Program requirements for out-of-home care services

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.

    Requirements for home-based care in Victoria: Interim revised edition April 2014 (word)

  • 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.

    Circle Program guidelines May 2009 (pdf)

  • 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.

    Program requirements for lead tenant services in Victoria (word)

  • 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

    Targeted Care Packages guidelines (word)

    Targeted Care Packages questions and answers (word)

  • 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 Program requirements for delivery of therapeutic residential care outline the mandatory program elements to be implemented by community service organisations.

    Community service organisations (CSOs) 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

    Effective from 1 July 2018, residential care in Victoria transitioned from the intermediate RP2 level to the complex RP3 level, supported by an investment of $82.5 million over four years.

    Funding enables continuation of the improved overnight safety and supervision requirements. Since 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.

    The Overnight safety plan template (Word)  is to be completed by residential care services providers.

    Further guidance to support approval of overnight safety plans (Word) supports departmental areas and residential care service providers with development and review of high-quality overnight safety plans.

    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 up-skilling the existing workforce.

    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 department operated or funded residential care home will be required to hold, or be undertaking, either:

    • The preferred qualification - Certificate IV in Child, Youth and Family Intervention, or
    • A recognised relevant qualification.

    In addition, all residential care workers must complete three mandatory units of competency, which covers trauma informed practice, providing residential care and managing behaviours.

    Specific details are outlined in Minimum qualification requirements for residential care workers in Victoria (Word).

    Children in residential care

    The Victorian government provides funding to support the Children in Residential Care (CIRC) program, which we allocate to Victorian CSOs to provide specialist educational programs to children and young people in residential care.

  • Framework to reduce criminalisation of young people in residential care

    The Framework to reduce criminalisation of young people in residential care aims to reduce contact of young people in residential care with the criminal justice system.

    Young people in residential care have experienced abuse and neglect and the impact of this trauma often means they are more likely than their peers to present with risk-taking behaviours such as self-harm, aggression, substance abuse and other activities that place them at high risk of contact with police and the youth justice system.

    This multi-agency approach will work to reduce the trajectory of young people in residential care into the criminal justice system.

    The Framework is a collaboration between:

    • Department of Health and Human Services
    • Department of Justice and Community Safety
    • Victoria Police
    • Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency
    • Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare on behalf of residential care service providers.

    It is supported by:

    • CREATE Foundation
    • Berry Street Victoria
    • MacKillop Family Services
    • Commission for Children and Young People
    • Victoria Legal Aid
    • Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service
    • Victorian Aboriginal Children and Young People's Alliance.

    A state-wide implementation group will be established to support delivery of the framework.

    Framework to reduce criminalisation of young people in residential care (pdf)

    Framework to reduce criminalisation of young people in residential care (accessible version)  

  • 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).

    A behaviour support plan template (Word) is also available, which provides an example on how information used in the practice guide can be coordinated into a document for an individual child or young person.

    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.

  • Performance audits

    We regularly conduct audits of funded organisations responsible for providing out of home care services.

    These audits aim to ensure organisations are aware of and adhere to expectations outlined in program requirements, the health and human Services standards and the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005.