3. Approval

3.1 Decide the outcome of the application for approval

To approve an application the CSSC manager must be satisfied that the applicant is suitable based on all aspects of suitability. When an applicant does not meet one or more aspects of suitability, the application must be refused.

Where reference is made to the CSSC or CSSC manager, this refers to the CSSC or CSSC manager in the geographical area where the carer resides, or the foster and kinship care service conducting the assessment is located. The exception to this is where the application is for a kinship carer who resides in another geographical area and the child's case is to be transferred to the CSSC where the applicant resides. In this circumstance, the CSSC manager with case management responsibility for the child is responsible for the approval of the kinship carer, and any references in this procedure relate to the CSSC and CSSC manager with case management responsibility for the child.

If the applicant is a Child Safety employee, the regional director must decide the outcome of the application, as outlined in 3. What if a carer or carer applicant is also a Child Safety employee?

Unless an application is withdrawn by the applicant in writing, or refused based on adverse personal history, the CSSC manager is delegated to approve or refuse the application:

If a decision is not made within either of the above timeframes, the application is taken to be refused and the applicant is provided with written notice of the refusal decision, refer to 3.4 Refuse the application.

When deciding the outcome of an application for approval, the CSSC manager will consider all information provided and the legislative and policy requirements for suitability, including:

  • the outcomes of all applications for a blue card or exemption card, or the validation of a blue card and all personal history checks, as recorded on the 'Form 4: Approval decision'
  • information in the 'Form 3A: Foster carer applicant assessment and recommendation form - Initial approval only' or 'Kinship carer initial assessment report'
  • whether the applicant is a suitable person to be an approved foster or kinship carer
  • the views of the child and family about the proposed kinship carer for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child.

The approval decision may be informed by the convening of an assessment panel however a CSSC manager must decide the outcome of the application.

For further information about the legislative and policy requirements underpinning approval, refer to the practice paper Assessment of foster carer applicants (PDF) or 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).

Note: The CSSC manager may decide the outcome of an application, prior to the finalisation of personal history checks for a new adult household member, that joined the household after the application has been lodged.

Assessment panels

Where assessment panels are convened to assist with deciding the outcome of carer applications, it remains the responsibility of the CSSC manager to make the final decision to approve or refuse an application.

Panel participants may receive personal history information about applicants considered by the panel. Prior to participating in assessment panels, provide panel participants external to Child Safety 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), which outlines their privacy and confidentiality obligations.

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3.2 Extend the timeframe for deciding the initial application

Where an initial application is unlikely to be decided within 90 days of the 'properly made' date, it is possible to extend the timeframe once only. The extension is to be for the minimum amount of time required to decide the application, as agreed to by the applicant in writing.

When an extension is required, the following actions are required by the CSSC manager, before the 90 day period for deciding the application ends:

  • contact the applicant and discuss the reason for the application not being decided within 90 days and the additional time required to decide the application
  • seek the agreement of the applicant to the extension and new timeframe for deciding the application
  • complete the 'Letter requesting an extension to Form APA' created in ICMS, and request that the applicant signs and returns the agreement
  • record the ‘Application extension’ details in the ‘Lodgement/Withdrawal’ tab in ICMS to ensure the application expiry date is updated in ICMS 
  • place a copy of the letter and the signed agreement on the applicant's file and attach a copy to the 'EOI/Application' in ICMS.

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3.3 Approve the application

To approve the application, the CSSC manager, or regional director for a Child Safety employee, will record the approval decision, along with any relevant comments, on the 'Form 4: Approval decision', and sign the form.

When the application is approved, advise the applicant:

  • that their application has been approved
  • that they are legally obligated to inform Child Safety of specific changes in carer circumstances and that copies of the 'Change in carer circumstances' form, created in ICMS, will be posted to them, for their future completion, if necessary, refer to 2. What if there is a change in carer circumstances?.

Following the provision of the above advice to the approved carer:

For information about the certificate of approval, refer to the practice resource Completing the Certificate of Approval (PDF, 27 KB).

Note: A kinship carer requires a separate certificate of approval for each child for whom they are approved. A 'Certificate of Approval -Kinship carer' cannot be amended to change the child for whom the carer is approved.

Following approval

Following the issuing of a certificate of approval:

  • hold discussions with the approved carer to negotiate support arrangements, where this has not already occurred
  • provide the carer with information about:
    • the Foster and Kinship Carer Support Line, available on telephone 1300 729 309, Monday to Friday 5.00pm - 11.30pm and Saturday and Sunday 7.00am - 11.30pm
    • the role and contact details for the Child Safety After Hours Service Centre
    • the range of allowances they may be eligible for when caring for a child
  • create a ‘Monitor and Support’ screen from the ‘Approval’ tab from the carer entity record in ICMS, to enable recording of the carer’s support needs during their time as a carer.

The support required for any approved carer, specific to the goals of the placement for a particular child, is negotiated with the carer and documented in the placement agreement for the child. For kinship carers, their support and development needs must be captured in a placement agreement as they are not required to have a 'Foster Carer Agreement'.

If approved carers also provide other regulated services from their home, ensure that their specific support needs are detailed in the Foster Care Agreement for foster carers and the Placement Agreement for kinship carers.

For further information about developing a placement agreement, refer to Chapter 5, 1.9 Complete a placement agreement. For further information in relation to support arrangements, refer to Chapter 9, 1. Provide support to carers and the practice resource Negotiating support arrangements for approved carers (PDF, 22 KB) Negotiating support arrangements for approved carers (DOC, 84 KB) and practice paper Carer support (PDF, 502 KB) Carer support (RTF, 326 KB).

The general support needs of foster carers will be negotiated as part of developing the carer development and support plan within the 'Foster Carer Agreement', created in ICMS, refer to 3.5 Complete a foster carer agreement.

Monitor carer availability

During the period of the carer's approval, the PSU is responsible for updating the carer’s ‘Carer entity status’ in ICMS to reflect periods of time when the carer is temporarily unavailable to provide placements but remains approved (‘inactive’ status). Extended periods of inactivity may be considered when reviewing a carer’s support needs and during the carer’s renewal of approval process, depending on the reasons the carer has been unavailable or unable to provide placements. For further information about updating a carer’s status, refer to Chapter 5, 1.4 Determine the most suitable placement type.

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3.4 Refuse the application

Refusal - not on blue card or exemption card grounds

When an application for approval or renewal of approval is refused by the CSSC manager, or the regional director for a Child Safety employee, and the refusal is not on blue card or exemption card grounds:

  • record the refusal decision on 'Form 4' and as 'Not approved' in the 'Approval/Refusal' tab in ICMS
  • provide the applicant with written notice of the decision within 10 days, using the 'Letter of refusal' created in ICMS
  • record an 'alert' on each applicant's person record, refer to Chapter 1, 9. What if an alert needs to be recorded in ICMS?
  • record the alert 'start date' as the date the decision was made to refuse the application.

For an application for renewal of approval, the carer’s approval status will automatically be updated and the end date will reflect the 'Not approved' decision date as recorded in the 'Approval/Refusal' tab in ICMS

The CSU must be notified (by email, telephone or in writing) of the decision to refuse the application, if:

  • the applicant does not seek a review of the decision within the required timeframe, or
  • they do seek a review of the decision and QCAT upholds the Child Safety's decision.

Where the person applies for a decision review by QCAT, reopen the closed EOI/Application and record 'Reviewable decision' details in the 'Approval/Refusal' tab in ICMS.

Where QCAT amends the 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 QCAT decision in ICMS
  • advise the CSU of the amended decision
  • close the alert that was created when the application was refused.

Refusal - on blue card or exemption card grounds

When an application for approval or renewal of approval is refused by the CSSC manager and the refusal is due to blue card or exemption card grounds:

  • provide the applicant with written notice of the decision within 10 days, using the 'Letter of refusal', created in ICMS
  • explain in the letter the reasons for the decision and that there are no review rights under the Child Protection Act 1999, schedule 2, in relation to the Chid Safety's decision to refuse approval or renewal of approval on blue card or exemption card grounds
  • record the refusal decision in ICMS (see above).

Refusal - when outcome of initial application is not decided within the required timeframe

If an initial carer application is not decided within the 90 day period, or within the period of extension as agreed in writing, the application must be refused. In this circumstance, when an application for approval is refused by the CSSC manager:

  • provide the applicant with written notice of the decision within 10 days, using the 'Letter of refusal - expiry of application', created in ICMS
  • record the refusal decision on 'Form 4' and as ‘Not approved’ in the 'Approval/Refusal' tab in ICMS
  • do not record an 'alert' on the applicant.

When an application for initial approval is not decided within the 90 day period, or within the subsequent extension period as agreed in writing, the proposed carers will need to submit a new 'Application for approval - Form 3 APA', if they wish to proceed with an application.

Note: Refusing an application due to the application expiring is a reviewable decision.

Where the person applies for a decision review by QCAT, reopen the closed EOI/Application and record 'Reviewable decision' details in the 'Approval/Refusal' tab in ICMS.

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

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3.5 Complete a foster carer agreement

Child Safety is responsible for the provision of support and effective management processes to enable approved carers to meet their legislative responsibilities under the Child Protection Act 1999, including enabling them to provide a level of care consistent with the legislated statement of standards.

Together, Child Safety, foster and kinship care services and foster carers, share the responsibility to actively identify, promote and address their support and training needs.

If a ‘Foster Carer Agreement’ was not completed with the carer as part of the approval process, it is to be completed with the foster carer as soon as possible following the issuing of the certificate of approval and prior to the carer commencing their first placement for a child. It is a written agreement, negotiated between each foster carer and Child Safety or a foster and kinship care service, that:

  • sets out the terms, conditions and responsibilities of the relationship between the foster carer and the CSSC and PSU or the foster and kinship care service
  • includes a plan for the carer’s ongoing development and support needs.

A foster carer agreement is not completed for a kinship carer, as their support needs are specific to the child placed in their care and are recorded in the placement agreement. Support activities that require follow up for a kinship carer will be recorded as a ‘Kinship care support’ follow up activity in the carer’s ‘Monitor and Support’ screen in ICMS.

The PSU is responsible for developing the foster carer agreement with a foster carer who is affiliated with Child Safety. The foster and kinship care service is responsible for developing a foster carer agreement with a foster carer who is affiliated with a foster and kinship care service, however, the PSU or CSSC may also be involved in this process when a carer has a significant history of not meeting the standards of care.

For further information about quality of care issues, refer to Chapter 9, Standards of care.

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

Prior to completing the foster carer agreement with the foster carer, discuss and agree on:

  • the type of care to be provided
  • the placement types for which the carer family are not able to provide care, taking into consideration the assessment information documented in Form 3A (for initial approval) or Form 3B (for renewal of approval)
  • the needs of the foster carer family
  • additional supports required by a carer who is also a departmental employee
  • additional supports and considerations required by a carer who provides other regulated care services from their home.

Following the discussion:

  • complete the Foster Carer Agreement (DOCX) with the foster carer and include:
    • the carer’s placement considerations and capacity
    • the carer’s development and support plan
  • request that the foster carer signs the ‘Foster Carer Agreement’, to signify their agreement that the recorded information is a true and correct record of discussions held
  • provide the foster carer with a copy of the final, signed ‘Foster Carer Agreement’
  • attach a copy of the ‘Foster Carer Agreement’ to the carer’s ‘Monitor and Support’ screen in ICMS and file the original on the carer’s file
  • provide a copy to the foster and kinship care service, where applicable.

Activities identified in the foster carer agreement may be recorded as ‘Foster Carer Agreement’ follow up activities created in the carer’s ‘Monitor and Support’ screen in ICMS.

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