experienced harm due to the actions or inactions of the carer, adult member of an approved carer’s household or staff member of a non-family-based care service provider, regardless of whether the carer is currently approved, or whether the staff member continues to be a staff member of the service provider.
    and
  • the concerns relate to a currently approved carer or a staff member currently employed by a non-family-based care service provider
    or
  • the concerns relate to a former approved carer who no longer holds a certificate of approval, or to a former staff member of a non-family-based care service provider who is no longer an employee of that service provider or any other non-family-based care service provider.

Take other immediate actions as relevant:

  • Consider if actions are required to address the safety and well-being needs of any child currently placed in the care arrangement.
  • Advise the QPS if the information received about the harm to the child involves allegations indicating the commission of a criminal offence relating to the child, using the Police referral.
  • Tell the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) of the alleged harm if the report is a mandatory report of harm in line with the Child Protection Act 1999, section 13F.

Complete the investigation and assessment to the extent that this is possible given the specific child factors and care arrangement factorsrefer to Investigate and assess a harm report. At the conclusion of the assessment, record an outcomerefer to Determine the investigation and assessment outcome. Follow other procedural requirements, such as advising the child and carer or non-family-based care service provider of the outcomerefer to Advise parties of the investigation and assessment outcome.

For a current carer or staff member who continues to be employed in the family-based care arrangement, an action plan may be required, depending on the outcome of the investigation and assessmentrefer to Develop an action plan.

Historical concerns relating to a child no longer in care

A standard of care review or a harm report will be recorded when this response is approved by the senior team leader or CSSC manager, regardless of whether the child has since exited care and is no longer subject to ongoing interventionrefer to Possible responses to concerns about a child’s care arrangement.

Contact the child’s parent or guardian and seek their agreement to discussing the concerns with the child and follow all other procedural requirements.

Historical concerns relating to an adult who was previously in care

A standard of care review or a harm report is not recorded if the subject of the historical concerns has attained adulthood (that is, they are 18 years of age or older.)

If the senior team leader or CSSC manager decides that recording a standards of care review or harm report would have been the appropriate response, had the historical concerns related to a child, the following actions are required:

  • For a current or former carer, open the closed placement event for the subject child at that time of the relevant care arrangement. Record all relevant information in a Standards of Care case note in ICMS. Make sure to add the carer entity to the case note using the ‘refers to’ function.
  • For a current or former staff member of a non-family-based care service provider, create an Intake Enquiry from the child’s record in ICMS and add the staff member to the Intake Enquiry. Record all the relevant information.

Make all reasonable attempts to discuss and assess the concerns, subject to their consent, with:

  • the person who was formerly in care
  • the carer or former carer
    or
  • the non-family-based care service provider and the relevant staff member, if they are currently employed by the service provider.

Record the assessment findings and the outcome in an ICMS SOC historical concerns document in ICMS for a family-based care arrangement, or create an Intake enquiry for a non-family-based care service provider.

If the information received about the harm to an adult (when they were a child in care) involves allegations that indicate the commission of a criminal offence:

  • encourage the person to contact the QPS and help them to do so
  • provide information about the services and assistance available through Victim Assist Queensland.

If information received about harm to an adult leads to a reasonable belief that a sexual offence was committed against the person when they were a child in care, by an adult, the matter must be reported to QPS, unless there is reasonable grounds to believe the matter has already been reported to QPS. Refer to the Criminal Code Act 1899, section 229BC, for further information about legal obligations to report sexual offending against a person when they were a child to the QPS.

Review carer suitability

The CSSC manager may determine that a comprehensive assessment of the carer’s suitability and ability to meet the standards of care is required:

  • when it is determined that a carer’s action or inaction has caused or contributed to serious detriment to a child
  • when there are ongoing concerns about the carer’s capacity to meet and sustain safe care for the child and meet the standards of care
  • following a standards of care review or an investigation and assessment, if the outcome is that the standards are not met, and a more detailed review of the carer’s suitability is required
  • in response to a change in carer circumstances that may impact on their capabilities as a carer.

To decide whether to review a carer’s suitability, the CSSC manager will consider:

  • the expiry date of the carer’s current certificate of approval
  • previous standards of care reviews or investigation and assessments, regardless of the outcomes
  • the seriousness of the concerns and the impact on the safety and wellbeing of the child
  • the presence of recurrent patterns
  • the level of support and training provided to assist the carer meet the required standards of care and the extent to which these have positively contributed to improvements in the standard of care provided to the child.

Note

The CSSC manager is responsible for ensuring that the review of carer suitability is conducted by a person with the appropriate qualifications, knowledge and skill.

Plan the review of carer suitability

Plan the review in partnership with the carer’s foster and kinship care service provider and the CSSC senior practitioner. As part of the planning process, decide:

  • who will advise the carers of the decision and reasons to review their suitability
  • the information needed to inform the review, for example, current medical information about the carer’s health, the views of staff from other CSSC’s with a child in the care arrangement, observations of services that have provided support to or worked with the carer
  • how the views of the child will be incorporated into the review
  • any additional requirements to be considered by the reviewer.

Note

The CSSC manager is responsible for approving the plan before the review commences.

Complete the review of carer suitability 

The reviewer will:

  • review the issues and concerns identified in the most current carer assessment report, including the rationale for approval
  • review previous standards of care reviews, investigation and assessments and action plans
  • explore the carer’s understanding of the standards of care and how they demonstrate these in their daily care of children
  • assess the carer’s capacity to gain knowledge and skills required to provide care that meets the standards of care
  • take into account the support and training that has been, or is being provided, to the carer, including whether the carer achieved the required competencies, and if not, the factors that prevented this occurring
  • consider any factors that may be impacting on the standards of care provided to the child, for example, sudden changes in the carer’s household, serious illness in the carer’s family or a change in supports available to the carer.

Prepare a report for the CSSC manager recommending what action is required. The report will specifically identify the standards of care the carer is meeting and, if relevant, the standards of care not being met.

If identified that standards of care are not being met, the report will:

  • explore the contributing factors
  • consider the impact on the child
  • propose actions required to improve the care so that the carer can provide care that meets the required standards of care
  • consider the carer’s capacity and willingness to gain the knowledge and skills required to meet the standards of care.

If the review identifies that the carer is unable to ensure the safety of the child or to meet the standards of care, take appropriate action consistent with the findings of the review, such as: 

Respond to a carer's or staff members request to obtain or amend Child Safety records

If a carer or staff member of a non-family-based care service provider requests a copy of Child Safety information relating to a standards of care review, or the investigation and assessment of a harm report, provide the person with information about Child Safety's Right to Information, Information Access and Amendment Unit. (Refer to Right to Information.)

If a carer or staff member asks for information in a departmental record to be changed, or if they ask to add information to a record associated with a standards of care review or the investigation and assessment of a harm report invite the carer or staff member to provide written advice of the amendment or additional information to be placed on:

  • the carer’s file or the non-family-based care service provider’s file
    or
  • the child’s file

and referred to in the standards of care review or the investigation and assessment.

Refer the carer or staff member to relevant review mechanisms. (Refer to Respond to a complaint or request for the review of a decision.)

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