There are over 2000 professionals employed in the Victorian child protection program, across seventeen areas within four divisions and central office. The predominant qualification groups for practitioners are social work, welfare work and psychology.
Professionals employed in the child protection program are part of the Victorian Public Service. Child protection practitioners are professional officers who have a distinct classification, CPP. The CPP classification has five levels, CPP3 being the entry level for those who undertake a case management role with children and families. The classification and roles for each level are outlined below.
Case practice support worker CPP2
The role of the case practice support worker involves case support tasks, such as facilitating contact visits, transporting children to services and other case support duties.
Child protection practitioner CPP3
CPP3 is the entry level for child protection practitioners. They have case management responsibility for child protection cases.
Their role includes:
- undertaking risk assessment, including assessment and investigation of reports to child protection
- assessing children and young people who are in need of protection
- planning, implementing and reviewing case plans and case work tasks to address identified risks
- coordinating and negotiating services for children and young people
- providing or arranging practical and emotional support to children, young people and families
- working in collaboration with families, CSOs and professionals to develop and implement effective plans for children
- where necessary, taking matters to the children’s court to ensure the safety of children or young people and supervising orders made by the children's court.
Child protection advanced practitioner CPP4
The role of the child protection advanced practitioner is to undertake case management and other functions for child protection cases at an advanced practice level.
Team manager CPP5
The team manager reports to the area manager or deputy area manager and is responsible for leading a team of staff, comprising child protection practitioners (CPP3), child protection advanced practitioners (CPP4) and a senior child protection practitioner (CPP5.1). Team sizes vary according to location and vacancy levels.
In some areas groups of case practice support practitioners (CPP2) are managed as a team by a team manager, whereas in other areas, these practitioners form part of a standard team.
Team managers are directly responsible for the formal supervision of up to three CPP4 child protection advanced practitioners and the senior child protection practitioner and are responsible for overall case allocation, formal HR processes, and general team management. They have a broad range of delegations, including some budgetary responsibilities and the endorsement of statutory case planning decisions.
Senior child protection practitioner CPP5.1
The senior child protection practitioner reports to the team manager and undertakes co-work, mentoring and formal supervision of up to two CPP3 child protection practitioners. Senior child protection practitioners (excluding court officers) carry a caseload commensurate with their other duties. Whilst senior child protection practitioners supervise up to two CPP3 practitioners, the team manager is responsible for overall case allocation, case planning and general team management.
Some senior practitioners do not have supervisory responsibilities.
Senior child protection practitioner (court officer) CPP5.1
The senior child protection practitioner (court officer) assists practitioners at court by providing timely and appropriate legal advice regarding matters within the children’s court. The role does not involve formal supervisory responsibility however provides live supervision, mentoring and support to practitioners at court. The court officer facilitates court skills training as required.
Senior child protection practitioner community based CPP5.1
The senior child protection practitioner community based is co-located in a registered family services agency and a child protection office. They work collaboratively with both programs to support earlier and more effective intervention to vulnerable children, young people and their families. The senior child protection practitioner community based manages unborn reports and cases transitioning to Child FIRST. This role does not have direct supervisory responsibilities. They report to the practice leader.
Practice leader CPP5.2
The practice leader reports to the area manager and undertakes co-work, mentoring, live supervision of CPP 3, 4 and 5 staff. Practice leaders carry a caseload commensurate with their other duties, and are responsible for quality auditing, capability development, case practice and case planning guidance. Practice leaders supervise the child protection advanced practitioner (community based).
Area manager and area manager, regional services CPP6.1
The area manager reports to the child protection operations manager. The role provides strategic leadership across the area, including local service planning, ministerial briefings, stakeholder engagement and the interface with Child FIRST (a single area manager may preside over two rural areas).
The area manager is responsible for operational management across the local child protection catchment (financial, some budget, human resource and performance management) and is a member of the local Child and Family Service Alliance. The role has supervisory responsibilities, including for area team managers, practice leaders and deputy area managers (if applicable). The role of a CPP 5.2 deputy area manager exists in some areas where required. This role assists the area manager in the operational management of the area. They have formal supervisory responsibilities for team managers.
Principal practitioner CPP6
Principal practitioner positions exist in all divisions, providing peer support and practice resources for each division, increasing skills, knowledge and practice guidance across the state. The principal practitioner carries a caseload commensurate with their other duties.
Child protection operations manager CPP6.2
The child protection operations manager (CPP6.2) is responsible for the management and oversight of all aspects of divisional child protection operations. Child protection operations managers provide strategic direction and are responsible for workforce, operational decision making and review, quality assurance and performance monitoring.
Specialist roles and team structures exist in addition to generic child protection roles.
Child protection teams
To ensure timely assessment of reports, practitioners may function in teams assigned specific tasks in instances of:
- visiting families where further investigation is required and
- supervising cases where children have been placed on orders by the children’s court.
As cases progress through the child protection system, there are common points where they are transferred between teams and from one practitioner to another (though these vary with the different structural arrangements in divisions outlined above).
Two common transfer points are:
- the transfer from the intake team to the team that undertakes the initial visit and assessment
- the transfer from the team that undertook the first visit and initial investigation to the long term team that undertakes further investigation and supervision of court orders where this is required.
Intake team roles and responsibilities:
- receives reports of alleged child maltreatment
- attends intake case conference, where required
- conducts an initial risk assessment based on report details
- conducts follow-up phone calls with professionals to verify and gather information in relation to reports
- determines the classification of intakes
- refers cases, where applicable, to community service organisations.
Investigation and response team roles and responsibilities:
- directly investigates reports of alleged child maltreatment
- assesses likelihood of harm to child
- establishes whether abuse allegations are substantiated
- can work with a family for up to 90 days (or for an extended period where required and authorised) following reporting in order to make a more comprehensive assessment, develop a community plan or effect a referral to a community service organisation, where risk assignment is deferred
- determines if children's court action is required and initiates legal intervention. Meets court requirements, which may include writing reports and acting as an applicant in the children's court.
Case management team roles and responsibilities:
- initiates and supervises children's court protection orders
- continually assesses the ongoing risk to the child or young person by developing and implementing case plans, including stability plans based on the best interests case practice model
- meets court requirements, which may include writing reports, acting as an applicant in the children's court and giving evidence
- develops reunification plans and supervises access
- where required, assists to ensure that the child has a stable out-of-home care placement
- networks with community service organisations and provides some community education to the CSO sector
- negotiates the transfer of case management to community agencies.
Contracted case management team roles and responsibilities:
- monitors and reviews the implementation of case plans via quarterly reports and liaison visits to agencies
- provides consultancy to agencies, including education on the statutory processes and responsibilities
- maintains statutory responsibilities for all cases, for example, case planning, reviews, court applications and other legislated requirements.