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Finalise the investigation and assessment

To finalise the investigation and assessment:

Time sensitive

The investigation and assessment must be completed and approved within 100 days of the date of the notification. The senior team leader is responsible for approving the investigation and assessment.

If the outcome is substantiated—child in need of protection and a referral has been made to a family group meeting convenor, the investigation and assessment must be approved within 7 days of the referral date.

Record the investigation and assessment

Recording the investigation and assessment is a vital step in the assessment of a child’s need for protection. The information recorded is critical for any ongoing or future contact with the child and family.

Record key information

Record all key information in the investigation and assessment event in ICMS, including:

  • the date, time and details of all contact with subject children, parents and other persons, including unsuccessful attempts
  • the Indigenous status, ethnicity and language of all subject children and other relevant persons
  • details of who conducted the interviews, including the names and positions of the CSO and second officer, police officer, Assessment and Service Connect (ASC) provider, or other person present during the interviews
  • any powers used under the authority of the Child Protection Act 1999, sections 16, 17 and 18
  • an ASC response form, if an ASC co-response occurred. Select only the known specialist services the ASC co-responder provided at the time of finalising the investigation and assessment
  • any action taken to refer a matter to the QPS under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 14(2) and (3)
  • a summary of the significant information gathered from interviews and other sources, including information gathered from a government or non-government agency to commence the investigation and assessment (refer to the practice guide Commencing an investigation and assessment within 5 or 10 days)
  • responses to the notified concerns, including any relevant disclosures, admissions or denials by the subject child, other children, the parents, family members or other adults
  • information relevant to the assessment of the child’s safety, belonging and wellbeing needs, including the immediate safety plan if one or more was developed
  • relevant observations about the child (presentation, demeanour and  developmental level), the parents (interaction with child and non-verbal cues) and the home environment
  • any action taken to assist with the assessment, such as medical examinations or photographs
  • the rationale for decisions made throughout the investigation and assessment, including whether there will be ongoing intervention with the family to meet the child’s protection needs or reduce the likelihood of future harm to the child
  • whether an independent person helped in decision making—complete an independent person form in ICMS for each of the following significant decisions made during an investigation and assessment for an Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander child:
    • safety planning decisions about how to keep a child safe
    • care arrangement decisions where a child protection care agreement or a child protection order grants custody to the chief executive, where applicable
    • a child in need of protection decision
    • any other decision for which an independent person helped the child and family to participate
  • the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child placement form outlining care arrangement options that comply with the placement element of the child placement principle
  • whether information was provided to the family about Victim Assist Queensland services. (Refer to Respond if a person may have been a victim of violence.)
  • an outcome and rationale recorded for:
    • each subject child recorded in the notification
    • each additional subject child identified as being harmed or at risk of harm during the investigation and assessment
  • all relevant forms are completed in the Investigation and assessment event. 

Record the outcome

Once a decision about the child’s need for protection is made, the investigation and assessment outcome can be finalised.

Answer the outcome questions in ICMS

Answer the four questions in the Assessment and outcome form in ICMS, based on the assessment of harm and risk of harm, to generate the investigation and assessment outcome for each subject child.

Support the investigation and assessment outcome for each subject child with clear documentation of:

  • the professional assessment of significant harm and risk of significant harm to the child
    and
  • the reasons for the outcome recorded.

The four questions are:

  1. Was the investigation and assessment completed for the child?

Answer ‘yes’ to this question if:

  • all actions for completing the investigation and assessment have been carried out and
  • the next two questions can be answered accurately.

2. Has the child been harmed?

Answer ‘yes’ if it is assessed that the child has suffered significant harm, taking into consideration:

  •  the impact of cumulative harm
  • that psychological or emotional harm is not always observable.

3. Is the child at unacceptable risk of harm, with no parent able and willing to protect them from harm?

Answer ‘yes’ if the assessment identified the risk of significant harm to the child is probable and the child does not have a parent able and willing to protect them from the harm.

Answer ‘no’ to this question if at least one parent has been assessed as both able and willing to protect the child. Sometimes both parents will need to be assessed, irrespective of custody arrangements.

4. Is the child already subject to ongoing intervention?

Answer ‘yes’ if the child is currently subject to an open ongoing intervention case because it already been assessed through an earlier investigation and assessment that:

  • the child is in need of protection
  • the unborn child will be in need of protection following their birth

Record the abuse and harm

The Record abuse and harm section includes:

  • the abusive action
  • the resulting significant harm to the child
  • the person responsible for the abusive action. 

If the outcome is unsubstantiated, do not select any abusive action, resulting harm or unacceptable risk types.

Practice prompt

Select only one (most serious) harm or risk of harm type for each child.

If the child is assessed as having been significantly harmed, record the abuse and harm by selecting:

Record the person responsible for each abusive action and the resulting harm type. More than one person can be responsible for the same harm type for a child.

Figure 1. Record abuse and resulting harm

Record the person responsible

Record the person responsible for each abusive action and the resulting harm type. More than one person can be responsible for the same harm type for a child.

If someone else was responsible for the abusive action, select one of the following person responsible options in ICMS:

  • not applicable—child under 10 years, if the abusive act was committed by a child under 10 years of age
  • not applicable—other person, if the abusive act was committed by:
    • a child aged 10 years or over who does not have the developmental ability or capacity to understand the consequences of their actions
    • any person who does not live in the child’s home or does not have regular access to the child in the home
  • not able to be identified, if it is unclear who was responsible for the abusive action.

Do not record a subject child as a person responsible for abusive action towards another subject child in the same investigation and assessment event. If a child (aged 10 years or over) is recorded as a person responsible for abusive action towards another subject child and there are child protection concerns for that child, make sure:

  • a separate notification is recorded for that child as the subject child
  • a separate investigation and assessment is carried out regarding that child’s need for protection.

Record unacceptable risk of harm

In the Record unacceptable risk of harm section select:

  • all relevant abuse types from the ‘Unacceptable risk of harm caused by’ field  
  • the parent responsible for any future risk to the child. 

If the child is assessed as being at unacceptable risk of significant harm, with no parent able and willing to protect them from harm:

  • select each unacceptable risk of harm identified for the child—see Figure 2. Record unacceptable risk of harm below
  • select the parent responsible for each unacceptable risk of harm type recorded. More than one parent can be responsible for the same unacceptable risk of harm type for a child.

Figure 2. Record unacceptable risk of harm 

Record the parent responsible

To complete the Record unacceptable risk of harm section in the Assessment and outcome form in ICMS, record:

  • the details of any assessed unacceptable risk of significant harm if there is no parent able and willing to protect the child from significant harm
  • the parent responsible for the future risk of significant harm.

Record a separate notification and carry out a separate investigation and assessment if, during the investigation and assessment, child protection concerns are identified for:

  • a subject child’s parent who is under 18 years of age
    or
  • a child of a subject child.

A child and their parent cannot both be subject children in the existing investigation and assessment.

Further reading

Refer to Procedure 1 Record subject child or other child for information about recording a separate notification in these circumstances.

Record the assessment of harm and risk of harm

For each child, succinctly record the assessment that has informed the decision about the investigation and assessment outcome, using the following headings:

  • assessment of harm
  • assessment of risk of harm
  • assessment of parents’ ability and willingness.

The record of the assessment will:

  • show how all relevant information gathered during the investigation and assessment has been considered 
  • reflect how cumulative harm has been considered
  • for risk of harm
    • include the analysis and synthesis of the identified risk and protective factors, in the context of the subject child’s particular situation

    • focus on what will happen in the future for the subject child, if nothing changes

  • include what the parent has done to demonstrate their ability, capacity and motivation to protect the child, where the assessment is formed that a parent is able and willing to protect the child.

Practice prompt

It is critical the assessment can be read and understood by others. For further information about documenting an assessment and decision about harm and risk of harm to a child, refer to the practice guide Assess harm and risk of harm.

Record the type of ongoing intervention planned

For each child in need of protection, record one of the following types of ongoing intervention:

  • intervention with parental agreement
  • intervention with parental agreement with a directive child protection order, if the child is subject to both types of intervention
  • child protection order.

Record a support service case if:a pregnant woman consents to ongoing intervention prior to her baby’s birth.

For all other subject children, record no ongoing intervention planned.

Tip

The ongoing intervention section in the Assessment and outcome form in ICMS documents the type of ongoing intervention planned when the investigation and assessment is completed.

Approve the investigation and assessment

The investigation and assessment must be approved within 100 days of the date of the notification by the senior team leader or another senior team leader or CSSC manager if the approving senior team leader carries out any important steps in the investigation and assessment.

Advise agencies and services of the outcome

Advise relevant agencies and services involved in the investigation and assessment process of the investigation and assessment outcome and whether there will be ongoing intervention.

This includes:

  • The Assessment and Service Connect provider if the investigation and assessment was a co-response.
  • The Family Participation Program if it has supported the family during the investigation and assessment.
  • A SCAN team core member, where a referral has been made to a SCAN team, but Child Safety has subsequently completed the investigation and assessment and intends to close the case. The senior team leader must first discuss the outcome of the investigation and assessment with the referring agency core member representative, and the core member representative will determine if they wish to proceed with the referral to the SCAN team prior to Child Safety closing the case.
  • A Centrelink employee who notified Child Safety of the concerns for the child in line with The Youth Protocol: An agreement concerning referral, assessment, case management and support for homeless and unsupported young people. In this case
    • telephone Centrelink within 48 hours of deciding the investigation and assessment outcome and advise them of the outcome and any proposed actions
    • complete the Advice to Centrelink form that was attached to the original written advice from Centrelink
    • send the form to the relevant Centrelink office. (Refer to Procedure 1 Information from Centrelink.)

Note

If the investigation and assessment has been finalised and the ASC provider raises new child protection concerns about the child, the information will be provided to the relevant RIS. The RIS CSO will consult with the CSSC CSO and the senior team leader responsible for the ASC co-response to decide the intake response. 

The ASC provider is expected to finalise their involvement with the family within 60 days of receiving the request to participate in an ASC co-response. This excludes any period of ‘active holding’ by the ASC provider while waiting for another service to start working with the family. The active holding period should not extend beyond 60 days of the investigation and assessment being finalised.

Inform the parents of the outcome

The Child Protection Act 1999, section 15(2), requires that, as soon as practicable after completing the investigation and assessment, an authorised officer must:

  • tell at least one of the child’s parents about the outcome of the investigation and assessment
  • if asked by the parent, provide the outcome of the investigation and assessment in writing.

Consider whether the information should be provided to both parents, especially when parents are residing separately.

To provide the information to the parent, either verbally or in writing:

  • Give sufficient information about the main child protection concerns in the notification, to ensure they understand the reasons for the Child Safety intervention, without identifying the notifier.
  • Tell them the investigation and assessment outcome and the rationale for the decisions made, including:
    • an explanation of terminology used
    • a rationale for any substantiated significant harm or risk of significant harm and any safety, belonging and wellbeing needs identified.
  • Outline the reasons and rationale for any decision to open an ongoing intervention case, to assist the parents to participate in further decision making, and strengthen their ability to meet the child’s needs in the future.

Discretionary compliance with section 15

Only provide information to the extent that is reasonable and appropriate in the circumstances, if:

  • someone may be charged with a criminal offence for the harm to the child, and compliance may jeopardise an investigation into the offence
  • compliance may expose the child to harm.

When considering the use of discretionary compliance:

  • Decide what is reasonable and appropriate in each particular circumstance.
  • Consult with the QPS if there is an ongoing criminal investigation before giving any information to the parents.
  • Use professional judgement, the assessment of risk of significant harm to a child, and any relevant information about domestic and family violence issues to decide if providing information may expose the child to significant harm. (Refer to Inform the parents about the allegation of harm.)
  • Seek senior team leader approval for any decision not to provide the information.
  • Record the decision, rationale and approval process in the Information provision to parents form in ICMS.

Long-term guardianship to a suitable person

If the child has a long-term guardian, an authorised officer must:

  • tell at least one of the long-term guardians about the outcome of the investigation and assessment
    and
  • make reasonable efforts to contact at least one of the child’s parents unless this is not considered to be in the child’s best interest, taking into account:
    • the nature and extent of the child’s connection with their parents
    • the evidence supporting the allegation
    • any other matter, for example, if a parent’s knowledge of this investigation and assessment will have a detrimental effect on the child and the stability of the living arrangements (Child Protection Act 1999, section 15(3)).

Record details of advice to parents and all attempts to advise the child’s parents of the allegations and the investigation and assessment outcome, in the ‘Information provision to parents’ form in ICMS (Child Protection Act 1999, section 15(5)).

Family Responsibilities Commission

Note

The Family Responsibilities Commission is a statutory body that aims to reduce welfare dependency in the North Queensland communities of Aurukun, Coen, Hope Vale, Mossman Gorge and Doomadgee. Further information, including contact details, is available at the Family Responsibilities Commission website.

All Child Safety staff are responsible under the Family Responsibilities Commission Act 2008 to give notice to the Family Responsibilities Commission when they become aware of alleged harm or alleged risk of harm to a child whose family resides in a welfare reform community.

A Notice About Child Safety and Welfare Matters must be emailed to the Family Responsibilities Commissionwithin 5 days of an investigation and assessment outcome being approved, if the family has lived in one of the welfare reform communities for at least 3 months since 2008.

Before providing the notice, contact the Family Responsibilities Commission to confirm if it has already received a notice about the family. Record details of when the notice was sent or confirmation that a notice has already been sent in a case note in ICMS.

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