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  4. 10.14 Referring to Family and Child Connect or intensive family support services for early intervention
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  6. 3. Referrals to Family and Child Connect or an intensive family support services

3. Referrals to Family and Child Connect or an intensive family support services

A function of the Chief Executive is to provide, or help provide, preventative and support services to strengthen and support families and to reduce the incidence of harm to children (section 7, Child Protection Act 1999). The purpose of a referral to another agency is to assist children and families access prevention, early intervention and support services.

Where Child Safety is aware of a child or family that meets the referral criteria for Family and Child Connect and intensive family support services, a referral should be made to the appropriate service.

Referral criteria

The referral criteria for both Family and Child Connect and intensive family support services are:

  • the referred family has a child unborn to 18 years of age, and
  • the child is not currently in need of protection, and
  • without support the child, young person and family are at risk of entering or re-entering the statutory child protection system, and
  • the family would benefit from access to intensive and specialist support services; the family will benefit from the service they are being referred to, either
    • active engagement and referral for support provided by Family and Child Connect or
    • case management and intervention services provided by the intensive family support service
  • the family has multiple and/or complex needs; there is at least one family member presenting with behaviours or circumstances that are having negative consequences for the family, particularly children. Consider if there is:
    • more than one issue impacting on the child or family’s wellbeing; or
    • there is a complex issue/s impacting on the child or family’s wellbeing.  Examples of complex issues include, but are not limited to: family violence, mental illness, substance misuse, learning difficulties, homelessness and poverty.

If after consultation with a Team Leader, it is unable to be ascertained whether the family has multiple and/or complex needs or would benefit from intensive and specialist support services, refer the family to Family and Child Connect for further assessment to be conducted.

Determining whether to refer to Family and Child Connect or an intensive family support service

A referral to Family and Child Connect (for active engagement and referral for support) is most appropriate in circumstances where either;

  • the family’s needs have not been able to be sufficiently ascertained, or
  • further assessment is required to identify the most appropriate service/s to meet the family’s needs, or
  • the family may benefit from another secondary support service and referral can be facilitated by Family and Child Connect

A referral to an intensive family support service is most appropriate when:

  • the family’s needs have been sufficiently identified and an intensive, lead case management model is required to meet the family’s needs

In circumstances where Child Safety can engage the family, there is an expectation that departmental staff identify the strengths and needs of the family through this engagement and refer directly to most appropriate service/s, including an intensive family support service.

The Child Protection Act 1999 enables particular prescribed entities (159M) to make referrals to Family and Child Connect and intensive family support services without a family’s consent in order to ’offer help and support to a child or child’s family to stop the child becoming a child in need of protection’ (section 159C (1)(b)(vi),). The exception to this is referrals related to unborn children.  A referral cannot be made in relation to a pregnant woman and her unborn child without her consent.

Particular prescribed entities are:

  • the chief executive and an authorised officer under the Child Protection Act 1999
  • the chief executive of department’s with the main responsibility for the following, and their delegate:
    • adult corrective services
    • community services
    • disability services
    • education
    • housing services
    • public health
  • the chief executive officer of the Mater Misericordiae Health Services Brisbane Ltd (ACN 096 708 922), or their delegate
  • a health service chief executive within the meaning of the Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011, or their delegates
  •  the police commissioner, or their delegate
  • the principal of a school that is accredited, or provisionally accredited, under the Education (Accreditation of Non-State Schools) Act 2001

Whilst the Child Protection Act 1999 allows referrals to Family and Child Connect and intensive family support services without consent, it is considered best practice to obtain consent wherever possible to share a child or family’s information.