Child protection investigations

The Department of Communities - Child Protection and Family Support (the Department) will investigate if someone reports their concerns about the safety or well-being of children.

There can be many different reasons that someone might be worried about your children's welfare, including concerns about children being abused, living in unsafe home environments, being left unsupervised, or at risk because of mental health issues. The Department can receive information about children from anyone in the community, including family members and relatives, neighbours, teachers, doctors and health workers, or even the children themselves.

After the Department has looked into the concerns and made an assessment of the situation, it will decide what steps it needs to take to improve the safety and care of your children. Where possible, the Department will try to work with you to meet the needs of your children. 

This information is to help you understand what action the Department can take when investigating concerns about your children's care or well-being. Find out: 

  • who the Department might speak with
  • if your child can be interviewed, and
  • what action the Department can take after investigating a report.

What happens if I am being investigated by the Department?

Department officers will assess any concerns by interviewing the child and family and, if necessary, make contact with significant others such as the child's school, doctor or relatives.  The Department  investigates all kinds of reports, including allegations of children and young people being:

  • exposed to family violence
  • exposed to drug use
  • left unsupervised
  • at risk because of mental health issues.

If you are a parent and a report has been made about one of your children, the Department must investigate.

When could I be investigated by the Department of Communities Child Protection and Family Support?  

If you are a parent and a report has been made about one of your children, the Department must investigate.

In some situations, the Department can question your child without you being there.  

You or your partner might be asked to leave the home to make your child safe.

The Department may take your child into care.

When is a child or young person considered at risk of harm or neglect?

The Department will consider a child in need of protection if they have suffered, or are likely to suffer:

  • physical, sexual or emotional abuse which includes:
    • psychological abuse 
    • being exposed to family violence
  • neglect, and
  • the child’s parents have not protected, or can’t protect them from that harm.

The Department may also consider a child in need of protection if they have been abandoned and the parents can’t be found, or if the parents are dead or unable to care for the child and no suitable relatives can be found.

Can the Department talk to my child without me being there?

Yes. If the Department is concerned that your child might need protection a Department officer can talk to your child without you there and without you even knowing that they are speaking to your child.

Will the Department tell me if they have talked to my child?

In most cases the Department must inform you that they have spoken to your child. However, there are some exceptions including:

  • if telling you may interfere with a criminal police investigation
  • if the Department believes that telling you may put the child in danger, or
  • if the child has asked that they don’t tell you and the Department believes it is in the child's best interests not to tell you.

What does taken into care mean?

If the Department thinks that a child is in need of protection, it may take a child into provisional (temporary) protection and care. This taken is often called being taken 'into care'.

Being taken into care are usually means that the child is taken away from the parents and placed in the care of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Department.

What happens after the Department takes a child into care?

After the Department has taken a child into care, it will make a decision about whether that child needs ongoing protection. Sometimes the Department will not take any more action and the child will be returned to the parents.

The decision could be to:

However, if the Department thinks that a child continues to need protection and shouldn’t be returned to the parents, or returned under supervision by the Department, it may make an application to the Children's Court for a protection order.  


More information

Department of Communities - Child Protection and Family Support


Reviewed: 5 April 2018


The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.