High-risk panels and schedules - advice

This advice provides additional information regarding the high-risk infant and youth schedules and panels.

Introduction

See procedure High-risk panels and schedules for tasks that must be undertaken.

High-risk schedules and panels support case planning and monitoring of practice with child protection clients assessed at elevated risk of adverse outcomes where intervention to ameliorate the risk factors has not yet been achieved.

The high-risk schedule provides a framework and mechanism to support early identification of a relatively small cohort of the highest risk and most highly vulnerable clients. The high-risk schedule also supports organisational risk management and early advice to the child protection operations manager and the child protection executive.

The primary role of high-risk panels is to support rigorous case review, planning and decision-making, service integration and collaborative problem-solving and to provide support and direction to case management and other direct service staff, in respect of those clients on the high-risk schedule.

Each area will:

  • identify and maintain current schedules of high-risk infants and high-risk youth within the child protection program for whom sufficient protection has not yet been achieved or is no longer effective
  • closely monitor clients on the schedules to ensure that each has an effective and adequate multi-service case plan and, where the child is in out-of-home care, a functioning care team
  • arrange for clients on the schedules to be reviewed by a high-risk panel no less than monthly, and for this review to be documented.

High-risk schedules

Entry to and exit from a high-risk schedule

A high-risk client should be included in the area’s high-risk schedule when sufficient protection has not yet been achieved or is no longer effective. Typically, usual practice in relation to high-risk clients will have been followed but is not proving effective in sufficiently reducing risk.

Infants and young people registered on the high-risk schedule will ordinarily be subject to at least protective intervention and more often a court order. However, flexibility of approach is necessary as infants (including unborn) and young people at an earlier phase of involvement may be at particularly high-risk and may benefit from inclusion on the schedule and consideration by the high-risk panel.

The high-risk schedule aims to provide a meaningful impact for individual clients and thus registration on a high-risk schedule is reserved for a relatively small proportion of clients assessed as acute risk or with high complexity where the usual practice with high-risk clients is not sufficiently effective.

Access to the schedule

Clients may be recommended for registration on the area’s high-risk schedule by the responsible child protection case planner (usually the team manager). Where the child is in out-of-home care, advice from the care team should be considered. Representatives from any involved service, including a community service organisation, may request that a client is considered for registration on the high-risk schedule.

Where an infant registered on the high-risk infant schedule turns two years old and is assessed as still meeting the criteria of high risk, they may remain on the schedule until planning and intervention has achieved sufficient safety for their removal from the schedule.

High-risk panels

Multi-sector high-risk panels review, monitor and plan for each client registered on the HRI and HRY schedules in each area since the panel last met. Panels will usually be convened at a sub-divisional level and be chaired by the child protection operations manager. They meet at least monthly and are expected to include representatives at an appropriately authorised level of seniority.

Membership

The composition of panels is determined at a sub-divisional or area level as relevant to the client group and local service arrangements, factoring in consideration of service delivery catchments, including case management service providers and practical issues including limiting the numbers of meetings members may be expected to attend.

High-risk panels should generally include, where appropriate:

  • child protection practitioner and supervisor or team manager responsible for the client being considered
  • area manager and practice leader responsible for the schedule on which the client is registered
  • ACSASS
  • out-of-home care and case management services
  • disability services
  • mental health services (as appropriate to youth or infants)
  • drug and alcohol treatment services (adult or youth)
  • youth justice (HRY)
  • therapeutic treatment services (for example Take Two)
  • Department of Education and Training (school – HRY; maternal and child health, child care – HRI).

The divisional principal practitioner may attend. Other programs or professionals should be included in high-risk panels on an ongoing or intermittent basis as and when appropriate. Such services may include Victoria Police, local government, Secure Welfare Services, Central After Hours Child Protection Emergency Service, medical professionals – nurse, GP, adolescent or paediatric specialist. Where a service has a relationship with a specific client or family, it may be appropriate for them to attend a care team meeting or other case planning forum. Themes, issues and service needs identified by high-risk panels can inform area based high-risk meetings where appropriate.

Functions

High-risk panels are to promote and optimise:

  • local area based approaches within the context of how service delivery occurs to support robust engagement of placed based services
  • a developmentally aligned approach such that younger children (under 12 years) are not inappropriately included in a high-risk youth cohort
  • a process that is attuned to other local planning mechanisms and panels.
  • direction setting rather than consulting
  • opportunities to address client need within the context of their individual, family and care team context (for young people in care, the context of their care environment and peers-in-care group is to be considered)
  • a client centred and outcomes based approach
  • practice consistent with the best interests case practice model:
    • decisions are client centred and assessment based
    • inclusive and collaborative practice which holds services accountable for service delivery is fostered and supported
    • organisational risks and barriers are identified and assertively managed through or up when required.

Information sharing and privacy

A meeting of a high-risk panel is a case planning process. As such, consent is not required for information to be exchanged within the context of a meeting of the panel for the purpose of reaching decisions in the best interests of the child or young person.

See Privacy statement for high-risk panels.

Relationship of the care team and the high-risk panel

Where a client is in out-of-home care, the care team supports and oversees implementation of the case plan and actions table; to support the case manager and others in the day to day administration of the case plan and actions table; to provide avenues for regular and open feedback; and to support review and decision-making for all professionals involved in the protection and care of the client (across all life domains). The care team provides a key forum for the consolidation of the multi-service view of the client.

Where a client in out-of-home care is registered on a high-risk schedule, the care team will provide the platform for reporting to the high-risk panel. It may be helpful for the minutes of care team meetings which have occurred in the period between panel meetings to be provided to the chairperson prior to a panel meeting.

It is expected that a functioning care team is established for all high-risk clients in out-of-home care.

Related procedures

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