In a life threatening emergency dial Triple Zero (000)

In a life threatening emergency dial Triple Zero (000)
ACT Public Hospitals

Canberra Hospital

5124 0000


Calvary Hospital

6201 6111

Mental Health

Call Mental Health Triage on

1800 629 354

(free call except from mobiles or public phones) or

6205 1065

Poisons Hotline

For a poison emergency in Australia call

131126

Drug and Alcohol Help Line

The Drug and Alcohol Help Line is available 24-hours, 7 days a week on

5124 9977

Health Protection Service

For after hours urgent public health matters including environmental health, radiation safety, food poisoning and communicable disease management phone:

(02) 6205 1700

healthdirect

24 hour health advice

1800 022 222

ACT State Emergency Service

Emergency help
during flood or storms

132 500

Stepping up for children and young people in care


Helpful information for children and young people in care

Growing up safely. Information specific for children and young people in care.

We want to thank all the children and young people who contributed to these pages either by allowing us to use their artwork, telling their stories at the 2018 Youth Roundtable or giving us feedback through the CREATE Youth Advisory Groups.  Thank you.

A Step Up for Our Kids

Children's artworkA Step Up for Our Kids is the out of home care strategy in the ACT. It guides the work of Child and Youth Protection Services when working with families whose children might be at risk of coming in to care and those who are in care.

Under A Step Up for Our Kids the priority is for children and young people to stay with or return to their families. If children can’t stay at home, they live with other members of their family or with foster carers. A Step Up for Our Kids aims for all children to grow up strong, safe and connected.

What is out of home care?

Out of home care is when a child or young person is unable to live with their parents. Instead they live with a kinship carer or foster carer, or with other children at a residential care house. This can be for a short time, or for a longer time.

Out of home care is also often called being ‘in care’.

Out of Home Care

Why does it happen?

There can be many reasons why children come into care. Sometimes, parents have problems that make it hard for them to look after their children. And sometimes, things may be happening that make it unsafe for children and young people to stay living at home. No matter what the reason, it is never a child or young person’s fault.

Watch our short video to get a better idea of what being in care means.

How does going into care happen?

When someone is worried about whether a child or young person is being looked after, they contact Child and Youth Protection Services. Child and Youth Protection Services is the government agency whose job it is to look at whether children and young people in the ACT are being cared for safely.

If Child and Youth Protection Services are worried about a child or young person they can check and see what is happening. They do this by talking to the child or young person, their parents or other family members. They might also talk to other people who know the family like teachers, counsellors, nurses or doctors. By doing this Child and Youth Protection Services get a better picture of what is happening in the child and family’s life.

If Child and Youth Protection Services and the child or young person’s parents think the family need some help everyone will try to put in place support for parents so that children and young people can stay at home. In some cases it isn’t safe for a child or young person to stay living with their parents. Child and Youth Protection Services then ask the ACT Childrens Court to decide if the child or young person should live with someone else for a while. If the Childrens Court agrees, Child and Youth Protection Services finds the child or young person another place to live until it is safe for them to go back to their parents. Sometimes they might need to stay in care for a long time with their new carers.

Child and Youth Protection Services will first try to keep families together and works with parents, children and young people to help them get the support they need to fix any worries they might have about the child or young person’s care and safety. Keeping families together where it is safe to do so is the first priority for Child and Youth Protection Services.

Do children and young people get a say?

Children's artworkYes. In making decisions, Child and Youth Protection Services will talk with children and young people to find out how they are feeling and what they would like to happen. Child and Youth Protection Services will take this into account when making their final decision.

The law says that Child and Youth Protection Services must make decisions that are in the ‘best interests’ of the child or young person. Child and Youth Protection Services will work with everyone involved to find a balance between what children and young people want and what is best for their ongoing care and safety.

There are also other rights you have. You can learn more about them at the Charter of rights for kids in care.

Who do children and young people in care live with?

Children and young people who come into care mostly go to live with another member of their family, like a grandparent or aunt or uncle – this is called kinship care. If this isn’t possible, children and young people go to live with a foster carer who is a person who volunteers to look after them.

Some children and young people may also go to residential care, which is a house where a few children and young people from different families live together with care workers to support them.

How does being in care work?

Children's artworkWhen a child or young person comes into care, their care and safety become the responsibility of the government. In the ACT, Child and Youth Protection Services looks after them. Some people might also say the child is ‘in the care of the Director-General’.

In doing this job, Child and Youth Protection Services works with ACT Together, a group of organisations who specialise in child and family support services.

The main person a child and young person has contact with from the government or an agency is their case manager.

What is a case manager, and can I contact them?

Each child or young person will have a case manager from either Child and Youth Protection Services or ACT Together. A case manager works with a child or young person, their family and their carer and makes sure everyone knows what they need to do while the child or young person is in care.

The case manager will check in regularly to see if everything is okay, or if something needs to change. They will also work out if it is okay for the child or young person to move back to their family home, or if they should continue to live elsewhere– this is often with the existing carer. Other people such as the child or young person’s carer, teachers, doctors, or therapeutic worker may also work with the case manager to try and help support families to have children and young people return home.

Children and young people can always contact their case manager directly if they have questions or need help. Case managers can be contacted by calling Child and Youth Protection Services on 02 6207 1069 or 02 6207 1466 or ACT Together 6110 2200.

Does everything change?

Children's artworkWhen a child or young person is in care, case managers and carers keep as much of the child or young person’s life the same, like going to the same school, continuing to play in a sports team or other regular activities, like seeing family and friends and having their own things.

All children and young people in care also have the right to have a say about what’s happening to them. The big decisions about their life will be discussed with them, along with their family, carers and others supporting them.

Leaving care

The priority is to reunite children and young people with their parents as soon as it is safe to do so. Case managers work with the child or young person, their family and carers to help make this happen. When a family situation has stabilised, Child and Youth Protection Services go back to the ACT Childrens Court and ask for the child or young person to go back home. Parents can also ask the ACT Childrens Court if their child can go home too. If the Childrens Court agrees, your case manager will make the arrangements for this to happen.

If it is not possible for the child or young person to return to their parents, they will usually stay with their carer at least until they turn 18 years old or even older. Leaving care is called ‘transitioning from care’. You can learn more about it at Transitioning from care.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people

Children's artworkAt Child and Youth Protection Services, we have a team of Aboriginal people who work alongside case managers to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, parents and families. They can help explain what is happening and ensure children remain connected to culture and community. You can contact the Cultural Services Team directly on 02 6207 1466 or learn more about how the government supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families at the Stronger Families websiteExternal Link.

I don't know what that means?

There can be lots of jargon and strange words used when a child is in care. You can find out what they all mean in our Dictionary.

Who can I talk to?

It’s really important that children and young people know who can help them when they are in care.Children's artwork

Children and young people can always talk to: