5. Children in care


A child is placed in care when it is assessed that the child is unable to remain safely in the care of their family at home. Child Safety will provide a safe, supportive and therapeutic environment for a child, while working towards either family reunification or an alternative permanency option. Care may be provided during the investigation and assessment or ongoing intervention phases of child protection intervention.

When the child is placed in care Child Safety will work with the child, their family, carers, licensed care service staff, staff from another entity and other relevant agencies, to:

  • support the child to maintain connection with family, community, culture and country, as appropriate
  • support the child through key transitions, such as moving from home to care, changing placements and leaving care
  • ensure the protection and care needs of the child are met, including their developmental needs
  • assist the child to gain the skills and sense of well-being that will allow them to realise their potential and positively participate in the wider community.

Child Safety is responsible for monitoring care placements to ensure that the care provided is consistent with the statement of standards (Child Protection Act 1999, section 122), and for taking preventative action to resolve identified concerns before they escalate into a standard of care review or a harm report.

All children in care will have an allocated CSO who:

  • implements effective, ongoing assessment, planning, implementation and collaborative review processes in accordance with case management requirements
  • participates in joint planning processes with relevant people and agencies to negotiate responsibility for case work tasks, based on the case plan goal and anticipated outcomes.

The principles of the Child Protection Act 1999 emphasise participation by children, respect for their rights, consideration of their views and involvement in the planning and decision-making processes affecting their lives. For more information about promoting participation of Children in care in planning and decision making processes, refer to the practice resource Participation of children and young people in decision-making (PDF, 342 KB), and the Children and young people's participation strategy (PDF).

For information about the processes and phases underpinning care, refer to the practice resource care - an integrated child protection response (PDF, 74 KB).

Note: Throughout this chapter, the term carer will refer to approved carers, licensed care service staff and staff from another entity, unless otherwise specified.

Key steps

  1. Place a child in care
  2. Support a child in care
  3. Decision-making for the child
  4. Conclude the placement

What ifs - responding to specific care matters


  1. The placement matching process is undertaken to determine the placement option that will best meet and respond to the child's needs and ensures their continued safety.
  2. A child is encouraged to participate in decision-making processes and is kept informed of matters affecting them, to the extent possible based on their age and ability to understand.
  3. Consideration is given, as a first option, to placing a child with kin.
  4. The child and family is provided with the opportunity to have an independent person help them to participate in the decision-making for all ‘significant decisions’ for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child.
  5. The five elements of the child placement principle are applied in all work to support an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child.
  6. Placements are monitored to ensure that the care provided is consistent with the statement of standards (Child Protection Act 1999, section 122).
  7. Decisions about custody and guardianship matters are actioned in a timely way, so as not to compromise the child’s right to access services that meet their needs or to participate in activities of importance to them.
  8. Supports for the child, including the child health passport, education support plan and transition to adulthood , are integrated into case planning and review processes.

Practice skills (Key areas for reflection)

  • Have I genuinely enagaged and actively included the child in decision-making processes?
  • Have I applied the five elements of the child placement principle in all work to support an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child?
  • Have I talked with the child about their rights as a child in care?
  • Have I identified any risks that may be present for the child in their placement and how the risk can be managed or minimised so that the child’s safety is ensured?
  • Have I considered and identified the transitions experienced, or to be experienced, by the child and how I can support the child through these transitions?
  • Have I identified the child’s needs, including the child’s need for relational, physical and legal permanency, and developed strategies to ensure these needs continue to be met?
  • Have I assisted the child to develop and maintain their cultural identity and identified strategies to enable the child’s family and community to participate in this process?
  • Have I engaged with the child, their parents and other people significant to the child as part of managing the case and strengthening the child’s safety and support network?