Last updated 24 January 2017
A child who is in need of protection and ongoing help under the Child Protection Act 1999 (Qld) (Child Protection Act) must have a case plan. A case plan is a written document that should provide a clear statement of the goal of the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services’s (Child Safety) ongoing help under the Child Protection Act. It will also identify the child’s assessed protection needs along with how and who will be responsible for addressing them. Case plans must also include:
- arrangements about where the child will live
- what services are to be provided to meet the child’s protection and care needs and to promote the child’s future wellbeing
- provide for the child’s contact with their family group or other persons they connected with
- provide for the maintaining of the child’s ethnic or cultural identity (s 51B Child Protection Act).
A case plan is normally developed at a special meeting called a ‘family group meeting’, which is convened by Child Safety.
Child Safety should encourage and facilitate the involvement of the following people in the meeting:
- the child if appropriate
- the child’s parents
- other appropriate members of the child’s family group
- other people the child has a significant relationship with (e.g. the child’s carer)
- any legal representative of the child
- a recognised entity if a child is an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander
- other people that are likely to make a useful contribution to the case plan (e.g. teachers or medical professionals) (s 51L Child Protection Act).
To ensure that the people in the meeting can hold open discussions without fear, what is said in the meeting or what is recorded in a case plan cannot be used in any criminal proceedings before a court, other than with the consent of all persons in the meeting, or mentioned in the case plan, unless it relates to an offence committed during the meeting. Also, a person must not be taken to have admitted anything alleged about the person only because the person attended or participated in a family group meeting or participated in the development of, or agreed to, a case plan (ss 51YA–51YB Child Protection Act).
A case plan must be reviewed at least every six months (s 51V Child Protection Act), unless the child has a long-term guardian (other than the chief executive). Child Safety must give the above listed people and a relevant service provider reasonable opportunity to participate in the review of the case plan, but this does not have to occur through a family group meeting (s 51W Child Protection Act). A child who has a long-term guardian (other than the chief executive), is to be given an opportunity at least once every 12 months to make comments or queries, or ask for a review of their case plan. The child, a parent or long-term guardian at any time may ask Child Safety to review the case plan. Child Safety may then decide not to review the plan if satisfied that it would not be appropriate in all the circumstances. Otherwise, it must review the plan. The decision not to review a plan is a reviewable decision, and Child Safety is required to give a written notice.