1. Decide the type of ongoing intervention

1.1 Decide the type of intervention required

Following an investigation and assessment, a decision is made about whether to provide ongoing intervention. Ongoing intervention is required for any child in need of protection. For a child not in need of protection, or an unborn child assessed to be in need of protection after birth, ongoing intervention is offered to the family or pregnant woman.

For a young person in care who is engaged in transition to adulthood planning, ongoing intervention may be offered following their eighteenth birthday.

There are three types of ongoing intervention cases:

  • a support service case
  • intervention with parental agreement
  • intervention with a child protection order.

The senior team leader is responsible for deciding the type of ongoing intervention required based on the above factors. The senior team leader makes this decision, in consultation with the CSO. For an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child, this is a significant decision. Ensure the child and family is given the opportunity to participate in the decision through a family-led decision-making process and the family’s plan will inform the decision about the type of ongoing intervention.

Consider the following factors when deciding the type of ongoing intervention that will occur with, or be offered to, the child and family:

  • whether the child is assessed as being in need of protection
  • the assessed level of risk for the child, including the outcome of the most recent safety assessment and family risk evaluation - also refer to the risk and protective factors outlined in the Practice guide: The assessment of harm and risk of harm (PDF, 886 KB)
  • what is required to meet the child’s need for safety, belonging and wellbeing
  • what is required to reduce the likelihood of future harm to the child
  • whether the parents are able and willing to work with Child Safety to meet the child’s need for safety, belonging and wellbeing
  • the views of, and information provided by, the child and family, including where applicable, the family’s plan developed at a family-led decision-making process for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child.
  • the type of ongoing intervention that will best meet the child’s need for physical, relational and legal permanency.

In addition to the above factors:

  • ensure that the child's safety needs are met whilst the decision is being made about the type of ongoing intervention, and if applicable, the type of child protection order required
  • give preference to working with families without the use of a child protection order, where this will not jeopardise the child's safety and wellbeing.

Principles for working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children

When making decisions for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child, consider the five elements of the Child Placement Principle as outlined in the Child Protection Act 1999, section 5C(2), as part of all decision-making processes:

  • the prevention principle that a child has the right to be brought up within the child’s own family and community
  • the partnership principle that Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander persons have the right to participate in significant decisions under this Act about Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander children
  • the placement principle that, if a child is to be placed in care, the child has a right to be placed with a member of the child’s family group
  • the participation principle, that a child and the child’s parents and family members have a right to participate, and be enabled to participate, in an administrative or judicial process for making a significant decision about the child.
  • the connection principle, that a child has a right to be supported to develop and maintain a connection with the child’s family, community, culture, traditions and language, particularly when the child is in the care of a person who is not an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person.

In circumstances where the child is an unaccompanied humanitarian minor (UHM), contact the UHM officer, Adoption Services prior to deciding the type of ongoing intervention for the child. For further information Chapter 1,7. What if the child is an unaccompanied humanitarian minor? and the Practice guide: Unaccompanied humanitarian minor wards.

Support may continue to be provided to a child and their long-term guardian. For further information, refer to 1.What if a child has a long-term guardian?

For further information on decision-making in relation to an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child, refer to Chapter 10.1 Decision-making about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

1.2 Decide the type of intervention - child not in need of protection

The only type of ongoing intervention that can occur when a child is not in need of protection is a support service case.

The purpose of a support service case is to reduce the likelihood of future harm to a child, or an unborn child, or to provide ongoing support to a young person following their eighteenth birthday, where applicable.

For more information on undertaking a support service cases, refer to Chapter 7. Support service cases. For more information about decision-making for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander unborn child, refer to 10.1 Decision-making about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

1.3 Decide the type of intervention - child in need of protection

If a child is assessed as being in need of protection, Child Safety must provide ongoing intervention to the child and family to ensure the child's safety, belonging and wellbeing needs are met, regardless of the outcome of the family risk evaluation. This intervention will occur as either:

  • intervention with parental agreement
  • intervention with a child protection order.

For both of these types of ongoing intervention, Child Safety is responsible for addressing the child's need for safety, belonging and wellbeing, and must develop a case plan with the family that clearly details what is expected of the parents and of Child Safety to address these needs. For further information, refer to Chapter 4. Case planning.

A child may be subject to both intervention with parental agreement and a child protection order at the same time, for example, both intervention with parental agreement and a directive order. Consider convening a Practice Panel to support decision-making in determining the most appropriate type of intervention.

Decide whether to provide intervention with parental agreement

Intervention with parental agreement enables Child Safety to provide support and assistance to a child in need of protection and their family, without the use of a court order. The parents must agree to work with Child Safety and they must be assessed as both able and willing to do so.

Intervention with parental agreement is generally of a short-term and intensive nature, and it must be safe for the child to remain at home. While the child will usually remain in the home for all, or most of, the intervention period, they may be placed in care with the use of a child protection care agreement, if required. For further information refer to Chapter 6, 3.1 Place a child under a child protection care agreement. A recommendation will be required to OCFOS for a referral to the DCPL for a child protection order if the parents do not consent to ongoing intervention.

To assess the appropriateness of intervention with parental agreement, consider the following factors:

  • the immediate safety of the child - the outcome of the safety assessment must be safe or ‘safe with immediate safety plan’ in order for an IPA to be considered. If identified immediate harm indicators cannot be addressed in a robust safety plan, the outcome of the safety assessment is unsafe, a placement intervention is provided and a child protection order to secure the child’s safety must be considered
  • the level of risk - future risk to the child must also be the primary consideration. Take into account the risk level from the family risk evaluation, the vulnerability of the child, any unresolved immediate harm indicators identified in the safety assessment for the household and the child protection history for the child and family
  • the child's view and wishes - these will be obtained depending on the child’s age and ability to understand - for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child, arrange for an independent person to help them participate in decision making (refer to Chapter 10.1 Decision-making about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children)
  • the parents’ acknowledgment of the concerns - the parents’ capacity to understand and acknowledge the child protection concerns must be considered. If the concerns are not understood or acknowledged and this poses a significant threat to the child’s safety and wellbeing, it is unlikely that the parents will comply with the case plan and a child protection order may be a more appropriate response
  • parental ability and willingness - at least one parent must:
    • be both able and willing to work cooperatively with Child Safety to meet the safety, belonging and wellbeing needs of the child
    • agree to participate in the development and implementation of a case plan to meet the protection and care needs of the child
    • be assessed as likely to be able to meet the child’s needs for safety, belonging and wellbeing when the intervention is completed.

Do not assume the parents’ agreement to this type of intervention will guarantee the child’s safety. The parents may articulate a willingness to cooperate that is not evidenced in their actions or behaviour. The parents’ agreement may also be indicative of a desire to avoid more formal and intrusive court-based intervention, and can also be an indicator of increased risk. Treat any compliance or acceptance of intervention in the context of serious harm or risk of harm to a child, with caution.

For an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child, consult with the parents and other family members to gather information about the family's ability and willingness to work with Child Safety and to identify other Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander supports available within their community.

Child Safety is not required to consider intervening with parental agreement if it is reasonably believed that, if the parents withdraw their agreement to the intervention for the child, the child will be at immediate risk of harm.

Intervention with parental agreement is not appropriate when one or more of the following applies:

  • there are serious risk factors associated with the parents ability to consent, such as current alcohol or substance misuse, intellectual disability or current psychiatric illness
  • there are serious risk factors associated with the parents' ability to adhere to any safety plan or the case plan, such as a high degree of mobility, an inability or unwillingness to work with Child Safety or a community organisation, or a demonstrated lack of engagement during previous intervention
  • the parents' failure to adhere to the case plan would place the child at unacceptable risk of harm.

For more information about providing intervention with parental agreement, refer to Chapter 6. Intervention with parental agreement and Chapter 4. Case planning.

Decide whether a child protection order is needed

An application for a child protection order can only be made if the child’s need for safety is unlikely to be met by a less intrusive intervention and the use of statutory authority is required to enable intervention by Child Safety. Use of intervention with a child protection order is appropriate when both of the following apply:

  • the child is assessed as being in need of protection
  • the safety, belonging and wellbeing needs of the child cannot be met by the use of intervention with parental agreement.

The type of child protection order sought will depend on the level of intervention required, as outlined in 2. Recommend a referral to DCPL for a child protection order.

The decision about referring a matter to DCPL for a child protection order for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child is a significant decision. This requires Child Safety to arrange for an independent person to help facilitate their participation in the decision. Complete the ‘Independent entity’ form in ICMS. For further information regarding decision-making for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child refer to 10.1. Decision-making about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

When a care placement is not required to secure the child's safety, consider the appropriateness of a directive or supervision child protection order. These orders do not affect the child’s custody or guardianship and allow the child to remain in the home. If required, the court can make one or more child protection orders concurrently, for example, a directive order may be granted at the same time as a supervision order to enable Child Safety to ensure that the directive order conditions are met (Child Protection Act 1999, section 61).

A recommendation to refer to DCPL for a child protection order granting custody or guardianship will be required when any of the following apply:

  • the safety assessment for the child has an outcome of 'unsafe'
  • the child's need for safety cannot adequately be met by the sole use of a safety and support network and services external to Child Safety, or intervention with parental agreement
  • removal from home is necessary to protect the child
  • the use of a planned placement under a child protection care agreement is inappropriate 
  • the family is uncooperative and will not participate in any case plan that offers protection to the child 
  • a parent responsible for harm to the child has access to the child and is unwilling to participate in the case plan.

Once an assessment is made that an order is needed to meet the child’s safety, belonging and wellbeing needs:

1.4 Engage and support the child and parents in decision-making

Whenever a child is subject to ongoing intervention, to the extent possible:

  • encourage the child to participate in decision-making relating to their own safety, belonging and well-being, based on their age and ability to understand
  • identify opportunities for the child to participate in formal or informal family-led decision-making processes relevant to their age and ability to understand – for example collaborative family decision-making processes, and processes that support planning for safety, contact, reunification and permanency decisions, and transition to adulthood’  
  • keep the child informed about matters affecting them
  • encourage the child, where age and developmentally appropriate, and their family to participate in every stage of decision-making concerning the child, including collaborative family decision-making processes.
  • provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with the opportunity to meaningfully participate in decision-making, including by arranging for an independent person to help facilitate their participation in making significant decisions – for further information refer to 10.1 Decision-making about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Exceptions

In the following circumstances, it may not be possible for parents to actively participate in decision-making:

  • when the parents' involvement in decision-making poses a high-level risk to the child's emotional or physical safety
  • when the parents may be unable to contribute to the decision-making process for the child, for example, due to intoxication or psychiatric illness.

In these situations, provide parents with full information about the matter being decided and the decision-making process and consider other ways of engaging parents in decision-making processes.

1.5 Implement case management responsibilities

Case management refers to the overall responsibilities of Child Safety when intervening with a child and family. Case management is a way of working with the child, family and other agencies to ensure that the services provided are coordinated, integrated and targeted to meet the goals of the case plan or 'support plan'.

When ongoing intervention is required, the case is allocated to an authorised officer, who becomes the CSO with case responsibility. It is the responsibility of this CSO to:

  • provide a planned response to the child and family, the pregnant woman or young person
  • meet all statutory requirements relevant to the intervention type
  • provide an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child and their family with the opportunity to meaningfully participate in all significant decisions about them and, with their consent, arrange for an independent person to help facilitate their participation in decision-making for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child
  • ensure that there is a safety and support plan, and a case plan or 'support plan' developed for the child, which outlines strategies to meet their safety, belonging and wellbeing needs (including developmental needs) and assists the child to gain the skills and sense of well-being that will allow them to realise their potential and positively participate in the wider community
  • ensure implementation of a cultural support plan collaboratively is developed with the child and their family and implemented for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child, and support and monitor the quality of care provided to the child, if applicable
  • support the child in care and monitor the quality of care provided to the child, if applicable
  • proactively implement the case plan or 'support plan', focussing on achieving the goal and outcomes of the plans
  • provide the child and family with information about matters affecting them and opportunities to participate in decision-making
  • undertake the ongoing assessment and review of the case plan or 'support plan'
  • close an ongoing intervention case when the child’s safety needs have been resolved, or ongoing support is no longer required.

1.6 Record case management information in ICMS

Each time an ongoing intervention case is opened, or the case status of the child changes to another type of ongoing intervention, updated information is required in the case management tab, located on the person record in ICMS.

The senior team leader is responsible for completing the case management tab for each child with the following information:

  • details of the allocated case worker for the child and the CSSC where they are located
  • the start date of the case
  • the start and end date of each new ongoing intervention type, if appropriate
  • the start and end dates of the officer undertaking case management or case work tasks for the subject child.

To avoid opening duplicate events in ICMS, when case management information is being recorded, a conditional message is displayed in the ongoing intervention section of the tab to advise whether one of the following applies:

  • an open ongoing intervention event currently exists
  • multiple open ongoing intervention events currently exist
  • no open ongoing intervention event currently exists for the subject child.

The tab also includes information about case work tasks requested via the case transfer process - if applicable refer to 3. What if an ongoing intervention case needs to be transferred to another CSSC?