Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women

Improving care and post-care for children and young people

Care Investment Reform Initiative

The department has been reviewing its investment in placement services, to determine the effectiveness of the existing investment and provide options for future commissioning of placement services.

This has included consideration of alternative placement options recommended by the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry, such as the transfer of carers (recommendations 8.4, 8.5, 8.6), professional foster care (recommendation 8.10), boarding schools (recommendation 8.11) and therapeutic care.

The aim is to revitalise the placement service system so that it is flexible and responds to the individual needs of children and young people, including their placement needs as well as medical, educational and therapeutic requirements.

We are working with our non-government partners to deliver new and improved services. These quality services are being delivered by people and organisations that care for the safety, wellbeing and best interests of children and young people. The department is engaging with placement service providers to determine the effectiveness of existing investment and develop strategies for future investment.

An investment framework is being developed to guide future investment, and identify the outcomes, benefits and performance measures that would best support the placement needs of children and young people.

Expanding family-based care for children with complex needs

Foster and kinship care is the preferred option for caring for children who are unable to live with their own families. For children with complex and extreme emotional and behavioural support needs more specialised services and support are necessary for their care.

Specialist therapeutic family based care aims to help children who have experienced and are impacted by trauma, and offers an alternative placement option to residential or non-family based care. It allows children to have stable placements, receive the right care and support to achieve better life outcomes, and be returned to long-term family-based care or reunified with their families.

As part of the strengthening of family based care, the department is considering a range of specialist family-based care options for children to receive therapeutic or specialist support within a family environment.

New specialist family-based care services will also be considered as an alternative care option for sibling groups, children with disability, high medical needs or requiring specialised behaviour support, or who would otherwise be placed in a non-family based placement.

One example is the trial of Treatment Foster Care Oregon in South West Region. Funding of $3 million over 2 years has been provided to trial this evidence-based specialist family-based care model for up to 14 children under 12 years old and currently living in residential care.

Care Outcomes Framework

Placement services are a key component of the child protection service system to enable children and young people to reach their full potential, regardless of their situations.

The department is working in partnership with placement service providers to build a more robust care system that focuses on achieving meaningful outcomes for children and young people in care.

To guide the collaborative approach between government and non-government services, an Outcomes Framework has been developed to establish a foundation in caring for children and meeting their placement needs including medical, educational and therapeutic requirements.

The framework aims to:

  • establish a shared vision in identifying and measuring outcomes for children in care
  • promote integrated and coordinated responses to the needs of children in care.
  • recognise the diversity and uniqueness of children’s needs in care.

 The framework is structured around five domains for achieving or improving life outcomes for children and young people:

  • Safe and nurtured — children and young people feel cared for and nurtured in stable environments, safe from abuse, neglect, violence and harm.
  • Connected — children and young people are positively connected to family, culture and community and have a sense of identity and belonging.
  • Achieving — children and young people attend and engage in their education, meet developmental milestones, engage in and benefit from recreational activities and develop independence and life skills.
  • Healthy — children and young people are physically, emotionally and mentally healthy and lead an active and healthy lifestyle.
  • Resilient — children and young people feel confident and have social skills, coping skills and the ability to manage adversity.

The department is working with placement service providers on how their everyday work with children and young people aligns to the framework. This action learning approach will enable services to test and refine the measures for ongoing quality improvement.

Better support for foster and kinship carers

In response to the recommendations of the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry, the department is transferring the management of foster and kinship care services to the non-government sector.

Funding of $4.25 million over two years will enable foster and kinship carers to access better support to care for children with complex needs, receive practical and specialist training and respite care.

The transfer of foster and kinship carer services has been undertaken in three phases. The final phase, in North Queensland in currently underway.

Improving residential care services for children and young people

The Hope and Healing Framework aims to improve the quality of residential or non-family based care provided to children and young people across Queensland.

The framework provides residential care staff with a new way of working with children and young people who require trauma-related therapeutic support.

The department has contracted PeakCare to work with the residential care service sector including supported independent living services and Safe Houses, to implement the new framework. This includes:

  • facilitating regional workshops to map out strategies for implementation
  • establishing working groups to guide and support residential care services in adopting the new framework
  • conducting an audit of current training, learning and professional development activities across the residential care sector to inform the development of new foundational training modules
  • developing training materials and resources
  • liaising with TAFE Queensland to link training modules to qualification programming
  • monitoring, reviewing and evaluating ongoing training and professional development.

The Hope and Healing Framework will be fully implemented across the residential care sector by December 2018.

New Minimum Qualifications Standards for residential care workers

From 1 July 2018, the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women (DCSYW) will work with PeakCare Queensland Incorporated to begin phasing in new standards outlining the minimum qualification expectation for all residential care staff working in Queensland.   An implementation strategy will be developed with PeakCare and current service providers.

The standards will take effect from 1 July 2018, with a six month grace period while the Department and PeakCare work through transition issues with service providers.

Minimum Qualification Standards

New staff employed from 1 July 2018 must:

  • hold or be working towards obtaining a recognised relevant qualification prior to commencing direct work with children and young people

New staff employed from 1 July 2019 must:

  • hold or be working towards obtaining a recognised relevant qualification prior to commencing direct work with children and young people and
  • complete the online Hope and Healing Framework Foundations Training prior to commencing unsupervised, direct work with children and young people

Existing staff (employed prior to 1 July 2018) must:

  • complete the online Hope and Healing Framework Foundations Training by 31 March 2019 and
  • hold or be working towards obtaining a recognised relevant qualification by 31 December 2019

The Minimum Qualification Standard Information Sheet outlines further detail, including a list of the recognised qualifications.

Implementation of the Hope and Healing Framework and the new Minimum Qualification Standards delivers on the recommendation of the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry to improve life outcomes for children and young people living in residential care facilities.

The Queensland Government is committed to providing services that better support the safety, wellbeing and best interests of Queensland’s most at-risk children and young people.

Where there are no acceptable alternatives, children and young people will be taken into care, and protected and cared for. In care, they will receive the support they need to enjoy their childhood, feel safe and cared for, and develop into adulthood.

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Helping with the cost of early childhood education and care

The department is providing funding for a new early childhood education and care participation initiative (PDF, 360 KB) early childhood education and care participation initiative (DOCX, 24 KB)to ensure children in out-of-home care have the same early educational opportunities as other children.

This initiative provides foster and kinship carers with financial assistance to help meet the cost of early childhood education and care. This new payment is in addition to support payments provided by the department to meet child related costs and does not place a cap on the level of support that carers can receive to meet the cost of early childhood education and care.

From 1 July 2017, foster and kinship carers will receive a minimum gap cost payment of at least $40 for each week (at least $2000 per year) a child in their care attends an approved early childhood education and care program.

Foster carers are encouraged to talk to their Child Safety Officers about eligibility for the new payment.

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Care2Achieve: scholarships for young women leaving care

The Queensland Government is committed to supporting young people who are transitioning from care to independence to ensure they have every opportunity to achieve their full potential.

The Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women has invested $1.2 million in a new scholarship scheme, called Care2Achieve: scholarships for young women leaving care, to be delivered by The Smith Family over the next five years.

Two intakes of young women who are leaving care have been provided the opportunity to receive scholarships to further their studies in their field of choice, commencing from January 2017.

The scholarship scheme enables young women undertaking university studies to receive $3500 in their first year and $2500 for subsequent years. Young women studying at TAFE will receive $2500 for their first year and $1500 for subsequent years.

They will also receive mentoring, coaching and support to establish connections and networks with future potential employers.

Scholarships will continue for up to four years or until the completion of the chosen educational program.

The Smith Family has been successfully delivering a similar program for vulnerable young Queenslanders, called Learning for Life, which is achieving strong outcomes for vulnerable young Queenslanders.

For more information about Care2Achieve: scholarships for young women leaving care, go to The Smith Family website.

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Permanent care for children and young people

All children and young people deserve to live in a safe and supportive home where they are valued and cared for.

In building a new child protection and family support system in Queensland, the department is working to reduce the number of children and young people in the tertiary system.

My Home is a new care option for children who need long-term care and where reunification with family is no longer possible.

Couples who have been assessed by the department as suitable adoptive parents, or who have committed to an adoption assessment, can become permanent foster carers and provide a loving, nurturing and stable home where the child is considered as a member of their family.

Children under six years of age and subject to Child Protection Orders until they are 18 years old (or a decision has been made to apply for a Child Protection Order until they are 18 years old) will be placed with suitable permanent foster carers.

My Home also enables the department to consider whether the permanent foster carers will be the child's legal guardians under a Long-Term Guardianship Order to the carers. This allows the child to have the security and stability of living permanently with a family, without ongoing intensive involvement from the department.

Providing a permanent, stable home life allows children to form trusting and secure attachments to their carers, and feel a sense of belonging with family and community.

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Strengthening support for young people when they leave care

Next Step After Care

We are working with our non-government partners to deliver improved services for young people as they transition from statutory care to live as independent adults.

Targeted after-care support services, known as Next Step After Care, are available for young people up to 21 years old who have transitioned from care, and who need help.

Next Step After Care offers young people two types of service:

  • A statewide connections program that young people can access 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Tailored individual support in seven regions across Queensland.

Young people can access the Next Step After Care statewide service by calling or texting 1800 NextStep (1800 639 878), or by visiting the Next Step After Care website. This service is delivered by Life Without Barriers in partnership with Uniting Care Community and the CREATE Foundation.

New localised services have been established across Queensland to provide individual and tailored support to young people, particularly those with complex or multiple needs and who require face-to-face individual support. These services will be provided by:

  • Life Without Barriers in North Queensland, Central Queensland (excluding South Burnett), Brisbane, South West Queensland and South East Queensland
  • South Burnett CTC in South Burnett, with a strong cultural focus
  • Integrated Family and Youth Services on the North Coast
  • Youth Empowered Towards Independence, in partnership with Youth Link and Wuchopperen Health Services in Far North Queensland (including Cairns, Cape York Peninsula and the Torres Strait Islands).

These services will work with young people to develop their educational opportunities and job-ready skills, strengthen their self-reliance and independent living skills, and enable them to acquire and maintain stable and suitable accommodation.

Not all young people who have left care will require assistance, but for those who need help, the Queensland Government is committed to ensuring they receive the support they need.

Find out more about Next Step After Care or find the nearest service.

 

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Is your feedback

Please submit your comments on the department's Compliments and Complaints section.

Please submit your comments on the Queensland Government website Contacts form.