1. Pre-application

The purpose of the pre-application phase is to provide a person with advice and information about the role and responsibilities of a foster or kinship carer, and to assist the person to make an informed choice about whether to proceed with lodging an application.

For a comparison of the key steps for each carer type, refer to the practice resource Comparison of the key steps for carer approval (PDF, 63 KB).

Steps 1.1 to 1.6 in the pre-application phase may not occur sequentially, however, usually occur prior to an application being lodged and 'properly made'. The actions outlined may be undertaken by a Child Safety officer or by staff of a foster or kinship care service. The initial interview or the household safety study may also be completed by a contracted fee-for-service professional, where they are undertaking the assessment of the applicant.

Additional requirements for the approval of an applicant who is a Child Safety employee are outlined in 3. What if a carer or carer applicant is also a departmental employee?

While the activities outlined in the pre-application phase are not listed as assessment activities, the information gathered and observations made will inform the assessment of the applicant, should they proceed with an application.

For further information about the regulation of care, refer to the practice resources Approved carers - an overview (PDF, 225 KB) and Key concepts for the regulation of care (PDF, 320 KB).

For information about the roles and responsibilities of the CSSC and PSU in relation to the carer enquiry and application process, refer to the Foster carer enquiry and application checklist or Kinship carer enquiry and application checklist. Note: There may be a variance in roles across regions which are not captured in the checklists.

1.1 Record an expression of interest/application

When an initial foster carer enquiry is received by the CSSC, PSU or a foster and kinship care service, forward the information to the Foster Carer Recruitment Team (FCRT). The FCRT will:

  • create a person record for the primary applicant, where the record does not already exist in ICMS
  • create an 'Expression of Interest (EOI)/Application' in ICMS and select 'Yes' to the enquiry prompt
  • record enquiry information in ICMS
  • allocate the 'EOI/Application' to the relevant PSU.

Where the PSU receives a local carer enquiry, PSU staff may undertake the steps outlined above.

Where Child Safety has approached a person to provide kinship care, CSSC staff will:

  • create a person record for the primary applicant, where the record does not already exist in ICMS
  • create an 'EOI/Application' in ICMS and select 'No' to the enquiry prompt to progress to pre-application stage.

1.2 Distribute an information kit

When an initial enquiry is received about becoming a foster or kinship carer, or where Child Safety has approached a person to provide kinship or short break care for a child:

  • have a timely discussion with the person and respond to any questions or issues raised
  • create the 'Covering letter for the information kit' in ICMS and send the letter, along with relevant Carer information sheets, to the person.

Following a person's initial enquiry and allocation of the EOI/Application to the relevant PSU:

  • where person records for the secondary carer and any household members exist, add them as 'Relevant parties' to the EOI/Application
  • for a potential kinship carer, or where provisional approval is sought, record all kinship children for which the EOI/Application applies, in the 'Pre-application' tab in ICMS

1.3 Invite the person to an information session

The purpose of an information session is to provide information about foster care, and to enable a person to ask questions, to assist them in deciding whether to proceed with an application to become a foster or kinship carer.

Where Child Safety or a foster and kinship care service provides information sessions for potential carers, determine whether the person would like to attend an information session and if so, invite them using the 'Invitation to information session' in ICMS and complete the invitation and attendance details following the session, in the 'Pre-application' tab in ICMS.

Attendance at an information session may occur before or after an initial interview with the person, or instead of an initial interview.

1.4 Conduct the initial interview

The purpose of the initial interview is to commence discussions about a range of factors such as a person's interest and motivation in becoming a foster or kinship carer, the realities of providing foster care, the legislative and policy requirements to be met and the likely impact of becoming a foster or kinship carer.

Where a person wishes to proceed, invite them to participate in an initial interview. Arrange a time with the person and, for potential foster carer applicants, complete the 'Invitation to initial interview' letter, in ICMS.

Where possible, conduct the initial interview prior to the person's commencement of Pre-service training.

Prior to conducting the initial interview, for a potential kinship carer applicant only:

  • obtain the views of the child and of their family about the proposed kinship carer placement, and consider these views in the decision-making process
  • seek advice from the senior team leader, should it become apparent that the views of the child or their family conflict with the proposed kinship carer placement.

During the initial interview with a potential foster or kinship carer applicant:

  • provide information about the roles and responsibilities of a foster or kinship carer, and the range of supports available
  • provide a copy of relevant 'Carer information sheets'
  • discuss the different levels of need for children in care, or for a proposed kinship carer, the needs of the specific child
  • assess whether the possible kinship care placement is consistent with the agreed case plan for the child
  • provide information about the requirement and the process for the conduct of personal history checks, including obtaining a positive prescribed notice (a blue card or exemption card for a registered teacher or police officer), from the Blue Card Services as a prerequisite to approval
  • ensure the applicant is aware of and has read the Child Safety’s Disclosure Statement and Privacy Notice which is included on forms that they have or will complete as part of the assessment process. Advised the applicant that the Disclosure Statement and Privacy Notice’ outlines Child Safety’s obligations to manage their personal information, and the circumstances where Child Safety may share this information with others, including the legal requirement to disclose information in the Childrens Court. This duty is applicable to Child Safety staff and the Director of Child Protection Litigation (DCPL), and means that there is a legal requirement to disclose, to each party to the proceeding (including the child’s parents), all documents that may be relevant in a case before the Childrens Court. (refer to and provide a copy of the Duty of disclosure – a fact sheet for carers (PDF, 385 KB) Duty of disclosure – a fact sheet for carers (DOC, 708 KB))
  • request that the person discloses any criminal, domestic violence, traffic or child protection history that they are aware of for themselves, or any adult member of their household
  • ask if they provide any regulated services from their home (these include: family day care and stand-alone care services)
  • ensure the applicant is aware that as part of the assessment process, discretionary information can be requested and considered under the Child Protection Act 1999 and the Child Protection Regulation 2011 as requested by the Child Safety Service Centre Manager as the delegated officer. This information will inform the suitability decision regarding whether the applicant is suitable to be issued with a certificate of approval as a foster or kinship carer (refer to 2.4 Conduct the assessment interview and 2.5 Discretionary information checks)
  • conduct the household safety study in accordance with 2.3 Conduct a household safety study
  • where any significant concerns arise during the interview, discuss the concerns with the person, in accordance with 1.6 Address identified concerns about suitability
  • explain that an approved foster carer is required to renew their approval one year from the date of initial approval and every two years thereafter
  • provide information about the additional processes required if the potential applicant is a Child Safety employee, as outlined in 3. What if a carer or carer applicant is also a departmental employee?
  • determine whether the person would like to proceed with an application.

Following the interview:

  • complete the 'Form 1: Foster carer intake', in ICMS for a potential foster carer applicant only, and attach the form to the 'EOI/Application' in ICMS
  • document relevant information about a potential kinship carer applicant and attach the information to the 'EOI/Application' in ICMS
  • record the initial interview details in the 'Pre-application' tab in ICMS.

The 'Form 1: Foster carer intake' does not need to be completed in the one interview, and there will be times when the entire form will not be completed due to the person choosing not to continue with the process.

1.5 Provide the home safety checklist

The ‘Home Safety Checklist (PDF, 911 KB)’ will be provided to the potential applicant during the initial home interview. Although not specifically designed for carer applicants the purpose of the checklist is to:

  • raise awareness about the importance of safety within the home environment
  • allows for the early identification of common home and property for possible safety hazards
  • enables changes to be implemented that will lessen the risk of avoidable injuries to children.

It is important to discuss home safety with the potential applicant during the initial interview, particularly the mandatory requirements of part 1 of the Household Safety Study, which requires full compliance with:

  • pool safety legislation
  • electrical switch safety requirements
  • smoke alarms laws
  • hot water system requirements and
  • firearms storage.

These five mandatory areas are legislatively required for all Queensland homes. Specific information about these requirements can be accessed from the Queensland Government website.

 Advise the potential applicant that if they decide to lodge an Application for approval - Form 3 APA, they will be required to:

  • provide a completed copy of the home safety checklist to the assessor at the time of the assessment
  • be fully compliant with the mandatory requirements of the Household Safety Study prior to approval.

1.6 Regulated home-based services

Some applicants may be providing, or may be intending to provide, other regulated home-based services such as family day care or stand-alone care.

Where an applicant discloses any regulated services they provide from the home, or when it becomes apparent at any stage during the application process, it is important to discuss this with the applicant, in accordance with 1.7 Address identified concerns about suitability. This is to determine any likely impacts that the provision of other regulated services could have on the applicant’s ability to meet suitability requirements as a foster or kinship carer.

1.7 Address identified concerns about suitability

Significant concerns about the applicant's ability to meet suitability requirements may become apparent at any stage during the carer application process.

Concerns prior to application

Where, prior to an application being lodged, it is considered likely that an application would be refused based on the legislative restrictions on granting an application:

  • discuss the identified issues or concerns and the likely outcome for an approval decision, with the applicant
  • assist the person to make a realistic choice about whether to proceed with an application or self-select out.

Where the person decides to self-select out prior to lodging an application, record the pre-application outcome as 'Self-select out' and the reason in the 'Pre-application' tab in ICMS.

Where significant issues are identified:

  • discuss the identified issues or concerns, as they arise
  • provide the applicant with an opportunity to withdraw their application, where the issue or concern is likely to result in a refusal of the application
  • should the applicant wish to proceed with the application, despite significant issues being brought to their attention, the assessment is to be recorded and a decision made by the CSSC manager.

Should a person insist on lodging an application, despite significant issues being brought to their attention, they cannot be prevented from doing so, as this would deny them their right to natural justice. Where the application is subsequently refused, the applicant has the right to have the decision externally reviewed by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).

Withdrawal of application

Once an application is 'properly made', the CSSC manager must approve or refuse the application, unless the application is withdrawn by the applicant. At any time during the assessment process, significant issues likely to lead to the refusal of an application may be brought to the applicant's attention, and the applicant may subsequently choose to withdraw their application.

Where the applicant decides to withdraw their application:

  • request that they provide written advice to this effect, to the PSU or foster and kinship care service
  • immediately advise the CSU
  • record the application withdrawal details in the 'Lodgement/Withdrawal' tab in ICMS.

1.8 Lodge the application

An application for initial approval must be decided within 90 days of the application being 'properly made', unless an extension is granted. To be 'properly made' an application:

  • is completed, signed and dated by the applicant and each adult member of their household
  • includes all appropriate identification documents
  • is lodged at the CSSC or PSU.

A person should only submit an application once they have decided to commit to the application and assessment process, and in consideration of the most appropriate time for lodging the application, given:

  • the mandatory requirement, for foster carer applicants only, to complete pre-service training prior to a decision about their approval (except for an absent spouse, refer to 2.1 Complete pre-service training)
  • the next available pre-service training date is likely to influence whether the application is able to be assessed and decided within the required 90 day legislative timeframe
  • the likely timeframe required for the CSU and Blue Card Services to undertake and provide information about personal history checks and blue card or exemption card outcomes to the CSSC and PSU.

Where a person decides to proceed with the application and assessment process, record the pre-application outcome as 'Lodge an application' in ICMS.

Complete the application documentation

When the person commits to the application and assessment process, use the Application for approval - Form 3 APA - Guide to completion (PDF) and:

  • request that the applicant and all adult household members complete:
  • determine the applicant's adult household members by referring to the Adult household member guidelines
  • attach the 'APA form' (Part A), 'blue card application', 'blue card validation', or 'exemption card application' form to the 'EOI/Application' in ICMS
  • ensure that documents verifying the identity of the applicant and adult household members are sighted and where possible, photocopied or scanned, and attached to the 'EOI/Application' in ICMS
  • ensure the applicant completes the 'Carer applicant health and wellbeing questionnaire', created in ICMS, refer to 2.5 Discretionary information checks and returns the completed form to the CSSC or PSU
  • attach the completed 'Carer applicant health and wellbeing questionnaire' to the 'EOI/Application' in ICMS and record questionnaire details under 'Additional sources of information' in the 'Assessment' tab in ICMS
  • create person records for the secondary carer and all household members, where applicable, and add them as 'Relevant parties' to the EOI/Application.

Where consent has been given by the applicant on the 'Carer applicant health and wellbeing questionnaire' to share medical information, provide a copy of the completed questionnaire to the foster and kinship carer service, or fee-for-service professional.

Note: Where an adult household member has an appointed guardian as a result of a disability, the forms will be completed with the household member's details and signed by their guardian.

Verify identity - application for approval

Whenever a 'blue card application' or 'exemption card application' is completed, the identity of the applicant or the adult household member completing the form must be verified by sighting two original identification documents, as listed on the 'blue card application' and 'exemption card application'.

If the applicant already holds a current, valid blue card or exemption card at the time the 'APA form' (Part A) is completed, the identity of the applicant must be verified by sighting their blue card or exemption card and one other form of identification, as listed on the 'APA form' (Part B).

There is no need to verify identity if an adult household member already holds a current, valid blue card or exemption card.

Where possible, photocopy or scan each of the original identification documents and attach to the 'EOI/Application' in ICMS. Complete the verification of identification details in 'Lodgement/Withdrawal' tab to assist the CSU in the process of conducting personal history checks.

Note: If a person is unable to supply the necessary identification documents, liaise with the CSU about the options for alternative forms of identification.

Verify identity - application for renewal of approval

There is no need to verify the identity of an applicant or an adult household member upon application for renewal of approval, unless a 'blue card application' or 'exemption card application' is to be completed as part of the application process.

Any person completing the 'blue card application' is to have their identity verified, as outlined above.

Persons able to verify identity

The requirements for verifying identity depends on the nature of the form being completed.

The blue card application (PDF) requires a Child Safety officer verifies the person's identity. Where this is not possible, because of distance or a disability impacting on a person's mobility, a prescribed person may verify the person's identity. Prescribed persons include:

  • a Justice of the Peace
  • a Commissioner for Declarations
  • a lawyer
  • a police officer.

Note: Child Safety staff must comply with the requirement under the Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening) Act 2000, to inform all blue card applicants that it is an offence for a disqualified person to sign a blue card application form. This requirement applies even when a prescribed person has verified an applicant's identity. For further information, refer to the practice resource Mandatory advice to blue card applicants (PDF, 133 KB).

The 'APA form' (Part B) requires that a Child Safety officer or a staff member of a foster and kinship care service verifies the identity of an applicant who already holds a current, valid blue card or exemption card.

Ensure the application is 'properly made'

The 90 day period for deciding the initial carer application commences from the date the application is 'properly made'. Once the application has been 'properly made', record the date in the 'Date Application Lodged' field on page 11 of the 'APA form' (Part B), or for a renewal of approval, page 19 of 'APA form' (Part D). This date becomes the ‘properly made’ date and the application is then considered to be 'properly made'.

Where an application is incomplete at the time it is submitted, ask the applicant or the adult household member to supply the additional information before accepting the application and recording the 'Date Application Lodged' on the APA form.

If the application is subsequently found to be incomplete by the CSU and returned to the PSU, obtain the missing information and record a new lodgement date on page 11 of the 'APA form' (Part B), or page 19 of the 'APA form' (Part D). The amended date then becomes the date the application is 'properly made'. The documentation is then re-attached to the 'EOI/Application' in ICMS and the CSU immediately advised of the update.

When the application has been 'properly made', record details in the 'Lodgement/Withdrawal' tab in ICMS and attach a copy of the completed:

  • 'APA form'
  • 'blue card application'
  • verified identification documents, where available.

Conduct personal history checks in accordance with 2.2 Facilitate personal history checks.

Information management

All information about a person’s carer application must be filed in a secure location, in accordance with Module 5: Maintaining client files. In addition, if a carer applicant is a Child Safety employee, classify electronic and paper files as sensitive - for further information, refer to 3. What if a carer or carer applicant is also a Child Safety employee?