About specialised substitute residential care

Last update: 25 January 2023

Specialised substitute residential care is an arrangement between a parent and an organisation for a child to receive care away from their usual home for 3 or more nights in any 7-day period. The care must be for respite or behaviour support, or funded by the National Disability Insurance Scheme. 

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    Types of care

    Specialised substitute residential care includes:

    • stays of 3 or more nights within a 7-day period in a group home, respite, hotel or Airbnb environment (days do not need to be consecutive)
    • short-term accommodation through the National Disability Insurance Scheme
    • overnight stay of 3 or more nights with another family in a 'host family' arrangement
    • longer-term residential care
    • camps of 3 or more nights that focus on respite or behaviour support
    • bail assistance program.

    Specialised substitute residential care can be a one-off arrangement made in an emergency or involve frequent or long-term care. 

    When a child stays in overnight care for 1 or more nights, the organisation or sole trader providing the care must record it on the specialised substitute residential care register. This is because the register is a collaborative tool which calculates the total days the child has been in overnight respite care with any provider, so that children don’t remain in care for long periods without oversight.

    Regulation under the Child Safe Scheme

    From 1 September 2022, specialised substitute residential care will be regulated under the Child Safe Scheme.
    Organisations providing specialised substitute residential care must also comply with a code of practice. This code of practice will set out mandatory minimum requirements, tailored to the specialised substitute residential care context, that these organisations must comply with to implement the Child Safe Standards.

    The benefits of regulating specialised substitute residential care under the Child Safe Scheme include:

    • streamlined regulatory requirements that reduce regulatory duplication
    • clarified obligations designed to strengthen safeguards for children 
    • strengthened capability for continuous improvement
    • stronger powers to take action to address non-compliance.

    Role of the Office of the Children’s Guardian

    We monitor organisations that provide or supervise specialised substitute residential care under the Children's Guardian Act 2019 and Children’s Guardian Regulation 2022.

    In NSW, organisations that provide specialised substitute residential care must comply with the code of practice set out in the Regulation. 

    Under the code of practice, organisations must complete a self-assessment of their compliance with the Child Safe Standards. ‘Information for providers’ has more information about the code and timeframes for completion of the self-assessment.

    The self-assessment can be completed online

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