Accreditation framework

Last update: 06 January 2023

The NSW Child Safe Standards for Permanent Care form the basis for how agencies become accredited to provide statutory out-of-home care and adoption services.

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    Accreditation criteria

    In NSW, accreditation to provide statutory out-of-home care and adoption services is based on the NSW Child Safe Standards for Permanent Care 2015.

    The same set of standards applies to both statutory out-of-home care and adoption services. This allows agencies to be accredited to provide both service types.

    The standards focus on providing permanent care for children and young people. 

    Why do we have standards?

    The NSW Child Safe Standards for Permanent Care 2015 set out the minimum requirements agencies providing statutory out-of-home care and adoption services must meet to become accredited in NSW. The standards incorporate legal responsibilities statutory of out-of-home care and adoption service providers, contained in the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998, the Adoption Act 2000 and various regulations. 

    The standards are also underpinned by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Charter of Rights for Children and Young People in Out-of-Home Care in NSW. These state that children and young people have the right to:

    • be safe and protected from harm
    • live a full life and develop healthily 
    • participate in decisions that affect them 
    • a healthy living environment 
    • receive an education 
    • receive quality health care 
    • maintain relationships with family and people of significance 
    • maintain connections to community, culture, language and spirituality 
    • information about issues that concern them 
    • privacy 
    • engage in leisure activities and spend time with their peers, and 
    • services that assist them to achieve their full potential.

    Three components to assessment

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    Before your agency can be accredited by the Children’s Guardian, we assess your agency and its operations to make sure it meets the requirements of the NSW Child Safe Standards for Permanent Care. Some of this assessment will take place onsite at your agency’s premises. Our assessments include:

    1 Your agency’s processes

    In the first component, we try to understand how your agency intends to deliver its services. We analyse policies and procedures to get a picture of how the agency provides, or intends to provide, services. We also look at staff procedures to make sure services are delivered in line with both the laws and the standards. 

    2 People’s understanding of your processes

    In the second component, we assess whether the people providing the services understand your policies and procedures. To measure this component, our assessors hold discussions with staff and management about how they do their work. We expect to hear that services are provided in line with your agency’s policies and procedures. 

    3 Direct evidence

    In the third component, we review the direct evidence to confirm that staff’s practice is in line with both policies and procedures and what we’ve been told in discussions. 

    Types of evidence

    The first 2 components of our assessment are based on indirect evidence, while the third looks at direct evidence.


    Indirect evidence

    Examples of indirect evidence include: 

    • your agency’s policies and procedures 
    • any template documents your agency uses to implement policies and procedures. This may include forms, letters, checklists, systems and schedules 
    • any relevant service agreements, such as funding contracts and agreements, header agreements, inter-agency guidelines and contracts with human service providers 
    • publications, such as annual reports, strategic plans, communication strategies, publications for clients, induction and orientation kits, handbooks and guidelines, contracts and agreements, brochures, media releases and articles. 

    Direct evidence

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    Direct evidence is information that shows how your agency meets the Standards in practice. We assess direct evidence when we visit an agency as part of a direct evidence program, as well as during accreditation renewal and monitoring visits. 

    Some of the types of direct evidence are set out below.


    Our discussions with your agency’s representatives during onsite visits count as direct evidence. During these visits, our assessors usually hold discussions with your agency’s Principal Officer and leadership team, casework and care staff, and human resource staff. We’ll also hold discussions with representatives of your agency’s board or governing authority. 

    Our assessors will ask about your agency’s practices, systems and processes. These discussions provide your staff with the opportunity to explain the agency’s organisational culture, structure, operations, systems and practice. They can also be used to highlight planning or initiatives the agency has taken in response to identified issues.

    Records, systems and onsite observations

    During an on-site assessment, our assessors examine a range of direct evidence to verify your agency’s practices.

    Case planning and decision making
    • Children and young people placed within the past 12 months. 
    • Placement matching processes for children and young people. 
    • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander children and young people placed.
    • Children and young people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
    • Your agency’s permanency planning and casework, including restoration, guardianship, adoption and the allocation of parental responsibility to a carer or relative/kin. 
    • Children and young people who require additional therapeutic support, including behaviour support/management plans, including restricted practices. 
    • Your agency’s leaving care planning, advocacy and casework for children and young people from age 15 years.
    • Any children and young people who have experienced placement change within the past 12 months, including unplanned placement changes. 
    • Planning and casework to support children’s identity, including cultural planning and life story work
    • Children and young people with complex health needs. 
    • Children and young people with complex education/vocational needs. 
    • Participation by children and young people in decision making
    • Provision of information to birth family about their child’s placement, progress and development.
    S149 B-K and S163 – progress, development and placement information
    • Your agency’s assessments about disclosing placement information to parents and significant others.
    • Examples of carer refusal to consent or requests for a review of your agency’s assessment. 
    • Progress, development and placement information provided to parents and significant others. 
    Carers (foster/relative/kinship)
    • Any carers recruited, assessed and authorised within the past 12 months. 
    • Any carers authorised within the past 12 months who have children or young people placed with them. 
    • Your carer training and development, supervision and support systems, including home visits and home safety checks. 
    • Any performance appraisals and performance management systems. 
    • Any carers who weren’t authorised or who were de-authorised within the past 12 months. 
    • Any staff recruited within the past 12 months. 
    • Your agency’s recruitment and retention strategies. 
    • Your agency’s probity checking and human resource processes. 
    • Your induction, training, development, supervision and support records and systems. 
    • Your succession planning. 
    • Your performance appraisal and performance management systems. 
    • Records management and information security.
    • Systems used to monitor the Working With Children Check (WWCC) online verification process.
    • Systems used to monitor incidents and accidents within the care environment.
    • Compliance with child protection laws including mandatory reporting and management of reportable allegations.
    Other records
    • Residential care – Official Community Visitor reports. 
    • Any investigations of reportable allegations within the past 12 months, whether in progress or completed. 
    • Any current notifications to us or the NSW Ombudsman.
    • Complaints mechanisms and comments, whether completed or in progress. 
    • Any incidents of inappropriate behaviour management strategies.
    • Any NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) reviews, including S149B-K and de-authorisation of carers. 
    • Any minutes from staff, team, board and planning meetings.
    • Any internal audits. 
    • Continuous improvement systems and strategic planning. 
    • Your agency’s governance systems. 
    • Any interagency collaboration. 
    • Your agency’s communication plans. 
    • Your information management systems. 
    Site observations
    • Your agency’s premises, including working areas, reception areas, notice boards and safety equipment, records management systems (paper and electronic files) and storage areas.
    • The residential housing provided, including bedrooms, living areas and facilities. 
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