2. Consult with OCFOS and make a referral to DCPL

Whenever an assessment is made that a child protection order is required to ensure the child’s safety, belonging and wellbeing, a recommendation about the appropriate order must reflect the needs of the child and family and the case plan goal, either:

  • the child is to remain safely in the home
  • reunification
  • long-term stable living arrangements.

The types of child protection orders available for ongoing intervention are:

  • a directive order
  • a supervision order
  • short-term custody order - to a member of the child's family or the chief executive
  • short-term guardianship order - to the chief executive
  • long-term guardianship order - to a suitable member of the child's family or to a suitable person or to the chief executive.

A directive or supervision order may be appropriate where the child is able to safely remain in the home. Under these orders, parents retain all custody and guardianship decision-making responsibilities for the child.

Short-term orders may be appropriate when the case plan goal is reunification of a child with their family.

Long-term orders may be appropriate when it has been assessed in the course of working with the child and family that the child is not able to be safely reunified with the parents within a timeframe appropriate to the child’s age and circumstances, and that the child's need for safety, belonging and wellbeing will be met through long-term care - refer to 2.6 Recommend a application for a long-term guardianship order and 2.7 Recommend an application for a permanent care order.

The Childrens Court may make any one or more of these orders concurrently, for example, both a short-term custody order and a directive order (Child Protection Act 1999, section 61).

A new assessment about what type of child protection order will best respond to the child’s safety, belonging and wellbeing needs will also be required when:

  • an existing order is due to expire
  • the review of the case plan indicates that the existing order:
    • is now a more intrusive level of intervention than is required
    • has failed to keep the child safe from harm or risk of harm and a new order is required
  • an existing order has been extended more than once or the child's longer-term need for permanency and stability must be considered
  • a suitable person granted the long-term guardianship of a child is no longer able or willing to meet guardianship responsibilities for the child - for further information, refer to 1. What if the child has a long-term guardian?

In all cases, ensure the duration of a child protection order being recommended is warranted in the circumstances, based on an assessment of the time required to resolve the child's safety, belonging and well-being needs. The senior team leader is delegated to make the decision about the type and duration of the child protection order, in consultation with OCFOS. OCFOS will then complete a referral to the DCPL. The DCPL will then decide whether to apply for a child protection order, including the type and duration of the order. For further information, refer to Working with OCFOS and the DCPL.

In circumstances where an application has been made for a child protection order, and there is an existing order granting custody of the child to the chief executive or a member of the child’s family, or guardianship of the child to the chief executive, the existing order continues until the application is decided, unless the Childrens Court orders an earlier end to the order (Child Protection Act 1999, section 99). The Children’s Court also has the power to make interim orders on adjournment (Child Protection Act 1999, section 67). Other interim orders can be made such as directing a parent’s contact with their child, while the existing order continues.

A change to the type of order recommended or applied for may be required when an assessment indicates the child’s safety needs have changed. Discuss with OCFOS and negotiate with the DCPL in these circumstances.

2.1 General factors informing a recommendation about the type of order

When considering the most appropriate child protection order, consider:

  • the views of the child and the child's family
  • for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child: 
    • the long-term effect of the decision on the child’s identity and connection with their family and community
    • the five elements of the child placement principle - for further information regarding the child placement principle refer to 10.1 Decision-making about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children
    • whether an independent person has helped facilitate the child and family’s participation in the decision
  • the outcomes of previous intervention including the family's engagement with Child Safety and other service providers
  • the level of intervention required to ensure the child’s safety, belonging and wellbeing
  • the principles for achieving permanency for a child, including whether the order promotes relational, physical and legal permanency
  • whether the child can safely remain in the home or requires out-of-home care
  • the goal of ongoing intervention - whether to support the child in the home, reunify the child and family prepare for an alternative permanency option for the child
  • the length of time reasonably needed for the family and Child Safety to work towards meeting the child's case plan goals.

To assist with the decision-making process, refer to the practice paper Permanency planning (PDF).

Individual and family circumstances relating to each child will also inform the decision-making process, including:

  • whether the child needs protection from one or both parents
  • whether the child's contact with one or both parents needs to be restricted for safety reasons
  • whether one parent, with support from relatives and other safety and support network members, may be able to assume a protective role with the child
  • the relationship between the parents, their level of involvement with the child and their ability and willingness to be involved with case planning and when relevant, implementation of the case plan actions
  • who will require custody and guardianship of the child for the duration of ongoing intervention - for further information, refer to Chapter 5, 3.1 Determine who may decide a custody or guardianship matter.

Given the significance of this decision, consider referring the matter to a practice panel to ensure an objective, balanced assessment is applied. For further information, refer to the Practice resource: Practice panel guide (PDF, 436 KB) Practice resource: Practice panel guide (DOCX, 57 KB).

Having considered the general factors above about the goal of intervention by Child Safety and whether a care placement is required, refer to the considerations unique to each order type, as follows:

Following the assessment about the most appropriate child protection order, provide ongoing intervention in accordance with Chapter 4. Case planning and, where applicable, Chapter 5. Children in care.

2.2 Recommend an application for a directive order

There are two types of directive orders:

  • an order directing a parent of a child to do, or refrain from doing, something directly related to the child's protection - Child Protection Act 1999, section 61(a)
  • an order directing a parent not to have contact, direct or indirect, either:
    • with the child
    • with the child, other than when a stated person or a person of a stated category is present - Child Protection Act 1999, section 61(b).

A directive order may also be recommended for in conjunction with a supervision order or another child protection order, if required. In limited circumstances, a child may be subject to both a directive order and intervention with parental agreement.

Directive order about parental actions - section 61(a)

Recommend for a directive order about parental actions when all of the following circumstances apply:

  • the parents will not take the action, or cease the action, on a voluntary basis
  • the child can safely remain at home, as long as the parents take certain actions or cease certain actions - where applicable, this consideration will be informed by the most recent safety assessment
  • the action is able to be clearly defined, and what is required of parents is easily understood by the parents
  • a specific order is able to be made by the court
  • failure on the parents part to keep to the directives of the order, will not place the child at unacceptable risk of harm
  • the parents are likely to adhere to the recommended order.

Ensure that the recommended directive is specific, not general - for example, 'ensure the child attends school every school day', rather than 'ensure proper schooling', or 'take the child to the hospital clinic for treatment every Thursday', rather than 'provide adequate medical care'. If the order needs to be general, a supervision order is more appropriate - refer to 2.3 Recommend a supervision order.

Directive order about parental contact - section 61(b)

Recommend a directive order which directs the parent not to have contact, direct or indirect, with the child, or to only have contact, when a stated person or a person of a stated category is present, when any one of the following circumstances apply:

  • the child could remain at home with a protective parent if the parent to whom the child protection concerns apply was prevented, or restricted, from contact
  • a protective parent consents to the child being cared for by another person, for example, with relatives, and the parent to whom the child protection concerns apply was prevented, or restricted, from contact
  • there is a Family Court of Australia parenting order which needs to be overridden for child protection reasons, allowing the protective parent to apply for variation of the Family Court of Australia order
  • there is a need to prevent a parent from harassing the child in a significantly harmful way, for example, telephone threats, and prosecution may be required to enforce the contact order - in this case, the order may be made in conjunction with any other child protection order
  • the child's safety could be secured through the supervision of the parent to whom the child protection concerns apply, and there is a person assessed as able and willing to provide the supervision.

It is not appropriate to use a directive order about parental contact:

  • to effectively deny both parents contact - when this is required, a custody order is more appropriate, as someone still has to exercise custody or guardianship over the child
  • when the child is living with their only parent - the order should not be used in a way which would leave the child 'at home alone'
  • in a way which would effectively deny someone entry to their own home, except on a very temporary basis.

Supervision of parental contact could range from contact visits to someone moving into the home temporarily, to ensure the child is not left alone with the parent to whom the child protection concerns apply. The supervising person must, however, be aware of the proposed order and voluntarily agree to their role in supervising the parent.

Where a directive order is sought and granted, ensure that the child's case plan clearly specifies how the directive order will be implemented and monitored.

Note: A court may impose penalties on a child's parent who knowingly contravenes a directive order regarding contact.

Advice to parents

Once the order has been made, in accordance with the Child Protection Act 1999, section 63, DCPL will provide the parents with a copy of the order and a written notice explaining the terms of the order and their right to appeal against the decision to make the order.

Duration of the order

A directive order must not be for more than one year (Child Protection Act 1999, section 62(2)).

2.3 Recommend an application for a supervision order

A supervision order requires the chief executive to supervise the child's protection, with respect to the matters stated in the order (Child Protection Act 1999, section 61(c)). A supervision order may be applied for in conjunction with a directive order (Child Protection Act 1999, section 61(a)).

Recommend a supervision order when all of the following circumstances apply:

  • the child is in need of protection but supervision and direction by Child Safety will enable:
    • the child to safely remain at home
    • Child Safety to monitor the situation to ensure the matters specified in the order are addressed by the parents
  • it is possible to specify the areas relating to the child's care which are to be supervised by the department
  • failure on the parents part to comply with Child Safety requirements will not place the child at immediate risk of harm
  • the intervention needed, with the child residing in the home, will not be accepted by the parents on a voluntary basis
  • it is appropriate for the parents to retain their custody and guardianship rights and responsibilities.

Ensure that the child's case plan clearly specifies how the supervision order will be implemented and monitored.

Advice to parents

Once the order has been made, in accordance with the Child Protection Act 1999, section 63, DCPL will provide the parents with a copy of the order and a written notice explaining the terms of the order and their right to appeal against the decision to make the order.

In accordance with the Child Protection Act 1999, section 78, Child Safety may provide written notice to parents, using Letter to parent regarding a supervision order (section 78), directing them to do, or refrain from doing something, specific to the order. Where the parents believe that the written directions given by Child Safety do not specifically relate to the supervision matters in the order, the parent is able to seek external review by QCAT.

Duration of the order

A supervision order must not be for more than one year (Child Protection Act 1999, section 62(2)).

2.4 Recommend an application for a short-term custody order

A short-term custody order grants custody to either:

  • a suitable person, other than a parent of the child, who is a member of the child's family
  • the chief executive.

Short-term custody to a member of the child's family - section 61(d)(i)

Recommend an order granting short-term custody to a suitable member of the child's family, when all of the following circumstances apply:

  • the child cannot be safely left at home using a lesser order - where applicable, this consideration will be informed by the most recent safety assessment
  • Chld Safety is working towards the reunification of the child and family
  • there is an appropriate relative able and willing to assume short-term custody for the purpose of protecting the child and work with Child Safety in planning for the child to return to the care of the parents
  • there is no significant conflict between the parents and the relatives, and the relatives will facilitate appropriate family contact between the child and parents
  • it is not necessary to impose a 'no contact' decision on a parent
  • the member of the child's family is able and willing to assume full financial responsibility for the care of the child.

If there is uncertainty about one of the above factors, for example, the ability of the relatives to ensure positive family contact between the child and parents, it may be appropriate to recommend an order granting custody to the chief executive but still place the child with the relatives.

A child subject to an order granting short-term custody to a member of a child’s family is not placed under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 82(1), therefore Child Safety does not provide financial support for the child’s care. If the member of the child’s family cannot assume full financial responsibility, an order granting short-term custody to the chief executive may be more appropriate.

It is a key responsibility of the relative to whom this order is made to work closely with Child Safety. This includes allowing the CSO to have contact with the child and actively working towards the outcomes developed in the child’s case plan. If there are concerns about the safety of the child in the relative’s care, after the order granting short-term custody to a member of the child’s family is made, Child Safety will need to consider a new referral to DCPL via OCFOS for a variation or revocation of the order

If it is necessary to restrict a parent from all contact with the child, or to actively remove guardianship from a parent due to the very serious nature of the harm,recommend an order granting short-term guardianship to the chief executive - refer to 2.5 Recommend a short-term guardianship order.

Short-term custody to the chief executive - section 61(d)(ii)

Recommend an order granting short-term custody to the chief executive, when all of the following circumstances apply:

  • the child cannot remain safely in the home using a lesser order or intervention - where applicable, this consideration will be informed by the most recent safety assessment
  • Child Safety is working towards the reunification of the child and family
  • it is not necessary to impose a complete 'no contact' decision on a parent
  • it is not possible or appropriate to make the short-term custody order in favour of a relative.

If it is necessary to restrict a parent from all contact with the child or to actively remove guardianship from a parent due to the very serious nature of the harm, recommend an order granting short-term guardianship to chief executive - refer to 2.5 Recommend a short-term guardianship order.

Note: Guardianship cannot be removed from just one parent and not the other.

Advice to parents

Once the order has been made, in accordance with the Child Protection Act 1999, section 63, provide the parents with a copy of the order and a written notice explaining the terms of the order and their right to appeal against the decision to make the order.

Duration of the order

A short-term custody order must not be for more than two years (Child Protection Act 1999, section 62(2)(b)).

2.5 Recommend an application for a short-term guardianship order

Under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 62(2)(b), a short-term guardianship order can only be made in favour of the chief executive. It is always preferable for parents to retain guardianship unless there are reasons, as outlined below, why this is not considered to be in the child's best interests.

Recommend an order granting short-term guardianship to the chief executive, when:

  • the child cannot remain safely in the home using a lesser order or intervention - where applicable, this consideration will be informed by the most recent safety assessment, and
  • Child Safety is working towards the reunification of the child with the family, and one of the following circumstances apply:
    • there is no available parent to exercise guardianship and be involved in case planning, or the parents availability is erratic
    • it is necessary to actively remove guardianship from the parents, due to the very serious nature of the harm, or because the parents current incapacity to exercise guardianship is causing harm to the child
    • it is assessed that the parent will fail to make appropriate guardianship decisions, such as schooling and health care, and therefore it is in the child's interests for guardianship to be vested in the chief executive.

Advice to parents

Once the order has been made, in accordance with the Child Protection Act 1999, section 63, DCPL will provide the parents with a copy of the order and a written notice explaining the terms of the order and their right to appeal against the decision to make the order.

Duration of the order

A short-term guardianship order must not be for more than two years (Child Protection Act 1999, section 62(2)).

Limitation on timeframes for short-term custody or guardianship orders

Short-term child protection orders (granting custody or guardianship to the chief executive) cannot extend beyond a total period of two years from when the first order was made. However, in exceptional circumstances, the court may make a further short-term order where it is satisfied that it is in the best interests of the child and reunification with the parents is reasonably achievable in a stated timeframe.

The two year timeframe may include one or more consecutive child protection orders. For example, if a child has been subject to a short-term order for 12 months, a further order can only be made for a maximum of 12 months (two years in total). The two year period does not include interim orders that were in place before the first order was finalised, but does include interim orders that were in place before the second order was finalised. These time frames include orders made under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 99.

2.6 Recommend an application for a long-term guardianship order

In most circumstances, a recommendation about seeking a long-term guardianship order will occur after a period of case planning and active intervention with the family, to resolve the child's safety, belonging and wellbeing needs. The outcome of the family reunification assessment, and the assessment and recommendation made by a practice panel will guide this decision - refer to Chapter 4, 5.3 Assess whether reunification can occur.

Once an assessment is made to prepare for an alternative permanency option, it is not appropriate for a child to remain on a short-term custody or short-term guardianship order.

When it is assessed that a child protection order is required to facilitate the most appropriate long-term stable living arrangement, consult with OCFOS and where there is agreement, make a recommendation to OCFOS for a child protection order granting long-term guardianship. An assessment will be undertaken, prior to the application to the Childrens Court, to determine the most appropriate guardianship order for the child.

A long-term guardianship order grants guardianship to either:

  • a suitable family member, other than a parent of the child (Child Protection Act 1999, section 61(f)(i))
  • another suitable person nominated by Child Safety, for example, a foster carer or a kinship carer who is not a family member (Child Protection Act 1999, section 61(f)(ii))
  • the chief executive (Child Protection Act 1999, section 61(f)(iii)).

The Childrens Court can only grant a long-term guardianship order to a suitable person, who is not a member of the child's family, if both of the following apply:

  • the child is already in the custody or guardianship of the chief executive under a child protection order
  • the proposed long-term guardian is nominated by the chief executive.

The Childrens Court must not grant long-term guardianship of a child to the chief executive if the court can properly grant guardianship to another suitable person (Child Protection Act 1999, section 59(7)(b)).

For the purpose of this procedure, unless otherwise specified, the term suitable person includes a family member, a kinship carer who is not a family member or a foster carer.

Guardianship to a suitable family member or another suitable person

The granting of a long-term guardianship order to a suitable person is a means of providing a child with a permanent care arrangement, where the long-term guardian provides direct care for the child for the duration of the order or until the child leaves the long-term guardian's direct care to live as an independent adult. Further, the child continues to be part of the long-term guardian's family for the rest of their life.

The granting of the order in favour of the suitable person provides the long-term guardian with:

  • the right to care for the child on a daily basis
  • the right and responsibility to make decisions about the child's daily care
  • all the powers, rights and responsibilities in relation to the child that would otherwise have been vested in the person having parental responsibility for making decisions about the long-term care, welfare and development of the child.

In addition to the above rights and responsibilities, the granting of the order in favour of the suitable person places certain legal obligations on the long-term guardian for the duration of the order, including:

  • telling the child's parents where the child is living, giving them information about the child's care and providing opportunity for contact between the child and the child's parents and appropriate members of the child's family as often as is appropriate in the circumstances, unless an exception to some or all of these requirements has been ordered by the Childrens Court (Child Protection Act 1999, section 80(1) and (2))
  • allowing Child Safety to have contact with the child at least once every twelve months, to enable Child Safety to give the child an opportunity to make comments or queries about, or ask for a review of, their case plan (Child Protection Act 1999, section 51VA)
  • immediately notifying Child Safety in writing, should the child no longer reside in the long-term guardians direct care - written advice is also to include the child's current whereabouts, if known to the long-term guardian (Child Protection Act 1999, section 80A).

Guardianship to the chief executive

If long-term guardianship is being considered, and there is no suitable person able and willing to accept guardianship of the child, a long-term order granting guardianship to the chief executive will be recommended as the appropriate order.

Following the making of an order granting long-term guardianship to the chief executive, the child continues to be:

Complete an assessment to decide the appropriate long-term guardianship order

Following a decision to cease reunification and to recommend a long-term child protection order, an assessment is required to decide the most appropriate long-term guardianship order for the child. Undertake the assessment as part of the process for reviewing and revising the case plan, or alternatively, include the assessment as a required action in the revised case plan.

The revised case plan will be submitted to the DCPL upon an application for an order granting long-term guardianship to a suitable person. The revised case plan must incorporate key items specific to the proposed order - refer to Chapter 4, 3.3 Develop key items in the case plan - application for long-term guardianship to a suitable person.

Consult the family of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child

When the child is Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, and a suitable long-term care arrangement has been recommended, consult the child and family about potential, suitable family or community members who may be able to assume guardianship of the child.

The child and family must be provided, during the assessment process, with an opportunity to:

  • meaningfully participate in the assessment and decision-making process about the most appropriate long-term guardianship order, for example, by participating in a family-led decision-making process
  • have an independent person help facilitate the child’s and family’s participation.

Complete the 'Independent entity' form in ICMS. For further information about responsibilities relating to decision-making for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child, refer to Chapter 10.1 -Decision-making about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Obtain the views of the child wherever possible

Where a child is of an age and has the ability to understand the long-term guardianship assessment and decision-making process, the child must be provided with an opportunity to participate in the decision-making process and to contribute their views, regarding both:

  • which order should be recommended
  • how the child's carers have responded to the child's needs to date, and if the child has any concerns about their carers continuing to meet these needs should the carers be granted guardianship, particularly in relation to their carers:
    • providing opportunities for ongoing family contact with parents and family or community members
    • keeping the child's parents informed about the child's care and where the child is living.

For information about engaging children in the decisions that affect their lives, refer to the practice resource Participation of children and young people in decision-making (PDF, 342 KB), the Children and young people's participation strategy and 10.1 Decision-making about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Undertake the assessment

To undertake the assessment, refer to the practice resources Long-term guardianship - assessment factors (PDF, 45 KB) and Responsibilities - long-term guardians, and take into account:

  • the information gathered through interviews with the child, parents and carers
  • the views of Child Safety officers (for example, PSU staff), or the staff of foster and kinship care services, including Indigenous foster and kinship care services (where applicable), whose role (to date) has included:
    • monitoring, support or renewal of approval responsibilities associated with the proposed suitable persons
    • facilitating actions to implement the case plan, and providing support and monitoring progress towards the case plan goal and outcomes
    • all relevant information from Child Safety records
  • whether the application requires submissions to restrict the provision of information to, or contact with, parents and other family members (Child Protection Act 1999, section 80)
  • any supports that may be required to maintain the stability of the proposed long-term guardianship care arrangement - refer to the practice resource Program of supports - long-term guardians.

Where the assessment identifies or is likely to identify complex or sensitive issues, always consult the senior team leader, senior practitioner or CSSC manager. This is necessary to ensure that any potential complexities associated with the assessment, or the final recommendation about the most appropriate order, are evaluated.

Assess the appropriateness of long-term guardianship to a suitable person

If long-term guardianship is being considered, and a suitable person is able and willing to assume guardianship of the child, the Childrens Court can only grant guardianship to that person and not the chief executive (Child Protection Act 1999, section 59(7)(b)).

If there is any uncertainty about the potential suitable persons' ability and willingness to fulfil their guardianship obligations, it may be more appropriate to recommend an order granting long-term guardianship to the chief executive (with the child remaining in a placement with the carers). For further information, refer to the practice resource Long-term guardianship - assessment factors (PDF, 45 KB).

Undertake assessment interviews

When considering long-term guardianship to a suitable person:

  • organise separate meetings with the child (having regard to their age, ability to understand and level of maturity), their parents and the potential suitable persons
  • as part of these meetings, provide:
  • discuss the information contained in the above resources with the child, their parents and the potential suitable persons and:
    • clarify their understanding of the full implications of the making of a long-term guardianship order to a suitable person
    • respond to any concerns or questions raised about an order granting long-term guardianship to a suitable person
    • direct the discussions to enable full consideration of the child, family and carer factors underpinning the assessment as to the most appropriate guardianship order for the child - refer to the practice resource Long-term guardianship - assessment factors (PDF, 45 KB)
  • if applicable, discuss any matters or considerations which suggest that an order granting long-term guardianship to the chief executive may be the more appropriate long-term guardianship order for the child - for further information, refer to the practice resources Long-term guardianship - assessment factors (PDF, 45 KB) and Long-term guardianship orders - a comparison
  • negotiate with the potential suitable persons, if eligible, what financial supports will continue to be provided (pending approval by the CSSC manager) following the making of the long-term guardianship order - refer to the Supporting children in the care of long-term guardians (PDF) policy and the practice resource Program of supports - long-term guardians
  • clarify (prior to completing the assessment and recommending the most appropriate order) the CSSC managers likely approval of any proposed ongoing financial supports, and inform the potential suitable person of the outcome
  • in legal consultation with OCFOS, determine whether to include in the referral to DCPL a recommendation that the application should require provisions that restrict the provision of information to, or contact with, parents and other family members - refer below to ‘Other assessment considerations’
  • assess the likelihood that the potential suitable persons will fulfil all of their guardianship obligations, for the duration of the order or until the child leaves home to live as an independent adult
  • include discussions about the information and likely recommendation to be included in the Assessment report - long-term guardianship to a suitable person.

Other assessment considerations

In circumstances where the potential suitable person’s compliance with their obligations under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 80(1), as outlined above in ‘Guardianship to a suitable person’, would constitute a significant risk to the safety of the child or anyone else with whom the child is living, either:

  • recommend to OCFOS that the referral to DCPL should recommend, upon applying for the child protection order, the Childrens Court make an order (Child Protection Act 1999, section 80(2)), that all or part of the requirements, either:
    • do not apply
    • apply with stated modifications
    • apply to a stated extent
    • recommend an order granting long-term guardianship to the chief executive.

For further information, refer to the practice resource Long-term guardianship - assessment factors (PDF, 45 KB).

If a child in custody or guardianship of the chief executive will require 'planned' respite following the making of a long-term guardianship order, and the potential long-term guardians have no-one within their existing support network to provide respite as a private arrangement, it may be appropriate to recommend an order granting long-term guardianship to the chief executive. A child subject to long-term guardianship to a suitable person is only eligible for 'emergent' respite through Child Safety, not planned respite.

If a child has a disability, and will require planned respite following the making of a long-term guardianship order, the child may be able to access this support through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) (refer to NDIS information for Child Safety staff).

For further information, refer to the Dual payment of carer allowances (PDF) policy and the practice resource Long-term guardianship - assessment factors (PDF, 45 KB).

Long-term guardianship to a suitable family member will not be appropriate if a family member who has short-term custody of a child under a child protection order is unable to assume full financial responsibility for the child on a long-term basis. In this circumstance, recommend an order granting long-term guardianship to the chief executive. For further information, refer to the practice resource Long-term guardianship - assessment factors (PDF, 45 KB).

Consider whether the potential suitable persons are likely to move interstate at any stage following the making of the long-term guardianship order, as an order granting long-term guardianship to a suitable person is unable to be transferred interstate. In this circumstance, the order would need to be registered with the Family Court of Australia, if it is to be enforceable. Should this issue arise during the assessment of the potential suitable persons, consult the Queensland Interstate Liaison Officer (ILO), at Court Services.

Recommend long-term guardianship to the chief executive

The Childrens Court will only grant long-term guardianship to the chief executive if the court cannot properly grant guardianship to another suitable person (Child Protection Act 1999, section 59(7)(b)).

A long-term order granting guardianship to the chief executive will be recommended as the appropriate order, where:

  • the child's carers indicate they are not able or willing to assume long-term guardianship of the child
  • the child's carers indicate a preparedness to assume long-term guardianship, however, Child Safety's assessment indicates that the carers are not, or may not be, able and willing to assume all guardianship responsibilities for the duration of the order
  • it is assessed that while the carers may be considered willing to assume guardianship, an order granting long-term guardianship to suitable persons is not considered to be in the best interests of the child - for further information, refer to the practice resource Long-term guardianship - assessment factors (PDF, 45 KB).

If guardianship to the chief executive is being considered, discuss with the child, parents and carers the implications of making this order, for example, Child Safety will no longer work towards reunification and the child will continue to be subject to the cycle of assessment, planning, implementation and review - for further information, refer to the practice resource Long-term guardianship orders - a comparison.

When a recommendation is made to OCFOS to make a referral to apply for an order granting long-term guardianship to the chief executive, it may still be appropriate to include, in the revised case plan for the child, continued actions to locate a suitable person.

A subsequent assessment about whether to recommend to OCFOS to make a referral to vary the existing order granting long-term guardianship to the chief executive, and seek an order granting long- term guardianship to the suitable persons, would not occur until such time that the child has established secure attachments with the proposed suitable persons and the placement with the proposed suitable persons appears to be stable.

Discuss the assessment outcome and inform all parties

Following the completion of assessment activities, and prior to finalising the Assessment report - long-term guardianship to a suitable person discuss the outcome of the assessment and proposed recommended long-term guardianship order with the child and family, senior team leader and OCFOS lawyer, and where necessary, the senior practitioner, to confirm the most appropriate order to be recommended.

When the decision is reached regarding the recommended order:

  • discuss with and give feedback to the child, parents and where applicable, the potential suitable persons, about the conclusions reached, including the rationale for the recommended order
  • incorporate relevant comments and feedback from the child, parents and where applicable, the potential suitable persons, in the assessment report.

Document the assessment

Where there is no potential suitable person able and willing to assume guardianship of the child, key information supporting the assessment and recommendation, including the rationale for not recommending long-term guardianship to a suitable person, is documented in both:

Where there is a potential suitable person able and willing to assume guardianship of the child, record the assessment and recommendation about whether long-term guardianship to that person is the most appropriate order in the Assessment report - long-term guardianship to a suitable person, which may be attached to the affidavit when applying to the Childrens Court for the order.

In circumstances where long-term guardianship to that person is not recommended, the completed assessment report will recommend that long-term guardianship to the chief executive is the most appropriate order.

The assessment report is intended to be a brief summary of the analysis of all the information gathered and assessed, with a particular focus on the rationale for the decision about:

  • the most appropriate guardianship order for the child
  • the potential suitable persons ability and willingness to fulfil all guardianship responsibilities for the duration of the order.

Obtain approval to recommend a referral to DCPL for the long-term guardianship order

Submit the 'Assessment report - long-term guardianship to a suitable person' or the review report and the draft affidavit (where there is no potential suitable person able and willing to assume guardianship) to the CSSC manager, along with the following attachments:

  • the most recent family reunification assessment
  • the current case plan
  • the most recent child strengths and needs assessment and parental strengths and needs assessment
  • the 'Independent entity' form, outlining whether an independent person helped facilitate an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child’s and their family’s participation in the decision
  • where a long-term guardianship order is being recommended due to expiry of a previous CPO or, if the child is under five years of age, the Practice panel record of discussion.

The CSSC manager will consider all the information provided and complete the Decision-making checklist - long-term guardianship to a suitable person, to decide whether the recommended order is the most appropriate long-term guardianship order for ensuring the child’s current and ongoing safety, well-being and belonging.

If there is any conflict between the child's safety, well-being and best interests, and the interests of an adult caring for the child, the conflict must be resolved in favour of the child's safety, well-being and best interests (Child Protection Act 1999, section 5A).

Inform all parties of the decision

Following the recommendation by the CSSC manager:

  • make a recommendation to OCFOS for an application to the Childrens Court for a child protection order granting long-term guardianship
  • discuss the recommendation and reasons with the child, parents, family and carers
  • where applicable, ensure all parties are informed of available review mechanisms, including the:
    • Child Safety's complaints system - for further information refer to the Child Safety's Compliments and Complaints feedback website
    • Office of the Public Guardian - where requested, direct parties to the Office of the Public Guardian website for Information
  • provide written advice of the recommendation and rationale, if requested, to parties who disagree, including a brief summary of how to access the above-mentioned review mechanisms
  • where applicable, consider and implement necessary supports for the child, their family and carers, to minimise any negative impact of the recommendation.

Prepare the revised case plan to be submitted to the Childrens Court

The revised case plan, to be submitted to the Childrens Court upon the application for an order granting long-term guardianship, must incorporate the decision about the most appropriate long-term guardianship order and where applicable, what supports will continue to be made available to the child and the long-term guardian following the making of the order.

For further information about the key items required in the revised case plan, refer to Chapter 4, 3.3 Develop key items in the case plan - application for long-term guardianship to a suitable person.

Apply for the long-term guardianship order

Once the DCPL has decided to apply for the recommended long-term guardianship order, they will proceed with the application - refer to 2.8 Draft an affidavit for a child protection order.

Note: The OCFOS lawyer is available to provide legal advice, and act as a consultant, to Child Safety staff with regard to the preparation of court documentation, including the affidavit.

If the Childrens Court does not grant long-term guardianship to the proposed suitable person, and instead grants another short-term order, or an order granting long-term guardianship to the chief executive, the case plan will need to be reviewed accordingly - refer to Chapter 4, 3.2 Develop key items in the case plan.

Implement actions following the making of a long-term guardianship order

Actions required - both long-term guardianship orders

As soon as possible after an order granting long-term guardianship is made by the Childrens Court:

  •  meet with the child subject to the order, where age and developmentally appropriate to provide:
    • verbal information about the terms and effect of the order and the timeframe and process for lodging an appeal a certified copy of the order - the original remains on the file
    • written notice of the making of the order, including the details outlined in the Child Protection Act 1999, section 63(b) - develop the letter on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with the child's age, level of maturity and ability to understand
    • the name and contact details of the CSO with case responsibility
  • give the parents:
    • verbal information about the terms and effect of the order and the timeframe and process for lodging an appeal
    • a certified copy of the order - the original remains on the file
    • written notice of the making of the order - complete the Letter advising parents of long-term guardianship order, which explains the terms and effect of the order, states that a party may appeal against the decision to make the order within 28 days after the order is made and states how to appeal
    • the name and contact details of the CSO with case responsibility for the child.

Additional actions required - long-term guardianship to a suitable person

Where the order grants long-term guardianship to a suitable person, implement the following additional actions:

  • give the child subject to the order (where age and developmentally appropriate), otherwise, the long-term guardian:
    • the child health passport folder, where applicable
    • a certified copy of the child's birth certificate - the original remains on the file
    • the child's Tax File number, where applicable
    • a certified copy of the child's Aboriginality Certificate, if applicable - the original remains on the file
    • the name and contact details of the CSO with case responsibility for the child
    • the child’s NDIS documentation including copy of current plan and contact details of the support coordinator or Local Area Coordinator (LAC), where applicable
    • information about the Australian Government's Transition to Independent Living Allowance (TILA) funding, if the child is fifteen years or older - refer to the Long-term guardianship to a suitable person: Information for children and young people, or the Long-term guardianship to a suitable person: Information for carers (PDF) 
  • give the long-term guardian:
  • conclude payments from the date of the making of the order, where financial supports were not approved by the CSSC manager
    • create the 'Long-term guardianship to a suitable person - Case plan' in ICMS as soon as practicable by:
    • closing the current ongoing intervention event in ICMS by completing the review report - this does not require completion of any structured decision making assessments
    • adding the long-term guardians role in the ongoing intervention event
    • completing the 'Long-term guardianship to a suitable person - Case plan' form in the new ongoing intervention event in ICMS, from the information contained in the child's current case plan
    • submitting the plan to the team leader or senior practitioner for approval

Note: Approved carers who are granted long-term guardianship of a child continue to receive the fortnightly caring allowance and any other financial supports approved by the CSSC manager, as recorded in the 'Assessment report - long-term guardianship to a suitable person'.

Additional actions required - long-term guardianship to the chief executive

Where the chief executive is granted long-term guardianship, continue ongoing intervention in accordance with Chapter 4. Case planning, Chapter 5. Children in care and Chapter 9, 2. Monitor the standards of care.

Record carer details in ICMS

Where a carer is granted long-term guardianship of a child and is not intending, or continuing, to provide placements for other children as a foster or kinship carer:

  • end the current approval
  • add a new carer entity approval type of ‘Long-term guardian’ for the child for whom the carer entity is now guardian
  • Add the guardian to the Ongoing Intervention event with the role of “Long term guardian”
  • Update the existing ICMS Placement event to amend the 'Placement details’ – select for the ‘Carer type', "Long term guardian – (name of Subject child)".

Where the carer remains, or becomes, a foster or kinship carer for other children:

  • record an additional carer entity approval type of “Long term guardian” for the child for whom the carer entity is now guardian
  • Add the guardian to the Ongoing Intervention event with the role of “Long term guardian”.
  • Update the existing ICMS Placement event to amend the 'Placement details’ – select for the ‘Carer type', "Long term guardian – (name of Subject child)".

2.7 Recommend an application for a permanent care order

A permanent care order grants permanent guardianship of a child to a suitable person, who has been assessed as being able to meet the obligations of a permanent guardian under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 61(g). A proposed guardian must be nominated by the chief executive, and the Childrens Court can only grant a permanent care order if it is satisfied that:

  • the proposed permanent guardian is a suitable person for having guardianship of the child on a permanent basis
  • the proposed permanent guardian is willing and able to meet the child’s ongoing protection and care needs on a permanent basis
  • the proposed permanent guardian is committed to preserving the child’s identity, the child’s connection to their culture of origin; and their relationships with members of their child’s family in accordance with the case plan, and
  • the child is already in the custody or guardianship of the chief executive, or long term guardianship to a suitable person and has been living with the proposed permanent guardian for 12 months prior to the making of the order.

 A permanent care order can only be considered where it has been assessed as being in the child’s best interests and there is a suitable person who has been assessed as being able and willing to accept permanent guardianship of the child, and meet all of the obligations of a permanent guardian.

It may be more appropriate to recommend an order granting long-term guardianship to the chief executive or a suitable person (with the child remaining in a placement with the carers) in the following circumstances:

  • where there is uncertainty about the ability and willingness of the potential suitable person to fulfil the obligations of a permanent guardian
  • where a high level of support by Child Safety is required by the carer to meet the child’s needs
  • where the child is in receipt of high or complex support needs allowance, which require regular and ongoing review
  • where the proposed guardian has indicated that they will need ‘planned’ respite following the making of the permanent care order, as they have no-one within their existing support network to provide respite as a private arrangement.

A recommendation to seek a permanent care order will only occur either:

  • after efforts to achieve permanency for the child through reunification with family have not been successful within the required timeframes
  • for a child who is subject to a long-term guardianship order, where it is assessed that a permanent care order would better achieve permanency for the child.

The outcome of the family reunification assessment and the recommendations from a practice panel will guide the decision as to when it is appropriate to cease working towards reunification and to pursue an alternative permanency option for the child - refer to Chapter 4, 5.3 Assess whether reunification can occur.

Permanent guardian roles and responsibilities

A permanent care order is one option for providing a child with legal permanency. The permanent guardian will provide direct care for the child for the duration of the order or until the child leaves the permanent guardian’s direct care to live as an independent adult.

A permanent care order provides the permanent guardian with:

  • the rights and responsibility to care for the child on a daily basis and make decisions about the child’s daily care
  • all the powers, rights and responsibilities in relation to the child that would otherwise have been vested in the person having parental responsibility for making decisions about the long-term care, well-being and development of the child.

 In addition to the above rights and responsibilities, following the making of a permanent care order and for the duration of the order, the permanent guardian has a legal obligation to:

  • tell the child’s parents where the child is living, give them information about the child’s care and provide opportunity for contact between the child and the child’s parents and appropriate members of the child’s family as often as is appropriate in the circumstances, unless an exception to some or all of these requirements has been ordered by the Childrens Court (Child Protection Act 1999, section 80(1) and (2))
  • immediately notify Child Safety in writing, or via email, should the child leave their care prior to turning 18 years of age should the child no longer reside in the permanent guardian’s direct care - the written advice is also to include the child’s current whereabouts, if known to the permanent guardian (Child Protection Act 1999, section 80A).
  • immediately inform Child Safety, in writing or via email, should the child be leaving their care in the near future (Child Protection Act 1999, section S80A (2)(a))
  • help maintain the relationship between the child and the child’s family and persons of significance and provide opportunities for ongoing family contact with them (Child Protection Act 1999, section 79A (1)(d))
  • ensure the charter of rights for a child in care is complied with (Child Protection Act 1999, section 79A)
  • preserve the child’s identity and connection to their culture of origin (Child Protection Act 1999, section 79A(1)(c))
  • help the child transition to adulthood (Child Protection Act 1999, section 79A(1)(b)).

Seek the views of the carer

When considering a permanent care order, the child’s carer must have been assessed as being suitable to be the proposed guardian for the child, based on:

  • how the carer has responded to the child’s needs to date and whether there are any concerns about their ability to continue to meet the child’s needs should they be granted permanent guardianship
  • how the carer has provided opportunities for ongoing family contact with parents, family and community members and other people of significance to the child
  • how the carer has managed with providing the child’s parents with relevant and required information to date. Consult with the child’s carer and seek their views regarding:

Where there are doubts or concerns about the proposed guardian’s ability to meet their obligations in relation to the child, these concerns need to be dealt with prior to proceeding with a permanent guardian assessment.

Consult with the child’s carer and seek their views regarding:

  • the recommended order and becoming a permanent guardian
  • their response to the legal obligations of a permanent guardian
  • any concerns they have had in meeting the child’s needs to date, or in the future without case management or ongoing support from Child Safety
  • any concerns around providing opportunities for ongoing family contact with parents, family and community members and other people of significance to the child.

This information will also inform the permanent guardian assessment. In addition, give the proposed guardian with a copy of:

Make the decision to pursue a permanent care order

The decision to consider a permanent care order will follow a period of case work aimed at reunifying the child with their parents or a family member or working with carers or guardians of a child subject to another long-term order. Once the family reunification assessment outcome indicates that Child Safety is to prepare for an alternative permanency option and a decision is made to consider a permanent care order OR where the child is already subject to a long term guardianship order and Child Safety decides that a permanent care order would better meet the child’s needs for permanency :

  • refer the case to a practice panel
  • seek the views of the carer about becoming a permanent guardian
  • seek the views of the child and family about a permanent care order
  • complete an assessment of the proposed guardian
  • consult with OCFOS about making a recommendation for a permanent care order
  • develop a case plan
  • make a referral to the DCPL for a permanent care order.

Refer the case to a practice panel

Prior to making the decision about whether to assess a proposed guardian for a child, refer the case to a practice panel. The making of a permanent care order is a significant decision for a child and all factors must be thoroughly assessed prior to making this decision.

For an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child, arrange for an independent person to help facilitate the child’s and family’s participation in the decision-making process. In addition, there must be an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person, who is independent from the case on the practice panel.

Refer to Chapter 4, 5.4 Refer the case to a practice panel for further information.

Obtain the views of the child and family

When determining permanency options for a child, the child must be provided with an opportunity to participate in the decision-making process and contribute their views, regarding:

  • the proposed order
  • how the proposed guardian has responded to the child’s needs to date, and whether the child has any concerns about the proposed guardian continuing to meet their needs should the carers be granted permanent guardianship.
  • how the proposed guardian has provided opportunities for ongoing family contact with parents and family or community members
  • keeping the child’s parents informed about the child’s care and where the child is living.

For information about engaging children in the decisions that affect their lives, refer to the practice resource Participation of children and young people in decision-making and the Children and young people’s participation strategy.

Consultation with the parents about permanency options will have been ongoing as part of the concurrent planning processes. Once the decision is made to cease reunification activities, ensure further conversations occur with the parents to seek their views about a possible permanent care order for the child and any concerns they may have about the order or the proposed guardian.

When the child is Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, arrange for an independent person to help facilitate the child’s and family’s participation in the decision-making process about the permanent care order. For further information refer Chapter 10. Decision-making about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Record the details in the ‘Independent entity’ form in ICMS.

As part of consultation, provide the child with a copy of the Permanent care order: Information for children and young people (PDF, 259 KB)brochure, and a copy of The Charter of Rights for a child in care (PDF) and their parents with a copy of the Permanent care order: Information for parents (PDF, 234 KB) brochure and a copy of The Charter of Rights for a child in care (PDF).

Complete an assessment of the proposed guardian

To undertake an assessment of the proposed guardian, use the Permanent guardian assessment report (DOC, 802 KB) and refer to the practice resource Permanent guardian assessment guide (PDF, 586 KB) Permanent guardian assessment guide (DOC, 585 KB). As part of the process:

  • interview the child, parents and other people of significance to the child
  • interview the carers
  • take into account:
    • the information gathered through interviews with the child, parents, carers and other people of significance to the child
    • the views of Child Safety staff, foster and kinship care service staff, residential care service staff and Indigenous foster and kinship care service staff, where applicable, who have been involved in the child’s case work
    • information from the assessment, monitoring, support or renewal of approval responsibilities associated with approved carers
    • any previous standard of care issues for the carers
    • how the carers have facilitated relevant actions to implement the case plan, and provided support and monitoring progress towards the case plan goals
    • all relevant information from Child Safety records
    • whether the application requires submissions to restrict the provision of information to, or contact with, parents and other family members (Child Protection Act 1999, section 80).

Where the assessment identifies complex or sensitive issues, always consult the senior team leader, senior practitioner or CSSC manager to ensure these issues are comprehensively evaluated as part of the assessment.

Undertake assessment interviews

When completing the assessment of a permanent guardian:

  • interview the child (having regard to their age, ability to understand and level of maturity), parents and carers separately - as part of these meetings, provide them with information in relation to the permanent care order and clarify their understanding of the full implications of the making of a permanent care order
  • respond to any concerns or questions raised about the making of a permanent care order
  • assess the likelihood that the proposed guardian will fulfil all of their guardianship obligations, for the duration of the order or until the child leaves home to live as an independent adult.
  • direct the discussions to enable full consideration of the child, family and carer factors underpinning the assessment - refer to the practice resource Permanent guardian assessment guide (PDF, 586 KB) Permanent guardian assessment guide (DOC, 585 KB)
  • if applicable, discuss any matters or considerations which suggest that an order granting long-term guardianship to the chief executive or a suitable person may be more appropriate for the child - refer to the practice resources Long-term guardianship - assessment factors and Long-term guardianship orders - a comparison
  • discuss the financial support arrangements that are in place for permanent guardians – that is the fortnightly caring allowance is paid until the child turns 18
  • clarify (prior to completing the assessment and recommending a permanent care order) the CSSC managers likely approval of any proposed financial support in exceptional circumstances, that is over and above the fortnightly caring allowance
  • determine whether the referral to the DCPL will include a recommendation that the application will require provisions to restrict the provision of information to, or contact with, parents and other family members - refer below to ‘Other assessment considerations’.

Other assessment considerations

  • A permanent care order will not be appropriate for any child where there are concerns that the proposed guardian will not comply with their obligations under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 80(2), where significant risk to the safety of the child or anyone else with whom the child is living has been identified. For example, where the Court orders contact with family not occur, and it is assessed that the proposed guardian may allow this to occur.
  • As part of the assessment for a child with a disability, discuss the proposed guardian’s capacity and willingness to be responsible for meeting the child’s disability. Where a child already has an existing NDIS plan in place, the permanent guardian will be required become the child’s representative for the existing NDIS plan. Where a disability is diagnosed following the making of a permanent care order, the permanent guardian will engage with the NDIS to secure ongoing disability support, to ensure effective identification and response to the child’s needs.
  • If the proposed guardian advises that they intend to move interstate at any stage following the making of the permanent care order, ensure they are aware of their obligations to:
    • discuss the obligations in relation to keeping the child connected with their family, culture and community
    • advise them that the permanent care order is unable to be transferred interstate
    • advise them that the order will be registered with the Family Court of Australia.

Discuss the assessment outcome and inform all parties

Following the completion of the permanent guardian assessment and prior to finalising the Permanent guardian assessment report (DOC, 802 KB), discuss the outcome of the assessment with the senior team leader, senior practitioner, CSSC manager and OCFOS, to confirm the recommended outcome.

Following agreement about the assessment recommendation:

  • discuss the report and give feedback to the child, parents and the proposed guardians about the conclusions reached, including the rationale for the recommended outcome
  • for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child, provide the child and family with the opportunity to have an independent person help facilitate their involvement at this point
  • incorporate relevant comments and feedback from the child, parents and where applicable, the potential suitable persons, in the assessment report
  • finalise the Permanent guardian assessment report (DOC, 802 KB), which will provide an analysis of all the information gathered and assessed, with a particular focus on the rationale for the decision about:
    • whether a permanent care order is the most appropriate order for the child
    • whether it best meets the child’s need for safety, stability and belonging
    • whether the proposed guardians are able to meet all of the guardianship responsibilities for the duration of the order.

Seek approval for the assessment

To seek approval of a suitable person as a permanent guardian, provide the senior team leader:

The senior team leader, if satisfied, will endorse the assessment and provide all of the information to the CSSC manager. The CSSC manager will consider all the information provided prior to determining whether the permanent care order is the most appropriate order for ensuring the child’s current and ongoing safety, belonging and well-being.

The purpose of a permanent care order is to provide for the child’s needs for safety, belonging and wellbing, not to provide for the carer’s needs. If there is any conflict between the child’s safety, wellbeing and best interests, and the interests of an adult caring for the child, the conflict must be resolved in favour of the child’s safety, wellbeing and best interests (Child Protection Act 1999, section 5A).

Seek approval to recommend a referral to DCPL for a permanent care order

Once the assessment has been approved:

  • consult with OCFOS - refer to the resource Working with OCFOS and the DCPL
  • where there is agreement to proceed with a referral to the DCPL, map out the tasks required and the timeframe for completion
  • obtain additional information from other agencies or professionals that will support the application for a child protection order – refer to Chapter 10.3 Information sharing for service delivery coordination
  • draft an affidavit (form 25) to support the application for a child protection order - refer to 2.8 Draft an affidavit for a child protection order
  • draft a Rule 13 affidavit and collate relevant documents to meet disclosure obligations.

An OCFOS officer is available to provide advice, and act as a consultant, to Child Safety staff with regard to the preparation of court documentation, including the affidavit.

Prepare the revised case plan to be submitted to the Childrens Court

When a child is to be subject to a permanent care order, the case plan to be submitted to the Childrens Court upon the application for a permanent care order, and must incorporate information about:

  • the child’s protection and care needs - how the child’s safety, belonging and well-being needs will be met
  • family and community - how the guardian will preserve the child’s relationships with members of their family and community
  • cultural connection - how the guardian will preserve the child’s identity and connection to their community, culture and country
  • health - how the guardian will support the child and respond to any identified health issues
  • education/training/employment - how the guardian will support the child to achieve their educational and vocational goals
  • planning for adulthood - how the guardian will support the child to transition to adulthood
  • resources and financial matters - how the guardian will support the child financially.

For further information about the key items required in the revised case plan, refer to Chapter 4, 3.4 Develop key items in the case plan - application for a permanent care order.

Record in ICMS

In the current open ongoing intervention event, complete the ‘PCO – Case plan form’ (used for the court application). Ensure that the proposed guardian is listed in the event with their current role e.g., “Approved carer”, “Long term guardian”.

Note: The ongoing intervention event is to be closed when the order is granted. There is no need for an open ongoing intervention event unless there is a review of the child’s case plan.

Make a referral to DCPL for the permanent care order

To make a referral to DCPL, OCFOS will draft a Rule 13 affidavit and collate relevant documents to meet disclosure obligations.

Inform all parties of the decision

Once DCPL has approved the decision to apply for a permanent care order:

  • discuss the recommendation and reasons with the child, parents and carers
  • where applicable, ensure that all parties are informed of available review mechanisms, including the:
    • Child Safety complaints system - for further information refer to the Compliments and Complaints feedback website
    • Office of the Public Guardian - where requested, direct parties to the Office of the Public Guardian website for information.

Following the making of a permanent care order

Where the Childrens Court grants the permanent care order, the child will no longer be subject to case planning processes and Child Safety will have no further contact with the child unless a review of the case plan is requested by the child or the guardian, or a complaint is made about the permanent guardian’s care of the child.

If the Childrens Court does not grant the permanent care order to the proposed permanent guardian, and instead grants an order granting long-term guardianship to the chief executive, or long-term guardianship to a suitable person, the case plan will need to be reviewed accordingly - refer to Chapter 4, 3.2 Develop key items in the case plan or Chapter 4. 3.3 Develop key items in the case plan - application for long-term guardianship to a suitable person.

Implement actions following the making of a permanent care order

As soon as possible after a permanent care order is made by the Childrens Court provide the child, where age and developmentally appropriate:

  • written notice of the making of the order, including the details outlined in the Child Protection Act 1999, section 63(b) - develop the letter on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with the child’s age, level of maturity and ability to understand
  • a certified copy of the order - the original remains on the file
  • a copy of the Permanent Care Order: Information for children and young people (PDF, 259 KB) brochure
  • verbal and written information about the charter of rights (schedule 1) and its effect unless, having regard to the child’s age or ability to understand, the chief executive reasonably believes the child would not be able to understand the information
  • information about the obligations of the child’s permanent guardian under Child Protection Act 1999, section 79A
  • information about the complaints process if the child considers that the permanent guardian is not complying with their obligations in relation to the child
  • verbal information about the child’s right to contact the chief executive if the child has any questions or concerns or wish to request a review of their case plan

Provide the parents:

Provide the permanent guardian:

In addition to the above requirements, ensure the child or the permanent guardian have the following:

  • the child health passport folder, where applicable
  • the child’s Medicare card
  • a certified copy of the child’s birth certificate - the original remains on the file
  • the child’s Tax File number, where applicable
  • a certified copy of the child’s Aboriginality Certificate, if applicable - the original remains on the file
  • information about the Australian Government’s Transition to Independent Living Allowance (TILA) funding, if the child is fifteen years or older - refer to the Long-term guardianship to a suitable person: Information for children and young people, or the Long-term guardianship to a suitable person: Information for carers.

The permanent guardian will continue to receive the fortnightly caring allowance for the child. In exceptional circumstances, they may also be eligible for the continuation of the high support needs allowance or complex needs allowance for a short period of time - up to six months.

Record permanent guardian details in ICMS

Where a carer is granted permanent guardianship of a child and is not intending, or continuing, to provide placements for other children as a foster or kinship carer:

  • end the current carer entity approval
  • add a new carer entity approval type of ‘Permanent guardian’ for the child for whom the carer entity is now guardian
  • Update the existing ICMS Placement event to amend the 'Placement details’ select for the ‘Carer type', "Permanent guardian – (name of Subject child)".

Where the carer remains, or becomes, a foster or kinship carer for other children:

  • record an additional carer entity approval type of ‘permanent guardian’ for the child for whom the carer entity is now guardian
  • Update the existing ICMS Placement event to amend the 'Placement details’ select for the ‘Carer type', "Permanent guardian – (name of Subject child)".

Respond to a complaint about a permanent guardian

Under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 80B, a child or a member of the child’s family can make a complaint to Child Safety if they honestly and reasonably believe a permanent guardian of the child is not complying with their legal obligations to:

  • ensure the charter of rights for a child in care is complied with in relation to the child as if the guardian were the chief executive and the child were a child in need of protection in the custody or care of the chief executive, as far as reasonably practicable
  • ensure the child is provided with appropriate help in the transition from being a child in care to adulthood
  • preserve the child’s identity and connection to the child’s culture of origin, to the extent it is in the best interests of the child
  • help maintain the child’s relationships to with the child’s parents, family members and other persons of significance to the child, to the extent it is in the best interests of the child.

In certain circumstances, the Childrens Court may make a decision that some of these requirements do not apply, or will not apply fully, if compliance with the requirement would not be in the best interests of the child and either constitute a significant risk to the safety of the child or anyone else with whom the child is living.

A person can make a complaint on behalf of another person, with that person’s consent.

To make a complaint about a permanent guardian of a child who is not complying with their obligations, a child or the member of a child’s family may:

  • talk to the senior team leader or CSSC manager (of the CSSC that applied for the permanent care order), if known and ask for their assistance to contact the Complaints Unit
  • contact the Complaints Unit directly on 1800 080 464 (free call).

Staff of the Complaints Unit will talk to the complainant and explain the process of making a complaint, what will happen next, Child Safety’s response to the complaint and the outcome of the complaint.

If assistance with an urgent matter is required outside of Child Safety working hours, then contact the Child Safety After Hours Service Centre on 07 3235 9999 or 1800 177 135 (free call).

Following this the Complaints Unit will decide whether to deal with the matter or re-allocate it to the region.

Following the making of a complaint

If Child Safety does decide to deal with a complaint, it must take all reasonable steps to resolve the complaint as soon as practicable. Once this has occurred, the complainant will receive a response stating the steps taken to resolve the complaint, why these steps were taken and any known results of the actions taken at the time of giving the response.

Child Safety may refuse to deal with a complaint if it is believed the complaint is trivial, unreasonable, without substance or made vexatiously. Child Safety may also refuse to deal with a complaint if the complainant refuses, without a reasonable excuse, to provide additional information reasonably required by the chief executive to decide whether to deal with the complaint.

Where the decision is made not to deal with a complaint, the chief executive will advise the complainant in writing and is required to keep a record of the decision. This is a reviewable decision. Child or family members must be advised that they have 28 days to contact the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (on 07 3225 8346 or 1300 753 228 (if living outside Brisbane) from the time Child Safety sends them a letter about the decision not to deal with the complaint.

2.8 Draft an affidavit for a child protection order

The purpose of an affidavit is to provide sworn, factual information, to assist a magistrate in making a decision in relation to an application before the court, for a child protection order. The information provided in the affidavit is aimed at supporting the DCPL application for a child protection order.

When the affidavit relates to an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child, ensure that clear information is provided about the decision-making process undertaken with the child and family, their views and whether an independent person helped facilitate their participation in the decision.

For information about how to write an affidavit, including content, formatting and the roles and responsibilities of Child Safety officers, refer to the practice resource Writing an affidavit (PDF, 67 KB).

Complete an affidavit

An Affidavit (Form 25) and Rule 13 Affidavit need to be completed before OFCOS makes a referral to the DCPL.

The Affidavit (Form 25) outlines the assessment of the child protection concerns, the recommendations about actions required to ensure the safety, belonging and wellbeing of the children and details of evidence relied upon to make this assessment.

A Rule 13 Affidavit exhibiting the following documents must be filed in support of a child protection application:

  • an assessment of whether the child is in need of protection including the assessment and outcome form for new applications and Practice Panel minutes for expiring orders
  • an assessment of the most recent strengths and needs of the child and their parents
  • records of the most recent family group meeting including a case plan (if developed) or a case plan review
  • any previous applications or orders for the child, including court assessment orders, temporary assessment orders and temporary custody orders
  • referral to an external agency supporting the child and their family members
  • any independent assessment or report about the child or their parents
  • the child’s birth certificate
  • any child protection history report, criminal history, domestic violence history or traffic history of someone relevant to the proceedings.

When preparing an affidavit, the Child Protection Act 1999, section 191, allows the DCPL to refuse to disclose a document or information if it may or does endanger a person’s safety or psychological health. It is the responsibility of the CSO, senior team leader and OCFOS lawyer to ensure a referral to DCPL highlights the information of concern and information is saved in the ‘withheld’ subfolder of the disclosure file in the Court Share site of the child. DCPL will decide if the documents can be withheld. Refer to the practice resource Domestic and family violence – protecting identifying information in court processes.  

Additional affidavits may also be required, after the initial application and supporting affidavit have been filed, when:

  • updating the court on any relevant assessments or changes in circumstances, during an adjournment period
  • preparing for a child protection hearing, in response to affidavits filed by respondents to the application
  • the DCPL applies to revoke a child protection order
  • the DCPL applies to revoke a child protection order and make a new order
  • responding to applications filed by parents, for example, an application by parents to revoke a child protection order
  • a party has initiated an appeal of a decision made by a court.

File the affidavit

The DCPL will ensure an affidavit is always filed:

  • with an Application for a child protection order (Form 10)
  • on or before the expiry date of an existing order
  • for a supplementary affidavit, a minimum of three business days before the next court mention.

Note: The information contained in the application form for a child protection order is an unsworn document and is not considered evidence.

Providing information and documents to the Office of Public Guardian (OPG)

When Child Safety receives general requests for information from child advocates from the OPG, the requests are responded to by the relevant child safety service centre. This may include requests for historical court documents.

When Child Safety receives a request from the OPG for court documents to assist the child advocate to make a decision about whether they will intervene in current Childrens Court proceedings, OCFOS will provide a copy of the Form 10 application. If the OPG then files a notice of intention to appear, or the magistrate indicates they want OPG involved in the matter, DCPL will seek a direction that OPG be served with filed documents.

A similar process will apply for court assessment order applications – the OCFOS lawyer will provide a copy of the Form 5 applications only to assist OPG to make a decision about whether to intervene.

Service of the application and affidavits

All initial applications for child protection orders must be served in person, unless it is not practicable. Whilst the DCPL is the applicant for all child protection orders, they will request Child Safety to serve the application and initial affidavit on the parents, regardless of whether the parents are legally represented or not, due to the personal service requirement. This should occur three business days before the initial mention of the application in the Childrens Court. All affidavits will be served on each respondent to a child protection application.

For all updating affidavits, if the parents are legally represented, the DCPL will serve the affidavit on the parents, via their legal representative. When parents are not legally represented the DCPL will request Child Safety to serve the updating affidavits on parents. This should only be done when the departmental officer has received written instructions from the DCPL about what to serve and on who. When the departmental officer has served the documents they need to complete an  Affidavit of Service (Form 22) for each respondent, as proof of service, as soon as possible following service of the documents. This Affidavit of Service needs to outline the following:

  • a description of the document served
  • the date it was served
  • how the document was served (i.e. in person, by post, leaving it at the last known address)
  • if served personally – the location, time and how you knew the person was the person identified
  • if served via post or left at an address – the address, how you knew the address was relevant.

2.9 Recommend an application to extend, vary, revoke an order or revoke and make a new application for a child protection order

Prior to a child protection order expiring, assess whether ongoing intervention is necessary to ensure the child’s safety, belonging and wellbeing and whether a further child protection order is required. To do this, review the case plan to assess progress made towards achieving the case plan goal as outlined in Chapter 4, 5. Review and revise the case plan. For further information, refer to the practice resource Decision making process for expiring child protection orders (PDF, 270 KB).

The matter will also be referred to a practice panel, prior to expiry, and regardless of whether another order, extension, revocation or variation is being recommended. For further information refer to the practice resource Practice panel guide (PDF, 436 KB) Practice panel guide (DOCX, 57 KB) and for recording, the Practice panel record.

Where it is assessed that the child is no longer in need of protection and does not require a child protection order, allow the child protection order to expire and close the case, as outlined in 4. Close an ongoing intervention case.

Where it is assessed that the child continues to be in need of protection but a child protection order is considered not appropriate the child protection order may expire and another type of ongoing intervention will continue, as outlined in Chapter 6. Intervention with parental agreement.

Where it is assessed that a child protection order is still required, consult with OCFOS six months before the order ends, and when in agreement, make a recommendation to OCFOS for a referral to the DCPL for an application for one of the following:

  • an extension of the existing child protection order
  • a variation or revocation of the child protection order
  • a revocation of the existing child protection order and seek another child protection order in its place.

For further guidance on decision making about expiring child protection orders, refer to practice resource OCFOS Interface with Child Safety - decision making for expiring child protection order (PDF, 272 KB) OCFOS Interface with Child Safety - decision making for expiring child protection order (DOCX, 40 KB).

Where the assessment to extend, vary, revoke, or revoke and make a new application relates to an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child, child and family must be given an opportunity to collaborate in the decision-making and have an independent person help facilitate their participation, prior to the application being lodged with the Childrens Court. For further information about decision-making for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child, refer to 10.1 Decision-making about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

When considering whether to recommend a referral to DCPL to extend, or make a further short-term order, the Childrens Court must consider the child’s need for emotional security and stability, including the child’s need for permanent living arrangements. The factors that inform the court about these areas include:

  • the child's age and their views
  • the length of time the child has been in their current placement
  • the number of child protection orders the child has been subject to previously
  • the progress made towards achieving the case plan goals
  • the child's relationship and attachment with their parents
  • information about the nature of contact the child has with their parents
  • the child's relationship and attachment with their carers.
  • for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child - Aboriginal tradition or Island custom relating to the child and the five elements of the child placement principle, for further information refer to 10.1 Decision-making about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Extend a child protection order - section 64

Under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 64, an application can be made to the Childrens Court to extend a child protection order. The application to extend the order must be made before the child protection order ends.

The total duration of the existing order and the extension sought, must not exceed the maximum timeframe allowed for the type of child protection order, as set out in the Child Protection Act 1999, section 62.

Short-term child protection orders (granting custody or guardianship to the chief executive) cannot extend beyond a total period of two years from when the first order was made. However, in exceptional circumstances, the court may make a further short-term order where it is satisfied that it is in the best interests of the child and reunification with the parents is reasonably achievable in a stated timeframe.

The two year timeframe may include one or more consecutive child protection orders. For example, if a child has been subject to a short-term order for 12 months, a further order can only be made for a maximum of 12 months (two years in total). The two year period does not include interim orders that were in place before the first order was finalised, but does include interim orders that were in place before the second order was finalised. These time frames include orders made under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 99.

A child protection order granting custody to a suitable family member for a period of 12 months can be subject to an application to extend it for a further period of up to 12 months (the maximum duration allowed for this type of order is two years).

The period of time the Childrens Court takes to decide the application must also be taken into account to ensure that the total time does not exceed the maximum duration. In the example above, if an application to extend a child protection order granting custody to a suitable family member for a further period of 12 months takes up to six months for the Childrens Court to decide, at the time the order is made, it can only be extended for a further period of six months to bring it to a total period of two years from the day the original order was made.

Vary a child protection order - section 65

Under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 65, a child, their parent or the DCPL can apply to the Childrens Court to vary a child protection order. The types of child protection orders that can be varied under this section include:

  • directive orders - to change the matters stated for a parent to do or refrain from doing certain actions or to vary the contact arrangements
  • supervision order - to change the matters stated for supervision
  • short-term custody orders - to vary custody arrangements between a family member and the chief executive as well as court ordered conditions
  • long-term guardianship orders - to vary guardianship between a family member, a suitable person and the chief executive as well as court ordered conditions.

An application to vary an existing child protection order cannot be made in order to:

  • change the type of child protection order - in this circumstance, apply to revoke the order and make another child protection order in its place
  • increase the duration of a child protection order - in this circumstance, apply to extend the child protection order
  • reduce the duration of a child protection order - in this circumstance, apply to revoke the child protection order when it is assessed that the child protection order is no longer required.

Where the DCPL applies to the Childrens Court to vary a long-term guardianship order to change who the guardian is (for example, from the chief executive to a suitable family member), or revoke the long-term guardianship order and make a permanent care order in its place, the court does not have to be satisfied of the following matters that the court previously decided:

  • that the child is a child in need of protection and the order is appropriate and desirable for the child’s protection
  • that the protection sought to be achieved by the order is unlikely to be achieved by an order on less intrusive terms
  • there is no parent able and willing to protect the child within the foreseeable future.

Revoke a child protection order - section 65

Under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 65(1), a child, their parent or the DCPL may apply to the Childrens Court to either:

  • revoke a child protection order
  • revoke a child protection order and make another order in its place.

However a child's parent cannot apply to revoke:

  • a child protection order and make another order in its place that grants guardianship of the child to any other party
  • a permanent care order.

Where it has been assessed that the child is no longer in need of protection, consultation may occur with OCFOS about making a referral to the DCPL to file an application to the Childrens Court to revoke the existing child protection order.

Where it has been assessed that the existing child protection order is no longer appropriate to meet the child’s needs for safety, belonging and wellbeing, recommend a referral to DCPL for an application to revoke a child protection order and seek another order in its place. For example, an application may be made to revoke a child protection order granting custody to the chief executive, and instead seek an order granting guardianship to the chief executive when a parent, as the guardian, refuses to provide consent for the child to receive medication that a medical practitioner has advised is necessary for the child’s continuing physical or mental health.

Where an application is made to revoke a long-term guardianship order to a family member or another suitable person, the Childrens Court must also consider the child's need for emotional security and stability. This additional requirement recognises the attachment and relationship that is formalised and enhanced from the making of this type of order, and therefore requires the Childrens Court to consider both whether the order is still appropriate and desirable for the child's protection as well as the child's need for emotional security and stability.

2.10 Apply for a transition order

A transition order continues the existing child protection order for a period of up to 28 days, to enable the child’s gradual transition from a care placement to their parents’ full-time care. The DCPL or a party to proceedings may apply verbally for a transition order, when both of the following apply:

  • the Childrens Court makes a decision not to grant a subsequent child protection order
  • the immediate return of the child to their parents care is expected to cause distress to the child and a gradual transition would be in the child's best interest.

A transition order may be considered for a child subject to a short-term order when the Childrens Court:

  • refuses to extend or make a further order before the order ends
  • revokes the order
  • decides an appeal against the making of the order in favour of a person other than the chief executive (Child Protection Act 1999, section 65A(1)(a)(i)-(iii)).

A transition order may also be considered for a child subject to a long-term order when the court:

  • revokes the order
  • decides an appeal against the making of the order in favour of a person other than the chief executive (Child Protection Act 1999, section 65A(1)(b)(i)-(ii)).

Before making a transition order, the Childrens Court must:

  • be satisfied that the order is necessary to enable the gradual transition of the child to the parents care in a way that supports the child, reduces their disruption or distress or is otherwise in their best interest (Child Protection Act 1999, section 65B(1))
  • consider the child's views
  • consider the parents readiness to care for the child and any other relevant matter (Child Protection Act 1999, section 65B(2))
  • for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child – have regard to Aboriginal tradition or Island custom relating to the child and the five elements of the child placement principle, for further information refer to 10.1 Decision-making about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Note: The Childrens Court may decide to make the order on its own initiative (Child Protection Act 1999, section 65A (3)(5)).

When the Childrens Court adjourns an application for a transition order, the pre-existing child protection order continues in force until the application is decided (Child Protection Act 1999, section 65A(4)).

Prior to an application being lodged with the Childrens Court for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child, the child and family must be given the opportunity to participate in the decision and have an independent person help facilitate their participation if they so choose.

Duration of the order

A term of a transition order must not be more than 28 days, after the day of the decision by the Childrens Court not to extend or grant a further order, or to revoke the current order. This period cannot be extended and incorporates any adjournment periods which may have been ordered (Child Protection Act 1999, section 65A (5)).

Develop the transition plan

If the Childrens Court makes a transition order, a transition plan for the child must be prepared.The transition plan outlines how Child Safety will support and gradually transition the child into the parents care, so as to minimise distress and disruption to the child. It also includes any other relevant matter, for example:

  • actions required to ensure the transition occurs within the period of the order
  • care and contact arrangements for the duration of the order.

To develop a transition plan:

  • determine whether a meeting is required - this will depend on the length of the transition order and the complexity of the plan
  • obtain and consider the views of:
  • the child, where age and developmentally appropriate
  • the child's parents
  • the child's carer
  • other relevant people, for example, the child's counsellor.

When a transition order is made, complete the 'Transition plan' in the ongoing intervention event in ICMS and submit it to the team leader for approval.

Where the Magistrate requests to see the transition plan prior to deciding an application for a transition order, complete the Transition plan as a word document and attach it to the ongoing intervention event in ICMS. Once the order is granted, record the 'Transition plan' in ICMS.

Once the plan is developed, monitor the progress of the transition plan. Where new child protection concerns are received during the transition period, take action to ensure the child's immediate safety and refer to 2. What if new child protection concerns are received?

When an application for a child protection order is not granted by the Childrens Court, consider other types of ongoing intervention to ensure the safety, belonging and wellbeing needs of the child, during period of the transition order - refer to 1.2 Decide the type of intervention - child in need of protection.