The Department of Communities' (the Department's) residential care services comprise residential group homes (metropolitan and country), non-government family group homes (metropolitan and country) and the Kath French Secure Care centre. For information relating to Secure Care refer to Chapter 3.3 Secure care arrangements.
Residential care services provide time limited therapeutic residential care, which focuses on creating and sustaining care environments capable of healing the traumatic impact of abuse and neglect and the disrupted attachment that ensues. It is an environment intended to be healing for the child, and safe for the child and staff. The Residential Care (Sanctuary) Framework 2012 (the Framework) provides a sound theoretical and practical base to guide residential group home's (RGH) work with abused children whose trauma severely impacts their behaviour and development.
Non-government family group home (FGH) service providers are also expected to provide a sound theoretical and practical base to guide their trauma informed care framework and work with children in their services. For more information about family group homes, refer to A brief guide to metropolitan and country care arrangements within family group homes (in related resources).
Effective therapeutic care requires a shared understanding of the child's developmental and therapeutic needs and the best way to respond to those needs. Residential care services staff and child protection workers have a shared responsibility to address the complex interrelated needs of children who have been traumatised, by providing unconditional high quality, focused care based on the Framework.
A care arrangement for a child in a residential care service should be considered a time limited option and generally less than two years. In some circumstances you may consider the need for an extension for a child to remain in a FGH beyond the two year period. For further information refer to Family Group Home Placement Extension Process (in related resources).
Residential care services provide placement for up to four children. You should make a submission for a fifth child to be placed in a FGH if there is a larger sibling group. Further information is available in Family Group Home Fifth Child Funding Process (in related resources).
Note: CEO refers to the Chief Executive Officer of the Department.
If a child is deemed to pose a risk to others, has seriously hurt another child in their care arrangement, or displays behaviours that indicate they are likely to pose a risk to others, such as extreme violence and violent or abusive harmful sexual behaviours, you must do the following:
Under s.10 of the Children and Community Services Act 2004, child protection workers need to emphasise the importance of child participation, particularly in relation to significant events and times of intense planning for the child:
When a decision is being made that is likely to have a significant impact on a child's life, to make sure the child is able to participate in the decision-making process, the child must be given:
In relation to the extent of a child's participation, due regard must be given to the child's age and level of understanding.
For further information child protection workers should refer to the Residential Care Referral Process Map (in related resources).
As a requirement of referral to a residential care service, children and
young people must have an active child protection worker assigned to
Referral during working hours
1. You must complete an assessment of the child's needs to determine the type of service required and complete the standard CAR.
2. The CAR must be quality assured and signed by the senior child protection worker - placement services and team leader. Request for placement must be endorsed by the district director.
3. The completed and signed CAR must be forwarded (with appropriate supporting information) to:
4. Consultation to confirm the suitability of the placement being considered must occur as follows:
5. The CRT will confirm metropolitan placement options with the senior child protection worker - placement services as soon as practicable.
6. Offers of placements are made by the assistant director residential care directly to the district. This includes information and acknowledgment of the risks by case managers and team leaders.
7. If a child is referred from a country district and offered a place in a metropolitan residential care service, the referring district must have successfully negotiated the allocation of a co-worker with the relevant paired office. For further information refer to Chapter 2.2: Case allocations, management, transfers and requests for co-working or services and case closure.
The assistant director residential care (FGH) will mediate the final determination on a placement should there be disagreement with the service provider.
Out of hours referrals
Where a placement in a residential care service is not considered the most appropriate placement, the district will be notified in writing by residential care services as to the reasons why.
Whenever possible, placement of a child or young person into a residential care service should occur in a planned manner. You and appropriate district office staff must commit to initial and ongoing assessment, review and planning and the provision of resources as required, to assist the residential care team in the implementation of an agreed therapeutic plan.
Whenever possible, you and the child should plan a visit to the house to meet the manager and residential care staff/specialist carer prior to admission.
You must accompany the child to the residential house. You and residential care staff/FGH staff must actively support the child's transition into the home environment.
You must provide detailed information on the child's medical history, placement history, contact arrangements and any other relevant information.
The district where the child is case managed is responsible for all case support costs while the child is placed in a residential care service.
A residential care safety plan should be completed in consultation with the RGH/FGH when making a placement in a residential care service.
If a child is admitted without a current safety plan, one must be developed immediately by the residential care service in consultation with the district office. Any risks identified as part of the assessment process must be considered in the context of the proposed placement and form the basis of developing a safety plan.
The child must be encouraged and supported to participate in the development of the plan, as appropriate.
For further information, refer to the entry 1.2.6 Safety Planning.
Support for children who have an acute mental health episode
The Acute Response Team (ART) is a metropolitan service that operates 24 hours per day, seven days a week. The service conducts acute mental health assessments in emergency departments and community settings in the metropolitan area, from Clarkson to Peel.The ART can be a first response option when a young person has psychosocial issues and you or residential care staff believe the young person requires immediate intervention – for example, the young person is self-harming or a suicidal risk. The ART can be contacted on 1800 048 636.
Two flowcharts are available in related resources that step out the process if a young person requires an immediate mental health assessment:
The Acute Response Team – Referral Pathway (mental health information and triage), and
The residential care plan must be developed by the care team with reference to the child or young person's care plan and identify areas that will be the focus for staff/specialist carers during the child/young person's stay in the residential care service.
Residential care plans must be developed at the admission meeting or within 10 days (or two days in transitional homes) of the child being admitted and be informed by the child's care plan, child protection worker and district team leader.
The residential care plan must identify the agreed placement goals, actions and tasks, who is responsible (including resources), the time frame and a measure of the child's progress. It must be signed off by both the residential care service manager and district team leader.
Plans must be reviewed at least once every three months or more frequently if necessary, by you, the residential care service manager and district team leader.
The residential care plan review document is the basis for reporting back to you on agreed placement goals. A copy of the review document must be provided to the child protection worker and a further copy placed on the child's file.
Individual therapeutic plan
Individual therapeutic plans should be developed and implemented collaboratively by the care team. The residential care service manager, in consultation with the residential care service's psychologist/therapeutic specialist, is responsible for the development, implementation and review of individual therapeutic plans for all children in their care.
An individual therapeutic plan must identify the child's specific behavioural and emotional needs and forms the framework from which all residential care staff will engage with the child to address those needs.
Planning must be informed by and linked to the residential care plan, be reviewed regularly by the residential care team and amended accordingly. Progress must be reported to the district through the residential care plan review process.
If a child is deemed to pose a risk to others, has seriously hurt another child in their care arrangement, or displays behaviours indicating they are likely to pose a risk to others, such as extreme violence and harmful sexualised behaviours, you must do the following:
Transition to exit is an integral part of the care planning process. An exit planning meeting must be conducted prior to the child/young person exiting the program so that processes are in place for a smooth transition to the next placement.
Initial planning for transition to a longer term care arrangement commences on admission and remains part of the ongoing assessment, planning and review process. All relevant stakeholders should be involved in the planning however, you are responsible for the transition of the child to their future care arrangement.
For further information, refer to the Family Group Home - Placement Breakdown and Exit Planning Protocol (in related resources).
Decisions regarding care arrangement changes are care planning decisions
and must be made in accordance with s.89 of the Act.