Improving care and post-care for children and young people

Care Services Investment Reforms and other initiatives

We have reviewed our investment in care services, to determine the effectiveness of existing investment and to provide options for future commissioning of services supplied under the Child Protection (Placement Services) Investment Specification.

This has included considering alternative options recommended by the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry, such as the transfer of carers (Recommendations 8.4 and, 8.5, 8.6), professional foster care (Recommendation 8.10), boarding schools (Recommendation 8.11) and therapeutic care.

The aim is to revitalise the child protection system so it is flexible and responds to the individual needs of children and young people in care, including their care, protection, as well as medical, educational and therapeutic needs.

Queensland Care Services Outcomes Framework

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

We are working in partnership with service providers to build a more robust 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, the Queensland Care Services Outcomes Framework (PDF, 1.2 MB) Queensland Care Services Outcomes Framework (DOCX, 2.2 MB) has been developed to establish a foundation in caring for children and young people and meeting their individual needs.

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. These domains are:

  • 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.

We are working with service providers on how their everyday work with children and young people in care aligns to the Framework. This action learning approach will enable services to test and refine the measures for ongoing quality improvement.

Increasing placement options for children and young people in care

We are working on a range of initiatives to increase placement options with key focus on:

  • increasing foster and kinship care through, for example, programs which support connections to kin, community, and culture, alternative family based care, finding kin, carer assessment and training, and tailored support programs.
  • accessing supports to stabilise placements such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Evolve Therapeutic Services and the Navigate Your Health and Strengthening health assessments for children and young people in care initiatives.
  • ensuring investment performance through individualised placement and support and investment guidelines
  • maintaining quality of care through our Child Safety Licensing team

Expanding family-based care for children with complex needs

Specialist therapeutic family-based care aims to help children and young people who have experienced and are impacted by trauma, and offers an alternative option to non-family-based care such as residential care. It allows children and young people to receive care in stable family-based environments and supports them to be returned to long-term family-based care, or be reunified with their families, and ultimately achieve better life outcomes.

As part of the strengthening of family-based care, we are considering a range of specialist care options for children and young people to receive therapeutic or specialist support within a family environment.

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

Improving residential care services for children and young people

The Hope and Healing Framework aims to improve the quality of residential or non-family-based care provided to children and young people across Queensland.

The Framework provides residential care staff with a new way of working with children and young people who require trauma-related therapeutic support.

We contracted PeakCare to work with the residential care service sector, including supported independent living services and Safe Houses, to implement the Framework. This includes:

  • facilitating regional workshops to map out strategies for implementation
  • establishing working groups to guide and support residential care services in adopting the framework
  • conducting an audit of current training, learning and professional development activities across the residential care sector to inform the development of 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.

10 foundational training modules of the Hope and Healing Trauma Informed Therapeutic Framework are live, with residential care staff required to have completed the training prior to commencing unsupervised direct care work with children and young people.

PeakCare has been engaged to expand the training modules to foster carers, with rollout expect to commence in 2021-2022.

Minimum qualifications standards for residential care workers

The Minimum Qualification Standards are for all residential care staff and their direct supervisors working in Queensland took effect on 1 January 2019.

All residential care staff and their direct supervisors employed by licensed residential care services must:

  • hold, or be enrolled in and working towards, a recognised relevant qualification. Staff may be enrolled as part of their recruitment process with the residential care service provider but must be working towards obtaining a recognised relevant qualification prior to commencing any unsupervised direct care work with children and young people.
  • for those staff currently enrolled, obtain the qualification within the timeframes determined by the relevant training authority, and
  • complete the online Home and Healing Framework foundations training prior to commencing unsupervised direct care work with children and young people

The Strengthening the Queensland Residential Care Workforce - Minimum Qualification Standards Sheet provides further details, including information on compliance with the Minimum Qualification Standards and preferred qualifications.

Implementation of the Hope and Healing Framework and the Minimum Qualification Standards delivers on the recommendations of the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry to improve life outcomes for children and young people living in residential care facilities.

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, 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.

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Improving health outcomes for children and young people in care

Evolve Therapeutic Services

Evolve Therapeutic Services (ETS) supports children and young people who present with severe and complex mental health support needs and who are subject to active child protection intervention.

ETS is delivered by Queensland Health through 12 Hospital and Health Services across 16 sites to provide mental health intervention services as planned, coordinated therapeutic and behaviour support to children and young people in care to improve their health and wellbeing.

ETS does not replace the services offered by children or young people's usual care provider.

In an emergency, call 000 or attend your nearest hospital emergency department.

Navigate Youth Health (NYH) commenced as a pilot program in our Brisbane District in early 2018 with a focus on ensuring children and young people in care receive improved access to health checks, referrals and healthcare coordination.

NYH is supported by Nurse Navigators who take a lead role in supporting children and young people referred to the program. The Nurse Navigators work across Child Safety Service Centres (CSSCs), and in partnership with General Practices, Aboriginal Medical Services and other community mental health centres, as required.

Children and young people entering care or in care, are able to receive a preliminary health assessment and a comprehensive health assessment to identify health problems early and connect to health services to address needs.

The program has now expanded and supports children and young people case managed by the following CSSCs:

  • Chermside, Alderley, Forest Lake, Inala, Cannon Hill and Mount Gravatt
  • Logan and Loganlea
  • Cairns and Edmonton

For a Nurse Navigator to be involved, children and young people must have an interim or finalised child protection order granting custody or guardianship to the Chief Executive of the Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs and must be referred by their Child Safety Officer.

NYH does not replace the services of the children or young people's usual care provider.

In an emergency, call 000 or attend your nearest hospital emergency department.

Strengthening health assessment pathways for children and young people in care

The Strengthening health assessment pathways for children and young people in care initiative is a Queensland wide project aimed at improving both Child Safety and Health sector responses to the health needs of children and young people in care. The aim is to be achieved by:

  • leveraging the capacity of the state-wide Primary Health Network to engage, consult and raise awareness of the initiative and a master health pathway with general practitioners, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services and other health and allied health practitioners.
  • creating and implementing a state-wide training program incorporating information and communication strategies for Child Safety staff, foster and kinship carers, residential care staff and non-government and foster, kinship and residential care providers.
  • continuing to establish and embed Communities of Practice (CoPs) in seven catchment areas included in the initiative's pilot period i.e. Aitkenvale/Thuringowa, Mount Isa, North Ipswich, Bayside (including the Southern Moreton Bay Islands), Maryborough, Labrador and Caboolture.
  • establishing and embedding CoPs in seven additional catchment areas.
  • ensuring CoPs support local partnerships between Queensland Health, Child Safety and other relevant stakeholders.
  • promoting and embedding local health assessment pathways into business as usual processes and practices for Child Safety staff, general practices and other health professionals, care agencies, carers and educators.

The Strengthening health assessment does not replace the services offered by the children or young people's usual care provider.

In an emergency, call 000 or attend your nearest hospital emergency department.

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Permanent care for children and young people

My Home

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, we are working to reduce the number of children and young people in the tertiary system. However for children and young people who are unable to safely return to their family of origin, stable, safe, secure and long term care options need to be provided.

My Home is a care option for children and young people who need long-term care and where reunification with family is no longer possible.

People who express interest, are assessed 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 or young person is considered as a member of the family.

Children under 6 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 us to consider whether the permanent foster carers will be the child's legal guardians under a Long-Term Guardianship Order to the carers. This provides 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, develop to their full potential 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 Plus

Under the Child Protection Act 1999, the Queensland Government is responsible for ensuring support and assistance is available to assist young people, aged 15 to 25 years, in their transition from care to adulthood.

Building on the success and learnings from the former Next Step After Care Program, the redesigned Next Step Plus commenced on 1 April 2020.

Next Step Plus program's vision is that all young people are resilient and supported and develop, the skills, capacity and capability to be the people they want to be. The program involves:

  • working partnerships between government and non-government agencies to provide information and support young people, aged between 15 and 25 years, who have been in care under a Child Protection Order made on or after their 12th birthday.
  • focusing on transition planning with young people and their Safety and Support Networks, commencing from the age of 15.
  • young people identifying people who provide natural supports to them and who may wish to seek information and support to assist them in these roles.
  • providing a strong, localised, place-based focus to promote greater continuity of support for young people to develop a more complete picture of their needs through routine and standardised information collection.
  • building young people's skills, knowledge and connections to assist them to achieve greater independence in adulthood and actively participate in society through employment and connection to community.
  • providing more intensive support options for young people where their complex and multidimensional needs may prevent them from having the capacity to learn these skills

Find out more about Next Steps Plus.

The Next Step Plus program will assist young people from the age of 15, who are in care, to develop the skills and knowledge to live independently; and to ensure those who have left care are able to receive additional support and services should they require them.

South East YFS Ltd  (07) 3826 1500
Moreton Life Without Barriers 1800 639 878 or
0436 816 270
Central Life without Barriers  1800 639 878 or
0436 816 270
South West - Kingaroy South Burnett CTC (07) 4162 7788 or
0428 627 788
South West - Charleville, Roma & Dalby Goolburri Aboriginal Health Advancement (07) 4637 9953
South West - Ipswich North and South,
Toowoomba North and South, Springfield
Life without Barriers 1800 639 878 or
0436 816 270
Northern Region - Atherton, Cairns, Cape York and Torres Strait Islands,
Cooktown, Edmonton, Innisfail and North Cairns and Lower Cape 
Youth Empowered Towards Independence (YETI) or
(07) 4051 4927
Northern Region - Mount Isa-Gulf, Townsville, Aitkenvale, Thuringowa Churches of Christ Queensland (CofC) Mount Isa
(07) 4740 1333
(07) 4771 8888

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Sortli (short for 'sort out your life') is a free mobile app to help young people think about their future life and plan for transition to independence.

Sortli was developed by young people who have already left the care system and are living independently as well as professionals who work with young people in care.

As Sortli covers come sensitive topics, it is not suitable for young people under 15 years of age.

Find out more and download the app.

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