Quality of care concerns - advice

This advice provides additional information about investigating and assessing quality of care concerns for children living in out-of-home care.

Introduction

See procedure Quality of care concerns for tasks that must be undertaken

Children in out-of-home care are likely to have already suffered abuse or neglect. If they are subjected to further abuse while in out-of-home care, the harm they have already suffered will be further compounded.

Quality of care concerns can relate to carers, members of their household or family or people within the carer's wider network who come into contact with children in the placement.

The Guidelines for responding to quality of care concerns in out-of-home care (technical update 2014) describe the approach that child protection and community service organisations (CSOs) will use to ensure the safety and best interests of children, where a quality of care concern has been raised, in home-based care, lead tenant, residential care and kinship care.

In each division there is a dedicated quality of care coordinator who is the coordinating and monitoring point for receipt and investigation of quality of care concerns.

Practitioners should also refer to Critical client incident management instructions 2014 for assistance in categorising incidents in the quality of care context.

The 'Guidelines for responding to quality of care concerns in out-of-home care' (technical update 2014) apply to all children placed in out-of-home care irrespective of their legal status including:

  • children subject to Children's Court Family Division orders (except for final permanent care orders);
  • voluntary placements where children are subject to voluntary child care agreements and child protection has arranged the placement; and
  • voluntary placements arranged directly between the CSO and the parents without the involvement of child protection.

Guiding principles when responding to quality of care concerns

The best interests of the child are paramount

  • In making decisions, there must be consideration given to protecting the child from harm, protecting the child's rights, promoting the child's development in age-appropriate ways and to the appropriate supports for the child to maintain their cultural identity and links to their community.
  • Responses to quality of care concerns must be managed in a way that minimises the trauma to the child.

Children will be listened to and heard

Children will be: 

  • supported, in a child-friendly way, to tell their story and express any concerns
  • provided with ongoing support during and after any investigation or formal care review process
  • provided with information in a child-friendly and age-appropriate manner about their rights, the support available to them and the procedures and processes of the investigation or formal care review
  • informed of the outcome of an investigation or formal care review process in a child-friendly and age appropriate manner.

Carers will be treated fairly, honestly and with respect

Carers will be: 

  • listened to and heard
  • supported through the investigation or formal care review process and given as much information as possible without interfering with the process
  • given information about the investigative or review process, the timeframes and what support is available to them
  • informed of the outcome of an investigation or review and the implications for them
  • informed about complaints and review procedures and processes.

Parents will be told about concerns for the welfare of their child

Parents will be: 

  • listened to and heard and their concerns will be taken seriously
  • given information about any concerns
  • advised of the investigation or formal care review process to be followed
  • advised of the outcomes and
  • informed about complaints and review procedures and processes.

Child protection and CSOs will work together in a spirit of partnership, collaboration and cooperation

  • This will ensure fair and transparent investigation and decision-making processes that protect, and act in their best interests, while maintaining their statutory responsibilities.

Decision making, investigation and formal care review processes will be well informed, clearly communicated and timely

  • These characteristics are consistent with effective management of quality of care concerns for children and young people in care, their families and the carers who are providing care.

Related procedures

1