4. Renewal

4.1 Complete standard and advanced training

Other than in exceptional circumstances, an approved foster carer must complete the following training:

  • Standard training: three modules, each of three hours duration - within the first 12 months and, as a prerequisite for their first renewal of approval as a foster carer.
  • Advanced training: minimum of 8 hours - within two years and as a prerequisite for their second renewal of approval as a foster carer – thereafter it is optional for subsequent renewals.

The content of the standard training modules may be delivered in a range of flexible ways, including one-to-one in the applicant’s home, if necessary.

The completion of associated learning journals is at the discretion of the foster carer.

Following the completion of standard and advanced training, further participation in advanced training modules occurs at the foster carer’s discretion.  

Kinship carers are not required to complete standard and advanced training, however, they may choose to participate in standard or advanced training, to assist them in meeting their support and learning needs.

Note: Where the partner of a foster carer is genuinely unable to participate in standard 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 foster carers may be granted renewal of approval, with the condition (recorded on the certificate of approval) that the applicable partner completes standard training when their circumstances change. In exceptional circumstances, the CSSC manager may approve an extension of up to six months for the completion of standard training, or if necessary, waive the requirement entirely.

Any suitable person who is granted the long-term guardianship of a child, may choose to participate in training as a support to the care arrangement. For further information, refer to Chapter 3, 1. What if the child has a has long-term guardianship? and the Procedures and guidelines for Quality Care: Foster Care Training.

During a carer’s period of approval, the PSU will record the carer’s training participation and competencies details in the ‘M&S activities’ tab in the carer’s ‘Monitor and Support’ screen in ICMS.

When a carer decides to renew their approval, the training participation and competencies details will automatically appear in the ‘Assessment’ tab of the carer’s ‘EOI/Application’ for renewal in ICMS.

The renewal of approval is the process of assessing the continued suitability of the carer and any adult household members, taking into consideration whether the carer has met the standards of care for children placed with them during the preceding one or two year period, and their continued commitment to meeting the suitability requirements set out in legislation and policy.

Approved foster and kinship carers must make an application for the renewal of their approval prior to the expiry of the current certificate of approval, if they wish to continue as approved carers.

Where the existing certificate of approval has expired before the carer makes an application, the application cannot be progressed as an application for renewal of approval. In this case, the applicant will need to lodge an application for initial approval and complete the ‘Application for approval - Form 3 APA’ (Part A), created in ICMS.

4.2 Invite an application for renewal of approval

An approved foster or kinship carer is required to renew their approval one year from the date of initial approval and every two years thereafter.

Regardless of whether the assessment process will be undertaken by a foster or kinship care service, a private contractor or a Child Safety officer, the PSU is responsible for inviting a foster or kinship carer to renew their certificate of approval.

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

Commence the renewal assessment process at the 'scheduled review date', which is three months prior to the expiry of the current certificate of approval. This should allow adequate time for the renewal process to be finalised prior to the expiry of the current certificate. Applications for renewal must be lodged, and ‘properly made’, prior to the expiry date of the current certificate of approval.

For information about the definition of 'properly made', refer to 1.7 Lodge the application.

Three months prior to the expiry date of the current certificate of approval, complete and send the 'Letter inviting application for renewal of approval', created in ICMS, to the carer, along with the following attachments:

Record the renewal invitation details in the 'M&S activities' tab in the carer's 'Monitor and Support' screen in ICMS.

A long-term guardian or permanent guardian will only need to renew their approval if they intend to continue caring for other children in care.

Should the carer not wish to renew their approval status, they will need to inform Child Safety as soon as possible to ensure minimal disruption to the child, as the child will need to be placed with another carer prior to the current certificate of approval expiry date - refer to 7. What if the foster or kinship carer decides to cease being a carer?

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?

4.3 Lodge the application for renewal

If a carer wishes to renew their approval, create an EOI/Application for renewal in the 'EOI/Applications' tab from the carer entity record in ICMS.

The carer must complete the application, attach photocopies of identification documents, where available and lodge the application with the CSSC, so as to ensure the application is 'properly made', prior to the expiry date of their current certificate of approval.

Note: Referee checks are not required at renewal of approval.

Complete the application documentation

When the carer decides to apply to renew their approval, use the Application for approval - Form 3 APA - Guide to completion (PDF) and:

  • request that the applicant and all adult household members complete the 'APA form' - Part C, created in ICMS - refer to the Adult household member guidelines
  • complete Part D of the 'APA form' in ICMS
  • ensure the applicant completes a 'Carer applicant health and wellbeing questionnaire', created in ICMS, if applicable
  • request that the applicant completes the Interview resource: Statement of standards (PDF), and attach a copy to the 'EOI/Application' in ICMS.

Blue card application (PDF) or blue card validation (PDF) forms are only provided at renewal where an applicant’s blue card renewal date coincides with the renewal of approval – refer to 4.4 Facilitate personal history checks.

If a blue card application form is completed as part of the application for renewal of approval, Child Safety staff must inform the blue card applicant that it is an offence for a disqualified person to sign a ‘blue card application’, as required by the Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening) Act 2000. This requirement applies even when a prescribed person has verified a person’s identity. For further information, refer to the practice resource Mandatory advice to blue card applicants (PDF, 133 KB).

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.

Ensure the application for renewal is 'properly made'

Prior to accepting an application for renewal from the applicant, ensure that the application is 'properly made' - refer to 1.8 Lodge the application.

Record the 'APA form' lodgment in ICMS

Record the ‘Application lodgement’ and ‘Verification of identity’ details in the ‘Lodgement/Withdrawal’ tab and attach all relevant forms to the ‘EOI/Application’ in ICMS.

4.4 Facilitate personal history checks

Once the application has been ‘properly made’ and the application lodgement details have been recorded in ICMS, email the CSU immediately, to advise the personal history checks can commence.

The conduct of personal history checks should not delay the commencement of the assessment of the application for renewal of approval.

The renewal of a blue card

The blue card requires renewal every three years. Blue card renewal does not occur as part of the application for renewal of approval process. Blue Card Services will notify exisitng blue card holders sixteen weeks before their cards expire. Approved carers and adult household members are required to lodge a renewal application at least 30 days prior to the expiry of their card using the Volunteer foster/kinship carer or adult member blue/exemption card application (PDF) form.

4.5 Complete a Household safety study

The continued safety of the carer household is an important aspect of the renewal assessment. The purpose of completing the household safety study at this time is to ensure the carers continued commitment to the safety of children, and that the carer is maintaining a safe environment in accordance with the legislative requirements and safe practices.

The household safety study completed at this time should consider the ages and needs of the child who are already residing in the house, and the ages and needs of children that may be placed with the carer in the future, as outlined in the Foster Care Agreement.

Complete a new ‘Form 2: Household safety study’ in ICMS, in accordance with 2.3 Conduct a household safety study.

Attach the completed ‘Form 2’ to the ‘Application’ in ICMS and submit to the CSSC Manager as part of the assessment documentation.

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.

4.6 Conduct medical checks, if applicable

The conduct of medical checks at renewal of approval is at the discretion of the CSSC manager. Where relevant, consideration should be given to any change in the applicant's health status during the preceding one or two year period and whether this may impact on the capacity of the applicant to fulfil the foster or kinship carer role.

If required, conduct medical checks, on the applicant, refer to 2.5 Discretionary informaiton checks, Conduct medical checks, if applicable and record the outcome of the medical check in the relevant section of the:

  • 'Form 3B: Foster carer applicant assessment and recommendation form - Renewal of approval only' (Form 3B) in ICMS, for a foster carer applicant
  • 'Kinship carer renewal assessment report', in ICMS, for a kinship carer applicant.

Communicable diseases

Where the carer has a communicable disease, ensure that the carer has complied with their medical care plan, the recommended universal precautions and that they continue to minimise the risk of transmission of the disease to others in the household.

Relevant information can be obtained from assessment interviews, observations and the carer’s file and ICMS records. A health report or letter from the carer’s medical practitioner or specialist may be necessary to establish the impact of any significant changes in the disease, the health and capacity of the carer or risks of transmission of the disease to others.

To assist with the renewal of approval decision, where it is identified that a carer has contracted a communicable disease during the approval period, refer to 2.5 Discretionary information checks for the relevant information required in the medical assessment of the carer.

Attach any relevant forms to the ‘EOI/Application’ in ICMS and record details of the general practitioner’s report under ‘Additional sources of information’ in the ‘Assessment’ tab in ICMS.

4.7 Assess the application for renewal

The assessment of an application for renewal of approval should be relatively straightforward in most cases, given that for the preceding one or two year period:

  • the applicant has demonstrated an ability to provide foster or kinship care and to meet suitability requirements
  • one or more Child Safety officers, or a staff member from a foster and kinship care service, will have been in regular contact with the applicant to provide support to the applicant and undertake case work with any child placed with the carer.

In these circumstances, the assessment of the application for renewal of approval is primarily a process of:

  • conducting assessment interviews with each carer applicant, although this may be a joint interview. Where practicable, other members of the household should be encouraged to participate in interview discussions
  • gathering relevant information from identified sources
  • analysing the information to determine whether the applicant has met, and continues to meet, all legislative and policy suitability requirements.

The assessment of the application for renewal of approval will focus on changes since the previous assessment, and include demonstrated examples of how the applicant has provided care in a manner consistent with the legislated statement of standards, and met other suitability requirements.

Alternatively, where there has been limited or infrequent contact with the applicant for the preceding one or two year period, or there have been significant issues of concern regarding the quality of care provided by the applicant or their suitability, the assessment will need to be more comprehensive, and consist of more structured assessment interviews.

For specific information about factors to consider during the assessment of an application for renewal of 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).

Consideration of change in circumstances

Where the carer has notified Child Safety of a change in circumstance, ensure that this information is documented and assessed. Other relevant information can be obtained from assessment interviews, carers file and ICMS records.

To assist with the renewal of approval decision, where it is identified the carer has a change in circumstance, for example providing other regulated services from the home, refer to 2. What if there is a change in carer circumstances? for relevant information required to assess suitability of the applicant to fulfil the foster or kinship carer role.

Attach any relevant forms to the ‘EOI/Application’ in ICMS and record details of the change in circumstances under ‘Additional sources of information’ in the ‘Assessment’ tab in ICMS

Assessing the application for renewal of 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 demonstrated ability to meet the statement of standards
  • information obtained by reviewing the applicant's ICMS records and file, speaking with the child's case worker and having contact with the applicant
  • the completed Interview resource: Statement of standards (PDF)
  • information from the applicant's participation in standard or advanced training, including, where applicable, the applicant's completed learning journals
  • the outcomes of any standards of care reviews or harm report investigations and assessments which have been responded to for the preceding one or two year period
  • the outcomes of personal history checks on the applicant and if applicable, adult household members
  • information from additional sources, for example, an updated 'Carer applicant health and wellbeing questionnaire', 'general practitioner's report on carer applicant', medical assessments or 'Household safety study'
  • the views of the child and family about the kinship carer for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child
  • the kinship carer applicant's ability to continue to meet the needs of the particular child in their care, by considering the progression of the child's case plan and determining whether the applicant is facilitating the agreed case plan goals and actions.

The Form 3B - Guidelines for completing assessment report - Renewal of approval only (PDF) provides guidance for the renewal assessment of foster carers. The Kinship carer renewal assessment report guidelines (PDF) only provides guidance for the renewal assessment for kinship carers.

If applicable, complete the additional assessment activities associated with an application for the renewal of approval of an approved carer who is a Child Safety employee - refer to 3. What if a carer or carer applicant is also a Child Safety employee?

4.8 Complete the renewal assessment report

Once all the assessment activities have been undertaken, complete:

The assessment reports are intended to be a brief summary of all the information gathered and assessed, as outlined in 4.6 Assess the application for renewal, 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 'renewed' certificate of approval and the rationale for the recommendation.

If the applicant is a Child Safety employee, 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?

When considering the use of conditions on the certificate of approval, firstly consider whether the conditions can be included in the 'Foster Carer Agreement', created in ICMS, refer to 2.7 Complete the assessment report and 4.11 Review the foster carer agreement.

Prior to finalising either the 'Form 3B' or the 'Kinship carer renewal assessment report':

  • share observations and reflections with the applicant and give them feedback about the conclusions being reached
  • include feedback about the assessment from the applicant, in the report.

Once the 'Form 3B' or 'Kinship carer renewal assessment report', and review of the 'Foster Carer Agreement', where relevant, is finalised:

  • provide a copy of the final 'Form 3B' or 'Kinship carer renewal assessment report', and 'Foster Carer Agreement', where relevant, to the applicant
  • attach a copy of the final ‘Form 3B’ or ‘Kinship carer renewal assessment report’ to the ‘EOI/Application’ in ICMS
  • attach a copy of the reviewed 'Foster Carer Agreement' to the carer's 'Monitor and Support' screen in ICMS
  • complete the 'Form 4: Approval decision', created ICMS, which includes the outcomes of the application for a blue card, for an exemption card or to validate a blue card, where applicable, and personal history checks conducted by the CSU
  • record the 'Assessment quality assurance' details, where applicable, and the 'Assessment recommendation' details in the 'Assessment' tab in ICMS
  • inform the CSSC manager that the assessment report and relevant assessment information is available in ICMS and provide them with the 'Form 4: Approval decision' for a decision
  • record the '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.

4.9 Decide the outcome of the application for renewal

Prior to granting renewal of approval, the CSSC manager, or the regional director for a Child Safety employee, must be satisfied that the applicant is suitable based on all aspects of suitability.

Unless an application is withdrawn by the applicant in writing, or refused based on an adverse personal history, the CSSC manager, or the regional director where applicable, is delegated to approve or refuse the application. Where possible, the renewal decision should be made within three months of the date the application was 'properly made'. If an application for renewal is unlikely to be decided within three months and more time is required, ensure the applicant is advised of the delay and the reasons for the delay.

Where the application for renewal is ‘properly made' prior to the current certificate of approval expiry date, the current certificate of approval continues in force until the decision regarding the application for renewal of approval is made, regardless of the timeframe for the renewal decision.

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

  • the outcomes of all applications for a blue card, exemption card or the validation of a blue card, where applicable, and all personal history checks, as recorded in ICMS and on the 'Form 4: Approval decision'
  • whether the applicant continues to be a suitable person to be an approved carer, including for a kinship carer, whether the ongoing placement of the child is consistent with the agreed case plan for the child and continues to be in the best interests of the child
  • whether the applicant has demonstrated an ability to provide care to the child in a manner consistent with the statement of standards, for the preceding one or two year period, as outlined in the 'Form 3B: Foster carer applicant assessment and recommendation form - Renewal of approval only' or the 'Kinship carer renewal assessment report'
  • whether the applicant is providing or intending to provide other regulated services from the home and the impact these could have on the capacity of the carer applicant to continue to provide quality care to children placed with them
  • the views of the child and family about a kinship carer for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child, if applicable
  • the Advice to regional director form and if applicable, the Conflict of interest declaration, for an applicant who is a Child Safety an employee.

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

Note: When a new adult has completed the 'New adult household member' form and a 'blue card application', 'blue card validation' or 'blue card exemption' form, after an application for renewal of approval has been 'properly made', the approval process for the applicant may be completed prior to the new adult household member being issued with a blue card or exemption card, or prior to Blue Card Services validating the new adult household member's existing blue card (Child Protection Act 1999, section 135(2)).

4.10 Approve the application for renewal

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

Following approval by the CSSC manager, or the regional director where applicable:

  • attach a final copy of 'Form 4: Approval decision' to the 'EOI/Application' in ICMS
  • record 'Application outcome' details in the 'Approval/Refusal' tab in ICMS, with a scheduled review date of three months prior to expiry.

When the application is approved, advise the approved carer:

  • that their application for renewal 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:

  • complete the 'Letter of renewal as a foster carer' or 'Letter of renewal as a kinship carer', created in ICMS
  • complete the 'Certificate of Approval - Foster carer' or 'Certificate of Approval - Kinship carer', created in ICMS
  • provide the following to the approved carer:
  • attach a copy of the certificate of approval and the letter of approval to the 'EOI/Application' in ICMS
  • provide a copy of the certificate of approval and the letter of approval to the foster and kinship care service, if applicable.

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.

Refusal

If the application for renewal of approval is refused by the CSSC manager, or the regional director where applicable, refer to 3.4 Refuse the application.

4.11 Review support arrangements

Review the approved carer's support arrangements as part of the review of the:

  • 'Foster Carer Agreement', for a foster carer
  • placement agreement for the child, for all carer types.

As a minimum, support options are to be reviewed when:

  • changes are made to the case plan for a child
  • there are significant changes in the approved carer's circumstances potentially impacting on the children in their care
  • there are dynamics which may escalate, or have already escalated, into a standards of care review or harm report – refer to Chapter 9. Standards of care a review of the support arrangements is requested by an approved carer.

For further information about reviewing support arrangements, refer to Chapter 9, 1. Provide support to carers.

4.12 Review the foster carer agreement

The PSU is responsible for reviewing the 'Foster Carer Agreement' with a foster carer who is not affiliated with a non-government foster and kinship care service. The foster and kinship care service is responsible for reviewing a foster carer agreement with a foster carer who is affiliated with a foster and kinship care service. The CSSC or PSU may also be involved in this process when a carer has a significant history of standards of care reviews and harm reports.

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?

Review the foster carer agreement at least one year from the date of a foster carer's initial approval and every two years thereafter, as part of the carer's renewal of approval process. These reviews are referred to as 'routine' reviews.

Prior to conducting a review of the foster carer agreement, ensure that the foster carer is clear about the purpose of the review and ensure that the information necessary to inform the review has been obtained from available sources.

To review the foster carer agreement, meet with the carer to:

  • ensure that the quality of care provided is consistent with the statement of standards
  • identify any change of circumstances for the foster carer and their family and explore the impact of the change, if any, on the carer's ability to provide care
  • encourage the foster carer to raise any issues affecting them
  • discuss the foster carer's readiness for other types of placements
  • consider whether the foster carer is being matched with the type of care and children appropriate to their circumstances
  • assess the needs of the foster carer family and identify strategies to address these needs, including support arrangements
  • assess the foster carer's ongoing commitment to undertake the legislative roles and responsibilities of a foster carer
  • assess any support needs, if applicable, associated with the approved carer’s dual role as an employee, including (where appropriate) strategies for managing or resolving conflicts of interest - for further information, refer to 3. What if a carer or carer applicant is also a Child Safety employee?

To complete the review of the foster carer agreement:

  • complete the 'Foster Carer Agreement', created in ICMS, and include relevant information from discussions held with the carer
  • 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' and attachments, if applicable, and attach a copy to the carer's renewal 'EOI/Application' in ICMS
  • file the signed, original 'Foster Carer Agreement' on the foster carer's file, with the foster and kinship care service retaining a copy, where applicable.

Complete an additional, early review of the foster carer agreement when:

  • there are ongoing concerns in relation to the quality of care provided to children
  • when it is assessed that the carer has not met the standards of care, following the outcome of a standards of care review or the investigation and assessment of a harm report - refer to Chapter 9. Standards of care
  • there is a change in carer circumstances that may require a review, for example, a change to personal history for the foster carer or an adult household member, such as a new criminal charge or conviction
  • the foster carer intends to provide care for other children, for example, becoming a family day care provider or caring for a relative
  • the carer requests a review of their foster carer agreement.

Attach a copy of the ‘Foster Carer Agreement’ to the carer’s ‘Monitor and Support’ screen in ICMS. Activities identified in the review of 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.

For further information, refer to the practice resource Reviewing the Foster Carer Agreement (PDF, 30 KB).

Between reviews, continue monitoring the quality of care provided, in accordance with Chapter 9. Standards of care.