Quality of care concerns

Follow this procedure when responding to quality of care concerns for children and young people in out-of-home care.

Introduction

Manage quality of care concerns in accordance with the Guidelines for responding to quality of care concerns in out-of-home care (Technical update 2014).

Quality of care concerns range from issues of general care to alleged emotional, physical or sexual abuse.

All allegations are handled as potentially serious concerns and are assessed and screened to inform the level of response required.

Practitioners must report allegations and concerns of physical abuse, sexual abuse and serious neglect to Victoria Police.

Quality of care concerns can relate to carers, members of their household or family, or people within the carer's wider network who come into contact with children in the placement.

See Quality of care concerns- advice for further information.

Procedure

Case practitioner tasks:

  • Assess the child’s immediate safety upon learning of any information suggesting concern for a child.
  • Alert the team manager and complete or request an incident report when you learn of any information about possible abuse, neglect or poor quality of care of a child in out-of-home care.
  • Advise the quality of care coordinator of the concern.
  • In cases of alleged sexual or physical abuse or serious neglect, make a report to Victoria Police, or confirm that this has occurred.
  • Undertake actions as directed by your supervisor and according to the planned response to the quality of care concerns. This includes interviewing the child and others as determined by the investigation planning group.
  • Complete CRIS requirements including records of planning meetings, decisions and rationales.

Supervisor tasks

  • Ensure immediate safety of the child.
  • Provide ongoing supervision and support and assist the case worker to determine next steps.
  • Contact the quality of care coordinator, seek advice and follow the Guidelines for responding to quality of care concerns in out-of-home care (Technical update 2014).
  • Ensure an Incident report is submitted.
  • If an agency or systems issue is identified or alleged that goes beyond the immediate issue for the specific incident report, report this to the local connections officer or manager, or liaise with the quality of care coordinator to ensure that the issue is addressed.

Team manager tasks

  • Participate in the investigation planning group (IPG) to screen the reported concerns, in consultation with the quality of care coordinator and the CSO program manager, to determine responses including addressing immediate and ongoing placement safety.

Possible decisions from the initial screening process are:

Take no further action – in a small number of cases, there may be a decision to take no further action. This would occur if it can be clearly established that the information about the concern is inaccurate or there is no basis for concerns about the safety of the child or the quality of care the child is receiving.

Recommend that concerns are managed via support and supervision by the CSO or by child protection – certain information may raise issues that do not warrant an investigation or formal care review, but nevertheless should be addressed. This will be the most appropriate response to the majority of quality of care concerns. The CSO, or child protection if the carer is a kinship carer not case managed by a CSO, may handle these issues by supporting and supervising the carer.

Recommend a formal care review – this response occurs if there are serious or repeated concerns about possible poor quality care provision (not related to possible abuse or neglect) that may place the child's safety, stability or development at risk.

Conduct an investigation into allegations of possible abuse or neglect – this response, which may or may not involve the police, commences a formal investigation process, led by child protection and conducted in partnership with the CSO.

  • Determine if the child is to remain in the placement during the process of investigation of the concerns.
  • Oversee any investigation and response in accordance with the Guidelines for responding to quality of care concerns in out-of-home care (Technical update 2014). Liaise with the quality of care coordinator to ensure all actions are completed.
  • Participate in screening meetings and engage in investigation planning and investigation outcome meetings.
  • Endorse matters being screened out.
  • Endorse placement decisions.

Area manager tasks:

  • Review and endorse the outcome of the investigation, including substantiation decisions and investigation outcome reports. 
  • If the concern has been substantiated or if police investigation is ongoing, seek authority from the Director Child Protection or Assistant Director if the placement is to continue.

Child protection operations manager tasks

  • Where a quality of care concern relates to a carer who is a departmental staff member:
    • verify the employment status of the carer
    • advise the Director Child Protection and divisional Deputy Secretary
    • ensure that the client’s CRIS records are not accessible by the carer and that the carer will not seek access to information by other means
    • consider referring the case to another division to undertake the quality of care response. If the carer is a child protection practitioner in your division, the case must be referred to another division.
  • Conduct a review of a substantiation decision if a carer writes seeking a review. The review can be delegated to a senior child protection manager not involved in the original decision. The review must be undertaken within 28 days of the request for a review being received by you.
  • If a dispute regarding a decision between a CSO and the department cannot be resolved by the investigation planning group, liaise with the relevant CSO manager and the local connections manager to seek resolution. If the dispute cannot be resolved with your intervention, refer it to the Director Child Protection or Assistant Director Child Protection for resolution.

Director Child Protection or Assistant Director Child Protection tasks

  • If the police are investigating a quality of care concern and the placement is recommended by the area manager to continue, consider the circumstances and authorise placement continuation if appropriate.
  • If a quality of care investigation substantiates abuse or neglect and the placement is recommended by the area manager to continue, consider the circumstances and authorise placement continuation if appropriate.
  • Conduct a second review of a substantiation decision if the child protection operations manager upholds the substantiation decision upon review, and the carer seeks a further review.
  • If a dispute regarding a decision between a CSO and the department cannot be resolved by the child protection operations manager’s discussions with the relevant parties, liaise with the relevant CSO CEO or program manager to seek resolution.

Quality of care coordinator tasks

Manager Performance, Quality and Compliance (or delegated Quality Manager) tasks

  • Approve extension of quality of care investigations beyond 28 working days.
  • Approve s. 81 and s. 82 reports prior to forwarding to the Senior Project Officer, Quality and Oversight Unit, Service Outcomes Branch.
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