Standards of care
- Concerns about the standards of care
- Continuing to monitor the standards of care
- Conducting a standard of care review
- Responding to a harm report
Foster and kinship carers share a responsibility alongside other partners in care, to provide a level of care which is consistent with the statement of standards, as outlined in section 122 of the Child Protection Act 1999.
The statement of standards provides a way to measure quality care for children in care, and forms a basis for assessing whether a care environment is suitable. Application of the standards to the child's care must take into account what is reasonable having regard to:
- the length of time the child is in the care of the carer or care service, and
- the child's age and development.
The Act outlines the following 11 standards:
- the child's dignity and rights will be respected at all times
- the child's needs for physical care will be met, including adequate food, clothing and shelter
- the child will receive emotional care that allows him or her to experience being cared about and valued and that contributes to the child's positive self-regard
- the child's needs relating to his or her culture and ethnic grouping will be met
- the child's material needs relating to his or her schooling, physical and mental stimulation, recreation and general living will be met
- the child will receive education, training or employment opportunities relevant to the child's age and ability
- the child will receive positive guidance when necessary to help him or her to change inappropriate behaviour
- the child will receive dental, medical and therapeutic services necessary to meet his or her needs
- the child will be given the opportunity to participate in positive social and recreational activities appropriate to his or her developmental level and age
- the child will be encouraged to maintain family and other significant personal relationships
- if the child has a disability - the child will receive care and help appropriate to the child's special needs.
For 'g', techniques for managing the child's behaviour must not include corporal punishment or punishment that humiliates, frightens or threatens the child in a way that is likely to cause emotional harm.
For 'j', these requirements will be incorporated into the child’s case plan and placement agreement.
Should Child Safety become aware that a child’s care may not be meeting the standards of care, or they may have been harmed in their care environment, we have a responsibility to work with you and your foster and kinship care agency to ensure that the child is safe from harm, and that appropriate actions occur to resolve any concerns about the child’s care environment.
When concerns are identified
Not all concerns are the same. How Child Safety responds depends on the nature of the concerns, the possible impact on the child, and what needs to be done to address the concerns. Possible responses include:
- continuing to monitor the standards of care
- conducting a standard of care review
- investigating and assessing a harm.
This response may occur when Child Safety decides there are some worries or issues about the quality of care the child is receiving. The Child Safety Officer (CSO) and/or your agency support worker will discuss these issues with you to work out what additional assistance or support could help. This is important so that issues don’t intensify and possibly have a more significant impact on the child in your care, or you and your family. Generally most concerns can be addressed through the regular formal supports provided by your agency support staff or the child’s CSO.
Where Child Safety determines that the concerns raised indicate that one or more of the legislated standards of care may not be meeting the standards of care, a more direct assessment is required. This is called a ‘standard of care review’ (SOCR). Child Safety will:
- work in partnership with your foster and kinship care service to plan who will talk about the concerns with you, who will talk with the child, and what other information is needed
- talk to you and obtain your views about the stated concerns and, what factors contributed to that happening
- explore your experience of supporting the child, including both the challenges and achievements
- ask you about the adequacy of supports being provided to you and to the child in care, including areas of unmet need
- find out if there are additional stressors for you or the child that may be impacting on the household
- speak directly to the child and provide them with the opportunity to talk about their current care environment
- take into account the role and responsibilities of other members of the child’s safety and support network, including that of Child Safety and the foster and kinship care service
- reach an outcome about whether the standards of care for the child are met or not met, and
- advise the outcome of the SOCR.
If it is determined that the child’s care has not met the required standards, a review of the placement agreement will then be arranged. This will be led by Child Safety and will occur prior to finalising the review. Its purpose is to clarify the goals of the placement and document any additional or changed support that you and the child need. For foster carers, your Foster Carer Agreement may also be reviewed, and will be led by your Foster and Kinship Care Support agency.
In consultation with your agency, Child Safety will record a harm report when there is information to suggest that a child in your care may have been harmed, and that your actions or inactions have caused or contributed to the harm.
This is a more serious process and requires Child Safety to conduct an investigation and assessment. In some circumstances the Queensland Police Service might be involved. As part of this process, Child Safety will:
- advise your foster and kinship care agency of the concerns and seek their contribution to plan the best response to the allegations
- provide you with written information about the alleged harm
- interview you, the child, and others who may have information about the allegations
- assess whether the standards of care are being met for the child (similar to the SOCR)
- contact you if the assessment cannot be finalised within 6 weeks, to explain the delay and the anticipated timeframe to complete the assessment
- reach an outcome about whether or not the child has experienced harm or is at risk of harm; and whether the standards of care have been met or not met.
If Child Safety assesses that there is no basis to the concerns, the information will be recorded in your file, and no further action will be taken.
If it is assessed that the child’s care has not met the required standards, Child Safety will work with you and the Safety and Support Network to develop an action plan that will address the issues. If it has been assessed that a child in your care has been harmed, Child Safety will take the necessary actions to ensure the child’s safety, depending on the nature and circumstances of the harm. In some situations, the child may be removed from your care.
It is your right to have support and advocacy during standard of care reviews and investigations and assessments. The CSO will help you to identify a support person or advocate who may assist you during the process. This will ensure that your needs are looked after during this difficult time.
The child can also have a support person or advocate available to them throughout the assessment process. Refer to the Information for children section of the Resources and publications page.
A support person may be a staff member from your foster or kinship care service, a friend or family member who can provide emotional and practical support. Your support person cannot speak about the details of the concerns during the assessment process. Their role is to make sure you have an opportunity to respond to the concerns that are raised, and are treated respectfully throughout the process.
An advocate is someone who will speak, act or write on your behalf throughout the standard of care process.
Foster Care Advocacy Support Team (FAST) representatives or case officers from Queensland Foster and Kinship Care can be a support person or advocate for you, if you wish.
For more information, call Queensland Foster and Kinship Care on (07) 3256 6166.
Disagreement with decisions or actions by Child Safety
If you do not agree with a decision or action during the standard of care assessment process, you can:
- talk to your CSO or agency support worker
- talk to the child safety service centre team leader or manager, if you are not satisfied with the CSO’s response
- call Child Safety Complaints on 1800 080 464.
You can contact Queensland Foster and Kinship Care or your FAST representative for advice at any time.
You may also apply to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) for a review of a Child Safety decision to:
- remove a child from a placement
- cancel a carer’s approval as a carer.
If this applies to you, Child Safety will provide information to you in writing, about when and how to apply to QCAT for a review. For more information call QCAT on 1300 753 228.