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1.2.7 Parent Support

Last Modified: 22-Mar-2022 Review Date: 02-Jan-2018

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Legislation

Overview

The Parent Support service is delivered by child protection workers (CPWs) in Intensive Family Support (IFS) teams.  Parent Support involves up to six months of home visiting support to parents who would not typically access mainstream services and who are having difficulty managing their children's behaviour.

References to 'parents' includes individuals (Responsible Person) who have day-to-day care of the child, reflecting that Responsible Parenting Agreements (RPAs) can be signed either by a parent or by another Responsible erson.

 

Child protection workers delivering Parent Support services should complete training in accordance with the Learning Pathways for IFS teams.

The Parent Support service works with parents to adjust the young person's home environment and  using a collaborative approach to this by working with Education, Youth Justice and Western Australia Police (WA Police), where relevant, to assist the family and help the young person.  

Aboriginal families should be given priority acess to the service.

Note: CEO refers to the Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Communities (the Department).

Rules
 
Process Maps

Parent Support Process Flowchart

Information and Instructions

  • Referral and Intake
  • Service delivery
  • Responsible Parenting Agreements
  • Matrices and tools
  • Referral and Intake

    Referrals are accepted from within district offices, other government agencies and the community sector. Referrals from within the Department should be discussed with the IFS team leader (TL).

    Referrals can often be generated as a result of local Youth at Risk or Children at Risk meetings where services discuss children in common.

    External referrals are made to us through the Central Intake Team (CIT) / Regional Child Safety (CS) teams via Form 441 Child Protection Concern Referral Form (under the 'Parent Support services' section in the form) or telephone referral.

    Discuss any safety concerns for a child or young person with your TL to determine the most appropriate action.  Enter all referrals and cases on Assist.

    Eligibility

    Referrals are considered and accepted based upon the elilgibility criteria set out below.

    The Parent Support service works with 'hard to reach' parents of school aged children up to 18 years, where the children are involved in:

    • antisocial behaviour
    • criminal activity, and/or 
    • truancy (only if in combination with one or both above behaviours).

    Parent Support is targeted at parents who find it hard to ask for help, or who have had trouble working with other services.

    Intake and allocation

    ​External referrals for Parent Support services are considered by the CIT / Regional Child Safety team and assessed in accordance to the Parent Support criteria and the Interaction Tool.  

    Where additional child protection concerns are identified through the Interaction Tool, these must be assessed before Parent Support services are delivered.

    If no additional child protection concerns are found following the application of the Interaction Tool and the criteria for Parent Support services are met, the case does not require an intake to Initial Inquiry. The CIT / Regional Child Safety team open a Case Support Service for Parent Support services and allocates the case to the IFS TL of the relevant district.

    The IFS TL either accepts or rejects the referral, and if rejecting referrals records the rationale recorded in the case plan. 

    Advise the referrer of the outcome of the referral. Refer to the Assist User Guide for recording processes. 

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    Service delivery

    Complete the First Session Outcome Form (in related resources) within the first few visits with the family.

    On Assist reord all relevant documents, including the completed matrices and questionairres.  Scan into the client file the signed RPA and completed Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (if used). 

    Refer to chapter 2.2 Case allocations, management, transfer, requests for co-working or services and case closure if continuing or ceasing work with families who have moved outside the district boundary.   

    At closure of the Parent Support Service:

    • Finalise the RPA.
    • Make sure that all matrices have been completed.
    • Update the Child Behaviour Matrix and use the matrix scores to inform the outcome recorded on Assist. 
    • Close off the service screen and case file.
    • Record the outcome shown on the Closure Report on Assist. Ensure the closure is discussed with the parent, the referrer (if appropriate) and key agencies involved in the implementation of the RPA.
    • Enter data from all completed forms, matrices, and questionnaires on Assist and scan all up to date documents to the case file.
    • Close the file.

    Establishing contact and visiting

    Upon allocation of a case, contact the referrer to clarify expectations, and where appropriate, discuss opportunities for a joint visit of introduction with the family.

    Contact the parents within four working days of receiving the case by making a phone call to arrange the first visit appointment. If the parents cannot be reached by phone, visit the home and if parents are not home, leave a card or Parent Support brochure - Information for Parents (in related resources) with contact details.  

    The first visit should be undertaken by two staff members. If it can be reasonably assessed that the situation is safe, further visits may be made alone. During the visit:

    • Provide a description of what the Parent Support service does.
    • Explain their responsibility to establish a safe working environment and the need to share information regarding any child protection issues that may arise. 
    • Explain the concept and use of a RPA. 
    • Begin to discuss the child's behaviour that led to the referral and encourage the parents to think about what they would like to achieve while engaged with the Parent Support service.

    The Parent Support service is flexible and visits with the family may be conducted in the home or at agreed locations where parents feel comfortable. 

    Demonstrate patience, persistence and substantial and ongoing effort to engage, even where parents display reluctance. If the family is still resistant explore if there are other agencies the parents would be prepared to work with.

    If engagement has not been possible, record non-engagement  on Assist as either:

    • unable to establish a working relationship, or
    • parents not available or not engaging at appointments.

    Information sharing and collaboration with agencies

    Make reasonable efforts to obtain parent's consent before sharing or requesting relevant information.

    Where you have been unable to obtain the parent's consent, but assess it is in the best interest of the child, relevant information may still be shared (refer to Chapter 4.2 Working with other agencies - memoranda of understanding and information sharing   and s.23 and s.240 of the Children and Community Services Act 2004 (the Act).

    Information or material that identifies a child or Responsible Person subject to a RPA should not be published. Refer to Chapter 3.2 Identification of Children for more information about publishing information about children in the CEO's care or previously in care.

    The Parent Support service relies on the involvement of and engagement with relevant government agencies such as the Department of Education, the Department of Justice, WA Police and the Department of Health.

    Keep these agencies engaged, for example via key local groups and committees, to support joint planning and coordination for clients.

    Engagement and case management resources

    You have access to a range of resources that support engagement with families and case management.  You may use any of the following  depending on the specifics of the case they are working with).

    Aboriginal practice leaders and youth and family support workers

    To assist in engaging with Aboriginal families, consult with an Aboriginal practice leader and work alongside Youth and Family Support Workers.  For complex issues, consult with a senior practice sevelopment officer in the Specialist Child Protection Unit (SCPU). 

    Record all consultations on Assist. Refer to the Assist User Guide - Case Plan Consultation.

    Parent Visitors

    Parent visitors work with you and provide input into the development of the family's aims and the review process. They support parents to achieve the aims of the RPA by building parenting skills, role modelling, household management, routines, discipline, and linking children and young people into meaningful activities. 

    Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CaLD) resources

    When working with families from a CaLD background, consult with the Principal Policy and Planning Officer, Cultural Diversity, SCPU - eduardo.farate@communities.wa.gov.au or send an enquiry to SCPU - SpecialistChildProtectionUnitGeneralEnquiries@communities.wa.gov.au or identify local CaLD community members and leaders. 

    Engage interpreters when working with parents not proficient in English language. 

    Voluntary or compulsory income management and Liquor Restricted Premises Declaration

    Where appropriate, consider using a voluntary or compulsory income management and Liquor Restricted Premises Declaration.  Refer to Chapter 1.4 Alcohol and other drug issues - application for a liquor restricted premises declaration for further information.

    Funding assistance

    Funding assistance can be used to enhance access to specialist service providers and/or community programs. It may only be considered once all other funding sources have been explored.  

    Enter the request on Assist (accessible through the cost type Parent Support Costs not case support costs), identify the IFS team, and provide the rationale of why it is required and how it will address the aims of the RPA. The IFS TL is responsible for approving the request. 

    Data collection

    Enter data from the following forms onto Assist:

    Child protection concerns

    If you identify concerns for the child's safety and wellbeing, be open and transparent in communicating these with the family. The Child Environment Matrix can be used to identify concerns and inform Signs of Safety meetings.

    If you identify concerns  relating to the possible abuse or harm of the child, immediately consult with the IFS TL and determine the most appropriate response.  Use the Interaction Tool to determine if a Child Safety Investigation (CSI) is required. 

    If a CSI is required, the IFS TL may decide to suspend the Parent Support services until the CSI has been completed.  

    Closure

    Develop an exit plan when the family is coming to the end of their involvement with Parent Support services. Exit planning reminds the parent that casework will not continue indefinitely, consolidate positive changes made and to institute longer term goals.

    You help the family to review, acknowledge and celebrate their journey and success, and plan how to sustain any positive changes into the future.  

    Parents may feel anxious about the impending loss of support provided by Parent Support staff, and these feelings need to be acknowledged and respectfully discussed.

    Ongoing support options should be considered. You may link the family to appropriate community supports and services before closing the case.

    Use the final Child Behaviour Matrix scores to inform the outcome recorded on Assist and close off the service screen and case file.

    When closing the case (irrespective of whether parents have made gains on the identified issues) contact the referrer and any other agencies that have been involved with the case to notify them of the case closure.

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    Responsible Parenting Agreements

    ​Responsible Parenting Agreements (RPAs) are written agreements under s.131C of the Act, between the parents and an authorised officer of any or all the following agencies:

    • the Department (usually the CPW, district director or TL)
    • Department of Justice (Corrective Services), and/or
    • Department of Education.

    The RPA specifies the period covered by the agreement and is signed by the parents and or Responsible Person, the CPW and any other authorised officers involved with the Agreement.

    In the IFS Team, only a CPW can enter an RPA, it is a document completed under the provisions of the Act and is statutory in nature.

    It is a written agreement that supports and assists families to appropriately and safely manage the behaviour of their children. The RPA outlines the responsibilities of the parent/caregiver and the child, and the support required from other relevant government agencies.

    An RPA is a mechanism to clarify roles and relationships between the worker and the adult carer of the child.  It is a clear agreement on goals and plans for a period of work undertaken with the parents or Responsible Person. An RPA underpins the work of the Parent Support service and is completed for every case. It can be developed by us or by other authorised agencies, or as a multi-agency agreement with the family.

    All referrals to Parent Support are case managed through an RPA.

    Ensure that the parent or Responsible Person understands that the RPA aims to bring about positive change in the child's behaviour.

    The RPA should cover the work being undertaken for a period of up to six months. However, in some circumstances it may be necessary for the Agreement to be extended or for a new RPA to be developed. This should be discussed with the family and approved by the IFS TL.

    The RPA provides an opportunity for agencies to work together. Regardless of which agency enters the RPA, or if it is a multi-agency agreement, Parent Support can provide a service to the family as part of the RPA and work with other agencies to address complex issues.  

    The RPA supports the primary role of parents in safeguarding and promoting the wellbeing of their children (more than one child may be included in an RPA); reinforces parents' responsibilities to appropriately and safely manage the behaviour of their children and outlines and sets timeframes for actions of parents to improve the care and behaviour of their children and actions of the workers to support the parents.

    The RPA template and the completed Child Environment Matrix are used to construct the RPA. At the meeting to construct the RPA, consider who is relevant to attend and what their roles and responsibilities are, and how the child's voice can be heard in the process. The completed RPA is signed by the relevant parties and a signed copy is given to the parents. 

    Establishing the RPA

    Use the Template when establishing an RPA (in related resources).

    The agreement specifies the behaviour of the child that needs to change and outline a response that the parents or Responsible Person can adopt to alter that behaviour. Work collaboratively with the parent/Responsible Person and other relevant agencies and or service providers to develop the aims of the RPA.

    Strategies are then identified with actions listed for the parents, the CPW and any other services or government agencies involved in the case. Actions outlined for the participants should be designed to support the achievement of the aims listed in the RPA. Timelines should be specified for completion of each activity. 

    Reviewing the RPA

    Meetings are held at least every four to six weeks, or more frequently if required, to review, monitor progress, or revise the RPA. All signatories to, and participants in the RPA should participate in the review meetings.

    The review considers the aims included in the RPA and the effectiveness of the identified actions. Each time an aim is realised, write "achieved" in the timeframe column. At a review, information can be shared to determine whether the strategies detailed in the RPA are bringing the parent/Responsible Person closer to achieving the aim. If it is believed that they are, they may still be refined in line with the improvements, or other strategies added.

    If the strategies detailed in the RPA are not bringing the parent/Responsible Person closer to achieving the aims of the agreement, new strategies should be explored.

    The review should consider whether to continue or terminate the RPA. If the RPA continues, the authorised officer and the parent/Responsible Person work together to decide:

    • which strategies need to be continued
    • which strategies need to be refined, and
    • if further strategies are required to achieve the aims.

    This process of activity and review may continue until the aims of the RPA are achieved or the term expires.

    An RPA may be terminated because:

    • the aims have been achieved
    • the parent is no longer engaged or has not engaged with the process, or
    • the term has been reached.

    If parents enter into an RPA but do not engage or participate, the safety and/or wellbeing of the children should be assessed in the context of the Parent Support service and consider how to proceed.

    Multidisciplinary Case Consultations

    Multidisciplinary Case Consultations (MCCs) are a mechanism for considering different professional perspectives required to engage families with multiple problems. You may consider an MCC for Parent Support cases where:

    • engagement with the family is difficult to establish or maintain
    • the case is 'stuck' and case drift needs to be avoided, or
    • concerns of abuse or harm to the child have presented.

    Refer to Chapter 1.2 Intensive Family Support for further information about Multidisciplinary Case Consultations.

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    Matrices and tools

    ​Record all relevant information, such as completed matrices and questionnaires, on Assist and scan all relevant documents, such as the signed RPA and the completed Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (if used) into the client file. 

    At closure of the Parent Support service:

    • finalise the RPA
    • make sure that all matrices have been completed, and
    • update the Child Behaviour Matrix and use the matrix scores to inform the outcome recorded on Assist. Close off the service screen and case file. 

    Matrices

    The Parent Support service uses three matrices (see related resources) that provide a structured process for goals to be articulated and progress monitored. For details see Using the Parent Support Matrices.

    Use the Child Behaviour Matrix in all cases. It is used to consider the behaviour for which the child is referred to Parent Support and captures the parent's current activities and their impact on the child's behaviour.  It is a tracking matrix that places the problem for which the family is referred at the bottom, looks at goals at the top, and shows pathways to achieving those goals, along with mechanisms for review, in between.  

    The Child Environment Matrix is developed with the parent to describe the quality of the child's environment in nine domains:

    1. Physical care
    2. Communication of love
    3. Supervision
    4. Routines/behavioural boundaries
    5. Health and wellbeing
    6. Parents/carers relationship
    7. Home
    8. Community
    9. Culture

    Each domain is presented on a continuum; the worst case scenario is at the bottom and the best case scenario is at the top. It helps parents gain a realistic picture of their situation, informs the goals of the RPA, and explores with parents what they need to do to score further up the continuum. This matrix may also be used with children as an engagement tool, with the domains serving as discussion points. 

    The Child Environment Matrix – Aboriginal version is an alternative version of the Child Environment Matrix for work with Aboriginal families.             

    Use of the Parental Wellbeing Matrix is optional. The set includes four matrices: self-esteem, family and domestic violence, substance use and management of a chronic condition. This matrix can be used to capture the current situation, look at how it can be improved, and track the impact of specialist interventions on the parent's capacity to function.  Consult with the parents to decide which of the four matrices is the most suitable to use.

    Tools

    ​An Ecomap or Kinship Circle, completed with the parents as part of the First Session Outcome Form,  explores who is in the child's family; who can provide support; who is important to the child and why; and what events may have or may in future impinge on the child and family. 

    Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire may also be used to identify specific behaviours that parents may want or need to address.

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