See advice Substantiation for additional information about the substantiation decision and assessing a person as responsible for harm.
It is the practitioner's role to thoroughly investigate the reported concerns to make a substantiation decision in relation to those reported concerns.
A case is substantiated if a protective intervener is satisfied on reasonable grounds, based on one or more of the grounds defined in s. 162 of the CYFA, that the child is in need of protection.
The investigation of the reported concerns and subsequent risk assessment informs the decision on the outcome of the investigation.
A decision is to be made about substantiation as early as possible, and no later than 28 days after the date of report. The decision about substantiation relies on information gathered through risk assessment.
If protective concerns are substantiated, an assessment of anyone responsible for harm is recorded.
A risk assessment is conducted to support analysis of information received during the investigation and will support the articulation of the risk assessment and subsequent decisions.
The SAFER children framework practice activities are central to making the decision on the outcome of the investigation.
The key decisions on an outcome of an investigation into the concerns reported to child protection are:
- Substantiation decision – are the reported concerns substantiated or not?
- Person responsible for harm decision – if harm is substantiated, has a person been identified as responsible for that harm?
- Moving case into closure or protective intervention – can the case now be closed, or does more work need be undertaken with the child and their family to decide on closure or issuing a protection application?
Case practitioner tasks
- Analyse the information which infomred the risk assessment during the investigation.
- Consult others according to procedure, including:
- Use the risk assessment, and your professional judgement to guide your decision about whether you are satisfied on reasonable grounds that the child is in need of protection, as set out in s. 162(1) of the CYFA.
S162 When is a child in need of protection?
(1) For the purposes of this Act a child is in need of protection if any of the following grounds exist—
(a) the child has been abandoned by his or her parents and after reasonable inquiries—
(i) the parents cannot be found; and
(ii) no other suitable person can be found who is willing and able to care for the child;
(b) the child's parents are dead or incapacitated and there is no other suitable person willing and able to care for the child;
(c) the child has suffered, or is likely to suffer, significant harm as a result of physical injury and the child's parents have not protected, or are unlikely to protect, the child from harm of that type;
(d) the child has suffered, or is likely to suffer, significant harm as a result of sexual abuse and the child's parents have not protected, or are unlikely to protect, the child from harm of that type;
(e) the child has suffered, or is likely to suffer, emotional or psychological harm of such a kind that the child's emotional or intellectual development is, or is likely to be, significantly damaged and the child's parents have not protected, or are unlikely to protect, the child from harm of that type;
(f) the child's physical development or health has been, or is likely to be, significantly harmed and the child's parents have not provided, arranged or allowed the provision of, or are unlikely to provide, arrange or allow the provision of, basic care or effective medical, surgical or other remedial care.
(2) For the purposes of subsections (1)(c) to (1)(f), the harm may be constituted by a single act, omission or circumstance or accumulate through a series of acts, omissions or circumstances.
(3) For the purposes of subsection (1)(c), (d), (e) and (f)—
(a) the Court may find that a future state of affairs is likely even if the Court is not satisfied that the future state of affairs is more likely than not to happen;
(b) the Court may find that a future state of affairs is unlikely even if the Court is not satisfied that the future state of affairs is more unlikely than not to happen.
- Make a recommendation as to whether the report is substantiated or not.
Report is not substantiated
- If the report is not substantiated record the decision and rationale in CRIS.
- If there are significant concerns for wellbeing, consider referring the family to a family support or other appropriate service.
- If the case involves a young person with a significant or complex disability or complex medical needs who is 16 and 9 months or more but will not be 18 years of age when the case is closed, seek endorsement of the Principal Practitioner to close the case.
If direct child protection involvement with a young person with a significant or complex disability or complex medical needs is ceasing at or after 16 years 9 months but before 18 years of age, it is critical that appropriate arrangements are in place to provide continued support. This will increase safeguarding for vulnerable young people who are close to, or are 17, where thereafter Child Protection no longer has statutory authority to intervene.
- Move the case to case closure – see procedure Case closure for tasks that must be undertaken.
Report is substantiated
- If the report is substantiated, record the decision and rationale in CRIS contemporaneously (that is, as soon as possible, and within 24 hours, or the next working day).
- Take the following steps:
- indicate the status of each risk factor within the essential information categories identified in the report
- add any additional strength, protection and safety factors in the essential information categories identified during the investigation
The essential information category of harm and its evidence-based factors are linked to grounds. An evidence-based factor within the harm essential information category must be confirmed prior to substantiation.
- identify the primary ground substantiated, and any other grounds substantiated
- identify and record the person or people responsible for harm
- Finalise the risk assessment and submit for endorsement by Team manager or above.
- move the case to protective intervention – see procedures under Protective intervention for tasks that must be undertaken next
For infants (under two) where a report is substantiated
- For any child under the age of two years, depending on the risk assessment determine whether the infant requires an ‘infant response’ or an ‘infant intensive response’ and record in CRIS as prompted following the substantiation of grounds.
The infant response decision should match the level of risk assessed for the infant and the service response the infant needs to address the protective concerns.
In all cases
- Inform the child and the parents, in writing, of the outcome of the investigation, including:
- the substantiation decision and rationale
- what will happen next.
- Comply with confidentiality requirements of the CYFA:
- You must not disclose the details of the investigation to anyone other than those specified in s. 206(2) of the CYFA.
- Complete CRIS requirements including mandatory screens and record of activity, decisions and rationales.
- Provide ongoing supervision and consultation.
- Approve significant decisions affecting the conduct of the investigation.
Team manager tasks
- Endorse key decisions including:
- substantiation decision
- infant response decision
- applications to the Children’s Court.
- review and endorse the risk assessment, if not previously endorsed.