Requesting a drug screen

Follow this procedure when referring a parent to complete a drug screen.

Document ID number 1704, version 3, 9 December 2017.

See Drug screens – advice for further information.

Introduction

When a parent’s drug use is believed to be impacting on their parenting, child protection may refer them for a drug screen to inform the risk assessment regarding their ability to care for their child. Drug screens may be ordered as a condition on a Children’s Court order, or a parent may voluntarily agree to this as part of the child protection investigation or case planning process.

If a drug screen is required where a protection application has not been issued and a parent refuses, consider whether an application for a temporary assessment order may be appropriate and discuss this with the Child Protection Litigation Office (CPLO).

Procedure

Administrative worker tasks

  • Record referral forms issued to the parent by child protection practitioners accurately on a spreadsheet. Include the child protection practitioner’s name, the child’s CRIS number, the parent/s names, the number of referral forms provided to the parent and the date issued.
  • Reconcile this spreadsheet with details provided by finance by the deadline provided.

Case practitioner tasks

  • Complete a referral form with the parent’s details, and the type of screen that is being requested, including whether confirmation of the screen is required or not. All referral forms must be original. Copies will not be accepted by collection sites.

You must use a referral form that has your unique team code on it, as this is attached to your cost centre for billing purposes, and gives you access to the results via the online e-viewer system.

  • Record the child’s CRIS number on the referral form. If there is more than one child in the family, decide which sibling’s CRIS number to record and use the same number on each form for consistency and accuracy. Record the CRIS number used on CRIS.
  • Record your name on the referral form, next to your team's pre-printed name and code. If you are using a referral book that is held at a Children's Court, you must record your unique team code on the referral form.
  • Provide the completed referral form to the parent. Only provide a small number of referral forms at one time.
  • Inform the parent of the collection pathology sites they can attend; their opening hours; requirements to produce photographic identification and expectation of behaviour on attendance. Confirm their understanding.

For an up to date list of available collection pathology sites, refer to Drug screen collection sites for child protection.

  • Provide the parent with an information sheet regarding drug screens. See Drug screens - information sheet for parents.
  • Once the screen has been completed, access the results online via the e-viewer, usually available within 24-48 hours. If you do not know the username and password to access your team e-viewer account, please contact your team manager.

You must use the username and password allocated to your team to access the results linked to your unique team referral form.

  • Record the results of the screen on CRIS in the relevant section. Ensure the results are recorded against each child in the family (save to the group).
  • Discuss the results with your supervisor should you require assistance, and consult the e-learning module on reading and interpreting drug screens. Contact can also be made with the pathologist for the collection site.
  • Discuss the results with the parent, and consider these results as part of your assessment of the impact of drug use and the overall risk assessment.
  • Only share the results of the drug screen with relevant professionals, for example, the care team, Court and specialist drug services. See information sharing, information sharing in OOHC and information security.
  • If a parent fails to provide a drug screen and it is a condition of a Children’s Court order, explain the potential consequences of non-compliance, that is the order being breached and returning to court.
  • If a parent refuses to agree, or fails to provide a drug screen to which they have agreed, prior to the issuing of a protection application, discuss with your team manager whether it is appropriate to apply for a temporary assessment order to secure a drug screen from the parent and discuss options with CPLO.

Supervisor tasks

  • Provide assistance and direction regarding when it is appropriate to refer a parent for drug screens.

Team manager / practice leader tasks

  • Endorse the decision that drug screens are required.
  • Consider the relevance of drug screens to the overall risk assessment, how this relates to case planning and whether they are being provided subject to court orders or by agreement.

Parents should not be asked to agree to provide drug screens, and a condition regarding drug screens should not be recommended to the Court, if the parent’s drug use is not relevant to the safety and protection of the child.

  • Endorse alternative arrangements for obtaining drug screens that are needed that attract additional costs, for example using an alternative provider when exceptional circumstances exist.
  • Endorse any action required if a parent refuses or fails to comply with drug screens, taking into account whether this is court-ordered, or had been requested or agreed as part of the child protection investigation or case planning process. This includes discussing the option of applying for a temporary assessment order with CPLO where appropriate.
  • Ensure accurate information is recorded by administrative staff.
  • Liaise with central procurement regarding any billing queries and provide information as requested.

Local area contact tasks (nominated representatives for each division – normally area manager)

  • Liaise with the pathology provider to address any local issues.
  • Liaise with Child Protection Unit in the Children and Families Policy Branch for any emerging statewide issues.
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