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Risk assessment and structured decision making

There are several tools to aid and guide practitioners when assessing risk and identifying risk levels. They can help guide decision making in terms of intervention. 

Family risk evaluation

The structured decision making (SDM) family risk evaluation (FRE) helps to identify families that have high, moderate or low probabilities of abusing or neglecting their children in the future. The final risk level can be used to guide decisions about whether to open an ongoing intervention case for a child. 

The FRE considers parental problematic substance misuse on both the abuse and neglect index. The tool guides practitioners in considering alcohol and other drugs (AOD) use as

  • not a past or current problem
  • a past or current drug or alcohol problem
    • during the last 12 months
      and/or
    • at any other time prior to that

The abuse index differentiates between the primary parent’s and secondary parent’s use.

Family risk re-evaluation

The SDM family risk re-evaluation (FRRE) for in-home cases is used in all ongoing intervention cases in which the children remain in the home. This applies to intervention with parental agreement cases and supervision orders.

In terms of problematic AOD use, the FRRE considers whether there has been/is use (or no use) in the past or currently. It also considers current use that is/is not being addressed. 

Family reunification assessment

The SDM family reunification assessment (FRA) is used to guide practitioners when they are making decisions about whether to return a child to the parent/s and to assist in reaching a permanency recommendation.   

The FRA specifically considers AOD use in terms of immediate harm indicators, parental behaviour, and progress with case plan goals and actions. 

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