Review of the Guidelines for responding to quality of care concerns in out-of-home care

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The Guidelines for responding to quality of care concerns in out-of-home care (the guidelines) were first developed in 2007 and updated in 2009. Since then there have been many recommendations on ways to strengthen the guidelines.

Aim of the review

The aim of the guidelines review is to provide clearer guidance for staff and better support for carers involved in concerns about quality of care. The review will also aim to improve the safety of children and young people in out-of-home care.

The review will strengthen processes for responding to concerns about the quality of care given to a child or young person in out-of-home care.

Consultation

Carers and young people in out-of-home care have provided feedback on the guidelines based on their experiences, and staff using the guidelines have also made many suggestions about ways to improve the processes. In 2014, a technical update of the guidelines was completed.

The review will take place in collaboration with relevant stakeholders.

This includes:

  • organisations funded to deliver out-of-home care
  • peak organisations such as CREATE Foundation
  • Foster Carers Association of Victoria
  • Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare
  • Commissioner for Children and Young People
  • Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People.

A representative group of carers will also be consulted.

The review will gather views from a wide range of stakeholders; but may not have the capacity to consult with everyone who is interested.

KPMG is conducting the guidelines review for the department. It is underway and will finish in September 2016.

Guidelines for responding to quality of care concerns in out-of-home care

The Guidelines for responding to quality of care concerns in out-of-home care is a Department of Health and Human Services (the department) document that provides detailed information about how staff of service providers and the department must respond when someone is concerned about the care of a young person in out-of-home care.

The objective of the guidelines is to ensure appropriate quality of care of children in out-of-home care.

Out-of-home care

Out-of-home care provides placement and support services to children and young people who have been assessed to be at risk by child protection. Most children are placed with foster carers or kinship (family or friend) carers. Children are sometimes placed in staffed residential units or in houses where they live with a lead tenant. All of these arrangements are known as out-of-home care.

Quality of care concern

Quality of care concerns can range from minor quality issues through to possible physical or sexual abuse. Quality of care concerns include all allegations of:

  • physical abuse
  • sexual abuse
  • emotional abuse
  • neglect
  • poor quality care such as inadequate diet or poor hygiene.

Who can raise a concern about the care of a child in out-of-home care?

Anyone can raise a quality of care concern, including the child themselves, parents, carers, support workers or members of the community.

What happens when a quality of care concern is raised?

All quality of care concerns are discussed and screened by an Investigation Planning Group. This group always includes the Department of Health and Human Services quality of care coordinator, the relevant manager from the out-of-home care service provider and the Child Protection team manager.

The Investigation Planning Group will determine the nature of the concern and the most appropriate response. There are four possible responses:

  • take no further action – in cases where it can be clearly established that there is no basis for the concern
  • recommend that concerns are managed through support and supervision of the carer by the out-of-home care service provider
  • recommend a formal care review – where the matter relates to poor quality of care that does not relate to possible abuse or neglect
  • commence an investigation into the concerns – where the matter relates to possible abuse or neglect.

More information

To find out more, email: childprotectionqualityofcare@dhhs.vic.gov.au.

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