Responding to concerns about the quality of care received by a child in a care arrangement

Standards of care

Foster and kinship carers play a significant role in caring for children who have experienced separation, trauma and disrupted attachments as a result of abuse and neglect. The majority of carers are affiliated with a foster and kinship care service, whose primary role is to meet the carers learning and development needs, provide support, and undertaking regular carer reassessments. The Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women works in partnership with foster and kinship care services to ensure that the child is safe in their care arrangement, and that appropriate actions are taken to resolve any identified concerns.

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).

Whilst carers are responsible for meeting the Standards of care for a child on a daily basis, the department and foster and kinship care services also share this responsibility by ensuring carers have adequate information, support and training to meet their obligations.

Possible responses to conerns about the quality of care received by a child in a care arrangement

Child Safety has a responsibility under the Child Protection Act 1999 to ensure that a child in a care arrangement is safe from harm and that appropriate actions are taken if:

  • it is indicated that the Standards of care may not have been met for a child, or
  • the child has experienced harm.

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, or a care service. 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  provides proactive case work and support to the child’s care arrangement for a planned period of time. This is more targeted than the routine and ongoing monitoring processes carried out by the department, foster and kinship care services and care services.
  2. Standards of care review. A Standards of care review 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 for a child have not been met, specific actions are taken so that the child’s care meets the Standards of care.
  3. Harm report. This response is 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, an adult household member or a staff member of a care service. An investigation and assessment response 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, whether the Standards of care are being met, and any actions that may be required to meet the child’s safety and care needs.

    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 or the Queensland Government website.