Improving out-of-home care and post-care for children and young people

The Queensland Government is committed to providing services that better support the safety, wellbeing and best interests of Queensland’s most at-risk children and young people.

Where there are no acceptable alternatives, children and young people will be taken into care, and protected and cared for. In care, they will receive the support they need to enjoy their childhood, feel safe and cared for, and develop into adulthood.

Out-of-Home Care Reform Initiative

The department is undertaking the Out-of-Home Care Reform Initiative to review its investment in placement services, determine the effectiveness of existing investment and provide options for future commissioning of placement services.

The Out-of-Home Care Reform Initiative will also consider alternative placement options as recommended by the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry, such as the transfer of carers (recommendations 8.4, 8.5, 8.6), professional foster care (recommendation 8.10), boarding schools (recommendation 8.11) and therapeutic care.

The aim of the initiative is to revitalise the placement service system so that it is flexible and responds to the individual needs of children and young people, including their placement needs as well as medical, educational and therapeutic requirements.

We are working with our non-government partners to deliver new and improved services. These quality services are being delivered by people and organisations that care for the safety, wellbeing and best interests of children and young people. The department is engaging with placement service providers to determine the effectiveness of existing investment and develop strategies for future investment.

An investment framework will be developed to guide future investment, and identify the outcomes, benefits and performance measures that would best support the placement needs of children and young people.

Expanding family-based care for children with complex needs

Foster and kinship care is the preferred option for caring for children who are unable to live with their own families. For children with complex and extreme emotional and behavioural support needs, however, more specialised services and support are necessary for their care.

Specialist family-based care (PDF) Specialist family-based care (DOCX, 1.6 MB)aims to help children who have experienced and are impacted by trauma, and offers an alternative placement option to residential care. It allows children to have stable placements, receive the right care and support to achieve better life outcomes, and be returned to long-term family-based care or reunified with their families.

As part of the out-of-home care reform initiative, the department will introduce specialist family-based care for children to receive therapeutic or specialist support within a family environment.

The department is providing funding of $3 million over the next 2 years to trial an evidence-based specialist family-based care model for children under 12 years old and currently living in residential care.

New specialist family-based care services will also be provided as an alternative care option for sibling groups, children with disability, high medical needs or requiring specialised behaviour support, or who would otherwise be placed in a non-family based placement.

Out-of-Home Care Outcomes Framework

Placement services are a key component of the child protection service system to enable children and young people to reach their full potential, regardless of their situations.

The department is working in partnership with placement service providers to build a more robust out-of-home care system that focuses on achieving meaningful outcomes for children and young people in care.

To guide the collaborative approach between government and non-government services, an Out-of-Home Care Outcomes Framework (PDF, 753 KB) has been developed to establish a foundation in caring for children and meeting their placement needs including medical, educational and therapeutic requirements.

The framework aims to:

  • establish a shared vision in identifying and measuring outcomes for children in care
  • promote integrated and coordinated responses to the needs of children in care.
  • recognise the diversity and uniqueness of children’s needs in care.

The framework is structured around five domains for achieving or improving life outcomes for children and young people:

  • Safe and nurtured — children and young people feel cared for and nurtured in stable environments, safe from abuse, neglect, violence and harm.
  • Connected — children and young people are positively connected to family, culture and community and have a sense of identity and belonging.
  • Achieving — children and young people attend and engage in their education, meet developmental milestones, engage in and benefit from recreational activities and develop independence and life skills.
  • Healthy — children and young people are physically, emotionally and mentally healthy and lead an active and healthy lifestyle.
  • Resilient — children and young people feel confident and have social skills, coping skills and the ability to manage adversity.

Over the next six to 12 months, placement service providers will begin piloting the framework in their everyday work with children and young people. This action learning approach will enable services to test and refine the measures for ongoing quality improvement.

Better support for foster and kinship carers

In response to the recommendations of the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry, the department is transferring the management of foster and kinship care services to the non-government sector.

Funding of $4.25 million over two years will enable foster and kinship carers to access better support to care for children with complex needs, receive practical and specialist training and respite care.

The transfer of foster and kinship carer services will be undertaken in two phases. Phase 1 has been completed for the following locations:

  • Moreton Bay (foster and kinship care services provided by Mercy Community Services)
  • Sunshine Coast/Gympie (foster and kinship care services provided by The Corporation of the Synod of the Diocese of Brisbane)
  • South East Queensland (foster and kinship care services provided by Churches of Christ)
  • Toowoomba (foster and kinship care services provided by Life Without Barriers)
  • Ipswich/Springfield (foster and kinship care services provided by Mercy Community Services).This will enable Child Safety to refocus its child protection services in case management, investigations and assessments, and supporting families earlier.

Phase 2 will include services to be transferred in other locations, from July 2017.

Improving residential care services for children and young people

The new Hope and Healing Framework aimed at improving the care experience of young people in residential care will be implemented across Queensland from January 2017.

The framework will improve the quality of residential care provided to children and young people by ensuring the support they receive has a strong therapeutic focus to help them overcome trauma they may have experienced.

All residential care services, including supported independent living services and Safe Houses will be required to implement the Hope and Healing Framework.

The department has contracted PeakCare to work with the residential care service sector to implement the new framework.

PeakCare Queensland (in alliance with Encompass Family and Community Pty Ltd and Paul Testro Consultancy Services) developed the framework in 2015, following comprehensive consultation with the residential care sector.

A project manager will lead and coordinate the implementation of the Hope and Healing Framework, including:

  • facilitating regional workshops to map out strategies for implementation
  • establishing working groups to guide and support residential care services in adopting the new framework
  • conducting an audit of current training, learning and professional development activities across the residential care sector to inform the development of new foundational training modules
  • developing training materials and resources
  • liaising with TAFE Queensland to link training modules to qualification programming
  • monitoring, reviewing and evaluating ongoing training and professional development.View the final reports:

The Hope and Healing Framework will be fully implemented across the residential care sector by December 2018. View the final reports:

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Priority access

Supporting young people in out-of-home care is the shared responsibility of the Queensland Government and non-government agencies.

To meet this responsibility, the Child Protection Reform Leaders Group is leading the development of a multi-agency program of post-care support to give young people up to 21 years of age priority access to relevant government services. This includes negotiating access and referrals to relevant Australian Government programs. This work is in response to recommendations 9.1 and 9.3 of the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry.

The aim of this program is to give young people living in out-of-home care and who are transitioning from care to live as independent adults, priority access to services such as health, education, transport, housing, employment, mentoring and training, cultural and kinship support, recreational opportunities and other life skills.

Workshops with young people and carers, peak bodies, and government and non-government partners will identify priorities and solutions to ensure these young people have access to the right support at the right time, to enable them to reach their full potential.

The first workshop was held with young people and carers, CREATE Foundation, PeakCare and Foster Care Queensland, in December 2016, to hear how priority access to services could be improved.

The second workshop will be split into two sessions to be held in April and May 2017. The aim of this workshop is for government partner agencies to determine how they will provide services, based on the outcomes from the first workshop.

The final workshop will be held in June 2017 with the Child Protection Reform Leaders Group to endorse the collective commitment between government partner agencies to provide priority access to services needed by young people.

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Helping with the cost of early childhood education and care

The department is providing funding of $15 million for a new early childhood education and care participation initiative (PDF) early childhood education and care participation initiative (DOCX, 24 KB)to ensure children in out-of-home care have the same early educational opportunities as other children.

This initiative provides foster and kinship carers with financial assistance to help meet the cost of early childhood education and care. This new payment is in addition to support payments provided by the department to meet child related costs and does not place a cap on the level of support that carers can receive to meet the cost of early childhood education and care.

From 1 July 2017, foster and kinship carers will receive a minimum gap cost payment of at least $40 for each week (at least $2000 per year) a child in their care attends an approved early childhood education and care program.

Foster carers are encouraged to talk to their Child Safety Officers about eligibility for the new payment.

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Care2Achieve: scholarships for young women leaving care

The Queensland Government is committed to supporting young people who are transitioning from care to independence to ensure they have every opportunity to achieve their full potential.

The Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services is investing $1.2 million in a new scholarship scheme, called Care2Achieve: scholarships for young women leaving care, to be delivered by The Smith Family over the next five years.

Up to 100 young women who are transitioning from care, or have left care to live as independent adults, will be awarded a scholarship to undertake higher education studies.

The first intake of 50 young women who are leaving care will receive scholarships to further their studies in their field of choice, commencing from January 2017.

The scholarship scheme will enable young women undertaking university studies to receive $3500 in their first year and $2500 for subsequent years. Young women studying at TAFE will receive $2500 for their first year and $1500 for subsequent years.

They will also receive mentoring, coaching and support to establish connections and networks with future potential employers.

Scholarships will continue for up to four years or until the completion of their chosen educational program.

The Smith Family has been successfully delivering a similar program for vulnerable young Queenslanders, called Learning for Life, which is achieving strong outcomes for vulnerable young Queenslanders.

For more information about Care2Achieve: scholarships for young women leaving care, go to The Smith Family website.

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Improving the health and wellbeing of children and young people in out-of-home care

Based on the recommendations of the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry, we are improving services for children and young people in care to enable them to live healthier lives.

The department has contracted KMPG to develop a new service model to guide the health assessment and management needs of children and young people in care.

The aim is to ensure that comprehensive health and development assessments are undertaken within three months of a child’s placement, and health management plans are developed and monitored.

The proposed new health assessment and management service model will be flexible and responsive to the individual needs of children in tertiary care, including high risk infants, adolescents, children and young people with disabilities and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Children and young people subject to other forms of ongoing tertiary intervention will also have their health and development needs assessed and monitored, as part of the new service model. This will help parents receive the support they need to care for their children safely at home.

The new service model will align with the National Clinical Assessment Framework for Children and Young People in Out-of-Home Care.  The new service model proposal will be presented to the department for consideration, in consultation with Queensland Health.

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Permanent care for children and young people

All children and young people deserve to live in a safe and supportive home where they are valued and cared for.

In building a new child protection and family support system in Queensland, the department is working to reduce the number of children and young people in the tertiary system.

My Home is a new care option for children who need long-term out-of-home care and where reunification with family is no longer possible.

Couples who have been assessed by the department as suitable adoptive parents, or who have committed to an adoption assessment, can become permanent foster carers and provide a loving, nurturing and stable home where the child is considered as a member of their family.

Children under six years of age and subject to Child Protection Orders until they are 18 years old (or a decision has been made to apply for a Child Protection Order until they are 18 years old) will be placed with suitable permanent foster carers.

My Home also enables the department to consider whether the permanent foster carers will be the child's legal guardians under a Long-Term Guardianship Order to the carers. This allows the child to have the security and stability of living permanently with a family, without ongoing intensive involvement from the department.

Providing a permanent, stable home life allows children to form trusting and secure attachments to their carers, and feel a sense of belonging with family and community.

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Strengthening support for young people when they leave care

Next Step After Care

We are working with our non-government partners to deliver new and improved services for young people as they transition from statutory care to live as independent adults.

Targeted after-care support services, known as Next Step After Care, are now available for the first time, to young people up to 21 years old who have transitioned from out-of-home care, and who need help.

Next Step After Care offers young people two types of service:

  • A statewide connections program that young people can access 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Tailored individual support in seven regions across Queensland.

Young people can access the Next Step After Care statewide service by calling or texting 1800 NextStep (1800 639 878), or by visiting the Next Step After Care website. This service is delivered by Life Without Barriers in partnership with Uniting Care Community and the CREATE Foundation.

New localised services have been established across Queensland to provide individual and tailored support to young people, particularly those with complex or multiple needs and who require face-to-face individual support. These services will be provided by:

  • Life Without Barriers in North Queensland, Central Queensland (excluding South Burnett), Brisbane, South West Queensland and South East Queensland
  • South Burnett CTC in South Burnett, with a strong cultural focus
  • Integrated Family and Youth Services on the North Coast
  • Youth Empowered Towards Independence, in partnership with Youth Link and Wuchopperen Health Services in Far North Queensland (including Cairns, Cape York Peninsula and the Torres Strait Islands).

These services will work with young people to develop their educational opportunities and job-ready skills, strengthen their self-reliance and independent living skills, and enable them to acquire and maintain stable and suitable accommodation.

Not all young people who have left care will require assistance, but for those who need help, the Queensland Government is committed to ensuring they receive the support they need.

Find out more about Next Step After Care or find the nearest service.

 

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Is your feedback

Please submit your comments on the department's Compliments and Complaints section.

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