Community service organisations providing out-of-home care services need to meet certain requirements to fulfill service expectations.
These resources provide information for departmental staff and service providers involved in the development, assessment, approval and implementation of Out-of-home Care programs.
Program requirements for Home-based Care in Victoria
This document provides a common benchmark for home-based care practice requirements for the department and community service organisation (CSO) staff. This ensures a consistent approach to high-quality service delivery.
It also provides interim revised program requirements for home-based care services in Victoria, pending implementation of Out-of-home care – A five year plan.
Circle Program - a therapeutic approach to foster care guidelines May 2009
The Circle Program model endeavours to give effect to the principles contained in the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (CYFA) and the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005 (CWSA). The program is clearly positioned within a philosophical framework that supports and promotes child-centred practice and the principles of children's rights.
Program requirements for lead tenant services in Victoria
Lead tenant is an out-of-home care placement option providing medium-term accommodation and support to young people aged 16 to 18 years, who have been placed away from the care of their families by Child Protection.
Lead tenant programs provide a safe and semi-independent living environment in which young people are supported by 1 or 2 approved adult volunteer lead tenants. The lead tenants provide day-to-day guidance and mature role modelling, supported by professional staff.
The department funds Community Service Organisations (CSO) to provide lead tenant programs.
This document outlines the minimum practice requirements for lead tenant programs for CSO staff, to ensure a consistent approach to high quality service delivery.
Targeted Care Packages
On 16 March 2015, the Minister for Families and Children announced an investment of $43 million over 4 years for Targeted Care Packages of support to transition children from residential care to alternative placement options that better meet their individual needs.
On 27 October 2015 an additional $19 million over 4 years was announced to fund the expansion to the Targeted Care Packages program to prevent children and young people from entering residential care. The 2017-18 Budget committed a further 100 Targeted Care Packages.
The purpose of the program
The Targeted Care Packages program enables a flexible approach to preventing children and young people from entering residential care, as well as transitioning children and young people out of residential care. The packages provide an allocation of funding attached to a child or young person to support the delivery of a suite of services and living arrangements designed to meet their individual needs. The rollout of the packages commenced in April 2015.
Alternative living arrangements which could be considered as part of the package include at home with parents, family or friends, a registered foster carer, independent or semi-independent living or other care arrangements as benefits the child or young person’s needs.
The priority cohorts for Targeted Care Packages are Aboriginal children, children 12 years of age and under, and children and young people with a disability
Program requirements for residential care services in Victoria
The Program requirements for residential care services in Victoria are the essential prerequisites for providing a quality service for the children and young people in residential care.
The Requirements for delivery of therapeutic residential care outline the mandatory program elements to be implemented by community service organisations.
Community service organisations should adopt both of these requirements, in conjunction with the department's standards and their own operations and procedural documentation.
Improving safety for children and young people in residential care
In 2016 to 2017 the Victorian Government allocated $35.9 million to ensure every young person in residential care receives a complex level of support. This is through the transition of all intermediate RP2 residential care targets to the complex RP3 level of funding.
The 2016 to 2017 allocation builds on the $16 million invested in 2015. This investment was part of the Improving safety in residential care initiative, which introduced safety and supervision requirements for all four-bed homes funded at the complex RP3 level.
From 1 October 2016, every four-bed home has the consistency and predictability of a stand-up staff member overnight. Also, every residential care home across the state is subject to a robust overnight safety plan that ensures the rapid response of additional staff when required, including the safe return of young people overnight.
Minimum qualification requirements for residential care workers in Victoria
On 13 April 2016, the Victorian Government released the Roadmap for Reform: Strong families, safe children. This outlines the direction of long term reform of Victoria’s child and family services system, including:
- Child protection
- Early intervention
- Out of home care.
Roadmap for Reform commits to mandatory qualifications for residential care workers and upskilling of the existing workforce.
On 8 May 2016, the Minister for Families and Children and the Minister for Training and Skills announced $8 million to upskill current residential care workers ahead of introduction of a minimum qualification by the end of 2017.
The minimum qualification requirement sets a benchmark to ensure all residential care workers have a common level of residential care specific skills and knowledge. The minimum qualification applies to all workers (full time, part time or casual) who provide direct care to children and young people in residential care.
From 1 January 2018, all residential care workers providing direct care in a residential care home funded by the Department of Health and Human Services will be required to hold either:
- Certificate IV in Child, Youth and Family Intervention (Residential and out of home care), including a mandatory trauma unit of competency
- A recognised relevant qualification, plus completion of a short top up skills course.
Guide to emergency use of physical restraint in out-of-home care
The Guide to the emergency use of physical restraint in out-of-home care helps carers and staff understand their existing obligations regarding the reasonable use of physical force in out-of-home care, as well as prohibited restraints and reporting obligations. For more information, see Guide to emergency use of physical restraint in out-of-home care (Word).
The Physical Restraint Policy applies to residential care, foster and kinship care and lead tenant services. An easy read factsheet on the new policy is available to carers. For more information, see Emergency use of physical restraint in out-of-home care – factsheet for carers (Word).
The policy is supported by a practice guide, which provides information on behaviour support planning and resources to help carers and staff respond to challenging behaviour. For more information, see Practice guide - behaviour planning to best support children and young people in out-of-home care (Word).
Training on understanding and responding to the behaviour of children in out-of-home care is available for carers and staff through Carer KaFE and the Residential Care Learning and Development Strategy.
Foster Care Audits
The department regularly conducts audits of funded organisations responsible for overseeing foster care placements.
These audits aim to ensure these organisations are aware of and adhere to expectations outlined in program requirements for out of home care, the Victorian foster carer charter and the Victorian handbook for foster carers.