Case management in protective intervention

Follow this procedure when managing cases where protective concerns have been substantiated and no protection order is in place.
Document ID number 1023, version 4, 20 November 2021.

For further information see Protective intervention phase-advice.

This procedure outlines the tasks required when working with a family where protective concerns have been substantiated and either no legal action has been taken or legal action has been initiated, but a protection order is yet to be made.

It focuses on:

  • regularly seeking information, ongoing risk assessment and case planning
  • remaining open, curious and alert to new information which may impact risk assessment and case planning
  • assisting parents to address protective concerns
  • specialist assessment and service engagement
  • therapeutic intervention to redress substantiated harm
  • decision making about applications and recommendations to the Children’s Court.

A case plan is to be prepared for a child if a protective intervener is satisfied on reasonable grounds that the child is in need of protection, that is, at the point of substantiation. A case plan is to include a permanency objective and a review date and is to be reviewed by that date and at least every twelve months, or sooner in some circumstances.


Case practitioner tasks

  • Prepare and review the child’s case plan applying the SAFER practice activities. See Case plan preparation and review.
    • Ensure the permanency objective is consistent with the child’s legal status or, where relevant, the recommended order.
    • Engage with the child, family and other significant parties to develop the case plan for the child, and use the actions table to set out the goals and tasks needed to address the substantiated protective concerns and enact the case plan. Refer to advice Working with adult perpetrators of family violence for information on engaging, interviewing and working with perpetrators.
    • Refer for family-led decision making where required or appropriate.

This is a critical period for the family during which decisions need to be made about what needs to change to ensure safety for the child. See  Case planning - advice for additional information.

  • Review the case file to understand: the risk assessments including what led to the substantiation decision; the protective concerns; case history; the child and family circumstances; and the service network.
  • Review MARAM risk assessments and safety plans as risk can escalate or change quickly (dynamic risk). Safety plans may need to be reviewed on a weekly or sometimes daily basis depending on the risk rating and immediate needs of the family.
  • For an Aboriginal child in court ordered out-of-home care, address the child’s cultural support needs in the case plan and how significant decisions made concerning the child reflect, and are consistent with, those needs and the Aboriginal child placement principle; and provide or arrange for a cultural plan to be provided to the child.
  • Enact the plan, undertake case management activities, using the actions table to maintain momentum, including:
    • having regular contact with the child and family
    • keeping the essential information categories updated in line with new information obtained
    • reviewing the risk assessment if information is received that may change the risks to the child and therefore the case plan
    • making referrals to services, maintaining interagency communication and joint planning
    • arranging specialist assessments
    • coordinating or attending a case conference
    • convening or participating in the care team, if the child is in care.

If case planning by agreement:

  • confirm with the child and family that parental responsibility remains with the parents and decisions cannot be included in the case plan without their agreement
  • encourage them to tell you if they disagree with a decision made by Child Protection concerning the child so their concerns may be resolved promptly if possible and advise them they may request a review by VCAT within 28 days of the decision.

When case planning by agreement, Child Protection has very limited authority to make decisions concerning the child, but the child or parent may request a review by VCAT of any such decision (one example may be the decision to close the case).

  • If case planning under an interim accommodation order, advise the child and family that:
    • decisions included in the case plan must be consistent with the order
    • decisions about major long-term issues can be made by the court or with parental agreement
    • they will be consulted about decisions regarding issues of a short-term nature; however, Child Protection may make, or authorise the carer to make these kinds of decisions
    • they should seek legal advice if they disagree with a decision made by Child Protection concerning their child.

Under an IAO placing the child in care, Child Protection does not have parental responsibility and cannot make decisions about major long-term issues without parental agreement unless expressly authorised under the Act (such as for medical consent). Child Protection may make or authorise a carer to make decisions about short-term issues without parental agreement, but parents should be consulted.

  • Apply to vary an IAO if agreement cannot be reached with parents regarding a major long-term issue and a decision is required.
  • Review the risk assessment and case plan and seek endorsement if changes are required. Update the actions table to reflect progress, or lack thereof, towards the permanency objective. Identify goals and tasks for further action in consultation with your supervisor. See Case plan implementation.
  • Where there are family violence concerns consider consulting the specialist family violence worker or child protection senior practitioner (family violence). See procedure Planning for children’s safety where there is family violence.
  • Seek MARAM assessments from partner agencies. Upload assessments to a case note on CRIS with the following subject heading: MARAM risk assessment <name of agency>- at, <risk/elevated risk/serious risk/serious risk and requires immediate protection>.
  • Respond to changes in circumstances, including critical incidents, new information or escalation of risk, in consultation with your supervisor.
  • Review the risk assessment in CRIS to make a recommendation about whether the case should be closed or a protection application issued.  

If a protection application is made, the case remains in the protective intervention phase until a protection order is made by the Children’s Court. 

  • If a protection order is made, move the case moves to protection order phase.
  • If child protection involvement is no longer required, move the case to closure phase. See Closing a case.
  • Record activity, decisions and rationales and complete CRIS fields.
  • Undertake case transfer where required according to relevant procedure. See Case transfer policy.

Supervisor tasks

  • Provide ongoing supervision and consultation.
  • Chair case management and care team meetings as required

Team manager tasks

  • Endorse decision to issue a protection application.
  • Chair case planning meetings if held.
  • Endorse the case plan.
  • Explain case plan decisions to children and their families on request.