Skip to main navigation Skip to main content
Up-to-date information on how we are responding to COVID-19
Stay informed

Consider the differential pathway

The differential pathway contact with other professional is an alternative option for finalising an investigation and assessment, without completing an action that would ordinarily be carried out. The differential pathway enables the timely completion of an investigation and assessment:

  • in a way that is tailored to a family’s individual circumstances
  • without compromising the safety of the child or an unborn child, after the child’s birth
  • while ensuring sufficient information is gathered and assessed to decide if a child is in need of protection or an unborn child will be in need of protection after the child is born.

Note

The use of the contact with other professional differential pathway will only occur in exceptional circumstances. The decision is made during the assessment phase.  The senior team leader is responsible for the decision.

The contact with other professional differential pathway relies on another professional assisting Child Safety by speaking to a subject child or the pregnant woman. This option may be used if:

  • a comprehensive assessment of harm and risk has been made
    and
  • sighting and interviewing one subject child remains an outstanding task
    or
  • sighting and interviewing the pregnant woman remain an outstanding task.

Information obtained from the professional can be used to finalise the investigation and assessment within the procedural timeframe for:

  • the subject child who would otherwise have a no investigation and assessment outcome recorded
    or
  • an investigation and assessment relating to an unborn child kept open until the child’s birth.

Consider using this option if it is assessed that:

  • the risk factors identified do not necessitate a CSO sighting and interviewing the child or the pregnant woman
  • it is appropriate to engage another professional to sight or speak to the subject child or the pregnant woman.

This option may be appropriate for a child in the following circumstances:

  • if a child is admitted to hospital and it is appropriate for the hospital social worker to sight or speak to the child
  • if the QPS has already interviewed the child without a CSO
  • if the child moves to another area and has not been sighted and interviewed by the relevant CSSC
  • if it is appropriate for a professional already engaged with the child, such as a guidance officer or Child and Youth Mental Health Service worker, to speak to the child.

This option may be appropriate for a pregnant woman in the following circumstances:

  • if the pregnant woman is admitted to hospital and it is appropriate for the hospital social worker to sight and interview the pregnant woman
  • if the pregnant woman moves to another area and has not been sighted and interview by the relevant CSSC
  • if it is appropriate for a professional already engaged with the pregnant woman, such as a maternal health worker, to speak to the pregnant woman.

Before using the differential pathway:

  • Identify a professional who, given the child or pregnant woman’s individual circumstances, would be an appropriate person to approach and speak to the child or pregnant woman.
  • Seek the parents’ consent for the professional to speak to the child.
  • Contact the professional and assess whether they are suitable for speaking to the child or pregnant woman and gathering information about the concerns.
  • Explain to the professional that any information provided by them will assist in an assessment of the child’s need for protection or the unborn child’s need for protection after the child is born.
  • Tell the professional:
    • their confidentiality obligations under the Child Protection Act 1999
    • the concerns being assessed
    • that the parent has consented to their contact with the child
    • general information about how to gather relevant information from a child
    • that contact must occur in a lawful way (for example, if on school property, only with the school principal’s permission).

Note

If the information gathered from the other professional increases the assessed level of harm or risk to the child, it may still be necessary for a CSO to interview the child.  

Attention

If the information gathered from the other professional increases the assessed level of risk to the unborn child after the child’s birth, keep the investigation and assessment open in ICMS and finalise the investigation and assessment when the child is born. Refer to Take action when a pregnant woman cannot be interviewed.

The differential pathway  is not to be used for:

  • the same child more than once within a 12-month period, or for 2 consecutive investigation and assessments
  • allegations of sexual abuse or serious physical abuse
  • children under school age or where there is only one subject child—except in exceptional circumstances when the senior practitioner has reviewed the matter and assessed that it is appropriate to use the option
  • a harm report
  • a child subject to a child protection order granting long-term guardianship to a suitable person or a permanent care order.

The differential pathway is not to be used for a pregnant woman in the following circumstances:

  • the unborn child has already been subject to an investigation and assessment or additional notified concerns have been recorded that meet the threshold for recording a notification
  • the unborn child has siblings who
    • have been assessed as children in need of protection at any time in the past
      or
    • are not in the primary care of the pregnant woman.

Note

Where the differential pathway is used to finalise an investigation and assessment relating to an unborn child and it is not considered necessary for a CSO to interview a pregnant woman, ensure the pregnant woman is provided the outcome of the investigation and assessment. Refer to Inform the parents of the outcome.

Version history

Back to top

Published on:

Last reviewed:

  • Date: 
    Changes related to unborn child content.
  • Date: 
    Maintenance.
  • Date: 
    Page created
  • Date: 
    Page update
  • Date: 
    Page created