This section has information for accredited agencies to stay up-to-date with their obligations and legal requirements.
This page includes information for Principal Officers.
Browse our range of guides and templates your agency can use to help you deliver services and meet accreditation requirements.
Every accredited agency must appoint a Principal Officer.
The Principal Officer is the person within your agency who has overall responsibility for supervising its arrangements for providing statutory or supported out-of-home care or adoption services.
All Principal Officers must have a current Working with Children Check clearance that has been verified by the agency.
You must notify us if there is a change to your agency's Principal Officer or their contact details. This can be done via the portal for accredited agencies if you have access. Otherwise use the relevant form:
Designated agency form to update details (Word)
Adoption agency form to update details (Word)
Specific responsibilities of a Principal Officer
Statutory out-of-home care Principal Officers have legal requirements under the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998, the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Regulation 2022, the Children's Guardian Act 2019 and the Children's Guardian Regulation 2022.
These requirements are:
Immediately ensuring notification of a death of a child in care to the parents of the child, and the Children’s Guardian and the Coroner
- Ensuring a behaviour support plan is prepared when a medical practitioner has prescribed a psychotropic drug for the child
- Authorising individuals as authorised carers
- Authorising relative or kin of a child or young person as an authorised carer for the child or young person in an emergency and
- Authorising individuals as an authorised carer to provide respite for other authorised carers.
Statutory out-of-home care Principal Officers have the authority to delegate these 2 responsibilities:
Preparing a behaviour support plan that includes psychotropic medication
Authorised carers must notify an agency when a medical practitioner has prescribed a psychotropic drug to a child in statutory out-of-home care. The Principal Officer can delegate the responsibility for preparing a behaviour support plan for the child. However, they must approve the plan. Only suitably qualified professionals should develop behaviour support and management plans in consultation with the child or young person and their carer.
The Behaviour support guidance tool (PDF) has further details.
Authorisation of carers
With approval from the Children's Guardian, the Principal Officer can delegate responsibility for authorising carers, including respite carers and relative or kinship carers.
Principal Officers seeking to delegate this responsibility to another person must provide a written request to us that includes:
details about why they are seeking to delegate this responsibility
- details of the person to whom they propose delegating this responsibility, including their position, and why they are suitable
- confirmation that this person holds a current, verified Working with Children Check Application or Clearance that has been verified by the agency
- a copy of the agency’s organisational chart showing the role of the person to whom they want to delegate this responsibility, and
- the duration of the proposed delegation.
Reviewing our accreditation and monitoring processes
We’re currently reviewing the way we accredit and monitor agencies that provide statutory out-of-home care and adoption services. We want to make sure our accreditation framework reflects the reality of the way out-of-home care and adoption services operate in NSW.
Key proposals for changing the current system include:
- taking a new approach to monitoring and accrediting agencies
- strengthening the assessment process for new applicants
- providing for greater flexibility in the way we administer the accreditation system
- making our functions clear.
We completed a period of public consultation in December 2021.
Read more in our discussion paper on Open Gov.
Code of Practice and Child Safe Standards
During 2021-22, we consulted the sector on how we can bring designated agencies and adoption service providers into the NSW child safe scheme. This involves replacing the existing accreditation criteria (the NSW Child Safe Standards for Permanent Care) with the Child Safe Standards and a sector-specific code of practice. In late 2022 we sought feedback from the sector on the content for a code of practice, to support implementation of the Child Safe Standards. In 2023 we will circulate the draft code to the sector for further comment.
The code of practice will ultimately be set out in the Children’s Guardian Regulation 2022.
Monitoring to Renewal Framework
The consultation process provided opportunity to hear agencies’ experiences of the accreditation and monitoring scheme - these have informed changes to the way we regulate the sector.
Our new Monitoring to Renewal Framework has a greater focus on agencies’ quality assurance and continuous improvement systems. Under this framework we will have more regular contact with agencies during the accreditation cycle, but our engagements will be briefer. In 2023, we are trialling this new approach with a sample of agencies.
You can read more about the new approach in the Monitoring to Renewal Framework factsheet.