Where the child will live

Introduction

A child must be placed in care that best meets a child’s needs and is culturally appropriate. Child Safety Services must consider placing a child with family members or other people who have a significant relationship with the child first. This means that a family member must apply to become a ‘Kinship Carer’ for the child, and involves criminal history and other checks. This can take time.

The Indigenous Placement Principle

The general principle is that an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child should be cared for within an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community.

The Indigenous Child Placement Principle requires Child Safety Services to place a child, in order of priority, with:

  • a member of the child’s family
  • a member of the child’s community or language group
  • another Aboriginal person or Torres Strait Islander who is compatible with the child’s community or language group; or
  • another Aboriginal person or Torres Strait Islander.

If there is no appropriate placement as those mentioned above, then Child Safety Services must give proper consideration to placing the child, in order of priority, with a person who lives:

  • near the child’s family; or
  • near the child’s community or language group.

If Child Safety Services places an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child with a carer who is not Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, Child Safety Services must first consider matters including whether the carer is committed to helping maintain contact between the child and the child’s parents, other family members and the child’s community or language group.

They must also help the child to maintain a connection with their culture and help to preserve and enhance the child’s sense of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander identity.

Foster carer

Any individual, or two or more individuals approved by Child Safety Services to care for a child subject to departmental intervention and an out-of-home care placement.

Residential care facilities / licenced care services

These services are licensed and they usually provide care for a group of children who are in the custody or guardianship of the Chief Executive. Some residential care facilities cater for children with specific needs, such as therapeutic and intensive placements.

Supported independent living services

These services provide accommodation with support workers that visit the child but do not usually stay overnight. This placement option is best suited to a young person aged from 15-17 years who is in the process of transitioning from care.

Respite care

A temporary placement with a carer or care service intended to provide time-limited support to enhance a carer’s ability to continue in their role as a child’s full-time carer and to sustain the caring relationship.

Kinship carer

A kinship carer is a person who is of significance to the child, such as a member of the child’s family or a friend, who is approved by Child Safety Services to provide an out-of-home care placement for the child.

How to apply to be a kinship carer

There are a number of steps to becoming a kinship carer.

  1. Complete an application for approval form. This includes consideration of criminal and child protection history, and where necessary, domestic violence and traffic history.
  2. If you do not have a form you can complete the ‘Expression of Interest in becoming a kinship or foster carer’ on Child Safety Services’ website or you can ask for one at a Child Safety Service Centre.
  3. All adult member of the household must complete a blue card application.
  4. A household safety study will be completed by the person assessing your application and this includes mandatory safety requirements that must be met prior to you being approved as a carer.
  5. You need to complete a health and wellbeing questionnaire with the person making the assessment. A medical assessment may be required.
  6. The assessor does referee checks.
  7. The assessor conducts interviews. You, your children (depending on their age), any adult household members and significant others will be interviewed.
  8. Complete training about the skills and knowledge you will need as a foster carer.

You will receive a letter with the outcome of the decision and your review options.

If your application is approved by Child Safety, you will receive a Certificate of Approval as a kinship carer. This is for an initial 12 months and requires renewal every two years thereafter, upon application and approval. You will also have to work with Child Safety Services and your non-government foster and kinship care service to develop a Placement Agreement detailing the goals of the placement and the support and training you may need to meet them.

If your application is not approved by child safety, your letter should state the reasons for the decision and your right of review.

Child Safety Services will, in some cases, provide provisional approval for the placement, allowing the child to reside with the carer before the formal processes have been completed.

Next chapter

Rights of a child in care

Previous chapter

The way Child Safety Services works with you – the ‘Framework for Practice’