Concerns about the standards of care

Standards of care

Foster and kinship carers play a critical role in ensuring the care provided to children and young people meets the child’s safety, well-being and daily care needs.

Carers are required to provide a level of care that is consistent with the Standards of care as outlined in the Statement of standards (Child Protection Act 1999, section 122). For further information, refer to the Standards of Care (PDF) resource.

Whilst carers are responsible for meeting the standards of care for a child on a daily basis, the department and non-government foster and kinship care services also share this responsibility by ensuring carers have adequate information, support and training.

When concerns are raised about the child’s care environment

Sometimes, concerns may be identified about the quality of care a child is receiving in their placement or it may be alleged a carer or a member of the carer’s household may have caused harm to a child.

Where concerns are raised, the department is required to respond to this information to ensure the safety and well-being of the child and identify if there are any additional supports or services a carer may require to help them in their caring role.

Decision making about the most appropriate response to alleged concerns is made by the department following a collaborative consultation process with the foster and kinship care service supporting the carer. Other professionals may also be consulted in deciding how to most appropriately respond to concerns.

Depending on the nature of the information received, there are three possible response options to standards of care issues:

  1. Continue monitoring the standards of care. This response applies when the situation does not warrant a Standard of care review or Harm report response but proactive case work and support is needed to address the issues and prevent them from continuing or escalating into more significant concerns in the future. This response focuses on the carer, department and foster and kinship care service working together to improve the care provided to the child.
  2. Standard of care review. This response takes into account the child’s age, development and the length of time they have been in the placement. It is undertaken when the information indicates the care provided to the child may not have met the required legislated standards of care but the child has not been harmed or is not suspected to have experienced harm. 

    The review process involves a discussion about the specific standards with the carer, taking into account the child’s views and experiences in the placement and the role and responsibilities of the department and foster and kinship care service. When it is identified that the standards of care have not been met, the child’s placement agreement is reviewed and actions are identified that are required to address any issues and ensure the carer is able to meet the standards in the future.
  3. Harm report. This responseis undertaken when the information gathered indicates the child has experienced harm or it is suspected they have experienced harm through the actions or inactions of the carer or an adult household member. The investigation and assessment includes interviews with all relevant parties, including the child, to determine if the child has been harmed or if there is a risk of harm occurring in the future.

    Where it is assessed the child has experienced harm or is at risk of future harm, or where it is identified the carer has not met the standards of care, an action plan will be developed with the carer to identify what is required to ensure the child is not harmed and the standards of care will be met in the future. In some cases, it may be decided the placement is no longer appropriate for the child, the carer’s suitability needs to be reviewed or the carer is no longer suitable to be an approved carer.

 For additional information, refer to the Child Safety Practice Manual, Chapter 9, or the Foster and kinship carer handbook.