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Assessment and Planning

Summary

The Orange Door works with people to develop a deep and clear understanding of child safety and wellbeing concerns and family violence risk for all family members, including family violence in all its forms, and the risk posed by the perpetrator. Multiagency risk and needs assessment, risk management and planning and information sharing contribute to a whole-of-family approach and bring greater visibility to the perpetrator.

Assessment and planning involve working with people to identify and prioritise their support needs in relation to their risk and safety, and also in relation to their ongoing wellbeing and recovery based on:

  • the outcomes the person wants to achieve (including the child’s best interests)
  • the services the person wants to access to help them achieve those outcomes
  • how the person accesses and engages with those services

The Orange Door practitioners use consistent processes and tools, aligned to the Best Interests Case Practice Model (BICPM) and the Family Violence Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management (MARAM) Framework and supported by the FVIS Scheme, CIS Scheme and the CIP.

The purpose of assessment and planning is to:

  • assess the key risks and needs and to identify the high-level goals and preferences of individuals in the context of their family and community to determine the type, priority and urgency of the response
  • provide planning for identified risks and safety issues
  • identify the type of service response required, including whether a case manager is required, the type of service that should lead the response, and the tier of response, in relation to duration and intensity required

Assessment and Planning within The Orange Door

Assessment

Practitioners who are responsible for assessment and planning within The Orange Door are assigned clients where they lead and undertake the assessment, safety planning and risk management actions, and form the initial service plan. The process of assessment includes:

  • direct engagement with the individual and family (where appropriate) to gather information about their strengths and needs, relevant protective factors, risks and concerns and the relevant context within which these occur
  • information gathering, including from other agencies and professionals (with the client’s consent where required), both from those who are part of The Orange Door and the broader service system, as well as from the CIP where it is identified that information about an alleged perpetrator of family violence is required
  • analysis and examination of the information gathered to identify needs, assess risks, determine safety and risk management actions, service response needed and understand the person’s capabilities, preferences and long-term goals

If the practitioner is unable to make a judgement on aspects of the service response without undertaking more comprehensive assessment and planning, they can recommend that comprehensive assessment and case planning form part of the person or family’s service response.

Where necessary, the practitioner undertakes further assessment and planning – for example, when a person or family is not ready or does not wish to be allocated a service response or where their needs remain unclear.

Every assessment is informed by the integrated approaches within The Orange Door. This means that practitioners apply their specialist skills and knowledge to assessment that is informed by an understanding of practice across children and families, family violence and perpetrator services. Practitioners tailor their assessment approaches to the needs of the clients and, where appropriate, use the skills and knowledge of their colleagues and other professionals and agencies through:

  • secondary consultation
  • joint assessment (for example, through joint visits or appointments)
  • coordination of information gathering (for example, including requesting a CIP report)
  • multidisciplinary analysis and assessment (for example, through a case discussion or meeting).

These processes are particularly useful for cases that are complex, where multiple or repeated referrals have been made, that involve multiple family members, where previous services or interventions have been unsuccessful in achieving intended outcomes and/or where there are a broad range of issues and needs.

Assessment is built on the information gathered at screening and triage including:

  • the risks and safety of the person or family, including the risks posed by a perpetrator of family violence
  • the family and social context, which may include direct observation (for example, of children and families in the home environment)
  • the holistic range of needs such as housing, legal and financial, health and education, including those appropriate to a child’s age and development and their need for stability
  • the person or family’s strengths
  • the goals and wishes of the person (where appropriate), or their motivation and readiness for change (for perpetrators)
  • the services and supports that have been or are being provided across universal and specialist services.

Prioritisation

The Orange Door prioritises risk and needs assessments for cases where there is a high risk to the health, safety and wellbeing of a person or their family member even if the risk is not imminent but requires timely support to prevent their situation from escalating. Assessments focus on risk management and safety initially, followed by further assessment and planning to identify the person’s non-immediate needs and goals.

Prioritised assessments are expedited, beginning within 24 hours of receipt of referral or request for support. The mode of assessment (for example, via phone, outreach or at the primary physical premises of The Orange Door) is determined based on the preferences and circumstances of the person or family and the optimal mode to achieve effective assessment and planning.

Planning

Initial planning within The Orange Door primarily focuses on identifying key needs, issues and risks to be addressed by providing support or services and focus on the presenting issue or key areas of need. This process incorporates the views and goals of the person (where appropriate) and, where relevant, be informed by or coordinated with any assessment or planning for other members of the family, including children.

The initial planning for clients identifies the following:

  • the presenting issue, risk or need that is to be addressed
  • the proposed type of service(s), support(s) or action(s) to be implemented to address the identified issue, risk or need, including the need for any case coordination/management
  • the anticipated intensity of service response required to meet the need or address the issue
  • the priority of service response and identifying any critical risks should this response be unable to be provided within an identified timeframe

This information is used to allocate, provide or refer to a service response.

In most instances, more detailed goal-directed case planning is undertaken by the service, agency or case manager the person is connected to, building on the initial assessment and plan. However, in a small number of cases, The Orange Door may undertake more detailed assessment and planning. This could be because:

  • the person or family is not willing to engage with a service outside of The Orange Door
  • an appropriate service response is unable to be identified without further assessment and planning
  • the service response(s) identified as required is delivered by The Orange Door (for example, targeted intervention).

As with assessment, planning is informed by information gathered from a range of sources and the advice and expertise of other practitioners and practice leaders within The Orange Door team, as well as from external services. Assessment and planning are important processes through which individuals and families are engaged.

Risk Assessment and Management Panels

Where women and children are assessed as being at serious threat of harm from family violence, The Orange Door makes a referral to the Risk Assessment and Management Panels (RAMP) in the local area.

Where cases meet the eligibility, criteria outlined in the RAMP Operational Guidelines, The Orange Door follows the same referral process as specialist family violence services (i.e. complete electronic referral via Risk Information Sharing System (RISS)). RAMPs are not the sole or primary response to serious and imminent threat, and with high risk cases The Orange Door undertakes its usual functions to provide immediate crisis responses, risk management (including safety planning), needs assessment and planning, and referral to support services (in particular, to specialist family violence services).

The Orange Door supports the RAMP Coordinators in developing and supporting collaborative approaches and strong partnerships between organisations in the local area to strengthen family violence risk assessment and management. RAMP Coordinators have the opportunity of working from The Orange Door, as well as from specialist family violence services, to ensure that they can engage closely with both family violence assessment and case management teams. This enables regular liaison and consultation with key family violence assessment and support workers.

Cohort

Practitioners undertake assessment and planning for all clients where, through screening and triage, it has been identified that:

  • they potentially require a service response(s) that The Orange Door should provide or connect the person or family to
  • assessment and planning is required to determine the most appropriate supports or service responses (the needs were not immediately apparent or discrete, multiple service responses are likely to be required or there is a need for more intense and coordinated initial engagement with the person or family)

Each individual within a family may require assessment and planning to be undertaken, and by different practitioners. In these instances, the team leader facilitates one practitioner to take on a ‘lead’ role to ensure that assessments are coordinated and that contact with the family is streamlined where appropriate.

Workforce

The Orange Door practitioners have extensive skills and expertise in risk assessment and management of family violence risk, and in child safety and wellbeing.

The Orange Door practitioners build trust and rapport, engage perpetrators of family violence to assess the risk they pose, explore and assess key issues and safety risks, and develop a proposed initial plan that addresses the client or family’s safety and wellbeing goals.

If there is or has been involvement of Child Protection, the Senior Child Protection Practitioner may be involved in the assessment either as part of a multiagency meeting or through secondary consultation.

If the client identifies as Aboriginal, they are offered the involvement of the Aboriginal practice leader or worker in the assessment and planning process (either to provide secondary consultation or direct involvement).

Practice leaders offer a secondary consultation to support practitioners’ assessments where required.

Practice tools, frameworks and guidelines

The Orange Door practitioners use tools to support decision making that takes into account the risks and needs of women, children and families, the risk posed by perpetrators of family violence and the parenting capabilities of parents where there are child safety and wellbeing concerns.

The Orange Door uses the MARAM Framework. Practitioners perform assessments of family violence in accordance with the MARAM Framework’s tools and practice guides. All practitioners within The Orange Door are responsible to align to all ten responsibilities under MARAM.

The Orange Door recognises children as victim survivors of family violence in their own right . Practitioners undertake assessment of the safety and wellbeing of children in line with BICPM for all cases involving children and young people. The Orange Door also assesses family violence risk to children in line with the MARAM Framework.

The MARAM practice guides support professionals in understanding their roles and responsibilities in assessment, risk management and safety planning at different stages and provide guidance for workers undertaking risk assessments for all family members, different types of family violence, and across the spectrum of seriousness and presentations of risk.

Practitioners at The Orange Door use these tools and practice guides to support decision making that takes into account the risks and needs of women, children and families and the risk posed by perpetrators of family violence.

The Orange Door focuses on bringing the perpetrator of family violence into view. Assessment and planning seeks to manage the risk that he poses, rather than placing the burden of risk management on women and children.

Family Violence Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management framework

Supporting organisations and professionals in their implementation of the MARAM Framework, Family Safety Victoria has developed a suite of practice guides and tools to assist professionals and organisations to undertake family violence risk assessment and management appropriate to their service role. The Family Violence Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management Framework (MARAM) Victim Survivor Practice Guidance includes a Foundation Knowledge Guide (to be used by all professionals regardless of their role) and the Responsibilities for Practice Guide, which is structured against the ten MARAM Framework responsibilities spanning respectful, sensitive and safe engagement, identification and screening, intermediate and comprehensive risk assessment and management, information sharing, secondary consultation and referral and contributing to coordinated and collaborative risk management including ongoing risk assessment. The Practice Guidance underpins all the MARAM responsibilities, and is core to building a shared understanding about family violence. The Tools for Risk Assessment and Management (TRAM) is an online platform that hosts the suite of MARAM assessment tools, and is accessed by The Orange Door through the CRM.

Timing and duration

The Orange Door undertakes initial assessment and planning for clients where identified as required through the screening and triage process.

Assessments and plans must be reviewed when additional or new information is received while The Orange Door is working with the client, and updated if necessary.

Ongoing review and assessment is critically important for cases that:

  • are not currently receiving a service response (as part of active support and risk monitoring)
  • are judged to have the potential to ‘escalate quickly’ (for example, where there is a recurring pattern of intensified violence)
  • have additional complexity factors that may heighten risk (for example, they live in a rural, regional or remote community)

In the future

Work is underway to co-design a child and family system model based on’ pathways to support’. The new system model will be underpinned by a high level, unifying practice framework and evidence informed practice guidance across The Orange Door, child and family services, Child Protection and Aboriginal children in Aboriginal care and care services. This work will involve the redevelopment of the Best Interests Case Practice Model, and will align with the Family Violence Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management Framework, to support more consistent and integrated ways of engaging and responding to the needs and risks of vulnerable children and their families.

Reviewed 19 January 2020

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