This page was last updated 14 May 2020.

Residential care is provided to a child and/ or young person in a residential premises (not a carer’s or young person’s own home) by paid or contracted workers where a family based placement is not suitable. Volunteers can be used in addition to paid workers.

Residential care is primarily for children and young people aged 10-17 years with CAT scores 3 or 4 and mostly involves small group care (up to 4 places), though may also accommodate children, young people or sibling groups with lower CAT scores by mutual agreement.

Residential care provides an environment that supports the child or young person in their development where it is indicated.

Residential care will include rostered workers with combinations of awake and / or sleepover shifts and on-call arrangements. Services are often expected to provide care 24 hours a day, every day of the year, including when children and young people are not attending school during holiday periods or at other times.

Residential Care is an out-of-home care placement option providing temporary, short-term, long-term or immediate response accommodation and support to children and young people who have been removed from the family home.

To ensure children and young people who have been removed from the care of a person under the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017 (SA) (the Act) are placed in a safe, nurturing, stable and secure environment.

The service provider will provide the Residential Care service to children and young people who may be aged 0 – 17 years who are under Guardianship or Custody of the Chief Executive or other order or authority.

The client group for residential care may include children and young people who display characteristics such as:

  • trauma related behaviours that are indicative of experiences of significant neglect, physical and sexual abuse, witnessed and/or has been subjected to family violence, and exposure to anti-social family cultures
  • high vulnerability to exploitation and abuse
  • vulnerability identified by a range of service systems that include mental health, criminal justice and/or education.

The following sets out the program requirements for delivering Residential Care.


The service provider must:

  1. Hold a children’s residential facility licence
  2. Comply with this service specification at all times
  3. Comply with DCP’s Service Provision Requirements
  4. Have appropriate governance and management structures which influence service delivery and ensure that the needs of children and young people are met. Organisational requirements include appropriate clear policies, procedures, service models, staffing models, rostering arrangements, programming and housing.

The role of residential care service providers

The service provider must:

  1. For each child and young person in care, meet weekly with the DCP Case Manager and review the progress in regards to the life domains established in their Case Plans
  2. Articulate and implement a model of service consistent with the trauma-informed therapeutic framework, and implement programs in ways which are consistent with the framework
  3. Demonstrate a program logic for their residential care service
  4. Develop organisational structures and define roles that best enable the performance of functions and tasks that reflect evidence informed practice
  5. Recruit, select, support and train service provider personnel in accordance with the DCP’s Carer and Personnel Requirements; and
    • match characteristics of target groups with characteristics of staff required
    • provide support and supervision to staff including an emphasis on reflective practice and self-care
  6. As required, provide access to therapeutic specialists or clinicians from within the organisation and/or externally sourced (at DCP direction)
  7. Integrate the delivery of residential care services with other relevant services provided within the organisation and with services provided by other organisations
  8. In collaboration with the DCP, implement processes to measure and report upon the quality of care provided and the outcomes achieved for young people
  9. Provide mechanisms for engaging young people and communities  in service design and review, including options to support participation in decision-making about services and to elicit feedback
  10. Engage staff in decision making processes that affect the work they undertake with young people, their families and other service providers
  11. Review Case Plans every 6 weeks.

Service provider personnel

The service provider must:

  1. Ensure service provider personnel hold and maintain relevant working with children checks at all times. Refer to DCP’s Carer and Personnel Requirements
  2. Provide ongoing supervision and guidance to Service provider personnel in respect to their performance and work-related activities
  3. Report any suspicion that a child or young person may be at risk in accordance with the Act
  4. Provide training to personnel in accordance with DCP’s Carer and Personnel Requirements
  5. Make relevant courses of training available to Service provider personnel – to consolidate or improve knowledge, develop or build skills, promote wellbeing and to address identified issues as they arise
  6. Provide support to Service provider personnel during and following critical incidents, care concerns and/or special investigations into allegations of abuse made against them
  7. Maintain a policy to provide access to an Employee Assistance Program for Service provider personnel
  8. Implement performance and development plans for all Service provider personnel
  9. Review performance and development plans for Service provider personnel as part of an annual review process
  10. Maintain records of all training undertaken by Service provider personnel
  11. Provide an opportunity for exited personnel to complete an exit interview.

Residential care workers and supervisory staff providing direct care must:

  1. Create a secure and stable environment
  2. Ensure children and young people’s safety
  3. Provide nurturing care
  4. Provide developmental opportunities
  5. Provide relational healing opportunities
  6. Support Educational, recreational and community based activities
  7. Provide opportunities for children and young people to develop independent living skills
  8. Include the children and young people in household decisions where appropriate.

Placement Intake

The service provider must:

  1. Undertake an internal matching process to ensure that children and young people are appropriately matched according to contemporary matching practice
  2. Support DCP to match children and young people to appropriate placements to enable timely decision-making and permanency planning (where appropriate)
  3. Support DCP to place sibling groups together (where appropriate) and/or ensure that connections between siblings are supported as per the Case Plan
  4. Communicate with the child or young person’s DCP case worker before initiating any placement
  5. All transitions of children and young people must follow DCP process and be referred through Placement Services
  6. Accept and respond to referrals from DCP Placement Service Unit during business hours, and DCP Crisis Response Unit outside of business hours
  7. Ensure the provision of residential care services based care services to meet needs for immediate response, short term, and long term placements
  8. Provide the minimum number of residential care placements specified in the Service Agreement at all times during the term
  9. Meet DCP referrals timeframes as shown below:

    Placement referrals:
    • Respond to initial referrals within 24 hours
    • Accepted or decline referrals within 5 business days
    • Commence placements within 14 days of referral acceptance (except where otherwise agreed to meet the arrangements agreed in the child or young person’s Transition Plan)
    Immediate Response referrals:
    • Respond to initial referrals within 2 hours
    • Commence placements within 24 hours of acceptance of referral
  10. Consider the views of children and young people in decision-making processes (where possible)
  11. Provide prescribed information to the children or young person in relation to their placement (age appropriately)
  12. Participate in DCP led transition planning in line with the DCP Transition Planning Principles.
  13. Ensure the staff team is able to effectively support the child or young person and meet the child’s case plan, taking into account the age and developmental level of the child or young person and their cultural needs
  14. Not exceed the approved number of placements for the registered facility without seeking express approval from the Chief Executive
  15. Work with DCP case manager and DCP Placement Services Unit to seek alternative family based care arrangements where placements break down and/or where a child or young person is unable to be placed with the service provider
  16. Regularly advise DCP of placement capacity and availability for the approved number of placements.

Placement disruption

The service provider must:

  1. Where there are indicators that a placement might be disrupted, work with DCP case managers to implement strategies to stabilise and secure the existing placement
  2. When Placement Services indicate that a placement change is required, immediately notify the DCP case manager and maintain responsibility of the child or young person until an alternative placement is found.
  3. Where a placement change occurs, work cooperatively with the child’s DCP case manager, the child, their family and all other parties concerned, in order to ensure a smooth transition for the child
  4. Where a placement change occurs, ensure the change occurs in a way that is sensitive to the needs of the child, ensuring they are involved in the process wherever possible
  5. Where a placement change occurs, service provider staff from both placements concerned will ensure all of the child’s personal belongings and other materials are safely transferred to the subsequent placement
  6. Where a placement change occurs, service provider personnel will ensure all relevant information concerning the child is passed on to staff, carers and case managers at the new placement.