Out-of-home care service providers must perform a Disqualified Carer Check prior to employing or engaging out-of-home carers, or approving foster carers and ensure they are registered within 14 days.
Part 3.4 of the Children Youth and Families Act 2005 (the Act) establishes the regulatory framework for the registration, reporting, investigation and disqualification of out-of-home carers and is an important safeguarding mechanism to improve the safety and wellbeing of children and young people who are placed in out-of-home care.
Registration of carers
Registered out-of-home care service providers must:
- Complete a Disqualified Carer Check before employing or engaging an out-of-home carer, or approving a foster carer
- Ensure the carers are registered within 14 days of their appointment.
Failure to undertake a Disqualified Carer Check may result in the registered out-of-home care service being penalised under the provisions of section 120 of the Act.
Who is an out-of-home carer
An out-of-home carer is any person who the out-of-home care service employs, engages or approves to provide care to a child. These are:
- Foster carer – accredited and approved to act as a foster carer
- Any person employed or engaged by an out-of-home care service:
- As a carer for children placed with the out-of-home care service including permanent, part-time, casual or temporary agency staff and persons providing care to children at a foster care placement
- To provide services to children at an out-of-home care residential facility managed by the out-of-home care service.
Allegations of physical or sexual abuse by a registered out-of-home carer against a child placed in their care must be reported to the Secretary once a reasonable belief is formed. This is known as a section 81 or section 82 report of abuse.
To make a report to the department under section 81 or 82 of the Act refer to Section 81/82 report abuse form (word).
The section 81/82 reporting mechanism is in addition to reports made to:
- Victoria Police
- Client incident management guide (CIMS) (word) and Client incident management guide addendum out of home care (word)
- Reportable Conduct Scheme
Following a report under section 81 or 82 of the Act, the Secretary will determine whether an independent investigation is warranted.
Further information about reporting allegations to the Secretary and the process undertaken to investigate those allegations, refer to Allegations of abuse of children in out of home care (word).
An out-of-home carer will be disqualified from being registered on the Victorian Carer Register if the Suitability Panel determines that the person has physically or sexually abused the child and considers that the person poses an unacceptable risk of harm to children
Child Safe Standards
All Victorian organisations that provide services or facilities to children are required by law to comply with the Child Safe Standards.
The Child Safe Standards are comprised of three overarching principles and seven broad standards. These have been designed to drive cultural change in organisations, so that protecting children from abuse is embedded in the everyday thinking and practice of leaders, staff and volunteers.
For Safety screening for funded agencies, visit Safety screening for funded organisations on the Service agreement information kit website.
For further information about the Victorian Carer Register please see the Resources section below.