2. Assessment

The purpose of the assessment of an applicant is to ensure that the care of children in the care provided meets the standards of care in the statement of standards, and to ensure that applicants meet suitability requirements under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 135, and the Child Protection Regulation 2011, sections 22-26.

During the assessment process, the assessor will gather evidence relating to the applicant's experiences and actions in other contexts, and draw conclusions as to how this will impact on their ability to provide foster care in accordance with legislative and policy requirements.

The assessment of a foster or kinship carer applicant may be undertaken by Child Safety staff of foster and kinship care services or by a contracted fee-for-service professional.

If the foster or kinship carer applicant is a Child Safety employee, refer to 3. What if a carer or carer applicant is also a departmental employee?

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

2.1 Complete pre-service training

The aim of pre-service training is to equip a foster carer applicant with the necessary skills and knowledge required, to enable them to meet the legislated statement of standards when caring for a child placed in care.

A foster carer applicant is required to complete Pre-service training which consists of four modules, each of three hours duration, which may be undertaken prior to, or following, an application being 'properly made'. If feasible, pre-service training occurs over a four week period, however, the content of the modules may be delivered in a range of flexible ways, including one-to-one in the applicant's home, if necessary.

For more information, refer to the Procedures and guidelines for Quality Care: Foster Care Training (PDF).

A kinship carer applicant's participation in pre-service training is optional, however, where appropriate the applicant is to be encouraged to participate in Quality Care training sessions, to assist them in meeting their support and learning needs. In addition, support the orientation of a kinship carer by using relevant Carer information sheets and the Foster and kinship carer handbook.

For further information about the Child Safety’s kinship care program and the additional and unique factors that impact on kinship carer assessments and the learning and support needs of kinship carers, refer to the Kinship care program description

Note: Where the partner of a foster carer applicant is genuinely unable to participate in pre-service training due to the nature and location of their employment, for example, those employed by the defence forces or mining industry and working interstate or overseas, both applicants may be granted approval, with the condition (recorded on the certificate of approval) that the applicable partner completes pre-service training when their circumstances change. In exceptional circumstances, the CSSC manager may waive the requirement for pre-service training entirely.

Following an applicant’s participation in pre-service training, record the training participation and competencies details in the ‘Assessment’ tab in ICMS.

2.2 Facilitate personal history checks

Prior to issuing a certificate of approval or provisional approval to an individual who has made an application to be approved as a foster or kinship carer, the chief executive must be satisfied that the individual is a suitable person. The undertaking of personal history checks is an important aspect of determining suitability. 

Personal history checks

All applicants applying for approval, or renewal of approval, and all adult members of their household, will be subject to personal history checks. This includes adults joining the household of an applicant or carer after an application is lodged.

Personal history checks include:

  • criminal history checks conducted as part of blue card screening process
  • checks undertaken by the CSU, which include:

    • child protection history checks within Queensland, interstate and New Zealand
    • domestic violence and traffic history
    • criminal history checks only where provisional approval is required
    • child protection history checks for any children residing in the applicant household (including any children who meet the definition of ‘household member’ under the Child Protection Act 1999, Schedule 3).

The purpose of personal history checks is to ensure that people who will have regular and ongoing contact or involvement with a child placed in an approved carer’s home do not pose a risk to the safety of a child. The outcome of personal history checks is one aspect of determining overall suitability. Personal history checks will be:

  • conducted by the CSU to determine whether the applicant or an adult household member is not suitable based on personal history, or whether the application is eligible to be progressed
  • provided to the assessor to be considered in assessing the overall suitability of the applicant. 

The CSAHSC conducts criminal history checks if provisional approval is required urgently after hours.

Request personal history checks

Personal history checks on the applicant and adult household members will only be commenced by the CSU when an application is ‘properly made’ and all necessary documentation is attached in ICMS. Once the application is ‘properly made’, immediately email the CSU to advise that the following documentation is attached in ICMS:

Note: The conduct of personal history checks should not delay the commencement of the assessment of the application.

If there is a need to undertake urgent or after hours personal history checks, refer to 1. What if the applicant requires provisional approval?

An applicant or an adult household member who cannot satisfy the identification requirements of Blue Card Services must complete the Request to consider alternative identification (PDF)form. Attach the completed form in ICMS, along with the relevant ‘blue card application’, ‘blue card validation’ or ‘exemption card application’ form, prior to advising the CSU that the application is ‘properly made’.

An applicant or an adult household member who requires a support person to assist them through the blue card application process (for example, where language or communication barriers exist) may complete the Consent to discuss information (PDF) form. Advise the applicant or adult household member that the form authorises Blue Card Services to discuss certain information about the blue card application with the nominated person, including the progress of any application, requests for additional information, police information including changes in police information and investigative information, disciplinary information, the assessment process including the request for submissions, reference and other supporting material, medical information, the outcome of the application and relevant personal information such as the person’s name, address and employer details. When completed, attach the form to ICMS along with the other application documentation outlined above.

Interstate and international personal history checks

For all applicants or adult household members who have previously resided interstate or overseas for six months or more:

  • interstate and New Zealand child protection history checks must be undertaken by the CSU
  • other international child protection history checks will be undertaken at the discretion of the CSSC manager
  • criminal history checks for all international jurisdictions (including New Zealand) will be undertaken at the discretion of the CSSC manager.

The table below outlines the process for requesting international child protection and criminal history checks.

International child protection history checks
New ZealandOther overseas jurisdictions
Undertaken by CSU as part of the screening process.

The CSSC manager will request that Data Management Services (DMS) facilitate international child protection history checks by emailing the following to DMS via #SDIS_DMS_Checks:

  • the ‘Request for interstate/overseas child protection history’ form
  • a copy of the ‘APA form’ (consent pages only) indicating the applicant/adult household member’s consent for the checks*.
International criminal history checks
New ZealandOverseas jurisdictions
 

The CSSC manager will request a copy of international criminal history checks directly from the carer applicant or adult household member as this information would have been provided to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship as part of the person’s immigration process*.

Note: Not all Visa processes will require history check information to be provided, therefore the applicant or adult household member may need to obtain a copy of their own personal history where considered necessary by the CSSC manager.

* International child protection and criminal history checks may not be able to be obtained from some jurisdictions. Furthermore, international checks may indicate that no concerning history exists, however, the CSSC manager should be aware that some jurisdictions may not recognise certain abuses against children and therefore whilst no history is recorded, concerns may still exist.

Where considered necessary and as a last resort, the CSSC manager may request criminal history checks by International Social Services (ISS). However, checks undertaken by ISS are costly and there is no guarantee that ISS will able to obtain checks from international jurisdictions.

The CSSC manager has the discretion to proceed with the application without international child protection and criminal history check information, or to decide that a full assessment is unable to be undertaken without the completion of international checks.

Conduct personal history checks on new adult household members

Where an adult person intends to join the household of an applicant, prior to joining the household, the person must:

Attach the completed forms and other documents to the ‘EOI/Application’ in ICMS and immediately email the CSU to request personal history checks be conducted.

Decision-making based on personal history check outcomes

While the CSSC manager has the delegation to make the final approval decision, based on all of the suitability requirements, the CSU manager has the delegation to determine that either an applicant or adult household member is not suitable based on their personal history, or that the assessment of the application is eligible to be progressed.

Note: the issuing of a certificate of approval must not occur until the CSU has advised the CSSC of the outcome of the personal history checks for all persons included on the ‘APA form’, unless a regional director or duty executive officer has granted provisional approval to an applicant, prior to the CSU finalising personal history checks. Refer to 1. What if the applicant requires provisional approval?

Application for approval is to be progressed

Where the CSU manager determines that, based on the outcome of the personal history checks, the application is able to progress, the CSU will:

  • advise the CSSC and PSU, and the application will be progressed
  • record the personal history checks details in the CSU system so that they populate into the ‘Assessment’ tab in ICMS
  • record the blue card details in the CSU system so that they populate into the ‘Blue card’ tab for each applicant and adult household member in ICMS
  • attach all relevant documentation to the ‘EOI/Application’ in ICMS.

Not suitable based on personal history

Where the CSU manager determines that the applicant or an adult household member is not a suitable person, based on personal history checks, the CSU manager will:

  • refuse the application
  • advise the applicant and the CSSC manager of the decision in writing within 10 days - the letter will include a statement of reasons and information about review rights.

The CSU will record the personal history checks details in the CSU system, which populate into the ‘Assessment’ tab in ICMS, and will attach a copy of all written advice provided to the CSSC and the applicant in ICMS.

In this circumstance, it is the responsibility of the CSSC or PSU to record the refusal decision in ICMS and create an alert on each applicant’s person record - refer to 3.4 Refuse the application.

Where a child has been placed with a provisionally approved carer prior to personal history check results being provided by the CSU, and the CSU subsequently determines that an applicant or an adult household member is not suitable, remove the child from the placement immediately and cancel the 'Certificate of Approval - Provisionally approved carer' in accordance with 11. What if a provisionally approved carer's certificate of approval requires amendment, suspension or cancellation?

Where the person applies for a decision review by QCAT, re-open the closed EOI/Application and record ‘Reviewable decision’ details in the ‘Approval/Refusal’ tab in ICMS.

Where QCAT overturns the refusal decision and the carer is subsequently approved:

  • provide relevant approval documentation to the approved carer, the foster and kinship care service, if applicable, and Carepay, as outlined in 3.3 Approve the application
  • record the QCAT decision in ICMS
  • advise the CSU of the amended decision
  • close the alert that was created when the application was refused.

Provide relevant personal history to the assessor

Information may be provided to an external (non-Child Safety) assessor where it is necessary to perform functions under, or in relation to, the administration of the Child Protection Act 1999. External assessors include staff of foster and kinship care services and private contractors.

Where the CSU manager determines that an application is eligible to progress, but there is personal history that may assist the assessor in conducting assessment interviews and completing the assessment report, the CSSC will provide the following personal history information to the assessor:

  • child protection history
  • domestic violence history
  • traffic history.

Where criminal history is obtained by the CSU as part of the provisional approval process and it is necessary for this information to be considered and assessed by an external assessor, refer to What if 1. What if an applicant requires provisional approval?

The CSSC manager may decide not to provide information to an assessor if it is irrelevant or of a sensitive nature. For example, information provided to an assessor must not include:

  • any information that identifies, or is likely to identify, a notifier
  • a person’s youth justice history, unless by an exemption under the Youth Justice Act 1992, part 9.

Where the assessment is to be conducted by a private contractor, provide the assessor with a copy of Confidentiality and privacy information for private contractors and panel participants (PDF, 27 KB) Confidentiality and privacy information for private contractors and panel participants (RTF, 7 KB) before providing them with an applicant’s personal history information.

Impacts of a failure to obtain a blue card or exemption card

If the applicant or an adult household member is denied a blue card or exemption card by Blue Card Services, this is referred to as a prohibiting event (Child Protection Act 1999, section 140AB). In this circumstance, it is the responsibility of the PSBA to advise the persons affected about the decision and the processes for review.

If an applicant or an adult household member is given a negative prescribed notice or negative exemption notice by Blue Card Services, and the affected individual intends to appeal the decision, the CSSC manager may temporarily suspend any further assessment of the application for approval, until the outcome of any review process under the Working with Children (Risk Management and screeing) Act 2000 is known. The application for approval must be refused if:

  • no review process is initiated
  • the Blue Card Services' decision is upheld following a review by QCAT.

Record a failure to obtain a blue card or exemption card in ICMS

Following the refusal of a blue card or exemption card for an applicant or an adult household member, the CSU manager is to ensure:

  • an alert of ‘blue card declined’ is recorded on the applicant’s and adult household member’s ‘person record’ in ICMS, with a review date of two years, as a person can apply to have a negative notice cancelled by Blue Card Services if the notice was issued more than two years ago
  • Blue Card Services decision is recorded as a ‘Negative notice - Application declined’ in the CSU system so that the decision is reflected in the blue card tab on the ‘person record’ of the applicant and adult household member in ICMS.

Note: After the ‘blue card declined’ review date passes, leave the alert open in the event that the person makes a future application as a carer or an adult household member.

Change in carer circumstances

When a completed ‘Change in carer circumstances form’ is received by the CSSC or PSU, attach a copy to the ‘EOI/Application’ in ICMS and immediately advise the CSU, unless it relates to the carer’s health or employment status. This allows any relevant changes to be noted, for example, a change in the address of a blue card or exemption card holder, or a change in household membership, and where applicable, personal history checks undertaken.

For further information about the changes to be brought to the attention of Child Safety by an approved carer, refer to 2. What if there is a change in carer circumstances?

2.3 Conduct a household safety study

A household safety study is the process of assessing the safety of the potential applicant’s household premises and their commitment to safe practices around children. The intent of the household safety study is to prevent injury to children in out-of-home care by identifying potential risks in the proposed applicant’s household.

To conduct the household safety study:

  • request a copy of the completed ‘Home Safety Checklist (PDF, 911 KB)’ provided to the applicant at the initial interview
  • explore all areas identified in the Home Safety Checklist that the applicant has identified as requiring further attention, and discuss the action that has been taken to address these
  • undertake a general check of household safety (for example, checking the pool gate self latches, sighting how any firearms are stored, sighting the fire safety home escape plan etc
  • discuss water safety and supervision with the carers, as outlined in ‘The ABC of pool safety (PDF, 256 KB)’ and provide a copy of ‘The ABC of pool safety’, regardless of whether or not they have a pool
  • where safety risks are identified, develop a plan to address these risks with the applicant, for consideration by the CSSC manager
  • complete the ‘Form 2: Household safety study’, based on direct observations of the household, the completed ‘‘Home Safety Checklist’, and information obtained during discussions with the applicant
  • attach the completed ‘Form 2: Household safety study’ and theto the ‘EOI/Application’ in ICMS.

An applicant is not expected to meet all requirements of the household safety study in the early stages of the assessment process but is expected to make any necessary changes to enable the mandatory safety requirements to be met by the time a decision for approval or reapproval is required.

It may be necessary for a subsequent household safety study to be undertaken when the carer changes address or has undertaken home modifications since the previous approval or renewal of approval.

2.4 Conduct assessment interviews

The focus of the assessment interviews is the applicant's demonstrable knowledge, skills and abilities, as well as the applicant's ability to reflect on how their experiences, views and behaviour may impact on their ability to provide care for children in care, or for a kinship carer, a specific child.

The interview process should be interactive, with observations and reflections being shared with the applicant. The applicant is also to be provided with sources of information and support, such as referrals to other agencies, including QFKC and where applicable, foster and kinship care services.

An applicant living in a spousal relationship must be jointly assessed and if approved, issued a joint certificate of approval.

Note: Where the partner of a foster or kinship carer applicant is genuinely unavailable to be assessed and approved jointly with their spouse, due to the nature and location of their employment, for example, those employed by the defence forces or mining industry and working interstate or overseas, refer to 5. What if one spouse is not able to participate in the assessment and approval process?

Foster carer applicants

A foster carer is approved to care for any child in the care of Child Safety and only requires one certificate of approval, regardless of the number of children in the placement. The assessment interviews for a foster carer applicant will consist of:

  • an initial joint interview with both applicants, if a joint application
  • an individual interview with each applicant
  • where possible, a further joint interview with both applicants
  • an interview with all children and adults who form part of the applicant's home environment.

At least one assessment interview must be held in the applicant's home.

If possible, schedule interviews no less than two weeks apart, to afford the applicant the benefit of time for reflection, time to fully explore issues as they are raised and an opportunity to learn more about fostering during the assessment period. Where the two week timeframe between interviews is not possible, particularly in rural and remote areas, the timeframe may be shortened.

Prior to conducting assessment interviews:

  • peruse all available information about the applicants and adult household members, including the outcome of personal history checks, and other considerations such as the provision of other regulated services from the home, where applicable
  • discuss the purpose and process of interviews with the applicant
  • agree on a schedule of interviews, including dates, times and venues.

Assessment interviews may also involve adult children residing away from home.

Personal history must be discussed sensitively with applicants, and the assessor will prompt the applicant to raise relevant personal history matters themselves. Where personal history relates to only one partner of a joint application, care should be taken to speak individually with the relevant person about their history.

Where one applicant’s history is likely to impact on the outcome of the joint application, encourage that applicant to disclose their history to the other applicant. If the applicant is unwilling to share their personal history, the reluctance to share and the impact of an applicant’s history must be discussed as part of the assessment. 

Other considerations, such as the applicant’s provision or intent to provide other regulated services from the home, such as family day care or stand-alone care, should be discussed to assess the applicant’s capacity and commitment to provide quality of care to children placed with them.

During assessment interviews, include discussions with the applicant about the information and recommendations to be included in the final assessment report.

For specific information about the legislative requirements for approval, and the factors to consider and discuss during assessment interviews with a foster carer applicant in relation to each assessment domain, refer to the Form 3A - Guidelines for completing assessment report - Initial approval only (PDF), and the practice paper Assessment of foster carer applicants (PDF). The guidelines also refer to a range of 'Interview resources' that are accessible in the resource list at the end of this chapter.

Kinship carer applicants

A kinship carer may be a relative or another person of significance to the child. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, a kinship carer may include another Aboriginal person or Torres Strait Islander who is a member of, or compatible with, the child's community or language group.

A kinship carer is approved to provide care for a specific child or children.

The assessment framework for a kinship carer applicant is less structured, due to the family connection that already exists between the kinship carer applicant, the child and the child's parents. Kinship care aims to maintain the child's relationships with parents, siblings, extended family, community and culture, in a manner which best serves the well-being and interests of the child.

Assessment interviews with a kinship carer applicant may occur in a more flexible manner and would usually involve two assessment interviews, to assess the applicant's:

  • overall suitability based on legislative and policy requirements
  • ability to meet the specific needs of the child.

Personal history must be discussed sensitively with applicants, and the assessor will prompt the applicant to raise relevant personal history matters themselves. Where personal history relates to only one partner of a joint application, care should be taken to speak individually with the relevant person about their history.

Where one applicant’s history is likely to impact on the outcome of the joint application, encourage that applicant to disclose their history to the other applicant. If the applicant is unwilling to share their personal history, the reluctance to share and the impact of an applicant’s history must be discussed as part of the assessment.

For further information about the assessment of kinship carers and the additional and unique factors that may impact on a kinship carer applicant’s suitability, refer to the Kinship care program description.

At a minimum, at least one interview will occur with each kinship carer applicant, although this may be a joint interview, and where practicable, other members of the household should be encouraged to participate in interview discussions. More interviews may be required for complex or sensitive kinship carer assessments. At least one assessment interview must be held within the applicant's home.

When a sibling group is to be placed with a proposed kinship carer at the same time, conduct one assessment process, which takes into account the applicant’s ability to meet the needs of each individual child. If approved, a certificate of approval will be issued for each child.  

Where a placement is required in the future for additional siblings or other children who are kin to the approved kinship carer, a new approval decision and certificate of approval is required for each additional child. In this circumstance, the assessment of the proposed kinship carer does not require a completely new initial assessment as most of the required assessment information will have been gathered previously, for example, the carer’s family history, parenting style and ability to work with the department. Previously gathered assessment information should be used to inform the new approval decision, along with information gathered in relation to the carer’s ability to meet the specific needs of the additional children who require placement.

For information about the requirements for approval of a kinship carer, and the factors to consider and discuss during interviews with an applicant in relation to each assessment domain, refer to the Kinship carer initial assessment report guidelines (PDF) and the practice resources Legislative requirements for the approval of kinship carers (PDF, 30 KB) Legislative requirements for the approval of kinship carers (DOC, 68 KB) and Assessment of kinship carer applicants (PDF, 33 KB).

Subsequent applications for approval as a kinship carer

Where a placement is being considered for a sibling or another child who is kin of an approved kinship carer, a new certificate of approval is required for each additional child.

As part of an assessment for a subsequent application for approval to be a child’s kinship carer, consider the assessment information that was gathered as part of the assessment for the carer’s current certificate of approval, if the certificate of approval was issued within the last two years.

In these situations the following actions are required:

  • the lodgement of a new ‘Application for approval – Form 3 APA, Parts A and B, with relevant details of the child proposed for placement
  • a household safety study
  • updated personal history checks, provided through the Central Screening Unit
  • a 'Kinship carer initial assessment report' must be completed for each additional subject child
  • an approval or refusal decision by the CSSC manager, recorded on the ‘Form 4 Approval decision’ for each subject child a certificate of approval for each additional child.

The focus of the initial assessment for subsequent applications for approval to be a kinship carer for a child will be depend on:

  • how long ago the previous kinship carer assessment was undertaken (to inform the current approval)
  • the nature of any changes to the carer’s personal history, including any changes to adult household members
  • the carer’s demonstration of their ability to provide care to all children in the placement in accordance with the Statement of Standards.
  • the frequency and type of contact with the carer since the previous assessment – by the CSO and the foster and kinship care service

For information about the requirements for approval of a kinship carer, and the factors to consider and discuss during interviews with an applicant in relation to each assessment domain, refer to the Kinship carer initial assessment report guidelines (PDF, 851 KB) (PDF) and the practice resources Legislative requirements for the approval of kinship carers (PDF, 30 KB) (PDF) Legislative requirements for the approval of kinship carers (PDF, 30 KB) (DOC, 68 KB)  and Assessment of kinship carer applicants (PDF, 33 KB) (PDF).

2.5   Discretionary information checks

Discretionary information can be considered under the Child Protection Act 1999 and the Child Protection Regulation 2011 as part of kinship and foster carer assessments and reassessments. Discretionary checks should be conducted when additional information is required to inform the delegated officer’s (the CSSC Manager) consideration of whether a person is able to meet the Statement of Standards (Child Protection Act 1999, section 122) for a child or young person in care, and is assessed as suitable to hold a certificate of approval as a kinship or foster carer.

Any discretionary information checks must relate directly to informing the suitability decision and must be clearly recorded in the applicant’s assessment. Some discretionary checks can be completed by assessors e.g. referee checks. However there are some discretionary checks that the CSSC Manager who is responsible for considering the applicant’s assessment will need to action. Examples of some of these types of discretionary checks include but are not limited to:

  •  information from a GP or specialist regarding an applicant’s mental or physical health and wellbeing
  • information from an employer about a person’s employment history
  • information from other foster and kinship carer agencies if an applicant was previously approved as a foster or kinship carer either in Queensland or interstate.

These types of discretionary checks should be conducted as soon as the assessor or Child Safety staff identify this is required. Where the CSSC Manager is required to request the discretionary check, consultation between the assessor, kinship or foster care agency and the CSSC Manager should occur for the CSSC Manager to determine how the additional information will be requested. The PSU where appropriate may also be consulted. The assessor must speak with the applicant/s and clearly advise why this discretionary information is being requested (i.e. this information is required by the CSSC Manager to make an informed suitability decision) and obtain the applicant’s consent to conduct the check. The assessor must also advise the applicant/s that this information will be discussed with the applicant/s, assessed and recorded in their assessment. If an applicant/s does not give consent for a discretionary check to be conducted, then the assessor must advise the applicant/s that this will also be discussed with them and recorded in their assessment for the CSSC Manager to consider. The assessor should also make the applicant aware that if discretionary information can’t be obtained, it may affect the CSSC Manager’s ability to be satisfied whether the applicant is suitable to be a kinship or foster carer.

Conduct referee checks, if applicable

The purpose of conducting a referee check is to obtain a character reference about an applicant. The referee check provides general information about an applicant's parenting practices and values, and the nature of their relationship with their own children.

The conduct of referee checks is discretionary and may occur at any point throughout the assessment process based on information available to the person undertaking the assessment, or at the request of the CSSC manager upon considering the assessment report. In either case, the referee check itself is conducted by the person undertaking the assessment. Referee checks are to be conducted by phone wherever possible.

Referee checks should be considered in circumstances where:

  • concerns about the applicant's suitability are identified
  • inconsistent information is obtained during the assessment process.

Consider the following persons as potential referees:

  • the applicant's employer, where the applicant works or volunteers in child-related employment
  • a non-relative of the applicant
  • the applicant’s line manager, if the applicant is a Child Safety employee.

To conduct a referee check:

  • contact the applicant to inform them of the decision and ask them to nominate referees and provide contact details
  • phone the referee, explain that they have been nominated as a referee for the applicant and determine whether they are prepared to provide a reference about the character of the applicant
  • inform the referee that any concerns raised about the applicant will be discussed, partially or in full, with the applicant, as part of the assessment process
  • use the 'Referee questionnaire for carer applicants' or 'Employer Reference for Carer Applicant', created in ICMS, to guide the discussion with the referee, and record the information provided by the referee
  • place the original, completed referee questionnaire on the applicant's file and attach a copy to the 'EOI/Application' in ICMS
  • record referee questionnaire details under 'Additional sources of information' in the 'Assessment' tab in ICMS.

Where the referee check cannot be undertaken by phone, complete the 'Letter to referee' in ICMS, attach the 'Referee questionnaire for carer applicants' or the 'Employer Reference for Carer Applicant' and post the information to the referee, along with a reply paid envelope.

Where the nominated referee declines to provide a reference for the applicant, given that any concerns they raise will be discussed with the applicant, ask if they are willing to provide a reason for their decision. This may provide useful information for the assessment, as well as guide the referee check process.

When a nominated referee declines to respond, ask the applicant to nominate an alternative referee.

When assessing information obtained from the referee, consider:

  • whether the information confirms or conflicts with the information already collected, and observations made, during the assessment process
  • the relationship and length of time the referee has known the applicant.

Discuss any concerns raised by the referee with the applicant and where necessary, seek further clarifying information from the referee, or another referee.

Record the rationale for conducting the referee check and the outcome in the relevant section of the:

Conduct medical checks, if applicable

The conduct of medical checks is discretionary. The CSSC manager may decide that an applicant requires a medical check at any stage of the assessment process.

The purpose of conducting a medical check is to ensure that any physical or mental health issue for the applicant will not prevent them from fulfilling their responsibilities as an approved carer, and would not significantly impact on any child to be placed with them should they be approved.

Information obtained during assessment interviews, as well as the completed 'Carer applicant health and wellbeing questionnaire', provided by the applicant upon application, refer to 1.7 Lodge the application, will inform the decision as to whether a medical check is necessary. Sufficient information must be gathered about the nature and potential impact of the medical condition, to enable an informed approval decision to be made.

Conduct the medical check

To conduct a medical check:

  • discuss the health issue with the CSSC manager and request their approval for the conduct of a medical check
  • inform the applicant of the decision and encourage them to openly discuss their health issues with their doctor
  • check the contact details for the applicant's doctor
  • encourage the applicant to locate a doctor who will charge the scheduled fee for this service
  • ensure the applicant has signed the 'Carer Applicant Authority to Release Medical Information' section of the 'Carer applicant health and wellbeing questionnaire' created in ICMS, to provide written consent to the doctor for the release of their medical information
  • forward the following documents to the applicant prior to their medical appointment, and request that the applicant provides these documents to their doctor:
    • a photocopy of the completed 'Carer applicant health and wellbeing questionnaire'
    • 'Letter to general practitioner', created in ICMS
    • 'General practitioner's report on carer applicant', created in ICMS
  • record the rationale for conducting a medical check.

Should additional costs be incurred by the applicant, Child Safety may reimburse the cost under account code 51020 - Medical/Dental - General.

If an applicant has provided written consent to the doctor for release of medical records, the doctor will not be liable for any breach of confidentiality. The signed consent however does not compel a doctor to release records or speak about the client. If a doctor is not co-operating in relation to such a request, it is the applicant's responsibility to request that the doctor releases information on their behalf, for the purposes of the assessment.

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

Ensure that the original, completed doctor's report is retained on the applicant's file.

Following the medical check

Once the medical check has been completed:

  • consider the information available from both the health questionnaire, the doctor's report and the applicant’s care plan if they have a communicable disease
  • where additional information is required, explore the health issue or medical assessment outcome in detail with the doctor or the applicant
  • where appropriate, request that the applicant provide any past medical assessments or records which will provide further detail or clarification
  • if necessary, seek a more detailed written or verbal report or care plan from a doctor with experience in treating either the applicant or the specific condition, including:
    • advice as to whether the condition will impact on the applicant's capacity to provide care for children and if so, in what ways
    • the level of risk of transmission of a communicable diseases to others
    • any health precautions required by others in the household to minimise the risk of transmission of a communicable disease, for example, vaccination of children
    • a plan for the management of the condition, or communicable disease, should the applicant be approved as a foster or kinship carer.

Communicable diseases

Queensland Health is responsible for the surveillance, prevention and control of communicable diseases, for example HIV, Hepatitis A, B or C. In circumstances where a carer applicant has a communicable disease, the applicant must undergo a medical assessment by their treating medical practitioner or specialist to assist with the assessment and decision-making process for the application.

A report from the medical practitioner or specialist should include:  

  • the type of communicable disease and related universal precautions
  • the level of risk of transmission to others
  • the impact of the communicable disease, if any, on the persons capacity to care for children, including the impact of any changes in health
  • any health precautions required by others in the household to minimise risk of transmission of the communicable disease, for example vaccination
  • a copy of the applicants care plan for the management of the condition, where developed
  • the applicants understanding of the communicable disease, compliance with their care plan and adherence to universal precautions.

A carer applicant cannot be refused approval to become a carer based solely on the existence of a communicable disease. The CSSC manager must take into account the medical report or care plan, the applicant’s understanding and compliance with universal precautions, the risk of transmission to others and the capacity of the carer to care for children, including periods of ill health.

The applicant’s willingness to share their health status with children and their parents, if they are approved, will also be considered in the assessment interviews.

Child Safety may reimburse the costs associated with any additional assessments or pay for any consultants contracted, under account code 51020 - Medical/Dental - General.

Infection control processes must observe the principles of Information Privacy Act 2009 (PDF). Complaints regarding breaches of the standard must be dealt with through the complaints procedure outlined in Child Safety's Information privacy statement (PDF).

Record the outcome of the medical check in the relevant section of the:

Attach a copy of the doctor's report, or the care plan, to the 'EOI/Application' in ICMS and record details of the report under 'Additional sources of information' in the 'Assessment' tab in ICMS.

2.6 Assess the application for approval

The assessment of foster and kinship carer applicants is a process of collecting information about the applicant's abilities and potential to provide foster or kinship care to a child and formulate a recommendation about their suitability.

To assess and approve an applicant requiring provisional approval, refer to 1. What if the applicant requires provisional approval?

To assess the application and determine whether the applicant meets all suitability requirements, consider all information obtained during the assessment process, taking into account:

  • their ability to meet the statement of standards - refer to Standards of care (PDF, 40 KB)
  • the outcomes of personal history checks on the applicant and if applicable, adult household members
  • any history of concerns about the quality of care provided by the applicant, if they have previously been an approved carer in Queensland or another jurisdiction
  • information from the applicant's participation in pre-service training
  • the outcome of the household safety study and the completed 'Carer applicant health and wellbeing questionnaire'
  • referee reports, outcomes of medical checks or assessments and information from other jurisdictions, if applicable
  • the views of the child and family about the proposed kinship carer for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child
  • if providing another regulated services from the home, the applicants capacity to provide quality care to children placed with them
  • any additional assessment required for a Child Safety employee.

2.7 Complete the assessment report

Once all the assessment activities have been undertaken, complete:

These assessment reports are intended to be a brief summary of all the information gathered and assessed, as outlined in 2.6 Assess the application for approval, including:

  • a few paragraphs relating to each topic
  • any confidential information relevant to the assessment
  • information about any proposed use of conditions on the certificate of approval, if applicable
  • a recommendation to the CSSC manager about the applicant's suitability to be issued with a certificate of approval and the rationale for the recommendation.

If the applicant is a Child Safety employee, also complete the Advice to regional director form and if applicable, the Conflict of interest declaration, as outlined in 3. What if a carer or carer applicant is also a Child Safety employee?

Where the assessment of a foster carer is undertaken by the PSU or the foster and kinship care service with whom the carer will be affiliated following approval, the relevant PSU or foster and kinship care service is responsible for developing a Foster Carer Agreement (DOCX) with the applicant as part of the approval process, where possible - refer to 3.5 Complete a foster carer agreement.

When considering the inclusion of conditions on a certificate of approval for a foster carer applicant, in the first instance, determine whether the condition can be included in the 'Foster Carer Agreement' - refer to 3.5 Complete a foster carer agreement. If conditions should change, a foster carer agreement can be updated without difficulty, whereas changing conditions on a certificate of approval is a more complex process and will require an amendment to the certificate.

Prior to finalising either the 'Form 3A' or the 'Kinship carer initial assessment report':

  • share observations and reflections with the applicant and give them feedback about the conclusions being reached
  • incorporate relevant comments and feedback from the applicant in the report.

Where the assessment is quality assured by another Child Safety officer, record any quality assurance details in the 'Assessment' tab in ICMS, where applicable.

Once the 'Form 3A' or 'Kinship carer initial assessment report' and 'Foster Carer Agreement', where relevant, is finalised:

  • provide a copy of the final 'Form 3A' or 'Kinship carer initial assessment report', and 'Foster Carer Agreement', where relevant, to the applicant
  • attach a copy of the 'Form 3A' or 'Kinship carer initial assessment report' to the 'EOI/Application' in ICMS
  • attach a copy of the 'Foster Carer Agreement', where relevant, to the carer's 'Monitor and Support' screen in ICMS
  • record 'Assessment recommendation' details in the 'Assessment' tab in ICMS
  • inform the CSSC manager that relevant assessment information is available in ICMS and provide them with the 'Form 4' for a decision
  • complete the 'Form 4: Approval decision' in ICMS
  • record 'Application submission details' in the 'Approval/Refusal' tab in ICMS.

Do not provide the applicant with a copy of the 'Form 4: Approval decision'.

File copies of all interview records, reports, handouts and self-assessments on the applicant's paper file.