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2.2.5 Child Assessment Interviews

Last Modified: 31-Mar-2022 Review Date: 09-Mar-2023

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Legislation


Child Assessment Interviews (CAIs) are conducted with a trauma-informed lens, as part of a Child Safety Investigation (CSI). They are a process to gather and clarify information, understand the child's experience, allow the child an opportunity to speak and be heard, raise topics of concern and allow for an open discussion. This may lead to discussions around any worries, possible disclosures, and initiate safety planning. The ultimate priority is child safety.

Gaining a disclosure is not the goal of a CAI and the child should not feel pressured to provide any specific information. 

In line with section 9(l)(i), as far as practicable, the Department should support and fund the use of professional interpreters or other appropriate person for an individual who has difficulty understanding or communicating in English, or whose disability prevents or restricts their understanding.

This encourages the full participation of anyone who is not proficient in English and/or requires additional support

For more information please refer to Language and Interpreter Information and Chapter 4.2 - Language Services - Booking and Payment. 

Note: Chief Executive Officer refers to the CEO of the Department.
  • You must be an Authorised Officer with delegated authority under s.25 of Children and Community Services Act 2004 (the Act) and have completed the relevant training to conduct a CAI. 

Process Maps

Information and Instructions

  • Who can conduct a Child Assessment Interview?
  • When is a Child Assessment Interview undertaken?
  • Consent
  • When there are safety concerns for the child
  • Recording the interview
  • Who can conduct a Child Assessment Interview?

    Child Assessment Interviews must be carried out by two Authorised Officers with delegated authority under s.25 of the Act.

    You are also required to complete the 2-day trauma-informed Child Assessment Interviewing Training every 3 years to be deemed competent to conduct CAIs.

    The child must be spoken to away from others, to be provided an opportunity to speak freely and openly. This includes being away from teachers, counsellors, parents, step-parents, carers, or siblings. The presence of another person can substantially impact the reliability of an interview.  

    In exceptional circumstances, it is appropriate for a professional such as an interpreter or behavioural support person to be present to facilitate communication.  Family members should not be used for these roles.

    You are required to work with another authorised officer who is also appropriately trained when conducting a CAI. Unauthorised officers, or authorised officers who have not completed the appropriate training, cannot conduct a CAI or scribe for a CAI. 


    When is a Child Assessment Interview undertaken?

    A CAI is not required if the child has made a clear disclosure of a criminal nature to a child protection worker or other professional, such as a nurse or teacher.

    In these circumstances a Specialist Investigative Interview (formerly known as forensic interviews) must be arranged for the child to prevent any impact on evidence, and unnecessarily expose the child to additional formal questioning. The forensic interview content will become the child’s evidence presented to Court if the matter proceeds to prosecution.

    Planned CAIs are undertaken when:

    • a Team Leader has endorsed the decision to proceed with this line of enquiry, and

    • during the Initial Inquiry with parental consent, or

    • during a CSI with parental consent, or

    • during CSI without parental consent.

    A CAI may also be undertaken where a decision was made at a joint strategy meeting (including ChildFIRST and WA Police Force or the relevant regional response teams) for the Department to undertake one.

    Complete Form 853 - Child Assessment Interview Planning Sheet prior to undertaking the interview.

    The interviewer is in control of the process; the child is in control of the content.



    Wherever possible, the parents of the child should be informed of the nature of the allegation of abuse, the need to sight, examine and/or interview the child and the processes involved in an assessment. The consent of the child's parents should be sought as early as possible in the assessment process. This recognises the parents' rights and responsibilities for their child.

    You should seek parental consent for CAIs unless there are circumstances where this is not in the child's best interests, for example:

    • The parent is the alleged perpetrator of abuse.

    • The parent may be colluding with the alleged perpetrator of abuse.

    • The parent is the alleged perpetrator of family domestic violence (FDV).

    • There are indicators that the alleged perpetrator of FDV intimidates the parent, and this in turn may impact on the child's safety.

    If consent was sought and denied from a parent to conduct a CAI at Initial Inquiry, and there is a clear role for the Department, you should proceed to a CSI. Consult with the Team Leader about conducting a CAI without parental consent as part of the CSI.

    If you believe, on reasonable grounds, that it is in the best interests of the child to conduct the CAI without first informing the child's parents, or if informing the parents before accessing the child is likely to jeopardise the assessment, the Department can use statutory powers to initiate a CAI.

    For more information on the matters above, refer to the section 'Access to the child for the purposes of investigation under s.33 of the Act below.

    Section 3 of the Act defines a parent as a person, other than the CEO, who at law has responsibility for the:

    • long-term care, welfare and development of the child, or

    • day-to-day care, welfare and development of the child.

    When talking to the parent about the interview and consent, the amount of information you give to, or request of the parent, should be kept to a minimum until after the child has been interviewed.  An exception to this would be when the parent is the referrer of the concern.


    When there are safety concerns for the child

    If you have concerns about the immediate safety of a child, you must consult your Team Leader before you leave the child e.g. if the child has made a disclosure of abuse by a parent and the parent is due to pick them up from school. Create a plan with the Team Leader to ensure the child's immediate safety. Return to the child after consultation and explain why you are worried, and what will happen to manage these worries, in an age appropriate way. Refer to Chapter 2.2 Consulting a Team Leader for further information.

    Once you are satisfied with the immediate safety of the child, further consultation should occur with the Team Leader to:

    • discuss ongoing safety planning

    • clarify what information will be provided to the parent, and

    • determine appropriate next steps

    It's important to involve the children in safety planning as much as possible by talking to the child about who they feel safe with in their immediate network and who could form part of a safety network.

    If you are at a school, communicate and work with the school to explain what is happening and what role you need them to take.

    When a safety plan is put in place for the child, it is important to record the plan in writing so that they know exactly what is happening. You should also let them know when they might expect to see or talk to you or another Child Protection Worker following the conclusion of this interview.

    If there is a disclosure of a criminal nature, you must make a referral to WA Police using Form 523 Referral of Child Abuse to WA Police


    Recording the interview

    During the interview, both authorised officers have responsibility for accurately planning, observing, and documenting the interview content. This includes identifying and assessing any safety concerns and supporting the child through the process.

    Documentation should be comprehensive, including relevant observations. This can be captured using handwritten notes, or you can type using a departmental laptop directly into Form 854 Child Assessment Interview (CAI) Notes. Any disclosures must be captured verbatim.

    Handwritten notes should be typed into Form 854 Child Assessment Interview (CAI) Notes. The second interviewer should quality assure all the notes prior to publication, and both interviewers should agree that the notes are an accurate reflection of the interview.  

    All original interview notes and drawings must be scanned to the child's client file in Objective. Any record of the interview can be subpoenaed and used as evidence in Court.

    You must clearly document why a CAI was, or was not, conducted as part of the CSI in the child’s case file. This information should be included in the CSI outcome report. 

    You may have access to the child at a school, hospital, or a place where a childcare service is provided without informing the child's parents, if during the investigation you believe on reasonable grounds that:

    1. it is in the best interests of the child for you to have access to the child before the child's parents become aware of the investigation, or

    2. if the child's parents were to know in advance about the proposed access, the proper and effective conduct of the investigation would be likely to be jeopardised.

    You can remain at the school, hospital, or place where a childcare service is provided for as long as you consider reasonably necessary for the purposes of the investigation. You cannot remove the child from this location unless you have determined the child is in immediate and substantial risk of significant harm and you enact s.37 of the Act (with district director approval), placing the child in provisional care and protection without a warrant.  

    You must be an Authorised Officer with delegated authority under s.25 of the Act to use s.33 powers. 

    Western Australian Police officers are not authorised officers and are not able to enact s.33 of the Act.  

    Before exercising power under s.33 of the Act, you must notify the person in charge of the school, hospital or place you intend to exercise the power.

    After exercising power under s.33 of the Act you must inform at least one of the child's parents that you have exercised the power and the reasons for it. 

    A Team Leader must approve use of s.33 of the Act and the rationale for use clearly documented.

    The following are examples of circumstances where you do not have to inform the child's parents, as informing the child's parents would not be in the child's best interests:

    1. Where you believe a person may be charged with an offence involving harm to the child and telling the parent may jeopardise an investigation.

    2. Where you believe that telling the parent may expose the child to harm or at increased likelihood of harm.

    3. Where the child has asked that their parents not be told, and you believe that it is in the child's best interests to comply.

    Any decision not to notify the parents must be made in consultation with a Team Leader and the rationale documented.

    If a child makes a disclosure of an act or acts that are clearly criminal in nature and will require a Specialist Investigative Interview, you cannot use s.33 of the Act to conduct a forensic interview without parental consent.

    The purpose of s.33 is for child protection investigations only. If there is a need to conduct a forensic interview without parental consent, s.33 of the Act cannot be used by WA Police and alternative legislation should be considered. The child's safety and wellbeing should remain paramount throughout any investigation.

    If a consent for a CAI is requested from a parent and the parent denies permission, s.34 of the Act allows an authorised officer to apply to a judge or magistrate for a warrant (access) to the child. An application can be sought where the officer:

    • Is denied access to the child; or

    • Believes he or she will be denied such access; or

    • Is unable to obtain entry to a place where the officer suspects the child to be.

    If a warrant (access) is granted, you can proceed with the CAI as you have authority to speak with the child.