As with case conferences, initial referral discussions enable agencies to share information, discuss concerns about allegations of child abuse and neglect, and formulate a child’s plan. They are chaired by the Co-ordinator, Children’s Services.
A child’s name cannot be placed on the child protection register at an initial referral discussion.
Types of case discussions
- A pre-birth initial referral discussion considers risk of harm to an unborn child and future risk upon the child’s birth
- An initial referral discussion to plan a child protection investigation, usually in complex cases or when there have been allegations of sexual abuse
- An initial referral discussion to consider concerns about a child, and consider whether or not a child protection case conference is required.
- An initial referral discussion to consider the needs of and risks posed by a young person who has, or is alleged to have, engaged in sexually abusive behaviour.
- An initial referral discussion to consider whether an application for an assessment order should be made.
- An initial referral discussion to consider whether an application should be made for an exclusion order.
- An initial referral discussion when a Child Protection Order has not been upheld by the reporter
Tasks of the initial referral discussion are to:
- Share relevant information held by the participating agencies and by the family members if present
- Identify areas of difficulty and strengths within the family
- Consider the needs of the child
- Consider any risks to the child
- Consider risks to any other children in the family
- Consider the need for emergency measures to protect the child
- Consider referral to the authority reporter
- Consider the need for a child protection case conference
- Consider the need for further assessment
- Formulate a plan to safeguard and support the child and family if appropriate
In addition, dependant on the purpose of the meeting, tasks are to:
- In the case of a child with sexually abusive behaviour, to consider any risks posed by the child.
- To formulate a plan for a child protection investigation, when the meeting is being held to consider a referral or referrals.