your rights & responsibilities

child reaching out to carer

As an authorised foster carer, you are one of the most important people in the child's or young person’s life for the time they are in your care, but you too have rights, many of which are set out in legislation.

The Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 states that when a child or young person is placed with authorised carer following a Children’s Court Order, carers have certain rights and responsibilities.

Always remember that you are sharing the care of the child with the child’s family as well as with Community Services and other professionals. Your child’s caseworker plays a key role in this partnership and is there to support you at all times.

Code of Conduct for Authorised Foster, Relative and Kinship Carers

The Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Regulation 2012 provides for the Minister to issue a Code of Conduct for Authorised Carers and requires authorised carers to comply with the Code of Conduct as a condition of their authorisation. The Code of Conduct aims to foster stable and positive relationships between the child or young person, their carer and the designated agency.

partnership agreement between Community Services and carers

The Partnership Agreement between DoCS and Foster Carers has been developed to outline how we work together every day to meet the needs of children and young people.

Regional Foster Carer Advisory Groups are leading the implementation of this agreement. Contact your local Community Services Centre (CSC) for more information.

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as an authorised foster carer, you have the right to:

  • be given information about the child or young person in your care in order for you to decide whether you can accept the placement
  • say “no” to a proposed placement
  • participate in the decision making process, eg attend case conferences
  • make certain decisions regarding the day-to-day care and control of the child or young person
  • in some circumstances, be indemnified if the child or young person placed by Community Services in your care causes deliberate or accidental loss or damage to property or personal injury to you as a carer
  • receive information about foster care services that can support you in your role as a carer
  • receive help from your Community Services or foster care agency caseworker to access community services or local supports so that you can better meet the needs of the child or young person
  • be informed about how Community Services or the foster care agency decisions may be reviewed and how you can make a complaint
  • be regularly visited by your caseworker or foster care worker to support you and your family during a placement
  • be regularly reviewed after the first year of providing care and annually thereafter, according to the experience gained and the type of care you provide
  • this review is to identify strengths and areas where skill development might be necessary to meet the needs of the child or young person in care.
  • the review should take place regardless of how many or how few placements you have in the past year and when there are significant changes in your household.
  • be paid an allowance to meet the needs of the child placed in your care
  • apply for sole parental responsibility after two years of continuous care. Application must be made with the consent of the parents or person who had responsibility for the child prior to them coming into out-of-home care. (find out more).

your responsibilities are to:

general care

  • provide a caring home and experiences that meet the child or young person’s physical and emotional needs
  • work as part of the team with Community Services or your foster care agency and other professionals to ensure the safety, welfare and wellbeing of the child in your care
  • attend foster care meetings when required and training sessions when offered
  • seek guidance from your caseworker when you are not sure of the limitations of your role. Also seek guidance if you experience problems with the child or young person’s behaviour or with other agencies that the child is involved with, for example, school and health services
  • treat information about the child or young person’s family as confidential
  • allow Community Services and other childcare workers to visit and support you on a regular basis and to see the child or young person on their own
  • help the child or young person understand why they are in care and express their feelings about their own family
  • help the child or young person retain their own sense of identity and culture, including religious beliefs
  • understand and respond to the child or young person’s key developmental milestones
  • avoid criticism about the child or young person’s family
  • actively encourage the child or young person to participate in recreational activities
  • cooperate positively with contact arrangements with the child or young person’s birth family
  • participate in regular reviews of the case plan for the child or young person
  • uphold the principles of the Charter of Rights for children and young people in care and ensure your foster child is also familiar with their rights.

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health care

  • consent to medical and dental treatment which doesn’t involve surgery
  • contact your Community Services or foster care agency caseworker if the child or young person needs a general anaesthetic for any purpose
  • contact your Community Services or foster care agency caseworker if a medical practitioner recommends the administration of any drug of addiction or psychotropic medication.

Life Story work

  • maintain records, eg keep a diary or scrap book of key events, photos, school and health records on the child or young person’s progress in your care — see more on life story work
  • record any relevant information about the child or young person while they are in your care, such as any injury the child may experience in your home, no matter how minor.

Community Services involvement

  • give your caseworker clear information about the child’s progress and behaviour
  • inform your caseworker (or the Child Protection Helpline if after hours) as soon as possible in the event of a critical event, e.g. the child or young person suffers a serious accident, injury or illness
  • inform your caseworker if the child or young person makes any disclosures of abuse
  • inform your caseworker if you or anyone in your household is charged or convicted of an offence for which a penalty of imprisonment for 12 months or more may be imposed
  • inform your caseworker about any significant changes or events in your family including new people coming to live in your home
  • inform your caseworker if you intend to travel or move interstate or overseas.

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personal responsibilities

  • attend ongoing training and talk to your caseworker about any seminars or courses that may assist you in your role as a carer
  • work in the best interests of the child or young person. This may mean accepting that the child or young person will probably be going home and you and your family may have mixed feelings about this—especially if the child or young person has become part of your family
  • cooperate with the caseworker and discuss any areas where you disagree with a case plan and why
  • accept that a different home may be more suitable for a child or young person who does not settle into your home

sole parental responsibility

Authorised carers now have the option to apply for sole parental responsibility for children and young people who have been in their care for two years or more.

Under the new legislation proclaimed in March 2004, a sole parental responsibility order gives you most of the powers and responsibilities which, by law, parents have in relation to their children.

You could make long-term decisions for the child or young person and decide for yourself about their best interests without the need to consult with the designated agency.

A sole parental responsibility order is a long term order intended to last until the child or young person is 18, and is aimed at increasing their sense of stability.

The order requires the consent of the birth parents and the child or young person if they are over 12.

See the fact sheet on sole parental responsibility orders for more details.

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To report suspected child abuse or neglect, call the Child Protection Helpline on 132 111 (24 hours/7 days)