Working for a better future and outcomes for our children
An introduction to the Human Services Quality Framework
You may have already heard about the Human Services Quality Framework (commonly known as the HSQF), especially if you receive funding from the Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors and/or Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women (the departments).
This article provides an introduction and some tips for organisations who may need to meet the HSQF requirements.
The HSQF is a set of standards for Queensland human services that an organisation needs to meet, if they receive ongoing funding from the department/s. There are six standards within the HSQF, which cover core elements of human service delivery as well as requirements under relevant legislation, service agreements and specific programs.
There are common requirements that everyone under the HSQF has to meet, and then depending on the service types delivered, there may also be some specific additional requirements. For example, organisations that provide child protection placement services and also need to be licensed will need to address both the common requirements and then some additional specific requirements which will be used for licensing.
Some tips for organisations when first starting their HSQF journey:
- Connect with your Regional Contract Officer early on – they will be a good source of information around HSQF, and will be able to link you with relevant resources
- You will generally have 18 months from when you first receive funding from the department to meet your quality requirements – your Regional Contract Officer can help you with what those requirements are and to plan out timeframes
- Depending on the amount of funding you receive and the type of services you provide, you will either be required to complete a self-assessment only, or to go through a ‘Certification’ process
- There are a few organisations who may hold a current accreditation against another quality system which may mean they can just provide evidence of that to the department – your Regional Contract Officer will be able to talk with you more about this option
- If you need to get HSQF certification, an assessor (or assessment team, if you have lots of sites) will come out and visit your sites. These assessors work for certification bodies who have been approved by an accrediting body (known as JAS-ANZ) to work in the HSQF
- You are welcome to speak to as many of the certification bodies on the approved provider list as you would like to, to find whoever is best able to meet your needs, including budget, the makeup of the assessment team and approach they will take
- Bear in mind there are a lot of organisations that need certification so the sooner you start talking to the certification bodies, the better chance there will be of them being able to meet your needs including your preferred dates for the assessment. The most important tip we can give you is to start early!
- It is important to be aware that the HSQF is a quality assurance framework with a strong focus on continuous improvement. This means that if you don’t meet all the requirements straight away, there is time to fix any issues and your certification body will work with you around all of this
- There are supports out there who can help with preparing for and going through HSQF. These include the Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS), your Regional Contract Management team/s, the HSQF Team, as well as other organisations who have gone through HSQF before. Ask questions if you are unsure.
- You can also find lots of information on the internet – some good places to start include the HSQF site https://www.communities.qld.gov.au/industry-partners/funding-grants/human-services-quality-framework, the QCOSS site https://www.qcoss.org.au/and Community Door https://communitydoor.org.au/quality-assurance/human-services-quality-framework(which has lots of free templates to use)
Article provided by Sophie Tory, A/Principal Policy and Program Officer, Human Services Quality Framework