If Child Safety Services is worried that you are not safe or being properly cared for they will need to talk to you and your family. They’ll try to find the best way to make sure you’re protected, and you can live a full and happy life.
Child Safety Officers might ask you some questions about your parents, or about things that have happened or are happening in your family. This is so they can get the information they need to help protect you.
When you’re answering questions, you might want to:
- think about the question, and take your time to answer
- ask if you don’t understand something
- ask for a break if you feel tired or confused.
It’s okay to ask for a support person, like an adult friend, family member or lawyer to be there.
By law, Child Safety Services has to explain everything to you, and tell you about your rights.
Child Safety Services and the Queensland Police Service can find a place for you to stay before telling your parents if they believe you are in danger. They must tell at least one of your parents once you’re safe.
They can also contact you at school before they talk to your parents. Again, they’ll have to tell your parents about it afterwards unless they believe talking to your parents could risk you getting hurt.
If Child Safety Services is concerned there is a risk you might be harmed, then a Child Safety Officer will visit you and your family to talk about the things that have them worried. This is called an ‘Investigation and Assessment’. Child Safety Services will work with you and your family to find out what is working in your family, what has you worried about, and how safe you are. They will work with you and your family, to get the help and support you need to be safe.
The law says Child Safety Services must listen to what you say you want to happen before they make a final decision about you – for example, whether your parents can have contact with you.
The Office of the Public Guardian offers child advocates who can help you to give your opinion throughout the process. They can also help you with legal matters, issues with school, and any official complaints you might wish to make. They'll try to find the best way to make sure you're protected, and you can live a full and happy life.
When you or your family need help to make sure you’re safe and protected, you might see written plans being made. These plans tell each of the people helping you what to do, and they should be developed together with you and your family. Some of the plans you might see are:
A case plan is your family’s plan for what needs to happen and how to get there. You and your family develop the plan with Child Safety Services. The case plan outlines why Child Safety Services is involved with your family, the goals everyone is trying to achieve and the steps to get there.
A case plan is normally made during a Family Group Meeting. A family group meeting helps your family to develop or change a case plan. You can go to the meeting, along with members of your family and staff from Child Safety Services. You can have your say during the meeting to make sure the plan is right for you.
If you choose not to go to the Family Group Meeting, you can talk to a Child Safety Officer and ask them to speak for you and tell them everything you would like them to say during the meeting, including your ideas and your goals. This will make sure everyone at the meeting gets to hear your point of view. You could also ask a youth worker or a lawyer to be there on your behalf.
A child advocate from the Office of the Public Guardian can also give you support and help you to understand how you can take part in Family Group Meetings.
A support plan is made if you have a support service case (this is explained a little later).
Education Support Plan
An Education Support Plan helps you to get the most out of school. You can be involved when the plan is being made.
Child Health Passport
A Child Health Passport keeps all of your health details in one place, and helps health care workers support you. The passport includes items like immunisation details, health assessment details and the outcomes of any referrals to specialists.
Cultural Support Plan
If you are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, or if you come from a specific cultural background, then a Cultural Support Plan will be developed with you and your family to make sure you stay connected to your culture and community. An Independent Person can help you have your say when creating a Cultural Support Plan.
To find out more about what an Independent Person is and how they can help, check out Independent Person: Information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people.
Transition to Independence
If you are around 15 years old and in care, your Child Safety Officer will start to talk to you about planning for your future as an adult. Transition to Independence is a plan to help you with life skills, study and work, as well as offering counselling and supporting your relationships with family.
If you’re unhappy with your plan, you can talk to your Community Visitor or Child Advocate from the Office of the Public Guardian. They can help you express your views.
A support service case provides services to help families, pregnant mothers or young people. Child Safety Services may make a support service case, with you or your family, when:
- Child Safety Services investigated and found that no action is needed to protect a child, but feels the family would still like some help
- Child Safety Services has found that parents will need help to keep a newborn child safe after the child is born
- a young person who has been in care needs some extra support after their 18th birthday.
An Intervention with Parental Agreement, or IPA for short, can be made when your parents agree to work closely with Child Safety Services. This can help the whole family get help and learn the skills they need in order to keep you safe. If an IPA is made, you and your parents will not have to go to court.
Under an IPA, you might go to a Family Group Meeting. There may also be:
- help for your family to reach your goals
- a chance for you to have your say on things that are important to you.
Normally, you would stay with your parents while an IPA takes place. However, you might need to spend some time away from your parents, if your parents agree that some time away would be best for you.
A care agreement is a short-term agreement your parents may make with Child Safety Services for you to be placed in care, away from your parents for a short time.
There are 2 types of care agreements:
Assessment Care Agreement
This may happen when Child Safety Services are looking into concerns about your safety. It can’t happen if one of your parents refuses, and can only last up to 30 days. If there’s an Assessment Care Agreement, your parents will still be your legal guardian and can still make decisions about your welfare.
Child Protection Care Agreement
This might happen when Child Safety Services believes you need help to keep safe. In that case, Child Safety Services will ask your parents to agree for you to go with Child Safety Services and let Child Safety Services make decisions about your day-to-day care (such as where you live and go to school). This can last for up to six months.
One or both of your parents can stop a care agreement, but they have to give two days’ notice to Child Safety Services.