This advice provides additional information regarding Child Link and how this relates to Child Protection and Child Protection clients.

Document ID number 3073, version 2, 3 June 2022.

Please note, Child Link is currently only available to nominated Child Protection staff in Frankston, Bendigo and Intake and supporting operational roles in central office as part of the initial pilot. Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative (BDAC) also has access. All Child Protection practitioners will have access to Child Link by the end of 2024.

Introduction

See Child Link - procedure for tasks that must be undertaken when accessing Child Link and Child Link policy which outlines the department’s policy position on the use of Child Link.

Child Link, also known as the Child Link Register, is a digital platform that will display a limited set of critical, factual information about every Victorian child aged 0-18 years (up to 20 if the young person is still at School) to authorised key professionals who are responsible for child wellbeing and/or safety (known as Child Link users).

Child Link became operational on 31 December 2021 and is established under Part 7A of the Child, Safety and Wellbeing Act 2005.

Each child in Victoria has their own profile on Child Link and their own Child Link identifier. Information on Child Link is sourced from approximately 16 different data systems across human services, education and health including the Client Relationship Information System (CRIS). Data from CRIS is provided to Child Link nightly, and other systems, so new information may be visible on Child Link because of updates from other source systems

Child Link is a read only platform. It is not a case management system, and no information can be added or deleted to the profile by individual users. The Department of Education and Training (DET) will amend a child’s profile if required.

Information on Child Link

Each profile may contain the following details (section 46D Child, Safety and Wellbeing Act 2005):

    • a child’s name and any aliases
    • date and place of birth
    • child’s sex
    • whether the child is Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, or both
    • names of those who have (or have had) parental responsibility for the child
    • names of those who have (or have had) day to day care for the child
    • names of the child’s siblings
    • if there is a previous or current child protection order (and dates)
    • whether the child protection order has the effect (or has had the effect) of placing the child in care
    • what government funded services the child receives.

Importantly, Child Link will not display addresses details or telephone numbers for a child, their family, a carer or a child protection practitioner.

Child Link does not display information on service activity with the family (other than government funded services like kindergarten, school, maternal child health and supported play group). It will not display any involvement the child or family has with Community Service Organisations (CSOs), Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs), family violence services, alcohol and drug services or other health services such as mental health support.

Purpose and benefits

Child Link is designed to assist professionals working under the Child Information Sharing Scheme (CISS) to more readily identify children who are vulnerable or at risk and communicate more readily.

Child Link aims to encourage key professionals to work together to provide holistic support to the child and family by linking together information across services and encouraging cross service collaboration.

Child Link is an enabling tool for the Child Information Sharing Scheme.

Client safety and sensitivity flags

If there is a restriction on CRIS (excluding highly restricted cases where data is not sent to Child Link and will continued to be managed within current processes between areas and the Office of Professional Practice) or the address is withheld as a result of an undisclosed placement ordered by the Children’s Court (for an interim accommodation order that places the child in care), or as a result of a case planning decision when the child is subject to a protection order, a sensitivity flag will be visible on the child’s profile on Child Link.  A sensitivity flag is also present against the category which lists carers of the child.

These sensitivity flags will indicate to Child Link users that the information contained in the child’s profile is particularly sensitive and to be cautious when sharing this information due to the potential increase of risk to the child, their sibling(s) and carer.

Further information on the sensitivity flags is contained in the Child Link training program and can also be found in the Child Link Secretary’s guidelines.

Child Link and the interface with Child Protection

Whilst Child Link will be used across all phases of Child Protection intervention, it will be particularly beneficial for intake practitioners when a report is received for a child when there has been no previous Child Protection involvement, or there is a significant period of time since the last period of involvement and a new report being received by Child Protection, and for the investigation phase.

Importantly, Child Link will not display or provide any indication if a child is or has been subject to a report or involvement with Child Protection at intake, investigation or protective intervention. It will only display if the child is or has been the subject of a protection order, and if that order has had the effect of placing the child in care. It does not display the name of the protection order or the name of the child protection practitioner.

Child Protection are expected to use Child Link as part of their usual business activities when seeking information on a child and family. Please note, Child Link does not replace direct contact with education and health professionals and all information obtained from Child Link should be verified with the child, family and relevant professional as required.

Child Link users

All Child Protection practitioners (CPP3-CPP6) and Executive Officers will have access to Child Link. This includes outposted Child Protection practitioners.

Departmental staff who will also have access include Kinship engagement workers (CYF3-6), Permanent care workers (CYF3-6) and a number of central office roles such as the information sharing team. Further information on departmental Child Link users can be found in the instrument of delegation and revocation.

Other professionals who will be Child Link users include:

  • School Principals, student wellbeing officers and key teaching staff
  • Key staff in early childhood education settings
  • Maternal and Child Health Nurses (MCHNs)
  • The Commission for Children and Young People (CCYP)
  • Aboriginal Children in Aboriginal Care (ACAC) Providers
  • Contracted case managers in Community Service Organisations (CSOs) and Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) (*not until 2024)

Child Link users are a sub-set of information sharing entities (ISEs) under the Child Information Sharing Scheme (CISS). Once full rollout of Child Link occurs, projected to be by the end of 2024, there will be approximately 25,000 users.

Onboarding and offboarding departmental users to Child Link

Whilst this is a guide only and can vary in different areas for operational reasons, the guiding principle is an authoriser must be in a senior role and therefore must be CPP5/CYF5 and above. Most authorisers will also be a user of Child Link.

For Child Protection the primary authoriser for most roles (CPP3-5) will be the team manager due to the oversight they have of their team and of individual practitioners. For other roles the authoriser, in most circumstances, will be the users line manager.

Child Link user

Who can authorise this user?

CPP3

CPP5.1 and above

CPP4

CPP5.1 and above

CPP5

CPP5.1 and above

CPP6.1

CPP6.2 or Director, Child Protection

CPP6.2

Director, Child Protection (or equivalent Executive Officer role in central office)

Director, Child Protection

Area Executive Director

Area Executive Director

Director, Child Protection

CYF3

CYF5

CYF4

CYF5

CYF5

CYF6

CYF6

CYF5 or Area Executive Director

VPS3-5

VPS5 or VPS6

VPS6

VPS5 or Executive Officer

Executive Officers (central office)

Executive Officers in other central office roles

ACAC providers, CSOs and ACCOs will be responsible for deciding on roles to authorise, onboard and offboard these Child Link users within their organisations, and also be responsible for monitoring access and usage as per relevant service agreements with the department and the requirements of Child Link.

Mandatory and considered removal of access to Child Link

In some circumstances, a Child Link users’ access may be removed If an unacceptable risk of harm exists. A mandatory removal of access will occur if there is an unacceptable risk of harm, such as a Child Link user being charged, convicted, or found guilty of an offence under the Child, Wellbeing and Safety Act or a serious concern has been raised through Child Link auditing and monitoring processes.

In other circumstances where mandatory removal does not apply but there may be a risk of harm, this will be assessed by the Secretary to DET, or their delegate, on a case-by-case basis.

A Child Link users access will be suspended while the case and circumstances are considered by the Secretary to DET, or their delegate.

Further information can be found in the Child Link Secretary’s Guidelines.

Recording information from Child Link

When child protection practitioners have accessed a child’s profile on Child Link this should be recorded in CRIS within a case note, with the subject heading <Child Link accessed>.

If information exists on Child Link that was previously unknown to Child Protection and is not recorded on CRIS such as the name of the child’s school, this should be recorded in the relevant component in CRIS once this information has been verified via the client and family, or a professional. In addition, Child Protection can contact the relevant service or professional under section 192 of the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 or the Child Information Sharing Scheme to verify information.

Information sharing

Information sourced from Child Link by Child Protection and recorded in CRIS can be shared as appropriate and relevant with the child’s care team to inform the care, protection and planning for the child. Information can also be provided in court reports to the Children’s Court where relevant.

If Child Protection has a query regarding the information on Child Link and wants to explore this further with the relevant professional, they should contact the professional under the Child Information Sharing Scheme to request information. Child Protection may also receive requests for information under the Child Information Sharing Scheme when other professionals, who are Child Link users, access a child’s profile and require further information regarding the Child Protection related information.

For closed Child Protection cases, these requests will be managed by the Information Sharing team in central office for the department. For open cases, the request will be sent by the Information Sharing team to the allocated child protection practitioner.

See Child Information Sharing Scheme and Child Protection for further information.

Child Link data

Some departmental central office roles will have access to de-identified data derived from the Child Link Register for the purposes of developing, planning and reviewing policies, programs and services (section 46O Child, Safety and Wellbeing Act 2005). Further information on these roles can be found in the instrument of delegation and revocation.

Considerations for good practice

If information in Child Link is different to information on CRIS, discuss this with the child and family to verify what information is correct. Change CRIS if required, adhering to requirements of the department and public records act. Alternatively, if the information on Child Link is incorrect, practitioners can alert the Child Link helpdesk at DET to this issue. They can be contacted on childlink@education.vic.gov.au

Related procedures

Practice Dictionary Definition

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