For Child Protection, the primary client is the child.
Children who form a positive relationship with their case practitioner through consistent, purposeful visits can be encouraged to express their views and wishes regularly and are more able to actively participate in decisions that affect them.
Practitioners who engage children directly on a regular basis are better able to build rapport and develop a deep understanding of the child and their experiences. This can be a powerful tool in working with families.
The impact for each child of their experience of abuse, neglect and trauma may be different from their sibling, or another child of the same age and stage of development who has been exposed to similar adverse circumstances. Part of the child protection practitioner’s role is to develop their skills in assessing and responding to this impact.
The frequency, focus, and effectiveness of client visits is to be regularly reviewed through supervision and in the context of case planning.
The level of contact to occur between child protection and the child is to be recorded and maintained for each child on CRIS within the case planning component in the actions table under the planning area 'Contact between CP and client'. This planning areas is to be reviewed at least quarterly within supervision, in consultation with the care team where appropriate.
The minimum requirements for client visits are set out below. Additional contact may occur as required.
A week is defined as being from 12:00am Monday to 11:59pm Sunday. A weekly visit must occur during this period to be compliant.
A fortnight is defined as being a calendar fortnight, with a fortnight consisting of two weeks (12:00am Monday to 11:59pm Sunday). A fortnightly visit is to occur at minimum once during that fortnightly period, with the visit occurring consistently in the first or second week of that fortnightly period. If the visit occurs in the first week of the fortnight, the next client visit is to occur in the first week of the next fortnight, and so on.
Whether allocated or awaiting allocation
Infants classified as requiring an infant intensive response (IIR) must receive a weekly visit by a case practitioner (minimum).
All other infants require a fortnightly visit from a case practitioner (minimum).
For all cases other than infants, where there is an allocated child protection practitioner, a fortnightly visit with each child is generally considered a reasonable minimum. Individual children’s circumstances may influence this and should be considered in the context of case planning discussions, development and review processes.
Cases awaiting allocation
Cases of children aged two years and above awaiting allocation must receive a visit from a child protection practitioner at least monthly.
When a case is contracted to a CSO or an ACCO, Child Protection must visit the child at least annually.
CSO and ACCO visits to children must be consistent with the endorsed case plan and contract requirements.
Client visits occur when a practitioner has direct face-to-face contact the child and intentionally observes, interacts or engages directly with them.
Where children who are clients reside together, client visits may be concurrent provided there is this kind of direct contact with each child.
Direct contact is to be purposeful, including a focus on achieving the permanency objective, working through the goals and tasks identified in the case plan. For more information refer to the Action section detailed in Child protection best interests case practice.
Visits are to be arranged at times when the child can reasonably be expected to be present. If the child is present at the time of a visit but reported to be sleeping or unwilling to engage with the practitioner, this child is to be, at least, observed for sufficient time to make an assessment of their current physical and emotional state. If concerns for the child’s safety or wellbeing are raised during this observation and the child, parent or carer are not willing to engage more directly with the practitioner, the practitioner’s supervisor is to be consulted.
Where the venue of the visit is within the practitioner’s control, the child’s experience and comfort level in that venue needs to be considered. While it is important to see where the child is living, visits with children do not always need to take place in the child’s home, and there may be reasons an alternative venue is more suitable at times.
All planned, attempted or completed client visits, including those arranged but cancelled or where the child was not seen when expected, are to be recorded on CRIS using the client visit case note. The client visit case note is to record the nature of the contact and interaction with each child. For detailed information on completing the client visit case note, see the relevant CRIS guide.
Visits to parents and other caregivers when children are not present can be an important part of child protection work and are often required. However, these visits are not considered a client visit (direct, face-to-face intentional engagement with the child) and area to be recorded in CRIS as a general case note with a subject suitable to the circumstance.