Service and Practice Standards Policy
The Family Place Inc. has adopted two sets of Service Standards:
- Service and complaints components of the Ethical Framework Service Standards for government agencies. These service standards are measures of the quantity and quality of the services that are provided by employees to their internal and external stakeholders.
- Care and Protection Practice Standards, the full publication is available in the resources folder in the policies and procedures manual. These standards identify how we work with families.
These standards support continuous quality improvement, innovation, high quality stakeholder relationships, strong service provision and client centred, child focussed outcomes for families.
They should be read during the induction process and reviewed in regular team and managers’ meetings and reflected on during case work supervision and case planning.
In addition, these standards are utilised in performance reviews, work plans and to guide the selection of professional development for employees.
These Standards should be read in conjunction with the Code of Conduct Policy which specifies the behaviours and attitudes expected of The Family Place Inc. (TFP) employees in the work place and the Child Safety Code of Conduct.
1. Ethical Framework Service Delivery Standards
The Ethical Framework identifies minimum standards of service expected of all agencies to be:
A) Service Provision
- Provide services fairly with a focus on customer needs
- Be flexible, innovative and reliable in service delivery
- Engage with the not-for-profit and business sectors to develop and implement services solutions
- Focus on quality while maximising service delivery.
B) Customer Feedback
In accordance with the Client Rights and Responsibilities Policy and Complaints Management Policy; customer feedback, including customer complaints; are a vital source of information that can be used (i) to address the concerns of the aggrieved individual, and (ii) to identify ways to improve service delivery and service effectiveness for future customers.
- Customers with concerns or criticisms about the service or their treatment are encouraged to make informal complaints as soon as possible to the relevant staff or manager; and those employees are empowered to resolve the matter – wherever possible – immediately
- Formal complaints: If the relevant staff or managers are unable to rectify the situation for the customer without delay, or if customers prefer to make a complaint in writing, then the customers are provided with details on: How to make the complaint, how an impartial investigation will be undertaken and when a courteous reply that addresses the substantive complaint can be expected.
2. Care and Protection Practice Standards
TFP recognises that the way in which families experience services, has a significant impact on the outcomes for family members.
Service Standard 1: Practice leadership
- Be curious – think about why something is happening and keep an open mind. Be creative and innovative – all cases are different
- Role model ethical casework with children, young people, families, colleagues, service partners and community
- Be an active, respectful and participating member of a team
- Be responsive, accepting and adaptable to the changing needs of the child/young person and their family
- Take responsibility to support and create a collaborative and relationship-based culture
- Use the expertise and experience of others to guide your practice and development
- Share professional knowledge, skills and resources with others
- be honest about mistakes and where necessary seek support to address them
- Be courageous by continually bringing other people’s thoughts, plans and actions back to the needs and rights of the child.
Service Standard 2: Relationship based practice
- Engage in honest, respectful interactions and discussions with the child or young person and their family from the very first meeting
- Appreciate the potential for change that a professional relationship can influence. Use interpersonal skills to build meaningful relationships with the: child/young person and their family; carer (if applicable); network and community and other professionals
- Identify the child’s relationships that are strong and positive and then look after them
- Commit to purposeful, regular contact e.g. home visits; with the child/young person and family
- Communicate in a clear, honest and respectful way about:
- The purpose of our involvement; safety and risk concerns; what the bottom lines are and why; what needs to change and how that may occur; implications for any actions or lack of action; their rights and our responsibility to help them.
- Role model and reinforce constructive and improved interactions, beliefs and behaviours
- Work hard to keep the family actively on board in the process of meaningful change.
Service Standard 3: Holistic assessment and family work
- Seek to understand the child/young person and their experiences outside of one event
- Take a proactive role with the child and family to create the changes needed to achieve child safety and wellbeing
- Use Structured Decision Making tools (or Secondary Risk of Harm Assessment) and professional judgement to establish immediate safety and future risk
- Consider, in assessments and ongoing work, the family within their context e.g. culture, trauma history, disadvantages, familial history and composition
- Observe the child in their home environment interacting with siblings and parents
- Examine all information and think through all possibilities about what has occurred and why: Make sense of what you know; Connect pieces of information; Identify gaps and inconsistencies; link this with professional experience, knowledge and theory
- Establish a clear goal with the child/young person and family; and a realistic case plan to reach that goal. Be clear and specific with the family about what they need to do and why that leads to improved child safety
- Undertake regular quality case plan reviews to meet the changing needs of the child/young person; as per the Case Management Policy.
Service Standard 4: Collaboration
- Actively engage the child, young person, family and their network to participate in planning, actions, reviews and decision making
- Establish a thorough understanding of who the child/young person and family identify as their support network
- Establish, commit to and work on relationships with all informal and professional members of the family’s network and community that are centred on the child
- Work with the child, young person, family and their network to agree on clear goals. Create positive change by working as a team
- Aid the child, young person and family to identify, access and engage with appropriate services
- Clearly identify and understand each service’s role and responsibilities to help the family meet their goals
- Share relevant information with services currently or previously involved with the family
Service Standard 5: Critical reflection
- Engage staff, colleagues and managers in professional conversations regularly to:
- discuss the child/young person’s safety and wellbeing
- analyse information gathered
- sort out what is relevant to direct casework
- Identify and guard against making predictable errors
- support good decision making
Service Standard 6: Culturally responsive practice with Aboriginal communities
- Take the time to really understand the history of Aboriginal people and how it might impact for them in working with us
- Work in a way that is culturally responsive and sensitive to the continued impact of the Stolen Generations, but acknowledges current risk
- Consult often and meaningfully
- Understand and respect Aboriginal cultural values, protocols and ways of doing business
- Respect family and kinship structures. Make sure that kin are included in important meetings and in making important decisions
- Support the principle of self-determination by actively and genuinely engaging Aboriginal families, communities and organisations in decision making
- Know about the local Aboriginal organisations and Aboriginal communities. Collaborate with them in assessment and family work
- Make sure regular and meaningful cultural planning and quality Life Story Work occurs
Service Standard 7: Culturally responsive practice with diverse communities
- Work hard to understand the family’s culture and migration or refugee experiences and consider these factors in assessment and family work
- Reflect on your own cultural values, question your assumptions and if necessary check these with the family
- Include meaningful strategies in case plans to maintain the child and young persons connection to their identity, culture, religion and language
- Use a qualified interpreter for complex communication (or in times of high stress). Use a Community Language Allowance Scheme (CLAS)-accredited worker for simple communication
- Translate important correspondence to clients or use an interpreter for a translation
- Seek the expertise of a multicultural caseworker or external workers to provide cultural consultation and support
- Explore parenting practices and alternate care arrangements in their country of origin, to identify strengths, supports available and culturally appropriate strategies
- Explore appropriate support from extended family and community members
- Develop a good working knowledge of local cultural communities and multicultural services 10. Carry out regular and meaningful cultural planning and quality life story work (OOHC).
Service Standard 8: Practice expertise
- Engage in regular practice discussions with colleagues and managers to maintain a contemporary understanding of: Trauma, abuse and neglect; child development and attachment; domestic violence; drug and alcohol misuse and mental illness; parenting and parenting capacity; engagement strategies and family work; preservation, restoration and permanency practices
- Use evidence-based research and theory (alongside the characteristics of the child/ young person/family) to inform assessments and your approaches to practice with the family
- Motivate change by role modelling, reinforcing, educating, supporting and providing strategies and interventions
- Engage in continuous learning and development activities, including supervision
- Use the expertise of other professionals (internal and external)
- Work with families in a way that complies with legislation, policy and procedures
- Apply tools skilfully, using critical analysis and professional judgement
- Draw on personal attributes (such as ability to empathise, relate to others) and values to compliment skills and knowledge
- Seek opportunities to make practice transparent and invite critique to guard against common practice errors.
Service Standard 9: Sharing risk
- Reflect with your manager regularly to check that you are appropriately balancing the risks with strengths, safety and wellbeing
- Communicate any concerns you have about circumstances that make you feel uneasy
- Seek discussions actively with managers and colleagues (including casework specialists, psychologists, care and legal support teams, interagency partners) to facilitate shared decision making
- Identify and be clear, with the family and interagency partners, what their role and responsibilities are to reduce risk, improve safety and enhance the child’s wellbeing
- Use the expertise of other professionals involved in decision making
- Share information with the child, young person, family and interagency partners about why and how decisions are and were made
- Actively contribute to the office and team culture by encouraging transparent practice and inviting or providing respectful advice, feedback and support from and to colleagues
- Use the child/young person’s case planning meetings as an ongoing shared decision making forum.
Service Standard 10: Documentation in case work
- Use respectful, straight forward language that is sensitive to the child/young person and family. Take care when choosing words to describe a person and their behaviour and always be honest
- Record in an ethical, non-biased and fair manner
- Write succinctly and only include relevant information
- Use professional judgement to determine what needs to be recorded in the context of that case
- Read the family history so families don’t have to retell their story unnecessarily
- Clearly articulate the rationale for decisions and actions
- Write concise, analytical and child focussed assessment narratives
- Record information accurately. Clearly identify the source and the status e.g. fact, hearsay, opinion – professional or otherwise
- Ensure strengths and positive experiences are adequately captured
- Ensure accurate recording of cultural identity and Aboriginality.