See procedure Concluding the protection order phase for tasks that must be undertaken.
When the protection order phase begins, the range of work undertaken is directed at addressing the identified protective concerns (that led to the court making a protection order) thereby working towards the goal of ending child protection involvement at the expiration of the order. A decision to end child protection involvement where a child has been subject to a protection order, is a determination that is significant for the child and family and therefore requires close attention to the management of the process to end involvement. The decision to end involvement will follow a risk assessment review and a review of the case plan, and may be decided for a number of reasons:
- Child protection involvement is no longer necessary to ensure the safety and development of the child and the parents or caregivers have demonstrated their capacity and willingness to protect the child from future harm and promote their safety, development and wellbeing.
- The protective concerns have been addressed and the family is better serviced by a community agency or other service.
- The permanency objective for the child has been achieved.
- The order is nearing expiration and, either the protective concerns no longer exist, or there is insufficient evidence to support an application for an extension or different order.
- The child and/or family are moving interstate or overseas and appropriate transfer arrangements have been made where relevant.
When Child Protection has had a significant role in decision making around a child's safety, development and wellbeing, ending involvement can cause anxiety and uncertainty to a child and their family as well as other agencies and services that may have been involved. The casework practice, procedures and tasks that need to occur should be undertaken in a planned, timely, constructive and sensitive manner. This stage of the protection order phase also provides practitioners the opportunity to review the work undertaken and develop collaborative community plans that can continue to protect children, promote their development and strengthen families.
A review of the case plan must occur at least six weeks prior to the expiry of an order.
From this review a case plan for closure should be developed. Depending on the circumstances, this may be the leaving care plan. As per the Enact a case plan SAFER practice activity, this should occur in a timely manner with the input of all parties. Any plans for agencies or services to have ongoing involvement with the child or family should be clarified, agreed and recorded. A copy of any case plan or leaving care plan, should be provided to all parties. See advice Leaving care.
Where there is a plan to link the child or family to a family service or support agency upon the closure, consultation with the community based senior child protection practitioner should occur. Any information sharing regarding a child needs to be conveyed in a manner that protects the privacy of the client to the extent it is consistent with the child's best interest. Child protection practitioners are expected to share information appropriately to support effective collaborative practice and service provision to children and families in relation to protecting children, promoting their wellbeing and development, and assessing and managing family violence risk.
A review of the case plan should consider the current assessment. This review should include the family and child, the care team and any involved agencies and services, and be endorsed by the child protection case planner. Usually, a case planning meeting will be an appropriate mechanism for conducting the review. Practitioners should:
- explain the decisions and rationale leading to closure
- detail the history of child protection involvement
- review the permanency objective and decisions in the case plan, and the actions table to determine whether identified goals have been achieved or whether there are outstanding goals requiring further work
- ensure agreed tasks have been completed as appropriate or whether further tasks need to be completed to facilitate case closure.
A review risk assessment allows for the essential information categories to be reviewed and updated. The review risk assessment documents the current analysis and judgement of risk and supports the decision making to close the case. The review risk assessment also provides an opportunity to identify and record strengths, protection and safety that support closure.
Move to closure
Once the above casework actions, procedures and review risk assessment have been finalised and endorsement has been given by the case planner the case can be moved to case closure phase where a range of actions and tasks are required to be completed in closing a case. A review risk assessment is completed to move to closure phase; do not commence a review risk assessment in closure phase.