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3.5.6 Case management costs - special purpose funding: major, extraordinary and capital costs

Last Modified: 09-Jun-2022 Review Date: 30-Jun-2010

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Legislation


A child in the CEO's care may occasionally require the expenditure of a large sum of money in circumstances other than those outlined in Chapter 3.5 Case management costs - case support costs.

Special Purpose funding (SPF) may consider requests for expenditure in excess of $2,000.  

A request for retrospective special purpose funding approval may be considered in exceptional circumstances where emergency placements are required and there are no alternative placement options available through the Child and Carer Connection Hub.

Children who are not in the care of the CEO do not attract special purpose funding.

Expenditure for children in the CEO's care that falls within any of the categories outlined below must be approved at the Executive Director (ED) level before purchase of goods and services.

The expenditure is provided from the special purpose funding budget.


Five categories of special purpose funding may be considered for children who are in the CEO's care. These categories and supporting guidance are outlined below.


  • CEO refers to the Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Communities.

  • Care arrangements are referred to as "placement arrangements" in the Children and Community Services Act 2004. It means an arrangement for the placement of a child with certain persons, made under section 79(2)(b) of the Act. Both terms mean the same thing and are interchangeable. 


  • You must complete submissions for special purpose funding in the 'Submission for Funding Approval for a Child' template in Assist, and save it in accordance with the Naming Guide for Client Documents in Objective (in related resources).

  • When submissions for special purpose funding receive final approval, you must record the details in the child's care plan in Assist and generate a Payment Authorisation Form.  Payments are made by electronic funds transfer (EFT) or Government Purchasing Card (GPC). For detailed information refer to the Assist Users Guide - Special Purpose Funding in related resources. 

Process Maps

Special Purpose Funding Submission and Approval Flowchart

Information and Instructions

  • Care arrangement support
  • Boarding school attendance
  • Vehicles
  • Home modifications
  • Major and extraordinary events
  • Preparation, endorsement, approval, payment and recording of a special purpose funding submission
  • Care arrangement support

    This category may be used to support a care arrangement with a Department approved carer (general, family or significant other carer). Supports include, but are not limited to, major costs associated with providing services from third parties. For example:

    • mentors providing the child with planned activities at regular times to offer support to the carer
    • provision of a short break care arrangement by specialist agencies to support carers
    • in home domestic support for large sibling groups.

    Where a child requires a specialised, transitional high needs or disability placement support, referrals must be made to the Child and Carer Connection Hub (the Hub) . More information can be found in Chapter 3.4: Care arrangement referral.


    Boarding school attendance

    The Department generally views boarding schools as inappropriate for out-of-home care arrangements for children in care. Exceptions are limited to the specific educational or developmental needs of the child, or the country location of the care arrangement. 

    Child protection workers must submit a thorough justification to allow for informed decision making when seeking approval. For more information, refer to the resource Boarding school and residential colleges - key considerations information sheet.  

    Arrangements for attending boarding school must be approved by the relevant ED before the child is enrolled, even if special purpose funding is not being sought.  


    The Department must support the child to continue their studies, make positive social connections with other children at the school, and have the same opportunities as other children in their school.  

    Payment of boarding school fees


    Where an Aboriginal child in care attends boarding school to study, Centrelink directs all the child's ABSTUDY payment to the boarding school to cover residential costs such as accommodation fees, meals and laundry charges.  

    The Department deposits a weekly payment of $100.00 (indexed to CPI) directly into the child's bank account to cover personal items and expenses.

    Youth Allowance (YA)

    Where a child in care is in receipt YA Centrelink do not direct this payment to boarding schools to cover the residential costs.  However, there may be cases where a child's YA is being used to pay for boarding school costs based on advice received. 

    From Term 1 2020, boarding school fees are paid by the Department for a child in receipt of YA, and the Department pays $100.00 per week to children in receipt of ABSTUDY.

    The weekly payment of $100 indexed to CPI is deposited directly into the child's bank account.  This payment covers the child's personal items and expenses (mobile phones, fuel, etc.) and social outings not covered by the school.  

    Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme (AIC)

    Under this scheme, a group of payments are made to parents and carers of children who cannot attend a local government school due to isolation, disability or special needs.  Carers in receipt of AIC payments for a child in care under 16 years who attends a boarding school should pay the allowance towards boarding school costs.  The Department will pay any shortfall. 

    Where a carer receives AIC the child cannot claim YA or ABSTUDY when they reach 16 years of age. 

    At this time, you need to ask the carer to advise Centrelink to cease their AIC payment.

    Carers can advise Centrelink to cease the AIC at a DHS service centre or by contacting the AIC call centre on 132 318.

    Centrelink reporting requirements 

    • A child who needs to live away from their care arrangement to study (including boarding school) receives a higher rate of YA and ABSTUDY.

    • Centrelink does not need to be advised when a child attending boarding school returns to their carer's home for a weekend and school holidays.

    • However, if the child ceases their study, the child must advise Centrelink promptly or they will accrue a debt. You must advise the child of their reporting obligations.    



    Sometimes carers may need a particular type of vehicle to cater to the needs of a child in the CEO's care that they are providing care to.  Before submitting an application for a grant, you should be confident that the care arrangement will be stable and long-term. 

    Approval for leased or rental vehicles is limited to:

    • a vehicle modified to transport a wheelchair to meet the special needs of a child with a physical disability

    • a large vehicle for the use of a group of four or more children when no other option is available (for example, a contribution towards a vehicle with greater seating capacity).

    Vehicle rentals are only a short-term option, and only available through the Government’s mandatory contract provider. For detailed information, refer to Vehicle Rental (in related resources) or on the Procurement intranet site.

    The Department does not: 

    • purchase vehicles for the use of carers

    • lease vehicles long term for children in care who do not have a physical disability, or 

    • upgrade carers existing vehicles that have deteriorated as a result of maintenance and wear and tear issues.

    However, in circumstances where four or more children on Protection Order (Until 18) have been placed together at the same time, consideration will be given to a request for a one-off grant to assist carers to purchase a vehicle with a higher seating capacity. 

    The grant will take the form of a financial contribution paid to a registered motor vehicle dealer. Carers must sign an Advice to Carer Agreement where they agree that the vehicle meets the requirements of an appropriate safety and mechanical assessment, and that the Department has no responsibility for the running costs, maintenance or replacement of the vehicle. This agreement must be accepted by the carers before the grant is made.

    All payments for vehicles are made directly to the service provider on submission of a tax invoice addressed to the Department.


    Home modifications

    There can be special circumstances where it may be necessary to assist carers to modify their home to provide for the particular special needs of a child in care. These require thorough consideration, as this often involves adding value to the carer’s asset (their home).

    Approval for home modifications are limited to:

    • modifications to meet the special needs of a child with a physical disability, and 
    • modifications to accommodate a sibling group of four or more children.

    Prospective funding is not and cannot be used as a condition for the carer taking on a large sibling group.

    The Department funds the modifications through a grant paid directly to the service provider.  Carers must sign an Advice to Carer Agreement with the Department where they agree to make a pro-rata repayment of the grant if the children leave the care arrangement within a specified period.

    These provisions must be clearly set out in a written advice to the carers, and they must be accepted by the carers before funding is provided.

    Payments are made directly to service providers on submission of a tax invoice addressed to the Department.


    Major and extraordinary events

    Occasionally a situation may arise in a child’s life that requires expenditure of a large sum of money that is outside the normal resources of the Case Support Costs budget and is not covered in the categories above.

    In such cases, the district director determines if the expenditure is justified before seeking the relevant ED’s consideration for funding from the special purpose funding budget as a major and extraordinary event.

    This category of funding does not cover ‘normal’ large expenditure items, such as computers, day care, private practitioners, counselling or orthodontic treatment.

    This category covers extraordinary situations, and is not limited to:

    • admission of a child to a Residential Treatment Program

    • private schooling

    • purchase of disability or mobility equipment

    • high cost services related to reunification and/or contact

    • high cost specialist services for parenting capacity assessments, forensic and extended assessments for children with dysfunctional behaviours

    • provision of teachers’ aides

    • travel fares and/or accommodation associated with a child attending holidays with their carers (refer to Chapter 3.2 Interstate and overseas travel)

    • religious, cultural, school and sporting tours

    • extensive dental treatment for children living in country regions where the travel and accommodation costs to attend an Oral Health Centre are cost prohibitive.

    Payments are made directly to service providers on submission of a tax invoice addressed to Department. 


    Preparation, endorsement, approval, payment and recording of a special purpose funding submission

    Payments for special purpose funding are approved in Assist.  A Payment Authorisation Form is generated in Assist and payments are made via EFT or GPC.

    To apply for a special purpose funding:

    1. Complete the Submission for Funding Approval for a Child (Special Purpose Funding) via the 'Templates' tab in the child's 360 Degree View in Assist.  Include the start and cease dates, and a thorough justification for the funding.  For detailed information refer to the Assist Users Guide – Special Purpose Funding in related resources.

    2. Attach the submission to an email and send to your team leader and district director for endorsement.

    3. When endorsed by the team leader and district director, forward an email with the endorsed submission to the Coordinator Client Support Services for review and feedback to the district if required.

    4. When endorsed by the Coordinator Client Support Services the submission is forwarded to the relevant ED for their consideration. 

    5. If the submission is rejected, the Coordinator Client Support Services advises the child protection worker or case worker.

    6. When approved by the ED, the Executive Assistant scans the submission and forwards it with a covering memorandum to Senior Client Support Officer.

    7. If the approval has conditional requirements (for example, building contracts or vehicle grants) the document with approval must be returned to the child protection worker / case worker.

    8. The child protection worker / case worker then obtains the relevant documents and signatures requested.  When the conditions are met and the documents are signed, they must be returned to the Coordinator Client Support Services for acceptance.

    9. When the Coordinator Client Support Services is satisfied all conditions have been met, the completed documentation is forwarded to the Senior Client Support Officer.  

    10. When all conditions are met and/or the funding is approved the Senior Client Support Officer scans all documentation into Objective then enters the expenditure lines and links approved documentation in to Assist.  No end date is recorded in Assist to allow the district to make payments via Assist (default 12 months from approval).

    11. The Coordinator Client Support Services approves the funding line on Assist. 

    12. Senior Client Support Officer emails the submission and memo with final approvals to the district director, district business manager and case manager, along with advice that expenditure line is open.

    13. Child protection workers or case managers record the details in the child's care plan in Assist and generate a payment Authorisation Form from the opened funding line.

    14. Special funding payment is made via EFT or GPC.

    15. The Corporate Support Officer prepares weekly reports to monitor payments. ​