Supervised Visitation and Exchange Services (CA-SVE) 9: Case Documentation, Review, and Reporting
Documentation, review, and reporting practices support the organization’s ability to provide appropriate services and promote safety.
There is no privilege of confidentiality for individuals participating in supervised visitation or exchange, which means that the records of a provider can be subpoenaed by the court or another party. Since the release of sensitive information may pose a threat to the victims of domestic violence, organizations serving domestic violence cases should pay special attention to the safety of victims when creating procedures regarding documentation and record-keeping. Some protection may be provided by keeping information about the victim in a separate file, or by keeping minimal documentation regarding areas that might threaten safety if released (e.g., regarding contacts with victims or their attorneys, or regarding the specific time a victim arrived or departed). However, organizations should also make sure that these decisions do not compromise victim safety in other ways. For example, if the organization does not record the specific time a victim arrived at or departed from the program (as per CA-SVE 9.01), it should make sure that this does not compromise its ability to record whether the perpetrator of violence was late. Similarly, organizations should be aware that not documenting contacts outside of visits/exchanges with the perpetrators of violence or their attorneys (as per CA-SVE 9.04) could potentially increase risk to victims if it results in a failure to capture potentially threatening behaviours.
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Supervised Visitation and Exchange Services enable children to maintain connections with parents with whom they are not living by protecting the physical and emotional safety of the children and their families.
Note:See the Interpretation to CA-SVE 9 for more information regarding documentation and record-keeping when serving domestic violence cases.
Records of visits and exchanges are limited to factual observations rather than opinions, evaluations, or recommendations.
If an organization serving child protection cases is expected to document the achievement of defined behavioural goals that will be criteria for reunification, or if an organization providing supportive or therapeutic supervised visitation finds it necessary to record behavioural observations, the information recorded should still be limited to factual observations rather than opinions, evaluations, or recommendations. Organizations providing therapeutic supervised visitation will also typically conduct assessments of the issues that led to the referral for service, and these assessments will not be considered to violate this standard. However, organizations should still limit assessments to factual observations rather than including opinions or recommendations, to the extent possible. Personnel providing therapeutic supervised visitation may also document an opinion or recommendation regarding a parent’s or child’s readiness to enter the next phase of treatment, but should not include any opinion or recommendation regarding issues of child custody or access.
Notes from visits and exchanges include a caveat stating that contacts have occurred in a structured and protected environment and thus should not be used in isolation when assessing the appropriateness of future access or custody arrangements.
When contacts occur outside of a visit/exchange with parents, children, attorneys, the court or referring agency, or others involved with the case, the organization:
documents the date, time, and type of contact; and
includes at least a brief notation regarding the topic addressed during the contact.
Examples: Timeframes for check-ins may vary depending on the type of case and the risks presented. It may be especially important to check in early and often in domestic violence cases, when there may be concerns about the safety needs of the parent who was the target of the abuse.
The worker and a supervisor, or a team of relevant personnel, review the case quarterly, or more frequently depending on the risks associated with the case and the type of supervision provided, to:
update information obtained during intake, including contact information, health information, vehicle identification, and court orders;
assess safety needs;
monitor service recipients’ compliance with program requirements; and
prepare for upcoming court reviews.
When experienced personnel are conducting reviews of their own cases, the worker’s supervisor must review a sample of the worker’s evaluations as per the requirements of the standard.
When the organization provides reports or case notes to the court or referring agency, these documents:
indicate the dates, times, and participants of visits or exchanges, along with any other logistical information needed to document whether visits or exchanges actually took place;
include an account of critical incidents and any other information deemed relevant to safety;
are free of interpretations, opinions, evaluations, and recommendations, including those related to parenting abilities and child access or custody;
note that contacts have occurred in a structured and protected setting and thus should not be used in isolation when assessing the appropriateness of future access or custody arrangements; and
include a reminder of the reason the family was referred for service.
Please note that this standard does not compel organizations to provide reports or case notes to the court or referring agency on a routine basis – some organizations may only do so when required by a subpoena or court order. When the organization is ordered to release information and it believes that doing so might endanger a victim of domestic violence, the organization should request assistance from the court.
When an organization serves child protection cases and is expected to report on the achievement of defined behavioural goals established by the child protection agency that will be criteria for reunification, such reporting is not considered to be an evaluation or recommendation that would violate element (c) of the standard. Similarly, when an organization provides therapeutic supervised visitation, a licensed or registered mental health or social work professional may prepare a report that includes a professional opinion or recommendation about the parent’s or child’s readiness to enter the next phase of treatment. However, the report should still not include any opinion or recommendation regarding issues of child custody or access.