See procedure Investigation for tasks that must be undertaken.
The CYFA requires that a protective intervener, as soon as practicable after receiving a protective intervention report, investigate the subject matter of the report in a way that is in the best interests of the child (s. 205).
Where a decision is made in the intake phase that a report will be classified as a protective intervention report, child protection is required to see the child and family and conduct a comprehensive investigation to determine the actual circumstances of the child and whether these circumstances meet the legislative requirements that the child is in need of protection as defined in s. 162 of the Act.
As well as seeing the child and parents in person, this will involve having contact with significant others and professionals who know the child and family to the extent required to obtain sufficient information to determine whether the report is substantiated or not, and whether further protective intervention is required.
Child protection practitioners will undertake a risk assessment during the investigation phase in line with the SAFER children framework.
To ensure that the safety of children is checked in a timely way, it is essential that investigations are commenced and completed in a timely way after a report is received. To assist with this, key performance indicators apply to the timing of the commencement of investigations and to making the substantiation decision. See procedures Investigation Plan and First visit and Decision on outcome of investigation for tasks that must be undertaken.
The purpose of the investigation is to assess the child and their circumstances to determine:
- the extent and nature of the reported concerns, or any other concerns that are identified during the investigation, the overall consequence and probability of harm and whether the child is in need of protection
- past and immediate risks to the child and the likelihood of future harm
- the most appropriate response to meet the needs of the child
- the most appropriate service response to assist the parents and family
- whether ongoing statutory intervention is required to meet the child's safety and developmental needs and to provide them with permanency.
This will involve seeking, sharing and analysing relevant information and undertaking a risk assessment to determine whether significant harm to the child has occurred or is likely and whether the parents have not protected, or are unlikely to protect the child, and therefore whether the report is substantiated. See Substantiation - advice.