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Complete a family risk evaluation

Complete the family risk evaluation to inform the decision about whether the child is in need of protection:

  • after all the investigation and assessment information has been gathered
  • before deciding the investigation and assessment outcome.

The purpose of a family risk evaluation is to:

  • provide an objective evaluation about the probability of further incidents of abuse or neglect by a parent in the family, which may result in harm to a child in the next 12 to 24 months
  • help guide decision making about the need for ongoing intervention with the family to reduce the likelihood of future harm.

Do not complete the family risk evaluation for:

  • a harm report
  • the investigation and assessment of an unborn child—unless the child is born before the investigation and assessment is approved.

The family risk evaluation includes one set of questions for neglect and one set of questions for abuse. Each answer has an assigned score. The scores from each set of questions are totalled and the highest score determines the family’s scored risk level, which will be one of the following:

  • low
  • moderate
  • high.

Record the family risk evaluation in ICMS:

  • completing one family risk evaluation for each:
    • household
      or
    • family, if more than one family lives in the same household
  • basing it on the information gathered during the investigation and assessment and the definitions within the SDM: Family risk evaluation
  • answering all questions:
    • in the neglect and abuse indices
    • based on the structured decision making (SDM) definition of ‘primary parent’
  • taking all possible steps to gather any required information that is not known. (If no information is available, score the item as ‘0’)
  • using professional judgement to decide:
    • if a policy override should be applied—which will change the scored risk level to high
      or
    • if a discretionary override is required due to additional risk factors. Approval by the senior team leader is required for the discretionary override, which will increase the family’s scored risk level by one.

Submit the family risk evaluation to the senior team leader for approval.

Practice prompt

If parents are separated and harm or risk of harm is alleged in both households, complete the following for each household:

  • one notification and investigation and assessment
  • one family risk evaluation.

For an Assessment and Service Connect (ASC) co-response, the CSO is responsible for completing the family risk evaluation.

Further reading

The family risk evaluation section of the SDM Policy and procedures manual.

Consider the risk level and recommendation

If the family’s final scored risk level is high, the family risk evaluation recommends that a case be opened for ongoing intervention. The risk level does not decide the investigation and assessment outcome.

Use the family risk evaluation risk level and the related open/close recommendation to inform and guide the assessment about whether:

  • a child is in need of protection (and therefore an ongoing intervention case will be opened)
    or
  • an ongoing intervention case will be offered to a family, when the family’s final scored risk level is high and it is assessed that the child is not in need of protection.

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