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The Child Protection Act 1999, chapter 5A, provides the legal framework for information sharing and outlines who is authorised to share information in particular circumstances. The legislation:
- enables broad information sharing between entities involved in the child protection and family support systems
- provides important safeguards to ensure the privacy and confidentiality of personal information
- supports collaborative working arrangements to achieve the best outcomes for children and their families.
The purpose of the information sharing provisions is to:
- promote a child’s wellbeing
- effectively meet a child’s protection and care needs
- facilitate the coordination of services to relevant children and families.
Child Safety and other entities may share information if it:
- is relevant to the respective roles of each entity
- is relevant to the specific purpose for which it is disclosed
- ensures the child’s safety and promotes their best interests.
Refer to the Information Sharing Guidelines for detail about:
- the different information sharing provisions
- how and when information may be shared.
If possible, determine whether it is safe, possible and practical to obtain the consent of the parent, child or other person before sharing their information. To inform this decision, consider and assess information, such as whether:
- there is a current threat that a family may go into hiding or abduct a child
- there are previous serious assaults or threats to assault others
- there is an attempted or threatened suicide
- there is concern that a child or another person could be coached or coerced
- a parent or a child cannot be located in a timely way and an urgent response is needed to ensure a child’s safety or wellbeing
- a child or adult needs urgent medical care
- there is a risk of domestic and family violence
- there is a need for urgent information to ensure a child’s safety or wellbeing.
To ensure individuals are able to provide informed consent:
- provide them with enough information to make the decision and understand what they are agreeing to
- ensure consent is given freely and voluntarily
- identify potential barriers to participation in decision making such as disability, mental illness, age, culture or language
- engage interpreters if needed
- use plain language and do not use technical words and jargon
- use developmentally appropriate approaches to ensure children are given the opportunity and supported to participate in decision making
- seek the views and consent of a person’s representative, if appropriate.
Share verbal or written information
Information can be shared verbally or in writing. In many circumstances information will be shared verbally between service providers, for example, to facilitate the assessment, planning, implementation and review of a case plan. However, some entities will only respond to written requests for information.
If a prescribed entity or service provider requires a written request for information, email the entity with:
- the details of the information needed
- the purpose for which the information is needed
- the relevant section of the information sharing provisions.
When sharing information advise the recipient:
- that the information is only being shared for the listed purpose
- why the information is being provided
- that the information is to be kept confidential
- that the information must not be used or disclosed―and that doing so may have harmful consequences for the child or another person.
Keep accurate records
When receiving or providing information:
- accurately and clearly record the request and response in the relevant event in ICMS, ensuring it is clearly titled so it can be easily located in the future
- record what information was shared, who it was shared with and the reason it was shared
- with the QPS, record the information in the ‘Info received from QPS’ case note type in ICMS so it is readily accessible―even if the information is also attached to ICMS or recorded in Idocs
- record whether consent has been received (and from whom) or record reasons why:
- consent was not sought or obtained
- it was unsafe, impossible or impractical to seek or obtain consent.
Make a Section 159N information request
Child Safety has a specific provision (Child Protection Act 1999, section 159N) to request stated information about a child, an unborn child or another person from the following entities:
- the public guardian
- a prescribed entity
- a licensee―an entity licensed to provide placement services to children in the custody or guardianship of the chief executive
- the person in charge of a student hostel.
When Child Safety seeks information from an entity under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 159N, the entity must comply with the request to the extent it relates to the information in its possession or control. Before seeking this information review relevant ICMS and SCAN team records to check whether the information has previously been received.
It may be appropriate to request information under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 159N when:
- requesting specific information to complete the screening criteria to inform an intake decision―refer to Procedure 1 Carry out a pre-notification check
- specific information is required for an affidavit for a court proceeding
- an entity is reluctant to provide information due to the sensitivity of the information and a formal request is most appropriate to obtain the information
- the information is required for making a significant decision for a child subject to ongoing intervention. For example, if requesting information about a parent’s medical condition to inform decision-making about reunification.
The information can be shared verbally, via email with Child Safety or by the use of a Section 159N information request. The information request form provides a standard approach for requesting stated information.
Do not use section 159N requests for general information gathering. Make sure these requests are targeted and specific and the information is directly relevant to the performance of a function or exercise of a power under the Child Protection Act 1999.
To request information under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 159N:
- make sure the information request is lawful and authorised under the Child Protection Act 1999
- confirm the entity is able to share information for this purpose
- make sure the request is targeted and specific, and the information is directly relevant to the intended purpose
- complete a Section 159N information request, if required (refer to the Section 159N information request user guide for assistance) and:
- detail and define what information is requested
- outline the purpose or function for which the information is needed
- clarify whether the information needed is current or historical, including the specific date ranges where possible
- explain the link between the information and concerns for the child
- identify the person the information is about and their relationship to the relevant child or unborn child
- identify the entity and holder of the information, if known
- forward the completed form to the senior team leader for approval
- email the approved request to the relevant entity
- record the request and the response accurately and clearly in the relevant event in ICMS.
Respond to a declined request
An entity can only decline a request by Child Safety in limited circumstances (Child Protection Act 1999, section 159N(3)(a). This includes if giving the information could reasonably be expected to result in one of the following:
- prejudice the investigation of a contravention or possible contravention of a law in a particular case
- prejudice an investigation under the Coroners Act 2003
- enable the existence or identity of a confidential source of information, in relation to the enforcement or administration of a law, to be ascertained
- endanger a person's life or physical safety
- prejudice the effectiveness of a lawful method or procedure for preventing, detecting, investigating or dealing with a contravention or possible contravention of a law
- it would not be in the public interest to give the information.
A prescribed entity does not commit an offence by not complying with a request. If the request for information has been declined, record the response accurately and clearly in the relevant ICMS event. If the information has been requested for court purposes, inform the OCFOS lawyer and seek their advice about next steps.
Obtain a birth certificate for a child
If a child is subject to a child protection order and placed in care, obtain at least 2 original birth certificates for the child:
- Place and retain one original on the child’s file.
- Give one original (or more if appropriate) to the child during transition to adulthood planning, or as requested by the child.
- Give one certified copy to the carer.
- Upload a copy of the certificate to the ‘Important Documents’ section of the child’s kicbox.
To obtain one or more birth certificates:
- Complete the Request for a child birth certificate and email it to Data Management Services (DMS).
- Attach a copy of the original child protection order for all applications for interstate, overseas and late registration birth and death certificates.
When a child requires or has a bank account
There are different requirements and processes for opening and managing a bank account, depending on who has custody and guardianship responsibilities for the child.
If the child is in the guardianship of the chief executive:
- The senior team leader is delegated to make decisions about opening and managing the child’s bank account.
- The account will be in the child’s name. If the bank policy requires a joint account, the senior team leader will be the other account holder.
- The senior team leader will accompany the child to the local branch to open the bank account. Bank staff may assist with decisions about the child’s capacity to open and manage an account in their own name.
If the child is in the custody of the chief executive (and therefore the parents retain guardianship):
- A parent is responsible for decisions (and providing consent) about opening and managing the child’s bank account.
- A parent will be the co-signatory if a joint account is needed due to the child’s age or developmental ability.
If the child has a long-term guardian, the long-term guardian is responsible for decisions about opening and managing the child’s bank account, taking into account the child’s views.
Discuss any concerns about how a child’s bank account is being managed with the senior team leader.
Protect the child’s financial rights and interests
If a child has significantly impaired decision-making capacity, consult with the senior team leader and take steps to protect the child’s rights and interests in relation to managing their financial matters.
This may be particularly relevant for a child in receipt of a Disability Support Pension, or for those approaching 16 years of age who will become eligible to receive a Disability Support Pension.
It may also be relevant for a child who has received an inheritance.
When a child who may be eligible to receive a Disability Support Pension turns 16 years of age, contact Centrelink to advise that payment of the Disability Support Pension (if approved) can be made directly to the child’s bank account.
If a child’s decision-making ability is impaired, consider a referral to the Public Trustee for management of funds once the young person has turned 16.
If the child is over 17 years of age and there are concerns that their financial interests may need to be protected after leaving care, refer to Support a young person with impaired decision-making capacity.
Record relevant details and documentation
Record details and documentation about decisions relating to a child’s bank accounts in the child’s ongoing intervention event in ICMS, particularly decisions made and consents provided by the senior team leader as the delegated officer.
Victims of crime
Under the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 2009, Child Safety staff are responsible for:
- upholding the Charter of Victims’ Rights when working with victims of crime
- proactively providing victims of crime with information about services and financial assistance they may be eligible to receive from the Queensland Government through Victim Assist Queensland
- organising an application on behalf of a child identified as a victim of crime who is subject to a finalised or interim child protection order granting custody or guardianship to the chief executive.
The Victims of Crime Assistance Act 2009 defines victims as those who have suffered harm due to acts of violence (such as physical and sexual offences) that occur in Queensland and result in a physical, psychological or emotional injury. It includes victims who have suffered harm as a result of:
- domestic and family violence committed against them
- a family member or dependent having had domestic and family violence committed against them
- intervening in domestic and family violence.
Responsibilities under the Charter of Victims’ Rights
The Victims of Crime Assistance Act 2009 includes a Charter of Victims’ Rights, which informs victims of crime what they can expect from government departments and non-government agencies that support victims. The Charter of Victims’ Rights requires Child Safety staff to:
- treat victims with courtesy, compassion, respect and dignity
- maintain confidentiality of a victim’s personal information—including address and telephone numbers―unless disclosure is authorised by law
- inform victims at the earliest practicable opportunity about available services and remedies.
Refer to Victim Assist Queensland.
Custody to the chief executive
If a child subject to an interim or finalised child protection order granting custody to the chief executive has been injured through an act of violence, the parent or guardian is responsible for facilitating an application for assistance for the child from Victims Assist Queensland.
Child Safety may seek approval from Victim Assist Queensland to facilitate an application for assistance on behalf of a child who is subject to a child protection order granting custody to the chief executive. To do so, Child Safety needs to provide in writing the reasons the parent or guardian is not fit or is not in a position to lodge an application on the child’s behalf.
Examples of this would be if the child’s parent is unable to lodge the application due to a mental health condition, alcohol or drug dependence or other reason, where the condition, dependence or circumstance impedes their ability to prepare and lodge an application for the child.
During the case review process, if there is information to indicate a child may be a victim of crime, consider whether to make an application for assistance through Victim Assist Queensland.
Whether a child has been a victim of an act of violence is likely to be identified from the following sources:
- an application for a child protection order, including supporting affidavit material
- a critical incident report
- review processes involving a serious injury to a child or child death
- a standards of care harm report
- criminal or civil court results received via an Integrated Justice Information System (IJIS) automated email
- a domestic and family violence alert recorded on the child’s or family member’s person record in ICMS.
The decision about when to make an application for a child to receive assistance from Victim Assist Queensland should be made at the earliest possible time as part of the case planning process for the child.
If it appears that a child may have been a victim of an act (or multiple acts) of violence in the past and no application for assistance has been made to Victim Assist Queensland regarding the past injuries, gather information from relevant sources to determine if:
- information about Victim Assist Queensland has been provided
- the incident has been reported to the QPS.
Relevant sources include:
- case records and information recorded in ICMS
- the child
- the child’s parents
- the child’s carer, if applicable.
If information about Victim Assist Queensland has not been provided, give the child, the child’s parent, guardian or carer (as relevant) information about it and advise them that support and assistance may be available.
If it is decided to proceed with an application:
- Prepare the application to Victim Assist Queensland on the child’s behalf.
- Report the incident to the QPS in line with the Child Protection Act 1999, section 14(2), if it has not already been reported.
- Update the child’s case plan to include information about the application (or proposed future application) to Victim Assist Queensland.
- Record information about the application in a Victim of crime case note in the relevant event in ICMS.
To help establish that the child has experienced an act of violence and has suffered an injury (as defined in the Victim of Crime Assistance Act 2009) the following information may need to be provided in support of the application:
- the child’s birth certificate
- a copy of the child protection order
- the assessment and outcome from the investigation and assessment or the standards of care report
- relevant case notes
- information about counselling, therapy and medical treatment the child is or has received as a result of the act of violence
- details of practitioners who are providing or have provided treatment.
Provide the supporting documents with the application when it is lodged with Victim Assist Queensland to enable it to be assessed in a timely manner.
Meet costs to assist the child’s recovery
An application for, or the payment of, financial benefits from Victim Assist Queensland does not remove Child Safety’s obligation to provide a child who subject to the custody or guardianship of the chief executive with goods and services needed to recover from physical, emotional or psychological injury resulting from an act of violence committed in Queensland.
While the child remains in the custody or guardianship of the chief executive, the cost of goods and services, including counselling and other relevant services, will be met through child-related costs. This will ensure funds granted by Victim Assist Queensland are preserved to meet ongoing post-care support needs after the child turns 18.
Consider Victim Assist Queensland when a child in care experiences harm
If a child experiences harm after being placed in care (including sexual abuse while placed in care) the child may be a victim of crime. Provide information about services and assistance available through Victim Assist Queensland to the child, taking into account their age and capacity to understand, and record that the information has been provided in a Victim of crime case note in the relevant event in ICMS.
If the child is subject to an interim or finalised child protection order granting custody to the chief executive, also provide information about Victim Assist Queensland to the parent or guardian. They will be responsible for facilitating an application for assistance for the child.
If a child is subject to a child protection order granting guardianship to the chief executive, refer to Guardianship to the chief executive.
Consider Victim Assist Queensland in transition to adulthood planning
Include information in a young person’s transition to adulthood plan about any action (occurring or under consideration) in relation to them having been the victim of an act of violence.
If the young person has been (or may have been) a victim of crime and an application to Victim Assist Queensland has not been made:
- Provide the young person with information about Victim Assist Queensland.
- Seek their views about making an application.
If the young person does not want to proceed with an application at that time:
- Advise them or their parent or guardian (if applicable) of the services and assistance available through Victim Assist Queensland.
- Suggest that the young person may want to consider applying for assistance at a later date and provide information to support a future application. (Refer to Consider Victim Assist Queensland in case planning.)
Manage a financial benefit from Victim Assist Queensland
If a young person’s application has been finalised, any resulting financial benefit is managed through the Public Trustee in line with the Child Protection Act 1999.
Assist the young person to identify how the financial benefit can be used to best meet their ongoing recovery needs after they turn 18. Support the young person in contacting Victim Assist Queensland for information to help them plan further use of the benefit.
Before the young person turns 18, arrange for funds from the Public Trustee to be released and if relevant, seek reimbursement for the young person of Public Trustee management fees from Victims Assist Queensland.
Support the rights of a child during criminal proceedings
Notify Legal Services if a child victim of crime is subject to a child protection order granting custody or guardianship to the chief executive, and the offender has been charged.
Legal Services will liaise with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) to monitor court and sentencing processes and advise the CSO of the outcome of these matters.
In some circumstances, ODPP will directly contact the CSSC regarding specific processes or requirements that need to be communicated to:
- the child
- the child’s carer
- a residential care service.
The information may relate to matters such as:
- court dates
- requirements to attend court for the pre-recording of evidence
- preparation of victim impact statements
- consent for a Protect All Children Today (PACT) volunteer to provide support. (Refer to Arrange consent for support from Protect All Children Today.)
The CSO is responsible for coordinating all communication between ODPP and the child, carer or residential care service.
Contact details for the child, carer or residential care service are not to be given to ODPP.
Liaise with ODPP to ensure:
- Child Safety is aware of the sentencing processes.
- Child Safety is able to provide adequate support.
- The child’s private information is not given to a person or service who is no longer caring for the child.
PACT is a community-based not for profit organisation with expertise in supporting child victims and witnesses of acts of violence throughout Queensland in the criminal justice system.
PACT provides child witness support in Queensland courts to children who are required to give evidence in criminal courts, either as victims of or witnesses to a crime. Support is also provided to the child’s carers.
The QPS usually refers a child to PACT for support at the time the alleged offender is arrested. However, PACT can also provide support for a victim at earlier stages.
Child Safety is responsible for providing consent for a child in the custody or guardianship of the chief executive to receive support from PACT. It is important that consent is provided in a timely manner to avoid delay in the child being provided with necessary support.
Respond to a child's education needs
A good education gives children the best start in life, leading to greater opportunities in adulthood. Children in care generally start with some disadvantage compared to their peers and have higher levels of school disciplinary absences (for example, suspensions) compared to the general population.
Child Safety and the Department of Education are responsible for providing children in care with opportunities to overcome adversity and help them achieve. Child Safety needs to work closely with the child’s education facility and share the right information at the right time.
Practice guide Supporting education outcomes for children in care
Practice guide School disciplinary absence.
Make sure the following school information is uploaded or recorded in a child’s kicbox account:
- where and when the child attends school
- the names of school staff who are important or significant to the child
- school report cards
- any awards received by the child
- school activities the child is involved in.
Support early childhood education
Kindergarten lays the foundation for a child’s future learning and life outcomes. Effective learning involves ideas and concepts that build on each other. A child who does not develop crucial skills and knowledge and a positive attitude to learning early on, may find it difficult to learn as they get older.
Each child in care, who is at least 4 years old by 30 June of the year they participate in kindergarten, is entitled to approved kindergarten programs at low or no cost. The Queensland Kindergarten Funding Scheme encourages the participation of disadvantaged children in quality early childhood education. Eligibility is based on the child having a health care card, to which each child in care is entitled. (Refer to Obtain Medicare details and Arrange for a health care card.)
Approved kindergarten programs are delivered in a range of settings, including by:
- the Creche and Kindergarten Association (C&K)
- Independent Schools Queensland
- the Queensland Catholic Education Commission
- Queensland Lutheran Early Childhood Services
- Lady Gowrie
- approved long day care services.
Foster and kinship carers are assisted in meeting the costs associated with a child’s attendance at an approved kindergarten program through the policy Early childhood education and care participation minimum gap payment. Unlike child-related costs, this is not a discretionary payment requiring CSSC manager approval.
Foster and kinship carers may also be eligible for reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses through child-related costs.
Make sure an education support plan is developed
The education support plan (ESP) is a joint initiative of Child Safety and the Department of Education. It aims to ensure that each child in care is enrolled and participating in an educational program that:
- meets their individual learning needs
- maximises their educational potential
- improves their wellbeing.
The ESP is the main process for planning and documenting the child’s educational goals, as well as outcomes and strategies to help them achieve identified outcomes.
The Department of Education completes an ESP for each child under 18 years who is enrolled in a Queensland educational facility (Prep to Year 12) and is subject to either:
- an interim or finalised child protection order granting custody or guardianship to the chief executive
- a finalised interstate child protection order granting custody or guardianship to the chief executive of that state and who:
- resides in care in Queensland
- is not eligible to receive equivalent interstate funding
- is receiving case work support from a CSSC.
An ESP is not completed for a child attending kindergarten.
The Department of Education is responsible for developing and annually reviewing the ESP. Child Safety is responsible for:
- advising the Department of Education of a child's eligibility
- participating in ESP development and review
- monitoring that the ESP process occurs.
A child is not eligible for an ESP if they:
- are subject to:
- an interim or finalised child protection order and no longer reside in care—for example, the child has returned home as part of a planned reunification process and the child protection order has not yet been varied or revoked
- a TAO, CAO, TCO or intervention with parental agreement case
- an order granted by a court in another Australian state which has not been transferred to Child Safety, and case work support is not being provided by a CSSC
- an interim child protection order―except in the circumstances noted above
- a supervision or directive child protection order
- an order granting custody or long-term guardianship to a suitable person who is a member of the child’s family or a person nominated by Child Safety, including a permanent guardian
- an order made by the Family Court of Australia
- are being cared for under a private care arrangement between family members
- have turned 18 years of age. (In this case, ensure education support is included in the young person’s transition to adulthood plan and determine if they may be eligible for the Education support funding program after turning 18.)
If the Department of Education or Child Safety identifies that a child who is not eligible for ESP would benefit from education planning:
- help the child to access the Department of Education’s other program and support options
- record details of the support provided in the case plan
- include the information in the child’s transition to adulthood planning process.
Education support funding program
The agreement between Child Safety and the Department of Education includes funding to support students who are eligible for ESP. The Education Support funding program (ESFP) is initiated and administered by a child’s school. The funding can be used for a child who has a completed ESP that identifies individual needs and strategies requiring funding to meet the specified educational goals.
A student who continues to attend school after they turn 18 may be able to access ESFP, if immediately before their 18th birthday they:
- have a completed ESP
- are subject to an interim or finalised child protection order granting custody or guardianship to the chief executive
- are residing in care in Queensland.
Inform the principal of the child's eligibility
When it is identified that a child is ESP-eligible, notify the school of their eligibility by providing a Letter to school—education support plan to the school principal:
- before, or when enrolling the child at the school
- within 1 month of commencement of a child protection order (interim or finalised) granting custody or guardianship to the chief executive—if the child has an existing enrolment at the school and is in a care arrangement.
If the school has not contacted the CSSC within 5 school days of being notified of the child's eligibility, contact the principal to arrange an ESP planning meeting.
Prepare for the education support planning meeting
Before participating in the ESP planning meeting:
- Talk to the child about the purpose and process for developing an ESP and encourage them to attend the ESP planning meeting if appropriate (Refer to the practice kit Care arrangements.)
- Determine the level of involvement of the child’s carer and parent, as appropriate in the circumstances.
- In collaboration with the principal, identify and engage with other agencies that may provide services to support the educational participation, retention and achievement of the child.
- Consult Queensland Transport to identify transport options for the child to travel to the nominated school, if applicable.
- Inform the child's carer of financial support available from Child Safety or the school to enable the child’s participation in learning opportunities (Refer to the procedure Child related costs—education and child care support.)
- Work with the principal and other school staff to complete the ESP within the required timeframes.
Financial support from Child Safety is subject to the CSSC manager’s approval. Make sure expenditure is recorded in the child's case plan and ESP.
Attend the education support planning meeting
The carer and (if appropriate) the child and the child's parents should attend the education support planning meeting with the CSO.
The CSO with case responsibility will actively participate in the meeting to discuss:
- health or wellbeing risks related to the child, other children or staff
- strategies to address identified risks
- educational services that may assist the child
- the potential impacts of any prescribed medications, including psychotropic medications (those that affect a person’s mental state) on the child's achievement and functioning (Refer to Develop a child health passport.)
- any planned changes to a child’s care arrangement, including short break care or reunification, that may affect school attendance, participation or enrolment
- strategies and goals to maximise the child's academic potential and school engagement.
If the child chooses not to attend the meeting, make sure the CSO or carer obtains their views and educational goals before the meeting and shares them at the meeting.
If the child is truanting or refusing to attend school, discuss the risks this poses to the child and identify management strategies at the meeting. Make sure the school has current contact details so each time the child fails to attend school, staff can advise the child's carer or, if not contactable, the CSSC.
Obtain a copy of the education support plan
The Department of Education will distribute a copy of the completed ESP to the main parties involved in the development or review of the plan. Upon receipt of the ESP:
- Make sure the child has been given a copy and clarify any questions they have.
- Attach the ESP to the child’s ongoing intervention event in ICMS .
Attend the review of an education support plan
The Department of Education is responsible for reviewing the ESP, at a minimum, every 12 months. An earlier review may be organised if the child's circumstances change, for example:
- if the child moves to a new school
- if existing goals are met and new goals need to be identified.
Inform the principal of a change in eligibility or circumstances
Inform the principal in a timely way of a change in the child's legal status, care arrangement or school enrolment. Provide the principal with a Letter to school—education support plan (change in eligibility) if a child is no longer eligible for an ESP—for example, if a child returns to their parent’s care or is no longer subject to an eligible order.
Facilitate, monitor and review family contact
A child’s ongoing relationship with their family, friends, other significant people and community can help them to feel connected and supported in managing the difficulties of transitions. Family contact helps with:
- a child's sense of identity
- a child being reunified to the care of a parent
- a child’s ongoing relationship with their family while they are in care or transitioning to adulthood.
Family contact may include:
- face-to-face visits
- phone calls
- text messages
- activities attended by the child, family members and other significant people—for example, school concerts and school sports days.
If a child is placed in care:
- Arrange contact between the child, the child's parents and appropriate members of the child's family as often as is appropriate, in line with the Child Protection Act 1999, section 87. (Refer to Decide the level and nature of family contact.)
- Make sure contact occurs between a child and their siblings.
- Seek the child’s views about contact and record them in the Safe contact tool.
Supervise family contact
Family contact must be supervised if:
- there are significant safety concerns for the child
- a high level of control and oversight of the parents or other people participating in contact with the child is required
- there are legitimate concerns that the child may be abducted or harmed during contact
- the child or family requests the attendance of a CSO
- a qualified professional working with the child or family recommends that contact be supervised, based on legitimate concerns.
A CSO may also attend family contact to:
- assess interactions between the child and family
- check the progress of the child’s parent in meeting case plan goals
- help inform an assessment for a current child protection proceeding
- provide parenting or therapeutic support to the child and family.
Consider taking photographs during family contact and sharing the photographs with all those present, to support a child’s:
- relationship development
- life story narrative while in care.
Upload photos of positive family contact experiences to the child’s kicbox.
Carer participation in family contact
Carers may participate in family contact arrangements if all the following apply:
- A high level of control and oversight of the parent’s or family member’s behaviour during contact is not needed.
- There are no significant safety concerns, such as:
- recent threats to remove or abduct the child
- aggressive behaviour by the parents when the child was taken into custody, which resulted in harm to others.
Negotiate with the carer their involvement in family contact arrangements and record the details in the case plan and placement agreement.
Outsource transport or supervision of family contact
An external service may be contracted to provide transport or to supervise family contact in line with the child’s case plan. The CSSC manager will decide whether to approve the cost of outsourcing transport or the supervision of family contact. (Refer to the procedure Child related costs—child and young person support.)
Arrange family contact at a correctional centre
Family contact visits for a child in care sometimes need to take place in an adult correctional centre, for example if a parent is incarcerated. Queensland Corrective Services refers to this type of visit as a ‘personal visit’ and requires that all personal visits are booked in advance, regardless of whether the visit is a one-off or a regular occurrence.
Family contact with parents or other family members in a correctional centre may include:
- face-to-face visits
- telephone calls
- video conferencing.
In addition to information outlined in the practice guide Family contact for children in care, consider the following when deciding the frequency and type of contact to occur in a correctional centre:
- the case plan goals
- the child's age and development
- the child's views and wishes
- the parent’s or family member's views and wishes about if and how the contact should occur
- the child's physical and emotional safety within the correctional centre
- the history of child protection concerns relating to the child, the child’s parent or family member
- the nature of the parent’s or family member’s charges or convictions and whether they relate to the child or other family members
- the quality of the child’s relationship with the parent or family member
- the need to maintain an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child’s relationship with their parents, siblings and other people of significance to the child under Aboriginal tradition or Island custom
- the length of time the parent or family member will be at the correctional centre. (If brief, it may be in the child's best interest to delay contact until the parent or family member is released)
- the distance between the child's placement and the correctional centre, and the disruption that travel to and from visits may cause to the child, including to their schooling
- whether the child's need for family contact can be met by telephone contact and if the parent or family member has access to telephone calls.
Regularly review the type and frequency of the contact, taking into consideration:
- the child's views about the quality of contact
- the child's behaviour and interactions during contact
- the carer's observations of the child’s behaviour before and after visits.
Corrective Services may not allow the child’s parent or family member detained in the correctional centre to have visits or telephone calls, depending on:
- the level of security the individual is subject to
- the individual’s conduct
- the nature of the charges against the individual
- the need to protect the individual from other inmates at the correctional centre—for example, if the individual has been charged with sexual assault of a minor.
Share information with Corrective Services in a timely manner so they can consider the relevant factors and decide about the individual’s contact.
Depending on the nature of the family member’s charges, the court may have ruled that they are not to have contact with the child, for example, if a parent has been charged with murder of the child's sibling. Contact the Department of Public Prosecutions to gather information about any restrictions.
If the senior team leader decides family contact is to occur and face-to-face visits are not permitted by the correctional centre, consider other options, such as telephone calls or letters.
To arrange a family contact visit at a correctional centre:
- Contact the correctional centre no later than 7 days before the proposed visit.
- Complete a Form 27 Approval for access to a corrective services facility and visit a prisoner (personal visitor) for:
- each child
- the CSO who will be accompanying the child. Note—if the child is to be accompanied by someone other than a Child Safety practitioner, complete a letter from the guardian confirming the arrangement and attach it to the person’s Form 27 (Refer to Determine who may decide a custody or guardianship matter.)
- any other person who will be attending the visit.
- Send all the necessary documentation to the correctional centre.
Before visiting a correctional centre, make sure each person attending is aware of the conditions of entry to the centre, including the standards of dress and the search process. This information is availability on the Queensland Corrective Services website.
Once at the correctional centre:
- Each visitor will be advised of the conditions of entry to the centre.
- The CSO and any other person in attendance must show a current identification card.
- The CSO or other approved person will either accompany the child on the visit or a Corrective Services Officer will escort the child to the visits area and collect them at the end of the visit.
It is an offence under the Corrective Services Act 2006 for any person to obtain entry to a corrective services facility under a false identity or knowingly provide false information in a 'Form 27'.
Any visitor who breaches a condition of visitation or access or fails to comply with an order of the person in charge, or otherwise prejudices the security and good order of a corrective service facility, may be ordered to leave the facility. Reasonable force may be used to remove the visitor from the facility if they fail to comply with an order to leave the facility.
Prepare participants for family contact
When family contact arrangements have been decided:
- Inform all participants of:
- the date, time and venue
- their responsibilities during family contact.
- Discuss whether strategies or supports are required to assist the child, their carer or family members to effectively manage family contact arrangements.
- Complete safety planning with the child, participants and other significant people if:
- the child has been sexually or physically abused
- the child presents with challenging behaviours
- the child has a serious medical condition
- the child presents with sexually reactive behaviours
- the child has witnessed domestic and family violence and is fearful of the perpetrator.
- Arrange appropriate supervision for the family contact, if required.
- Make sure transport arrangements are made for the child.
Monitor and review family contact arrangements
Monitor and review family contact arrangements on a regular basis, and:
- seek the child’s views and experience of the contact
- assess the parent’s progress in meeting the child’s safety, belonging and wellbeing needs during the contact
- address any concerns as they arise
- gather information about the progress and suitability of the contact from all parties, including the parents, family members, carer and CSSO
- assist and support the child, their family and other significant people in enjoying and participating in the contact visits.
Respond to disruptive family contact
If family contact is assessed as not meeting the needs of the child, or if issues arise about the actions or behaviour of family members during contact, work with the relevant parties to resolve the identified issues. Possible strategies to address disruptive contact include:
- discussing Child Safety’s expectations of behaviour during family contact with parents and other family members
- establishing clear boundaries for future contact arrangements
- arranging for the child and parents or family members to engage in support and therapeutic intervention.
If the issues are ongoing or escalate, consult the senior team leader to consider changing the contact arrangements to meet the needs and best interests of the child, and initiate a case plan review. (Refer to Review and revise the case plan.)
Respond to child protection concerns related to family contact
If information is received about harm or risk of harm to a child by their parent during family contact, refer to Procedure 1 New child protection concerns.
If worries relate to the carer's role or responsibilities during family contact, discuss the matter with the carer and consider strategies for resolving the issues. If the concerns about the carer relate to the standard of care provided or harm or risk of harm to the child. (Refer to Procedure 6 Respond to concerns about the child’s care arrangement.)
Respond to concerns about pool fencing
If concerns are received or observed about the safety of pool fencing where a family contact visit is held, report the information to the relevant local authority responsible for assessing pool fencing compliance.
- the property address
- the nature of the issue relating to the pool fence.
Do not provide the family’s name or other identifying details.
Review the family contact arrangements to ensure the safety of young children until the pool fencing issue is resolved.
Record family contact arrangements and outcomes
Record (in a case note in ICMS) information and decisions about family contact such as:
- the child's views
- daily care decisions made by the carer or CSO (Refer to Family contact decisions.)
- observations about the progress or outcomes of family contact
- details of disruptive family contact and response strategies.
The Safe contact tool may be attached to the case note in ICMS.
Record decisions about the level and nature of family contact in the child’s case plan and placement agreement. (Refer to Decide the level and nature of family contact.)
Encourage each child in care to use the digital application (app) kicbox, regardless of their age, length of time in care and location. Make sure they know how to and can access and update their information.
The kicbox app allows information to be recorded throughout a child’s time in care. This accumulated information is an important record for a child, especially when they leave care.
Children in care experience disconnection from their family and community, and disrupted care arrangements can result in personal possessions, photos and memories being lost. Kicbox is a valuable tool in maintaining important records and for children to learn about their life story.
Working with a child on their life story helps them to:
- create a clear understanding of their family relationships and connections
- understand what has happened to them during their time in care
- improve their self-knowledge and self-esteem
- develop a strong foundation for independence.
All young people subject to a child protection order granting custody or guardianship to the chief executive have the right to receive assistance and support with their transition from care to adulthood. The aim is to maximise their life opportunities and choices.
Transition to adulthood is a planning process that occurs with the young person as part of ongoing case work and review processes from the year they turn 15. It is an opportunity for young people to:
- identify their future goals and needs
- work towards the goals with the support of Child Safety and the community
- receive the necessary supports as they grow towards independence.
The years leading into adulthood are a time of opportunity and great change. As a young person learns to take greater control of their lives, their relationships and connections with friends, family and community begin to alter to reflect their growing maturity.
The transition into adulthood can be exciting and daunting, particularly for a young person who has been in care or has experienced trauma. They are often insufficiently prepared—emotionally and materially—for the responsibilities of independent adult life.
A well-planned, gradual and flexible process to support a young person’s transition to adulthood is critical. This includes the potential for post-care support.
Kicbox can assist young people with their transition to adulthood. It gives them access to information and photos about their time in care on their mobile phone or other device. They can access kicbox to:
- upload and comment on photos and memories
- access ‘Important documents’
- communicate securely and conveniently with their CSO via ‘Private messaging’
- share their views and wishes
- engage in reviews and make goals for their future in ‘My goals’.
Begin transition to adulthood planning with a young person
In the year that a young person turns 15, work with them to review their case plan and include transition to adulthood planning.
Initiate discussion with the young person at an appropriate time during case work contact. Introduce the concept of planning for their life after leaving care and:
- explain the purpose and process of planning for the transition from care to adulthood
- discuss the way the young person would like to engage in the planning process and encourage a sense of ownership for their future planning
- identify members of their safety and support network who might participate in the planning process and be ongoing advocates for the young person, especially the young person's carer or residential care staff
- encourage them to:
- start to be or continue being interactive kicbox users
- use the Sortli app to set goals and track their progress throughout the transition process. (Refer to the Sortli app page on the Child Safety website.
- discuss the young person's strengths and needs. This can be used for both the case plan and the revised child strengths and needs assessment (Refer to Complete the child strengths and needs assessment.)
- assist them to identify their goals and dreams and encourage them to complete the ‘My goals’ section in kicbox
- use the handout Go your own way Info Kit, to help identify actions that will assist the young person to develop the necessary skills as they transition to adulthood
- identify support and practical assistance they may need to achieve identified goals
- identify what they know and will need to know in order to manage their own health care, including medication, assessment and treatment, transition to adult health services, and management of their My Health records
- tell them about financial support available from Child Safety and the Australian Government to help them meet identified needs and enhance their ability to become an independent adult. (Refer to Transition to Independent Living Allowance (TILA) Operational Guidelines.)
If the young person has been a victim of an act of violence, make sure they have information about the support and assistance available from Victim Assist Queensland. Refer to Respond to victims of crime.
If the young person has a disability, the transition officer or Specialist Services coordinator may be involved in:
- a review of the young person’s NDIS plan (Refer to Respond to a child’s disability needs.)
- a decision to apply for a guardian or administrator to be appointed for the young person when they turn 18 (Refer to Support a young person with impaired decision making capacity.)
After talking with the young person about their goals and plans for the future and what they may expect as they begin the transition to adulthood process, give them a completed Letter to young person at 15 years.
The letter should confirm information that has already been discussed with them. They should not be informed of the transition to adulthood process for the first time by reading the letter.
Involve the young person’s carer
Involve the young person's carer or residential care staff at the start of transition to adulthood planning with the young person, to:
- discuss and reflect on their relationship with the young person
- make sure they provide wifi access to support the young person’s use of kicbox
- encourage them to make sure photos capturing positive experiences are uploaded to kicbox
- identify what support and practical assistance they may be able to offer to the young person to meet their goals for adult life
- acknowledge the changes that will occur in their relationship with the young person when they turn 18.
Complete assessment activities for the case plan review
Before the case plan review, complete the necessary assessments and reassessments, in line with Review and revise the case plan.
Make sure that during their transition to adulthood, the young person’s health needs are identified and they receive effective health care. Arrange a subsequent health assessment if the young person:
- has ongoing physical, dental or mental health needs
- experiences a new physical or mental health issue
- has not had a health assessment for a significant period of time.
Make sure that concurrent planning is incorporated into the case plan so that both the young person’s immediate needs and their future transition goals are addressed.
Discuss the following ‘key life areas’ in detail with the young person to ensure the planning process is holistic and thorough and takes into account all areas of their life. The key life areas are interconnected and correspond to the child strengths and needs assessment.
|Key life areas||Child strengths and needs domains that relate to each key life area|
|1. Relationships and connections||CSN 4 Family of origin relationships
CSN 5 Social relationships (non-family)
CSN 12 Relationships with carer family
|2. Cultural and personal identity||CSN 2 Emotional stability
CSN 4 Family of origin relationships
CSN 6 Cultural identity
|3. Placements and housing||CSN 10 Additional child identified strength/need|
|4. Education and training||CSN 9 Education/vocation/employment|
|5. Employment||CSN 9 Education/vocation/employment|
|6. Health||CSN 2 Emotional stability
CSN 3 Alcohol and drug use
CSN 7 Physical health
CSN 8 Child development and intellectual ability
|7. Life skills||CSN 11 Life skills|
|8. Financial resourcing||CSN 11 Life skills|
|9. Disability support||There are no specific child strengths and needs domains relating to this key life area. Refer to the NDIS pre-planning documents such as the functional assessment or therapy reports and NDIS plan.|
Practice kit Transition to adulthood
SDM Policy and procedures manual (refer to the child strengths and needs assessment definitions)
SDM Policy and procedures manual (refer to Appendix B: Case Plan Guidance)
Practice guide Working with young people at high risk. This paper provides information about engaging with young people who have experienced hurt or trauma and who are behaving in a way that is likely to harm themselves or others.
If a young person who is NDIS-eligible or is an NDIS participant is likely to require increased disability supports from the NDIS after they turn 18, involve a transition officer or Specialist Services coordinator in transition to adulthood planning.
Transition to adulthood planning should occur over several NDIS plans from the time the young person turns 15. The final plan developed before the young person exits care will outline the supports to be delivered after they are 18. To request a review of the young person’s NDIS plan, refer to Respond to a child’s disability needs.
If a young person with impaired decision making capacity is likely to need their interests protected after they turn 18, consider whether to apply to have the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) appoint the Public Trustee as a guardian (non-financial matters) or an administrator (financial matters). Refer to the QCAT website for application forms, brochures and fact sheets.
CSSC manager approval is needed to apply to QCAT for a guardian or administrator. Before seeking approval, consult with the senior team leader or senior practitioner about the decision. If the young person is receiving transition support from the NDIS, also consult the transition officer or Specialist Services coordinator.
If the CSSC manager grants approval to apply to QCAT, apply as soon as possible after the young person turns 17 and a half years old, to allow adequate time for the investigation and QCAT hearing. To apply, provide the following to QCAT:
- a Form 10 Application for the appointment of a guardian/administrator
- supporting medical documents
- other supporting documents, including the transition to adulthood plan outlined in the young person’s case plan.
On the same day the QCAT application is made, provide copies of the Form 10 Application for the appointment of a guardian/administrator and all supporting documents to the Office of the Public Guardian via the mailbox firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support a young person in obtaining housing assistance
Consider if a young person will need assistance to access and keep housing when they leave care.
Continue to explore and assess their housing needs throughout transition planning with them. Options include shared accommodation with family or friends, private rental assistance, assistance from specialist homelessness services, and social housing. Some young people may continue to live with their carer after their order expires.
If a young person needs assistance to secure housing, the Department of Housing and Public Works may assist by providing:
- access to social housing when the young person would find it difficult to sustain a tenancy in the private rental market
- advice about the range of other housing options and products.
If a young person will need access to social housing from the Department of Housing and Public Works, help them to start the application process when they turn 15.
The Department of Housing and Public Works’ Housing and Homelessness Services will begin formal ‘joint action planning’ with a young person from 16 years; however, a referral from Child Safety is accepted for a young person aged 15 if the need is identified in transition to adulthood planning and in the young person’s case plan.
Procedure 4 Assist with social housing
Make sure compulsory education and training requirements are met
A young person's case plan and transition to adulthood goals must comply with the Department of Education’s requirements for compulsory schooling.
They must also take into account eligibility criteria for Australian Government benefits, which are that a young person must participate in 'learning or earning':
- for two years after they complete compulsory schooling (that is, after they have completed year 10 or turned 16 years of age)
- until they turn 17 years of age
- until they complete a Queensland Certificate of Education or a Certificate III (or higher level) vocational qualification.
The Department of Education will develop a senior education and training (SET) plan during Year 10 or in the year prior to the young person's 16th birthday (whichever comes first), for any young person attending a state, independent or Catholic school. The SET plan is created by the school working with the young person and their carer to identify career goals.
The young person will be registered with the Queensland Studies Authority and given a learning account so achievements can be accrued and monitored.
The young person’s education support plan should be congruent with the SET plan.
For further information about SET plans and making sure a young person's case plan goals comply with the requirements of the Department of Education, refer to the practice kit Transition to adulthood.
Schedule a case plan review
After completing the case plan review assessment activities in line with Review and revise the case plan:
- Encourage the young person to have ownership of the planning process and allow them to be involved in preparing for the case plan review.
- Decide with the young person whether a family group meeting or another process will be used for the case plan review.
- Talk to the young person to identify all the relevant people to attend the case plan review meeting, and invite them to participate in developing the case plan.
- Discuss the case plan review process with the young person's carer and invite them to attend the case plan review.
- Provide an opportunity for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander young person and their family to be supported by an independent person in the transition to adulthood planning process. (Refer to Decision making for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.)
- Decide whether a transition officer or a representative from Specialist Services or Housing and Homelessness Services will participate in, or provide written information for, the case plan review.
- Note that, for a young person who is an NDIS participant, their NDIS support coordinator may also be a relevant participant in a case plan review.
Develop a new case plan with transition to adulthood planning
Work with the young person to develop a case plan that:
- reflects their goals for their future
- focuses on their strengths and future needs
- addresses their needs in the key life areas
- identifies strategies and timeframes for meeting their stated goals
- states who is responsible for implementing each action
- details the resources required to achieve each outcome
- includes information about kicbox. If the young person is not an interactive kicbox user, document how they will be supported in using kicbox to access their life story and important documents in preparation for their transition to adulthood
- includes contingency plans for responding to changes in the young person's life and future goals.
If a young person, before turning 18, is in a care environment and receiving intensive levels of support (such as intensive foster care or therapeutic residential care) the case plan will include strategies to increase the young person’s independence and improve their skills, functioning and behaviour. This is to prepare them for a different level of support when they transition to adulthood.
It is critical that, during transition to adulthood planning, an enduring support network is built around the young person so they know who they can rely on for assistance or advice when they leave care.
This will involve identifying family, friends, community members and support services that will be useful to the young person in the future.
If the case plan relates to an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander young person, ensure the cultural support plan supports the young person's connections to family, community, culture and country. (Refer to the practice kit Safe care and connection.)
It may take some time to work with the young person to develop a case plan that incorporates transition to adulthood planning. Before being able to make informed decisions about their goals and support options, they may need support in understanding:
- how their life may change as a result of leaving care
- adult roles and responsibilities.
Financial support is available through child-related costs to support and resource a young person’s transition to adulthood goals, based on their assessed needs. Refer to the procedure Child related costs—child and young person support.
To apply for financial support for a young person:
- Record all expenditure with the transition to adulthood actions and outcomes in the endorsed case plan.
- Submit a Child related costs approval form to the CSSC manager.
Financial support may also be provided to a young person who has left care and previously been subject to a child protection order granting custody or guardianship to the chief executive.
In addition to considering financial support through child-related costs, assist the young person to identify and (if relevant) access financial assistance that may be available to them through local programs or their educational facility. (Refer to the practice kit Transition to adulthood.)
Assist the young person to access the Australian Government's Transition to Independent Living Allowance (TILA). This one-off payment of $1,500 is available to young people aged between 15 and 25 who are preparing to leave or have left care.
Refer to the Transition to Independent Living Allowance (TILA) Operational Guidelines for details about the allowance, including the eligibility criteria.
A CSO is responsible for applying for TILA on behalf of a young person in care and for managing their payments. There are 2 steps in the application process:
- Assessment—if the CSO assesses that the young person is eligible, TILA is applicable for them and use of the payment is part of their transition to adulthood case planning, the CSO can submit the TILA application form with the case plan. The application form requires the CSO’s and young person’s signatures.
- Claim lodgement—after approval has been granted by the TILA program office for the expenditure, lodge a claim via the Department of Human Services Unified Government Gateway (UGG). (CSSCs are responsible for registering staff for access to the UGG. Refer to Appendix 3 of the Transition to Independent Living Allowance (TILA) Operational Guidelines for information about TILA UGG registration.)
Record and distribute the case plan outlining the goals for the future
In recording the revised case plan for the young person:
- Use language that can be easily understood by all parties, especially the young person.
- Document the young person's goals, along with the roles and responsibilities of the young person, family, carers, friends and other support people in achieving these goals.
- Record decisions about funding, if relevant.
Provide a copy of the case plan and the list of proposed review dates to:
- the young person
- the transition officer—if they are working with the young person on skills for maintaining safe and stable housing after care
- the Specialist Services coordinator—if they are working with the young person on after-care disability and therapeutic support needs
- the young person’s carer
- all other people who participated in the planning process
- people responsible for implementing case plan actions.
While it is essential to record the transition to adulthood goals and actions in the case plan, the information also needs to be meaningful to the young person. In addition to the case plan, work with them to create a record of their transition from care goals that is useful and tailored for them. For example:
- Develop a calendar that shows who is doing what and when.
- Give the young person, their carer or support person each a notebook and ask them to record each goal on a separate page and document how they will meet the goal. Encourage them to document their progress over time.
- Draw a floor plan of a house or unit and collect pictures or list items that the young person may need to live in that space.
- Sit with the young person and together:
- upload photos and make a collage about their goals and aspirations in the ‘Goals’ section of the young person’s kicbox
- make a collage from magazine pictures about where the young person would like to be in 5 years.
- upload photos and make a collage about their goals and aspirations in the ‘Goals’ section of the young person’s kicbox
Review the case plan
Review the young person’s case plan and their progress towards achieving transition to adulthood goals at each case plan review or at least every 6 months. (Refer to Review and revise the case plan.) More frequent reviews may be held at the young person's request or if their support needs are complex.
In addition, a young person may experience episodes of uncertainty as their exit from care approaches. Make sure the frequency of case planning and contact with the young person increases accordingly.
Ongoing assessment of the young person's readiness to leave care will be completed throughout the transition planning process. Do not take action to bring forward a young person’s exit from care before they turn 18 unless they are ready on both a practical and emotional level.
At the last scheduled case review meeting before the young person's 18th birthday, decide if there is a need for Child Safety to continue to work with the young person after they turn 18. (Refer to Provide support after the young person leaves care.)
If ongoing support after the young person turns 18 is to be provided through a support service case:
- document in the revised case plan:
- the work that will continue until the young person turns 18
- the recommendation to open a support service case when the young person turns 18
- open a support service case, with the young person’s consent, when they turn 18 and record a ‘support plan’. (Refer to Procedure 4 Support service case with a young person.)
Support the young person in the 6 months before leaving care
Six months before a young person leaves care, plan for how their transition will be celebrated and make sure they are prepared with the necessary information and documents they will need in adulthood.
Recognise a young person's journey from care to adulthood
Rituals and celebrations are an important part of life and are often long remembered and reflected upon. Consider ways to recognise the young person's journey from being a child in care to entering adulthood.
Consult with the young person and those close to them, such as their carer about appropriate activities to mark this time of transition. Some young people may like to receive a congratulatory birthday card, while others may prefer to have a celebratory event.
Provide important documents and information
In the 6 months before the young person leaves care, make sure they have been given the following documents:
- their child health passport folder
- an original birth certificate (another original certificate is retained on the child’s file)
- Medicare card
- Health care card
- a Confirmation of care letter (use the template located in the Leaving care report) and if requested, a Leaving care report (Refer to Provide a leaving care report.)
- information about financial support, including the Australian Government's Transition to Independent Living Allowance (TILA). If applicable, an application for TILA should have been made on their behalf. (Refer to Assist the young person to access Transition to Independent Living Allowance and Obtain approval for financial support.)
- the brochure Support service case: Information for young people transitioning from care explaining the criteria for opening a support service case for a young person over 18 years
- their tax file number
- the handout Go your own way Info Kit - a resource developed in partnership between the CREATE Foundation and Child Safety
- for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander young person, a copy of their Aboriginality certificate to assist with future funding applications for study purposes. (Refer to the practice kit Safe care and connection.)
Also make sure the young person:
- knows they must enrol to vote for federal, state and local government elections and can do this at 17 years but cannot vote until they are 18. Provide them with information about how to enrol and an enrolment form , Refer to the Enrol to vote page of the Australian Electoral Commission website. Help them to complete the form if needed
- has a ‘myGov account’ to access their My Health Record and My Health Record—Information for children in care
- has contact details and information about Next Step Plus, which provides assistance and support to care leavers up to 25 years of age
- has the sortli app
- can access their kicbox account. (Make sure all relevant information is uploaded into the ‘Important documents’ section.)
When the young person turns 18 years, provide them with the Letter to young person at 18 years, which:
- acknowledges their milestone birthday
- makes reference to the young person's journey and achievements while in care
- clearly states that the child protection order has expired
- outlines information about any ongoing contact with Child Safety either through:
- a support service case
- support from Child Safety in accessing services until they turn 25 (including the telephone number to contact Child Safety)
- a support service case
- reminds them they will retain ‘read only’ access to view and download from their kicbox account.
Attach a certified copy of the young person's child protection order to the letter and retain the original copy on the young person's file.
Provide the young person with information from their file
If a young person requests specific information, such as details of their placement history or the location of their siblings, this can be provided as part of regular case work. If a young person requests copies of their personal documents, such as a birth certificate or case plan, these can also be provided.
If a young person requests detailed information about their personal history, including the circumstances which led to them coming into care, or asks to review their Child Safety file, consult with a senior team leader about how to release the information in a planned, supportive manner, and:
- consult with the young person’s carer about the circumstances that led to the young person making the request, and how best to support their access to the information
- review the file information before providing it to the young person, and remove information not relevant to them
- arrange a time and place to meet and review information with the young person
- meet with the young person and discuss the information being released, explaining any sensitive or confusing information
- refer the young person to a support service, such as a counsellor or psychologist, for ongoing assistance, if appropriate.
Young people have the right to receive, in a timely manner, collated information and important documents held by Child Safety, before they leave care.
To make sure this is a simple process that occurs with minimal delay, collate and provide relevant information to the young person without them having to formally apply to Right to Information.
The Leaving care report details the necessary information to be collated for a young person about their time in care, including details of care arrangements, schools attended, and health information. Included in the report is a Confirmation of care letter which the young person can use for official purposes, for example to:
- access Centrelink payments
- obtain support services
- apply for higher education services.
Before the young person leaves care:
- Complete the Leaving care report (including the Confirmation of care letter) outlining information about the young person’s life in care. Only record information about the young person in the Leaving care report, although information about someone else may be included if it relates to their official role, for example, carer, teacher, doctor.
- Contact the Right To Information, Information Privacy and Screening Unit on 07 3224 2242 or free call 1800 809 078 if assistance is needed to decide what information is suitable to release to the young person.
- Attach a copy of the Leaving care report (including the Confirmation of care letter) to the young person’s record in ICMS.
- Give the Leaving care report (including the Confirmation of care letter) and all relevant documents to the young person.
- Inform the young person that if they require more detailed information about their time in care, they may apply to the Time in Care Information Access Service, administered by the Right to Information (RTI) Information Privacy and Screening Unit. (Refer to Right to Information.)
Provide details about the Time in Care Information Access service
The type of information that may be available from the Time in Care Information Access Service includes:
- a Time in care report, which provides details of a child’s family, placement history and experiences in care
- documents held on file, such as birth certificates, school reports and medical records.
Refer to Right to Information for information sheets and application forms for the Time in Care Information Access Service.
After a young person leaves care or turns 18, transition to adulthood assistance and support may continue to be provided through a support service case, if there are:
- existing case plan goals and outcomes still to be achieved
- important life events identified for which the young person requires ongoing support, for example, completing year 12 or applying to study at university or TAFE.
In addition, Child Safety will assist young people aged 18 to 24 years, who have been in care, to access the necessary support and services.
When a child in care receives youth allowance or earns a wage
If a child in a foster or kinship care placement receives an Australian Government benefit such as Youth Allowance or Abstudy, or earns a wage:
- The carer will receive the fortnightly caring allowance to cover the child’s day-to-day needs, including food, clothing, hobbies, school costs, medical bills, prescriptions, and personal care items
- The child is not expected to contribute towards meeting the costs of their day-to-day needs.
A young person aged between 15 and 17 years, placed in a supported living service, may be asked to co-contribute financially towards the costs of their day-to-day living needs. This arrangement should be identified in the service agreement between the service provider and Child Safety.
If there is a dispute between the parties about financial responsibilities, convene a meeting to discuss the relevant issues.
Coordinate service delivery for a young person in contact with the youth justice system
If a young person subject to a child protection order granting custody or guardianship to the chief executive is also in contact with the youth justice system:
- Continue to carry out case management responsibility for the child's protective (Child Safety) needs.
- Participate in all youth justice processes.
- Work collaboratively with the youth justice case worker to address the child's needs and support the young person in developing new behaviours.
- Consult the youth justice case worker about relevant people to attend youth justice meetings, reviews, conferences and court proceedings.
- Inform the youth justice case worker about who has custody and guardianship rights and responsibilities for the young person. (Refer to Determine who may decide a custody or guardianship matter.)
The Department of Youth Justice maintains case management responsibility for maximising the young person’s successful completion of youth justice orders and making the transition to a life away from crime.
The youth justice case worker is responsible for directly liaising with the child’s parents about all youth justice matters.
Coordinate service delivery with Youth Justice for the duration of the time that the young person is subject to the custody or guardianship of the chief executive and is in contact with the youth justice system. To do this:
- Enable the youth justice case worker to participate in the development or review of the young person's case plan.
- Obtain information from Youth Justice to use in developing or reviewing the young person's case plan.
- Provide information about the young person to the youth justice case worker.
- Attend relevant youth justice meetings, reviews, conferences and court proceedings.
- Make sure the needs of a young person who has been sexually abused, or has engaged in sexually abusive behaviour, are met. Clarify responsibilities of Child Safety and Youth Justice in this regard. (Refer to the practice kit Child sexual abuse.)
Provide information to the youth justice case worker
Provide the following information to the youth justice case worker:
- detail about interventions being undertaken with the young person that may impact on youth justice service delivery
- the young person's care arrangement details
- the young person’s case plan goals for the duration of youth justice intervention
- a copy of the young person's case plan―if the youth justice case worker participated in the development or review of the case plan or is responsible for implementing any of the case plan actions
- the young person's cultural support needs
- the young person's education support needs
- periods of illness or hospitalisation preventing the young person from complying with the conditions of their youth justice order or program
- a copy of alerts recorded in ICMS for the young person or their family
- a copy of all critical incident reports recorded about the young person or their family for the duration of youth justice intervention. (Refer to the policy Critical incident reporting.)
- actions taken by the young person that appear inconsistent with the requirements of their youth justice order or program
- advice of the young person's return home and case closure by Child Safety.
Consult the senior team leader if there is uncertainty about whether the information should be provided verbally or in writing.
A request for information relating to a youth justice referral to the Griffith Youth Forensic Service is to be provided in writing unless time restrictions apply―in which case, provide the information verbally.
Participate in youth justice processes
If a young person is subject to a child protection order granting custody or guardianship to the chief executive, a CSO (as determined by the CSSC manager) is required to:
- participate in the development of reports, programs or interventions ordered by the court, for example, a pre-sentence report or conditional bail program and the management of programs and interventions
- attend all initial interviews and final reviews for a young person subject to conditional bail or remanded in custody
- attend at least every second progress review for a young person subject to an intensive supervision order, conditional release order or conditional bail program
- attend youth detention centre progress reviews
- attend all youth justice court proceedings, to provide information about the child, their placement and case plan.
Assist the court to consider a referral to a supervised community accommodation service
If the court is considering or is likely to consider refusing bail and remanding a young person in detention because they lack supported, secure and stable accommodation, consult the child’s youth justice case worker about the child’s eligibility to reside at a supervised community accommodation service.
The youth justice case worker is responsible for deciding whether to proceed with completing a referral for the child to the supervised community accommodation. In order to make an informed decision, the supervised community accommodation service may request additional information from Child Safety about the child’s history, current circumstances and long–term care arrangement.
Participate in non-compliance meetings
If the child’s CSO or another Child Safety practitioner is unable to attend the required meeting:
- Provide relevant information to the youth justice case worker before the meeting.
- Record the reason for a Child Safety practitioner not attending the meeting in a case note in ICMS, and document details of other actions taken.
- Liaise with the youth justice case worker afterwards to discuss the meeting outcomes and actions.
Decide the participation of parents and carers in youth justice processes
If the young person is subject to a child protection order granting guardianship to the chief executive:
- Decide if it is appropriate for the young person's parents, carer or both to attend relevant youth justice meetings and court proceedings.
- Inform the parents, carer and youth justice case worker of the decision.
Take action when a young person is held in watch house custody
When informed by the QPS that a young person who is subject to the custody or guardianship of the chief executive is being held in watch house custody:
- Advise the QPS to contact:
- the young person's youth justice case worker
- the CSAHSC if it is after hours. The CSAHSC will record the information in ICMS for the relevant CSSCs and the youth justice service centre and will advise the on-call CSSC manager, if required.
- the young person's youth justice case worker
- Negotiate with the youth justice case worker a joint plan for visiting and phoning the young person while they are held in watch house custody.
- Work with Youth Justice to source appropriate accommodation for the young person, if a lack of accommodation options is impacting on bail being granted.
Implement actions when a young person is subject to a detention order or remanded in custody
When a young person enters a detention centre, contact the detention centre case worker and arrange an initial visit with the young person. Give the detention centre case worker information about the young person, including:
- their strengths and needs, including as outlined in the child strengths and needs assessment
- the case plan, including the cultural support plan, education support plan, senior education and training (SET) plan, the child health passport and family contact decisions
- the child's behavioural support plan including details of current behaviour triggers, responses and strategies
- information about who has guardianship of the young person and the implications for decision making and consent
- issues likely to impact on the young person’s safety or wellbeing, or the safety of detention centre residents or staff.
While the young person remains in the detention centre:
- Maintain regular contact with them in person (if geographically possible) or video-link through the youth detention visits centre.
- Maintain contact with the young person's carer and family.
- Liaise with the detention centre case worker to monitor the young person's progress.
- Attend or participate in case planning or review processes.
- Attend youth justice court proceedings.
- Respond to issues as requested by detention centre staff or the youth justice case worker.
- Participate in and support transition to adulthood planning, if relevant.
- Participate in and support planning for the young person’s transition from detention, including:
- making sure the young person is aware of the plan for their release from detention
- making sure appropriate community supports are in place for the young person once released
- arranging transport from the court or detention centre, once released
- finding suitable accommodation, if needed.
In detention, a young person is required to initiate phone calls, which occur at an allocated time during the day. Consider providing the CSO’s direct number to the detention centre case worker for the young person to call.
The detention centre case worker is required to update the CSO on the young person’s progress and any behavioural incidents or incidents of harm. They must also invite the CSO to case reviews.
When the young person leaves the detention centre:
- Attend or participate in any final planning or review meeting with Youth Justice.
- Obtain relevant information from the detention centre about the young person's education and medical requirements.
- Make sure the young person's basic needs are met in a timely way.
- Consider whether the young person's change in circumstances requires a review of their case plan.
If a young person leaving detention is turning 18 years and is homeless or at risk of homelessness, consider a referral to Youth Housing and Reintegration Services (YHARS).
- support and access to a range of accommodation options (Refer to the Guidelines for service delivery: Youth Housing and Reintegration service (YHARS) and After Care Service.)
- case management and financial support to assist young people, aged 18 to 20, who have recently left the care of Child Safety or are exiting youth detention, to establish and maintain independent accommodation. (Refer to the handout After care service for young people exiting care and the Young person after care flyer.)
Seek prior approval of costs to be met by Child Safety
Child Safety’s responsibility for costs will depend on:
- whether the financial support is primarily:
- related to administering youth justice orders or programs
- specific to the Child Safety case plan for addressing the young person's protection and care needs
- who has custody or guardianship of the young person.
If a dispute about financial responsibility cannot be resolved after both Youth Justice and Child Safety have considered what is in the young person’s best interests, the managers will refer the matter for a final decision to the Child Safety regional director and the Youth Justice regional director.
If a young person’s living arrangement is, or is likely to be, a component of conditional bail or a youth justice order, program proposals and associated costs to be met by Child Safety will be discussed and documented by the CSO and the youth justice case worker.
Nominated costs must be endorsed by the relevant financial delegate, before the youth justice case worker makes a submission to the court.
In these circumstances:
- Inform the youth justice case worker that written approval of the proposed costs is required from the Child Safety financial delegate before a submission is made to a court.
- Seek approval for the proposed costs from the financial delegate as soon as possible.
- Once the financial delegate has made a decision, immediately inform the youth justice case worker of the outcome so that relevant court submissions can be made.
- Comply with the requirements regarding care arrangements funded through child-related costs, if relevant. (Refer to the policy Child related costs―Placement funding and the procedure Child related costs - Placement funding.)
After subsequent court appearances, costs associated with the continuation or extension of existing programs require renegotiation and re-approval by the relevant financial delegate.
The policy Response to children who are sexually abused while in care outlines Child Safety’s responsibility to provide a response to a child who has been sexually abused while in care, regardless of who is responsible for the sexual abuse.
The responsibility includes, but is not limited to, situations where a child has experienced sexual abuse by:
- a carer or member of the carer’s household
- a staff member or another resident of a licensed care service or another entity
- a parent or other family member during family contact
- an adolescent or adult family friend
- a teacher or sports coach.
In line with the MOU Data Exchange and Information Sharing between State of Queensland acting through the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services (Child Safety) and The Office of the Public Guardian, the CSO must advise OPG as soon as possible, or within one business day, if information is received about serious injury to a ‘relevant child’ staying at a visitable location.
A child staying at a visitable location includes a child in:
- a foster or kinship care placement
- a residential care facility, including supported independent living
- a boarding home
- a mental health facility
- a detention facility.
Provide the information by emailing and telephoning the relevant OPG regional visiting manager. Refer to the OPG—Regional visiting manager contact details.
Provide a response to a child
As soon as Child Safety staff become aware that a child has been sexually abused while in care, a response will be provided that includes:
- acknowledgement of the abuse and resulting harm experienced by the child. In certain circumstances, this may include a letter expressing regret
- a review of the child’s case plan to meet the child’s specific needs if they are subject to ongoing intervention
- a referral to Legal Services
- identifying whether a referral to relevant therapeutic support or medical services is needed for the child and their carer.
An expression of regret, in accordance with the Civil Liability Act 2003, is a written statement that expresses regret for the harm experienced by the child as a result of the sexual abuse.
An expression of regret is only to be provided in response to legal proceedings if the terms of a settlement include providing an expression of regret or apology to the plaintiff in those proceedings.
The response is provided to a child who:
- is in the custody or guardianship of the chief executive or subject to a care agreement and placed with an approved carer, a licensed care service or another entity (including short break arrangements)
- has been reunified with a parent and is subject to ongoing intervention
- is subject to a long-term guardianship order to a suitable person and placed in care under an assessment order, TCO or interim order
- is in the custody or guardianship of the chief executive under an adoption care agreement or, following parental consent to adoption, is placed with:
- an approved carer
- a licensed care service
- another entity
prior to an interim adoption order being made.
A response must be provided to the child if sexual abuse has been alleged and:
- there has been a substantiated investigation and assessment outcome. (Refer to Procedure 2 Decide if a child is in need of protection.)
- there has been a substantiated investigation and assessment outcome for a harm report. (Refer to Procedure 6 Record a harm report and respond with an investigation and assessment.)
- criminal or civil proceedings have commenced in relation to the sexual abuse that occurred during the time the child was placed in care.
When a response in line with the policy is not required
The policy Response to children who are sexually abused while in care and related procedures does not apply to a child who:
- is in the custody of a relative under a short-term child protection order
- is the biological child, step-child or adopted child of an approved carer or staff member|
- resides in the care environment but is not subject to statutory intervention.
Provide advice about the National Redress Scheme
A person who was sexually abused can apply to the National Redress Scheme if:
- they experienced sexual abuse as a child (under 18 years of age)
- the abuse happened before 1 July 2018
- an institution was responsible for bringing them into contact with the person who abused them
- they were born before 30 June 2010
- they are an Australian citizen or permanent resident.
If a person meets these criteria, support them to seek independent legal advice from knowmore. Knowmore is an independent service that gives free legal advice to survivors of institutional child sexual abuse, by providing information about the justice and redress options that may be available to them. Refer to the National Redress Scheme.
Acknowledge the abuse and resulting harm experienced by the child
If it is established that a child has experienced sexual abuse while placed in care, provide information to the child (either verbally or in writing) about the outcome of the:
- investigation and assessment
- standards of care harm report
- criminal or civil proceedings.
When acknowledging the abuse and resulting harm with the child, consider the child’s age, maturity level and cultural and linguistic background.
Acknowledge the emotional and psychological impact on the child and the possible resulting behaviour.
Review the child’s case plan
Child Safety must review and revise the case plan of a child who has been sexually abused while in care and is subject to ongoing intervention. This is to:
- reflect and respond to any significant change to the child’s needs, including safety needs
- include any actions necessary to respond to the impact of the sexual abuse, irrespective of who is responsible for the sexual abuse.
Child Safety may also need to review and update the case plan of a child who has been sexually abused and who is subject to a child protection order granting long-term guardianship to a suitable person. (Refer to Review a long-term guardianship to suitable person – case plan.)
Contact Legal Services to facilitate access to independent legal advice for a child who has been sexually abused while placed in care. Legal Services will be responsible for:
- providing legal advice to Child Safety staff
- informing the child of their legal rights
- facilitating access for the child to obtain independent legal advice to assist in pursuing legal remedy or compensation where appropriate
- determining if a child may be eligible for assistance, and should be referred to Victim Assist Queensland. (Refer to Victim Assist Queensland)
- providing information on the process for applying for assistance and support from Victim Assist Queensland
- referring matters to the Public Trustee to brief solicitors from an appropriate law firm that will act on a no win—no fee basis on behalf of the child, if it appears that the state may owe an obligation.
Facilitate a referral to appropriate therapeutic services
A child may suffer emotional harm, psychological harm and physical harm as a result of sexual abuse.
Child Safety staff will consult with the child, carer or parent regarding access to therapeutic services. If required, Child Safety will ensure the child, carer and/or parent are referred to the most appropriate medical, therapeutic or behavioural support services to meet their identified needs.
Respond when a child is no longer subject to ongoing intervention
Although a child may no longer be subject to ongoing intervention, they may still require a response to the sexual abuse that occurred while in care and the resulting harm.
Child Safety has a responsibility to provide a response to a child who is no longer subject to ongoing intervention when:
- The child is under 18 years of age.
- The child was placed in care.
- The child has disclosed they were sexually abused while they were placed in care and the allegations resulted in:
- the commencement of criminal or civil proceedings
- a substantiated investigation and assessment outcome. (Refer to Procedure 2 Decide if a child is in need of protection.)
- a substantiated investigation and assessment outcome for a harm report. (Refer to Procedure 6 Record a harm report and respond with an investigation and assessment and Procedure 6 Support a child who has experienced sexual abuse in care.)
To ensure the child receives an appropriate response, the region that receives the information regarding the sexual abuse of a child when placed in care (when the child is no longer subject to ongoing intervention) is responsible for:
- referring the matter to a RIS to assess the information and determine a response. (Refer to Procedure 1 Assess the information and decide the response.)
- confirming whether criminal or civil proceedings have commenced, including if the allegations relate to matters outside Child Safety’s legislative responsibility, and were committed by someone who is not a carer or licensed care service staff member
- contacting Legal Services for advice on providing an appropriate legal response to the child, including:
- providing the child or their parent or guardian with resources or referrals to appropriate medical and therapeutic services
- completing a brief to inform the regional director of the sexual abuse to the child and including:
- any actions taken to support the implementation of the policy
- any advice received from Legal Services
- the letter of regret for signing, if this is required as part of a settlement of legal proceedings
- recording any action that supports the implementation of the policy in a case note and attaching the approved regional director brief. If a letter of regret was provided, attach a copy of the letter to the relevant ICMS event.
If the information received meets the legislative threshold of harm or risk of harm and it is reasonably suspected that the child is in need of protection―record a notification or harm report.
For example, a notification is appropriate if a child has disclosed they were sexually abused in the past by a family member while on family contact visits, and there are current concerns that there is no parent able and willing to protect the child from future harm. (Refer to Procedure 1 Assess the information and decide the response.)
If historical concerns are received about sexual abuse (for example, that occurred over 12 months ago) relating to an approved carer or licensed care service staff member’s actions or inactions that are identified as contributing to harm to a child, refer to Procedure 6 Respond to historical concerns.
Significant harm or injury to a child as a result of the actions or inactions of Child Safety
If a child who has been the subject of Child Safety decision making or intervention:
- has suffered harm or injury of a significant nature, leading to their permanent incapacity
- this harm, injury or damage has been caused by the actions or inactions of Child Safety,
then Child Safety has ongoing responsibilities to the child.
If a case review is triggered, the Systems and Practice Case Review Committee will consider if the case meets the policy requirements. The regional director will contribute to the decision and recommendations as part of this process.
The actions or inactions of Child Safety may have occurred during the decision-making process, in response to:
- a report about a child or an unborn child (for example, a decision not to record a notification)
- during an investigation and assessment
- during ongoing intervention to a child subject to:
- a support service case
- an intervention with parental agreement
- a child protection order.
Record an ICMS alert
Following consultation with Legal Services, and with the approval of the regional director, record the alert Experienced detriment by department—policy 634, in ICMS. Consult the CSSC manager and senior team leader to discuss the most appropriate way of recording the information, including an appropriate review date.
Meet the child’s needs
For a child subject to ongoing intervention, or to an order granting long-term guardianship to a suitable person, Child Safety has special obligations as part of the case planning and review process, or the review of a support plan (depending on the child’s age and circumstances). (Refer to policy Response to children who have experienced significant detriment caused by the actions or inactions of Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services.)
The reviewed and updated case plan will address appropriate medical, therapeutic and behavioural supports necessary to meet the child’s needs.
Consultation with Legal Services will be required in order to:
- consider matters of redress and potential compensation
- consider an acknowledgement of the impacts on the child
- consider providing an apology as per the Civil Liability Act 2003, or some form of expression of regret
- arrange for the child’s access to independent legal advice
- consider referring the child to another agency (such as OPG) who may provide support to the child
- provide information about the role and contact details for Victim Assist Queensland
- provide information to relevant staff members about their potential involvement in criminal or civil proceedings.
In this section, the following definitions are used:
A child is a child placed in the custody or guardianship of the chief executive, or placed with carers who have been granted long-term guardianship of the child under the Child Protection Act 1999.
A direct carer is an approved carer, long-term guardian or care service staff member.
A missing child is any child whose location is unknown and for whom there are fears for their safety or concern for their welfare.
An absent child is a child who is absent for a short period without permission, whose location is known or can be quickly established.
Frequently absent describes a child who exhibits a pattern of regularly leaving their placement without permission or not providing details of where they are going and how they can be contacted.
Frequently missing describes a child whose location is regularly unknown and for whom there are continuing fears for their safety and/or welfare.
When a child is abducted
If you know or reasonably suspect a child has been abducted, contact the QPS immediately by calling 000.
Then contact the direct carer and make sure the CSSC or the CSAHSC (if after hours) has been advised.
When a child is absent
In some circumstances, a child may be absent from where they should be for a short period and then return. They may be testing the boundaries or have become side-tracked on their way home.
It is important that the child’s direct carer undertakes actions that a reasonable parent would to quickly establish the child’s location and their safe return. This includes:
- searching the house and premises, including the garage, grounds and surrounding area
- asking friends or neighbours if they have seen the child
- contacting the child’s school and asking if they have information about the child’s whereabouts
- checking places the child frequently attends, such as shops, parks, friends’ homes and other special places they may go
- alerting the child’s friends and networks that they are looking for the child and seeking their assistance to find the child―if appropriate to do so
- engaging with other members of the child’s safety and support network.
It may be appropriate to contact the child’s parents or family members to ask if the child has been in contact with them or if they know where they are. It may be preferable for the CSO to do this rather than the direct carer.
A child’s absence may be an early indicator that they are missing. Carefully monitor and escalate the response if they become missing.
If a child is frequently absent from their placement, develop a Safety and support plan with the child and their safety and support network. (Refer to the practice guide Safety and support plans―young people frequently absent or missing.)
When a child is missing
Responding quickly and appropriately when a child is missing is vital, even if the child has only been missing for a short period. It is important that the child’s direct carer initiates action that any reasonable parent would take to secure the child’s safe and timely return.
Additional responsibilities of the CSO
When a child is missing, the CSO has the responsibility to:
- communicate with the child’s direct carer to confirm who will complete the following actions where they have not already occurred:
- alert the child’s parent’s and networks that the child is being looked for and their assistance with finding the child is being sought, unless:
- it is not reasonably practicable to do so
- it would potentially threaten the child’s safety and wellbeing
- contact the child’s school, if relevant, to gather information about the child’s attendance and other contextual information
- complete or assist in completing the Missing child checklist and make sure the QPS are provided with as much relevant information as possible about the child to complete the official missing person report
- complete the official missing person report with the QPS
- alert the child’s parent’s and networks that the child is being looked for and their assistance with finding the child is being sought, unless:
- identify factors that may increase the missing child’s level of risk or vulnerability, such as:
- medical conditions or developmental disorders
- the impact of not taking prescribed medications
- suicide risk or self-harm behaviours
- substance or alcohol misuse
- recent situational anxieties or triggers for the child. (Refer to Make a missing person report.)
- provide immediate verbal advice to the CSSC manager and/or the CSAHSC manager
- create a Missing child alert in the child’s person record in ICMS and close the alert when the child is located
- complete a critical incident report through the Critical incident report management system in line with the Critical incident report management system - guidelines for users
- provide advice to the CSAHSC about where the child will live if located after hours
- refer the matter to the SCAN coordinator, in line with the SCAN team response protocol―when a child in care is missing
- advise the OPG that a child is missing as soon as possible, and within one business day of receiving advice about a missing child. This is in line with the MOU Data Exchange and Information Sharing between State of Queensland acting through the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services (Child Safety) and The Office of the Public Guardian.
Responsibilities of the CSSC or CSAHSC manager
The CSSC manager or the CSAHSC manager will provide guidance and support to staff and make sure all actions (as required by the policy Critical incident reporting) are completed in a timely way:
- A level one type critical incident (such as abduction of a child) requires immediate verbal advice to the regional director, and the completion of a critical incident report within 4 business hours of the staff member becoming aware of the incident.
- A level two type critical incident (such as a missing child) requires a critical incident report be completed by 5pm of the next business day after the staff member becomes aware of the incident.
The CSSC manager or the CSAHSC manager will also liaise with the regional director about which information is suitable for publication. This will include the privacy provisions (including the Child Protection Act 1999, section 189) with which the direct carers need to comply.
Responsibilities of the regional director
The regional director is responsible for:
- providing advice of a level one type critical incident as soon as practical to the regional executive director
- exercising the statutory delegation to authorise the publication of information that will or is likely to identify a missing child as being subject to intervention under the Child Protection Act 1999
- responding to requests for media statements, such as an ‘Amber Alert’, and leading the development of a media strategy in consultation with the QPS and the direct carer.
Responsibilities of the Office of the Public Guardian
The OPG is required to advise Child Safety that a child is missing as soon as possible, and within 1 business day of receiving advice about a missing child.
Notification is to be provided to a RIS or the CSAHSC, unless the OPG knows Child Safety has already been informed that the child is missing.
The QPS requires a missing person report to be completed in person at the local police station. The direct carer is usually the best person to make the missing person report, regardless of how long they have known the child.
If there are circumstances that prevent the direct carer from going to the police station, they must contact the QPS to discuss an alternative process for lodging the missing person report.
Provide as much relevant information to the QPS as soon as possible to assist them in making a risk assessment and locating the missing child. The Missing child checklist must be completed to assist in providing the QPS with the information they require. (It does not replace the need to make a missing person report.)
If any information listed on the checklist is not known, provide it later. The absence of information should not delay immediate action.
The checklist can be completed online or manually. It can also be pre-populated in advance and kept in a safe place, particularly if there have been previous incidents of the child being missing.
If the direct carer completes the checklist, the CSO will review it as soon as possible and identify if there is additional information they can provide directly to the QPS. This is likely to be after the direct carer has contacted the QPS.
After making the official missing person report, the direct carer will obtain and record the following details:
- the date and time the missing person report was made
- the name of the police officer who received the missing person report
- the QPRIME number―obtained from the police officer who took the report.
As soon as practical, the direct carer must provide these details to their care service and the CSSC (or to the CSAHSC if outside business hours). The CSO will record the details in the Missing child alert in the child’s person record in ICMS.
Access ‘Our Child’ to help locate a missing child
The information in Our Child is the most recent available from:
- ICMS (Child Safety and Youth Justice)
- the Department of Education’s information system One School. (Note: if the child is not enrolled in a state school, Our Child will show education-related information from ICMS.)
- the OPG’s Jigsaw system
- Queensland Health’s client systems.
Information about a child subject to any of the following intervention types can be searched for in Our Child if the child has been reported as missing to the QPS:
- a care agreement
- a TAO, TCO or CAO―if custody is granted to the chief executive
- a child protection order granting custody or guardianship to the chief executive (including interim orders)
- a child protection order granting long-term guardianship to a suitable person
- an interstate order (if the child is in care and residing in Queensland).
Records relating to a child subject to a permanent care order cannot be accessed in Our Child.
When to access Our Child
Our Child is to be accessed by staff from the QPS and Child Safety who are involved in locating a missing child:
- only after the child has been reported to the QPS as a missing person. It is not to be accessed if a child is absent from placement but not yet reported as a missing person
- only to help locate the missing child and until the child is located.
Information available in Our Child is subject to strict confidentiality provisions under Queensland legislation and may only be accessed when it is relevant to a function that a staff member is performing under the Child Protection Act 1999.
Our Child may be accessed by CSSC or CSAHSC staff who are actively involved in locating the missing child or in managing the critical incident. Our Child will be used to gather information to assist in:
- establishing the child’s whereabouts
- determining the child’s safety and wellbeing
- ascertaining why the child may have left or not returned to the care arrangement.
When seeking access to Our Child, Child Safety staff will be asked to enter a justification for their access. The justification for access must include the user’s role in searching for the missing child and the child’s name or ICMS ID. For example:
- ‘Managing the search for John Smith 52345789W, who has been reported to the QPS as missing
- ‘Assisting in the search for John Smith 52345789W, who has been reported to the QPS as missing’.
Clients with a sensitivity plan in ICMS
Both Child Safety and the QPS can view information in Our Child about a child who has a sensitivity plan in ICMS. A sensitivity flag will appear in Our Child to indicate that the child has a sensitivity plan in ICMS.
Involvement of the mainstream media
The QPS is responsible for decisions about releasing information to the mainstream media (newspapers, television and radio) to help locate the child, including the issuing of an ‘Amber Alert’
The QPS will advise Child Safety when they issue a media release by telephoning the CSAHSC. The CSAHSC will inform the relevant CSSC.
Every effort will be made by the CSAHSC or the CSSC to advise the child’s parents or important family members that the QPS intends to release a photograph of their missing child to the media.
Release of a photograph and information about the missing child
The direct carer should, where possible, provide a clear, recent photograph of the missing child to the QPS if requested, to assist in efforts to locate the child.
If the QPS needs to release additional information with the photograph that will identify the missing child as being subject to any intervention under the Child Protection Act 1999, the QPS must seek written authorisation from the chief executive, Child Safety. The regional director and regional executive director are delegated to provide written authority in these circumstances.
Publish a photo to social media
A photo of the missing child may be published on social media by any member of the safety and support network or the QPS, as long as the child is not identified as being subject to intervention under the Child Protection Act 1999. For example:
- It is acceptable to publish a photo on Facebook with the caption ‘Johnny Smith, a member of my son's football team, is missing. Here is his photo.’ This does not and is not likely to identify him as a child in care, nor does it identify anyone else.
- It is not acceptable to publish a photo on Facebook with the caption ‘Here is a photo of Johnny Smith, a foster child I am caring for who is missing’. This identifies him as a child in care.
While the child remains missing
While the child is missing:
- Maintain regular contact with the QPS and provide additional information as requested or required.
- Continue to support the direct carer and the QPS in identifying places the child frequently goes.
- Maintain contact with the child’s family, friends and networks, including previous carers, to determine if the child has been located or to identify additional locations the child may be.
- Take other action to locate the child, such as trying to make telephone contact and leaving messages on the child’s voicemail and on other social networking sites used by the child.
- Cooperate with the QPS about media coverage, including for ‘Amber Alerts’, and in providing information to the regional director for their consideration and action.
- Assist the regional director in working with the QPS on a media strategy, which will likely include consultation with the child’s direct carer and, if appropriate, the child’s parents.
When the child is located
- Advise all members of the safety and support network who were aware the child was missing that the child has been located.
- Meet with the child within 48 hours of them being located. This may occur jointly with the QPS. The purpose of the meeting is to:
- encourage the child to talk about any difficulties they may have or are experiencing, including any adverse physical or psychological experiences
- identify if the child was ‘running away from’ or ‘running to’ someone or something
- explore any worries the child may have about their current living arrangement
- help the child to be safe and feel safe where they live.
- Meet with the safety and support network to:
- discuss the reasons the child went missing
- identify any actions needed to support the child’s safety and ongoing wellbeing and to reduce the likelihood of the child going missing again.
- Close the Missing child alert in ICMS by recording an end date for the alert.
When a child is frequently missing
If a child is frequently missing from their care arrangement, work with the child and the child’s safety and support network to develop a Safety and support plan.
The child’s safety and support network will identify:
- strategies to reduce the likelihood of the child going missing again
- actions required when the child is missing.
Partner with the child and their safety and support network to review the placement agreement, safety and support plan and the child’s case plan.
Respond when a warrant for a child is required
Determine if a warrant is needed
The decision to apply for a warrant to apprehend a child in line with the Child Protection Act 1999, sections 171–174 is appropriate if a child:
- is subject to an assessment order, TCO or child protection order granting custody or guardianship of the chief executive and an authorised officer has not been able to take the child into custody
- has been unlawfully removed from a person’s custody or guardianship under the Child Protection Act 1999
- has been lawfully removed from a person’s custody or guardianship under the Child Protection Act 1999 but has been kept after the agreed time.
In order to issue a warrant, the magistrate needs to be satisfied that one of the above circumstances applies.
Before a decision is made to apply for a warrant:
- Contact the person who has the child unlawfully in their care and:
- gather information about the child’s whereabouts and their wellbeing
- attempt to negotiate the child’s return
- explain that, by unlawfully removing the child, they are in breach of the order.
- Discuss with the senior team leader and the OCFOS lawyer whether an application for a warrant is needed.
Complete an application for a warrant
To apply for a warrant, the CSO will:
- complete a Form 27―Application for warrant for apprehension of a child, clearly stating the grounds for the application, including:
- the child’s circumstances
- the type of order the child is subject to, the child’s care arrangement and family contact arrangements
- any worries about the immediate health or wellbeing of the child, such as a diagnosed health condition
- any documents that have been provided to the person who has unlawfully removed or kept the child, for example, a copy of the order
- whether the person who has apprehended the child has participated in previous discussions about the child’s care arrangement and family contact arrangements
- attempts made to negotiate the return or recovery of the child
- arrange for the OCFOS lawyer to review the application
- swear or affirm the application.
To make the application by this means, the Childrens Court must be satisfied that the arrangement is necessary.
Duplicate the warrant if required
If the Childrens Court has issued a warrant, but a copy cannot be physically provided to the CSO or the OCFOS lawyer due to urgent or other special circumstances, the Childrens Court will inform the CSO and the OCFOS lawyer of:
- the date and time the warrant was issued
- any other terms of the warrant.
The CSO will:
- complete a blank Form 28―Warrant for apprehension of a child and include the details about the warrant provided by the Childrens Court to create a duplicate warrant
- send the completed Form 28 and Form 27 to the Childrens Court.
- Attach a copy of the warrant to the relevant event.
- Record a Child protection warrant alert on the person record of the child and the person who unlawfully removed or kept the child.
Enact the warrant
After receiving the original warrant or creating a duplicate warrant:
- Contact the local QPS to provide them with notice that a warrant is required to be enacted.
- Complete a Police referral and email the referral and a copy of the warrant to the QPS
- Liaise with the QPS to jointly execute the warrant to recover the child.
Before entering a place where the child is believed to be, the CSO will:
- Show Child Safety identification to whoever is occupying the place where the child is believed to be.
- Give the person a copy of the warrant or duplicate warrant.
- Request that the person allows access to the place where the child is.
- Explain that they and the police officer are legally authorised by the warrant to enter and search the place to find the child.
When the child is located:
- Attend to the child’s immediate safety needs and arrange medical attention if required.
- Explain to the child what is happening and what will happen next, considering their age and ability to understand.
If appropriate, complete The Immediate Story for the child to minimise unintended trauma and help the child understand:
- why the decision was made to take them
- where they are immediately going and who will care for them
- what will happen next regarding their contact with people who are important to them
- what the long-term hopes for their future are.
Take action after the serious injury of a child
In line with the memorandum of understanding between Child Safety and the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG), the CSO must advise the OPG as soon as possible, or within one business day, if information is received about serious injury to a ‘relevant child’ staying at a visitable location. (A child subject to a child protection order is included in the definition of ‘relevant child’.)
Provide the information by emailing and telephoning the relevant OPG regional visiting manager. (Refer to the OPG—Regional visiting manager contact details.)
Take action after the death of a child in care
The death of a child in care must be reported directly to the Queensland Police Service (QPS) by:
- Child Safety, if the child dies at the carer's home or another location, including the parent's home, a licensed care service or another entity
- the hospital, if the child dies in hospital.
The QPS is responsible for advising the coroner of the child's death. This includes circumstances where the death was:
- natural, due to acute or long-term illness
- unnatural, due to accident, suicide or homicide.
Make sure the parents know their rights and responsibilities
Make sure the child’s parents are aware that, upon their child’s death, the powers, duties and responsibilities granted to the chief executive or another person under the Child Protection Act 1999 cease and revert back to them as the child's parents. If one parent cannot be located, the other parent may assume responsibility for decision making.
Although parents may nominate a family member or significant other to act on their behalf in carrying out certain duties and obligations after the child’s death, only a parent can make decisions or undertake actions that require the legal consent or authority of the child's guardian.
In all matters regarding the child's death and funeral arrangements, be respectful of and sensitive to the child's cultural and religious background. Assist parents to communicate their wishes so that cultural and religious protocols and practices can be considered. This may require the engagement of an interpreter.
Implement actions after the death of a child in care
Due to the sensitivities associated with the death of a child and the complexities that may arise with the parents assuming responsibility for decisions after the child’s death (including arrangements for the child's body), the CSSC manager is responsible for:
- selecting the most appropriate Child Safety practitioner to carry out actions required after the child’s death
- making sure all necessary actions are completed.
Immediately after the child’s death:
- Take action in line with critical incident reporting processes. (Refer to the policy Critical incident reporting.)
- In communicating the child’s death to the parents and family of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child contact a local Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander support agency or Child Safety staff member able to provide cultural advice, to make sure protocols are observed.
- Make every effort to locate and inform both parents of the child's death, and support them in assuming responsibility for decisions about arrangements for the child's body and the funeral.
- Make sure the parents and carers are aware of the requirements of the Coroners Act 2003 for reportable deaths.
- Inform the parents that the coroner may decide an autopsy or inquest is required to determine the cause of death. Let them know that if this occurs, it may delay the release of the child's body for the funeral.
- Refer the parents to the coroner's office if they have any questions about the coroner's role in relation to the death.
- Make sure that hospital staff report the death to the QPS if the child dies in a hospital, or inform the QPS of the child's death yourself.
- Provide the QPS with:
- contact details for the child's parents
- contact details for the child's doctor
- details of the child's most recent care arrangement
- confirmation that the child was in care.
- Advise the QPS, medical staff and carers that the parents are responsible for decisions about arrangements for the child's body, subject to any direction by the coroner that an autopsy is required.
- Liaise with the QPS, parents and carers regarding:
- the formal identification of the body. Note—if a parent is unable to formally identify the child because they have not maintained contact with the child, the carer or a Child Safety practitioner may be required to make the identification
- the attendance of a medical doctor for the purpose of issuing a death certificate certifying the cause of death
- arrangements for transporting the child's body to the mortuary.
- Inform OCFOS of the child's death if the child was subject to current court proceedings.
- Inform Court Services of the child’s death if the child was subject to current Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) proceedings.
At an appropriate time, advise the parents and carers about Child Safety’s requirements for child death case reviews.
Within one business day of being notified of the child’s death, notify the OPG of the child’s death by emailing and telephoning the relevant regional visiting manager. (Refer to OPG—Regional visiting manager contact details.)
In deciding whether an autopsy is warranted, the coroner is required to consider the views of the parents, particularly with regard to cultural traditions or spiritual beliefs.
In circumstances where the decision to proceed with an autopsy causes distress to the parents, make sure they have access to support services. Specialist coronial counsellors are contactable at the John Tonge Centre on (07) 3274 9200.
Hospital staff may ask the parents to consider organ or tissue donation, for live transplant or other therapeutic, medical or scientific purposes. Only the parents can make this decision.
If both parents are unable to be located, or are unable or unwilling to make decisions about the care of the child’s body and funeral arrangements, the CSSC manager will immediately contact the OCFOS lawyer to discuss the requirements for an application to the Supreme Court of Queensland for an order to attend to matters relevant to the child's circumstances.
Provide support and assistance
Following the death of a child:
- Make sure the parents are provided with information about, or access to, people or services available to assist them in making relevant decisions and in dealing with their grief.
- Provide support and assistance, including grief counselling, to the child's siblings and carers and their family members.
- Encourage parents to allow carers to spend time with the deceased child, particularly if the death has occurred in hospital.
- Provide access to debriefing and support services for Child Safety staff who have been actively involved in providing services to the child prior to the child’s death.
Assist parents with the funeral arrangements
When the funeral is being arranged:
- The wishes of the parents regarding the child’s funeral arrangements are to be respected and will take precedence in all cases.
- The CSO may assist parents with making funeral arrangements, if requested.
- Siblings of the deceased child who are in care should be helped to attend the funeral, provided this is in keeping with the parents’ wishes.
- Seek the parents’ views about Child Safety staff attending the funeral.
Encourage parents to consider the involvement of carers in funeral arrangements
In circumstances where the child has been placed with carers for a significant period of time, encourage the parents to consider and involve the carers and their family members in funeral arrangements. In all cases, however, such involvement is at the parents’ discretion.
Advise carers in serious dispute with proposed funeral arrangements that they can make application to the Supreme Court of Queensland to adjudicate the matter.
If carers and significant others are unable to attend the child’s funeral, due to distance or the wishes of one or both parents, Child Safety may arrange, or assist to arrange, a memorial service to enable carers, past and present, their family members and other people to pay their respects to the child. If appropriate, advise the parents of the arrangements.
Inform parents of available financial assistance
Advise the parents that financial assistance is available from Child Safety for the costs associated with the funeral of a child in care, including for:
- transporting the child's body from the place of death to where the funeral will be held
- assistance with travel costs for family members, carers and their family members and other important people to attend the funeral, subject to the parents’ wishes.
(Refer to the procedure Child related costs—child and young person support.)
Attend to the child's belongings and personal effects
The child's parents are responsible for decisions about the handling of the child's belongings and personal effects. To facilitate this process:
- Seek the parents’ views regarding the handling of the child's belongings and personal effects, and inform the parents of any views expressed by the child about these before their death.
- Contact the carer to make arrangements to transfer the child's belongings to the parents, unless otherwise advised by the parents.
- Collect the child's belongings if located elsewhere, and give them to the parents, unless otherwise advised by the parents.
Record case information
Record all details, decisions and actions relating to the child's death and post-death care and attach relevant documentation to the child's file.
When adding information to the case file after the child’s death―about events and actions that occurred before the child’s death:
- Clearly state:
- that the information has been recorded after the child’s death
- why the information was added after the child’s death
- if the information is based on memory and not from a document.
- Attach any records, including handwritten notes relied upon in recording the information on the child’s file.
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