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Support service case

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This page was updated on 29 August 2022. To view changes, please see page updates

A support service case is a type of intervention that involves providing, or helping to provide, prevention, early intervention and services to a pregnant woman or a young person.

Use a support service case to provide:

Support service case with a pregnant woman

A support service case is offered to a pregnant woman when an investigation and assessment has determined that an unborn child will be in need of protection after their birth. A support service case can only be opened with the consent of the pregnant woman.

The aim of providing support to the pregnant woman is to decrease the risk of harm to the unborn child after birth. Providing support as early as possible allows maximum time to address the child protection concerns before the baby’s birth.

Attention

Prior to the birth of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child, arrange for an independent person to help facilitate the pregnant woman and the unborn child family’s participation in a support service case. The agreement of the pregnant woman is required before arranging an independent person to help facilitate her participation, or the participation of the child’s family, in the support service case.

When supporting a pregnant woman and deciding on any required intervention once a baby is born, it is crucial to understand risk factors and any protective factors that can mitigate the risk. For further guidance on risk of harm to infants, refer to the practice guides Assessing harm and risk of harm and Respond to an unborn child

A child is at increased risk of abuse and neglect when they:

  • have pre-natal exposure to alcohol and other drugs
  • are from an unintended pregnancy
  • are premature or have a low birth weight
  • have a disability
  • have sleeping or feeding issues.

A child is also at increased risk of abuse and neglect when their parent:

  • uses alcohol or other drugs
  • has mental health concerns
  • is a victim or perpetrator of domestic and family violence
  • has their own childhood trauma
  • is young (under 20 years of age) or immature.

Babies are more vulnerable to harm as they are:

  • unable to protect themselves and are reliant on their parent to attend to their needs
  • are not able to communicate their needs
  • are unable to seek assistance
  • may be isolated from others who may act protectively.

Offer a support service case to a pregnant woman

After the investigation and assessment, meet with the pregnant woman to discuss:

  • the purpose of the support service case (which is to assist the pregnant woman to address the identified child protection concerns so that no further intervention by Child Safety is required)
  • how the intervention will happen, including the need for regular reviews of the support plan
  • the expectation that the pregnant woman will actively work to address the identified concerns
  • the need for Child Safety to take appropriate action if the newborn baby is assessed as being unsafe
  • whether she consents to the support service case. (Provide the pregnant woman with the brochure Support service case - information for parents and pregnant women.)

Tip

If a pregnant woman indicates she is considering adoption for the child, contact Adoption and Permanent Care Services to ask them to provide advice and assistance to the pregnant woman.

If the unborn child is Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, discuss with the pregnant woman:

  • her right and (with her consent) the right of the unborn child’s family, to have an independent person facilitate their participation in decision making about a support plan. (Refer to Develop and record a support plan with a pregnant woman whose unborn child is Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.)
  • whether she agrees to the Family Participation Program contacting her to discuss how the service could support her in working with Child Safety (if this has not already occurred). If the pregnant woman agrees to being contacted by the Family Participation Program, they will seek her consent for referral for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander family-led decision making and the CSO will complete the online referral form in the Queensland family support referral portal.

Record in the Independent person form in ICMS whether an independent person helped facilitate the participation of the pregnant woman and an unborn child’s family during a support service case.

Note

Before making contact with the pregnant woman, some Family Participation Program services may require Child Safety to first:

  • gain consent from the pregnant woman for a referral to the Family Participation Program for family-led decision making

and

Check local arrangements for referral to the Family Participation Program before talking to the pregnant woman about a referral.

Take action when a pregnant woman does not consent

If a pregnant woman does not consent to a support service case regarding her unborn child or withdraws her consent at any time during the support service case, intervention cannot continue. If this occurs:

  • Make every effort, including sending a follow-up letter to
    • alert the pregnant woman to the potential risks identified to her unborn child after birth
    • provide information to the pregnant woman about support services in the community to assist her and her family prior to the birth of her child. If the unborn child is Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, provide the pregnant woman with information about the Family Wellbeing Service and the Family Participation Program. If it has not already occurred, seek her agreement for the Family Participation Program to contact her to discuss how the service could support her in working with Child Safety.
  • Advise the pregnant woman that either a new notification or a child protection order may be required when the child is born. (Do not provide this information to the pregnant woman if it places the child at further risk after their birth.) 
  • Record an unborn child alert on the person records  of the mother and the unborn child—refer to Procedure 1 Information that requires an Integrated Client Management System alert.
  • Complete and forward
  • in exceptional circumstances only, where the pregnant woman is highly mobile and it is not possible to identify the hospitals where she is likely to give birth
    • complete an email with the title Statewide HRA (to ensure the email is activated), attach the HRA Form 1 and send the email to Statewide_HRA@csyw.qld.gov.au (this will ensure that the email will be sent to public hospital child protection staff throughout Queensland, and to the Mater Hospital
      and
    • send a letter to the private or interstate hospital/s where the pregnant woman may be likely to give birth (see note below). 
  • Telephone the hospitals to confirm receipt of the HRA Form 1 or letter and attach the form and letter to the ongoing intervention event in ICMS.
  • Refer the matter to a SCAN team, if a multi-agency response is required.
  • Provide the CSAHSC with a  Child Safety After Hours Service Centre: After Hours referral form  and all relevant information, including the HRA Form 1 and letter.
  • Record a Member of a mobile family alert on all relevant records, where there is information to suggest the pregnant woman is highly mobile.
  • contact the pregnant woman’s health practitioner (if known) to:
    • discuss the concerns identified
    • request that information be shared with relevant health professionals, such as the midwife or hospital social work services
    • ask that Child Safety be advised when the child is born.

Note

The Queensland hospital email addresses are monitored during business hours only. In the rare situation where all public hospitals need to be urgently alerted to the HRA Form 1 outside business hours:

  • be aware that hospitals will not receive the emailed information until the next business day
  • consider whether to telephone each hospital (including the Mater Mothers’ Hospital and any private or interstate hospital) at which the pregnant woman may be likely to present. (For Queensland hospitals refer to the Queensland Health Unborn child high risk alert contact list.)   

If the pregnant woman presents for delivery at a hospital that has received the HRA Form 1, the hospital will send Child Safety the HRA Form 2―Unborn child high risk alert: notification that pregnant woman has presented for delivery.

Practice prompt

When the child is born, decide the most appropriate type of ongoing intervention or record a new notification if a current risk assessment is required.

If a pregnant woman declines to participate in a support service case, but consents to a referral for support, consider a referral to:

Develop and record a support plan with a pregnant woman

Develop a Support plan in collaboration with the pregnant woman and, if she consents, with her partner and her safety and support network. Develop the support plan as early as possible to allow time before the birth to address the child protection concerns.

The plan will identify actions and interventions to reduce the risks to her unborn child after birth. It will also include any referrals to preventative and support services not currently involved with the pregnant woman.

Attach the completed support plan to the ongoing intervention event in ICMS. 

Practice prompt

When developing the support plan, provide the pregnant woman with information about safe infant care to reduce the risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI). Understanding safe sleeping practices is particularly important when there is problematic alcohol and other drug use. (Refer to the Australian Government website and the Red Nose Australia website for information and resources.)

Develop and record a support plan with a pregnant woman whose unborn child is Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander

Once arrangements have been made for an independent person (or the pregnant woman has declined the involvement of an independent person); and the pregnant woman has been given the opportunity to talk with the Family Participation Program about how they can support her in working with Child Safety (including facilitating family-led decision making to develop the support plan):

  • Provide the pregnant woman and the unborn child’s family with the opportunity to participate in support planning before the baby’s birth. Talk with the pregnant woman and the unborn child’s family about:
    • the unborn child’s family, community and culture, and how they can assist to address the identified child protection concerns and help prevent the need for further Child Safety involvement
    • which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander support services to refer the pregnant woman to (such as a family wellbeing service)
    • how Child Safety can create a culturally safe space when working with the pregnant woman and the family.
  • Record whether an independent person helped facilitate the participation of the pregnant woman or the unborn child's family in support planning in the Independent person form in ICMS.
  • Record the outcome of discussions with the pregnant woman about referral  to the Family Participation Program and whether the Family Participation Program facilitated the development of the support plan, in a case discussion/decision case note with the description ‘FPP engagement’ in the ongoing intervention event in ICMS.

Implement the support plan with a pregnant woman

To implement the support plan with a pregnant woman:

  • Actively partner with her to achieve the support plan goals and actions within agreed timeframes.
  • Maintain regular face-to-face and telephone contact.
  • Support her referral to and engagement with the identified support services.
  • Obtain information from her and, with her consent, her safety and support network, about her progress towards the support plan goals.

Assess new information or a change in circumstances that indicates increased risk to the unborn child’s safety after birth, in line with usual intake processes. (Refer to Procedure 1 New child protection concerns. )

Practice prompt

A support service case cannot continue if a pregnant woman withdraws her consent or if the pregnant woman’s support needs are met before the child’s birth.

If a pregnant woman withdraws her consent and concerns remain for the unborn child after birth, refer to practice guide Respond to an unborn child

Review a support plan with a pregnant woman

Time sensitive

Review the support plan at least once every 6 months and within the 4-week period prior to the estimated date of delivery. Review the plan with the pregnant woman and, with her consent, her safety and support network. The review will be used in assessing and making decisions about the unborn child’s protective needs after birth.

To review a support plan for a pregnant woman:

  • Share and obtain updated information regarding what’s working well, what the worries are, and what else needs to happen. Ensure this process occurs with: 
    • the pregnant woman
      and, if she agrees, with:
    • the family of the unborn child, if applicable
      and
    • the safety and support network involved in the implementation of the support plan.
  • Assess whether the goals of the support plan have been achieved and whether the likelihood of harm to the unborn child after birth has been reduced (so the child will not be a child in need of protection).

Practice prompt

Prescribed entities can share information to offer help and support to a pregnant woman under the Child Protection Act 1999 (the Act) Chapter 5A. For further information about who can share information and for what purpose, refer to the practice guide Respond to an unborn child.

Decide if intervention is required after the baby is born

Once a support plan with a pregnant woman has been reviewed within the 4-week period before the estimated date of delivery, a decision can be made about what type of intervention, if any, is required after the baby is born.

Tip

Use the practice guide Assess harm and risk of harm to inform the assessment of whether the child is in need of protection.

If the support needs for the pregnant woman have been met, the goals of the support plan have been achieved and it is assessed that the unborn child is not likely to be in need of protection at birth, refer to Close a support service case for a pregnant woman.

If it is determined that the unborn child will be in need of protection from birth and therefore will require ongoing intervention, refer to Make arrangements if the unborn child is in need of protection after birth.

Note

There may be times when telling a pregnant woman about the planned intervention would place the unborn child at further risk after birth. For example, the pregnant woman may relocate to avoid intervention.

If there is a risk of this, the senior team leader is responsible for making the decision about whether to inform the pregnant woman of the planned intervention.

Record the decision and the rationale in a case note in the ongoing intervention event in ICMS.

Make arrangements if the unborn child is in need of protection after birth

The unborn child may still be in need of protection once born, regardless of whether the pregnant woman has continued to work with Child Safety via a support service case or has withdrawn her consent to intervention at any time during the case.

If a pregnant woman withdraws her consent to the support service case and the unborn child remains in need of protection:

  • Make all reasonable efforts, in person and in writing, to:
    • alert the pregnant woman to the potential risks identified for her unborn child after birth
    • provide information about support services in the community to assist her and her family before the child’s birth.
  • Advise the pregnant woman that either a new notification or a child protection order may be required when the child is born. (This information will not be provided to the pregnant woman if it is likely to place the unborn child at further risk after their birth.)

If a pregnant woman withdraws her consent to the support service case, or if she continues working with Child Safety via a support service case until the birth of her baby and there are concerns for the immediate safety of the unborn child following birth:

  • Record an unborn child alert on the person record of the mother and the unborn child. (Refer to Procedure 1 Information that requires an Integrated Client Management Systems alert.)
  • Complete and forward:
  • In exceptional circumstances only, where the pregnant woman is highly mobile and it is not possible to identify the hospitals where she is likely to give birth:
    • complete an email with the title Statewide HRA (to ensure the email is activated), attach the HRA Form 1 and send the email to Statewide_HRA@csyw.qld.gov.au (this will ensure that the email will be sent to public hospital child protection staff throughout Queensland, and to the Mater Hospital)
      and
    • send a letter to the private or interstate hospital/s where the pregnant woman may be likely to give birth (see note below).
  • Telephone the hospitals to confirm receipt of the HRA Form 1 or letter and attach the form and letter to the ongoing intervention event in ICMS.
  • Provide the CSAHSC with a Child Safety After Hours Service Centre: After hours referral and all relevant information, including the HRA Form 1 and letter.
  • Refer the matter to a Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect (SCAN) team, if a multi-agency response is required. (Refer to Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect (SCAN) Team System Manual.)
  • Record details of all actions taken in a case note in the ongoing intervention event.
  • Record a Member of a mobile family alert on all relevant person records, when there is information to suggest the pregnant woman is highly mobile.
  • Contact the pregnant woman's medical practitioner (if known) to:
    • discuss the concerns identified
    • request that information be shared with relevant health professionals, such as the midwife or hospital social work services
    • ask that Child Safety be advised when the child is born.
  • Recontact any services involved in the provision of support services to the pregnant woman during the support service case to inform them that the pregnant woman has withdrawn her consent to ongoing intervention.

Note

The Queensland hospital email addresses are monitored during business hours only. In the rare situation where all public hospitals need to be urgently alerted to the HRA Form 1 outside business hours:

  • be aware that hospitals will not receive the emailed information until the next business day
  • consider whether to telephone each hospital (including the Mater Mothers’ Hospital and any private or interstate hospital) at which the pregnant woman may be likely to present. (For Queensland hospitals refer to the Queensland Health Unborn child high risk alert contact list.)

Tip

If the pregnant woman presents for delivery at a hospital that has received the HRA Form 1, the hospital will send Child Safety the HRA Form 2―unborn child high risk alert: notification that pregnant woman has presented for delivery.

Take action once the baby has been born

Tip

The birth of a child is an emotional time for a mother and her family. Always approach conversations about the baby’s needs with sensitivity and respect, acknowledging the mother’s and family’s experiences and journey so far.

If the pregnant woman has been working with Child Safety

If a pregnant woman has been working with Child Safety via a support service case and the assessment is that the child will be in need of protection once born:

When there are no immediate harm indicators present within the household, with the consent of the parents:

  • Proceed with intervention with parental agreement in the new ongoing intervention event in ICMS (Refer to Intervention with parental agreement.)
  • Start case planning for the child. 

Where there are immediate harm indicators present within the household, determine if an immediate safety plan can be completed to allow the child to remain in the home, and consult with the senior team leader about the appropriate response or intervention required.

Attention

If an immediate safety plan needs to be completed for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child, ensure the family is given the opportunity to have an independent person facilitate their participation in the decision about how to keep the child safe. (Refer to Procedure 5 Make arrangements for an independent person.)

If immediate safety interventions cannot ensure a child’s immediate safety and a placement intervention is required, place a child using:

If the pregnant woman has not been working with Child Safety prior to the child’s birth

If the woman did not consent to, or withdrew her consent to, work with Child Safety via a support service case and the assessment is that the child will be in need of protection after birth:

  • Make contact with the pregnant woman as soon as possible after the birth on the basis that the previous assessment identified the unborn child would be in need of protection once born.
  • Determine if there are new concerns that have not previously been assessed
    and

Where there are no immediate harm indicators present within the household, with the consent of the parents:

  • Open an intervention with parental agreement case. (Refer to Intervention with parental agreement.)
  • Open a new ongoing intervention event in ICMS.
  • Start case planning for the child. 

If there are immediate harm indicators present within the household, determine if an immediate safety plan can be completed to allow the child to remain in the home, and consult  the senior team leader about the appropriate response or intervention required.

If immediate safety interventions cannot ensure a child’s immediate safety and a placement intervention is required, place the child using:

For an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child, seek the parents agreement for the Family Participation Program to contact them to discuss how it may support the family in working with Child Safety. If the family agrees to being contacted, the Family Participation Program will seek their consent for referral and the CSO will complete the online referral form in the Queensland Family Support Referral portal.

Note

Before making contact with the family, some Family Participation Programs may require Child Safety to first speak to the family, gain their consent for referral and make the referral in the online Queensland Family Support Referral portal.

Check local arrangements for referral to the Family Participation Program before talking to the family about a referral.

Close a support service case for a pregnant woman

It is appropriate to close a support service case with a pregnant woman (or a woman who has given birth) when:

  • the support needs of the pregnant woman have been met
  • the woman has given birth to a child, and a decision has been made about what, if any, further intervention is required
  • the woman withdraws consent for the ongoing intervention. If the unborn child is still in need of protection after birth, refer to Make arrangements if the unborn child is in need of protection after birth.

Note

A safety assessment is not completed as part of closing a support service case with a pregnant woman.

Before closing a support service case:

  • Complete a review of the support plan with the pregnant woman and, with her consent, with her safety and support network, to identify whether the goals of the support plan have been achieved
    and
    • if the goals have been achieved, proceed with steps for case closure
    • if the goals have not been achieved, seek the pregnant woman’s consent to continue the support service case and develop a revised support plan to reduce the likelihood of future harm to the unborn child.
  • Document the review process and outcome.
  • Clarify with the pregnant woman and with the safety and support network what agency and informal support will continue once Child Safety closes the case.

Following senior team leader approval of the decision to close the support service case:

  • Inform all parties of the decision to close the case, including the pregnant woman (and her safety and support network if applicable)
    and
  • Close the case in ICMS by completing the Closure form.

Support service case with a young person

A support service case is offered to a young person with their consent,  when they require support after their eighteenth birthday and have previously been subject to either:

  • a child protection order granting custody or guardianship to the chief executive
  • a child protection order, where an approved carer was subsequently granted the long-term guardianship of the child.

Offer a support service case to a young person

To help a young person decide whether to consent to a support service case, meet with the young person and discuss:

  • the purpose of the support service case (which is to support and assist them in their transition to adulthood until the identified goals of the support plan have been achieved)
  • how the intervention will happen, including the need for regular contact and reviews of the support plan
  • the expectation that they will actively work to meet their support needs.

Practice prompt

Involve other people in the discussion who can help the young person decide whether to consent to a support service case. This may include:

  • a transition officer, where the young person is supported by the Transition and Post Care Support program
  • an appointed decision maker, such as a public guardian, who will be responsible for making particular decisions on behalf of the young person, after they turn 18 years
  • anyone the young person identifies as being significant to them such as family members, their carer, long-term guardian or aftercare support services.

Note

When a young person who is over 18 years and no longer subject to ongoing intervention seeks support from the Transition and Post Care support program, a transition officer will seek the young person’s consent for a support service case.

Case management by a transition officer

If a young person who is supported by a transition officer from the Transition and Post Care Support program consents to a support service case, the transition officer will have case management responsibility for the support service case, as outlined in this procedure.

Prior to the transition officer taking case management responsibility, the CSO will ensure:

  • the young person has received all of the documents outlined in Provide important documents and information
  • all case notes and other documents are recorded in ICMS
  • review the young person’s case plan to close their ongoing intervention event in ICMS

The case management tab in ICMS is updated by the senior team leader.

Note

No further documentation is required for the transition officer to commence case management responsibility.

Develop and record a support plan with a young person

Develop a Support plan with the young person and their safety and support network that identifies:

  • outstanding tasks from their transition to adulthood plan
  • ongoing transition to adulthood goals
  • the actions and supports required to address the outstanding tasks and ongoing goals.

Practice prompt

For a young person who requires more intensive support to meet their transition to adulthood support goals, consider using the template Young person support plan to record the young person’s support plan.

When  developing the support plan, consider:

Attention

A young person is eligible for financial support to meet the goals of their support plan. (Refer to the policy Child Related Costs (645) and procedure Child Related Costs – Child and Young Person Support.)

Negotiate anticipated costs with the CSSC manager before developing and finalising the support plan.

After the support plan is developed:

  • save the completed support plan in iDocs
  • create a Support service plan case note in the ongoing intervention event in ICMS and create a link to the support plan
  • provide a copy to the young person and, with the young person’s consent, their safety and support network. 

Implement the support plan with a young person

To implement a support plan with a young person:

  • Actively partner with them to achieve the support plan goals and actions within agreed timeframes.
  • Maintain regular face-to-face and telephone contact.
  • Support their referral to and engagement with the identified support services.
  • Obtain information from them and their safety and support network about their progress towards meeting the support plan goals.

A young person may stop participating in a support service case at any time during the intervention. If there are outstanding goals to be achieved for the young person, attempt to re-engage them and discuss the benefits of continued support. If the young person still withdraws their consent, refer to Close a support service case with a young person.

Review a support plan with a young person

A formal review of a support plan must occur with the young person every 6 months. However, each contact with a young person and their network offers an opportunity to review and assess their progress. For a formal review of a young person’s support plan:

  • Meet with the young person and their safety and support network to share information about progress towards the goals identified in the support plan.
  • Determine the identified goals in the support plan that have been achieved.
  • If all identified goals have been achieved and no further support needs have been identified, close the support service case.

Practice prompt

Use the Collaborative assessment and planning framework tool to structure your discussion for the review meeting with the young person. This will ensure that positive progress is noted and celebrated, any further worries are understood, and detailed actions to address them can be included in the next support plan. For further information refer to the Collaborative assessment and planning framework  booklet.

Close a support service case with a young person

It is appropriate to close a support service case with a young person when any of the following occurs:

  • The goals of the support plan have been achieved
  • The young person or their appointed guardian withdraws consent to the intervention
  • The CSSC manager decides the support service case will not continue
  • A transition officer's line manager (Transition and Post Care Support program) has decided the support service case will not continue.

Before closing a support service case:

  • Complete a review of the support plan with the young person and their safety and support network to identify if the goals of the support plan have been achieved
    and
    • if the goals have been achieved, proceed with closing the case
    • if the goals have not been achieved, seek the young person’s consent to continue the support service case and develop a revised support plan.
  • Document the review process and outcome.
  • Clarify with the young person and their safety and support network what formal and informal support will continue once Child Safety closes the case.

Note

A safety assessment is not completed before closing a support service case with a young person over the age of 18 years.

Once the decision has been made to close the support service case:

  • Inform the young person and their safety and support network of the decision to close the case
    and
  • Close the case in ICMS by completing the Closure form.

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