Social Worker's Report on Family Assessment must be made under these directives. Framework DOH 2000.
There is an expectation that within one working day of a referral being received or
new information coming to or from within a social services department about an open
case, there will be a decision about what response is required.
A referral is defined as a
request for services to be provided by the social services department.
The response may
include no action, but that is itself a decision and should be made promptly and
recorded. The referrer should be informed of the decision and its rationale, as well as
the parents or caregivers and the child, if appropriate.
3.10 Depending on the child's circumstances, an initial assessment may include some or all
of the following:
interviews with child and family members, as appropriate;
involvement of other agencies in gathering and providing information, as
consultation with supervisor/manager;
record of initial analysis;
decisions on further action/no action;
record of decisions/rationale with family/agencies;
informing other agencies of the decisions;
statement to the family of decisions made and, if a child is in need, the plan for
As part of any initial assessment, the child should be seen.
This includes observation
and talking with the child in an age appropriate manner.
This is further discussed in
paragraphs 3.41 to 3.43.
3.11 A core assessment is defined as an in-depth assessment
which addresses the central or
most important aspects of the needs of a child and the capacity of his or her parents or
caregivers to respond appropriately to these needs within the wider family and
While this assessment is led by social services, it will invariably
involve other agencies or independent professionals,
who will either provide
information they hold about the child or parents, contribute specialist knowledge or
advice to social services or undertake specialist assessments.
Specific assessments of the
child and/or family members may have already been undertaken prior to referral to
the social services department.
The findings from these should inform this assessment.
At the conclusion of this phase of assessment, there should be an analysis of the
findings which will provide an understanding of the child’s circumstances and inform
planning, case objectives and the nature of service provision. The timescale for
completion of the core assessment is a maximum of 35 working days.
assessment is deemed to have commenced at the point the initial assessment ended, or
a strategy discussion decided to initiate enquiries under s47, or new information
obtained on an open case indicates a core assessment should be undertaken.
Where specialist assessments have been commissioned by social services from other agencies or independent professionals, it is recognised that they will not necessarily be completed within the 35 working day period.
Appropriate services should be provided whilst awaiting the completion of the specialist assessment.
As indicated in paragraphs 5.39 to 5.41 of Working Together to Safeguard Children
(1999) sometimes it will be appropriate to undertake an investigative interview of a
child who may have been a victim to a crime or a witness, with a view to gathering
evidence for criminal proceedings.
These interviews should take account of
information known from any previous assessments.
A child should never be
interviewed in the presence of an alleged or suspected perpetrator of abuse, or
somebody who may be colluding with a perpetrator.
The guidance (which is currently
in the Memorandum of Good Practice on video recorded interviews for
child witnesses for criminal proceedings (Home Office and Department of Health,
1992) should be followed for all video-recorded investigative interviews with
3.17 All such interviews with children should be conducted by those with specialist
training and experience in interviewing children.
Additional specialist help may be
necessary if the child's first language is not English; the child appears to have a degree
of psychiatric disturbance but is deemed competent; the child has an impairment; or
where interviewers do not have adequate knowledge and understanding of the child's
racial, religious or cultural background.
Consideration should also be given to the
gender of interviewers particularly in cases of alleged sexual abuse.
The term family proceedings is one that is defined statutorily in section 8 of the
Children Act 1989.
It includes all public law applications (care, adoption, emergency
protection, contact) and a large range of private law matters concerning divorce and
separation, including those within applications under section 8 for contact, residence,
specific issue and prohibited steps.
Care Applications and Assessment
In court proceedings involving the local authority, such as an application for a care or
supervision order, the local authority’s main evidence will be set out by way of one or
more formal statements.
These include the relevant history and the facts to support
the threshold criteria (ie. significant harm) for an order under section 31.
concerning the welfare checklist (section 1(3) to which the court must
will also be included in the application.
Before making any order, the court must also consider the no order principle (section)
The court will look to the detail of the local authority’s care plan for evidence as
to how the care order, if made, would be implemented.
Guidance about the structure
and contents of care plans was issued in 1999 (Care Plans and Care Proceedings under
the Children Act 1989 LAC (99(29).
Guidance Notes and Glossary for:
Referral and Initial Information Record,
Initial Assessment Record and
Core Assessment Record
In order to meet the assessment time scales set out in The Governments Objectives for
Children’s Social Services (1999) a decision should be is made on what the response will
be to a referral within one working day of it being received.
The Referral and Initial Information Record records the reason the referral or request
for services was made and how it was responded to by the SSD.
For example, some
referrals can be dealt with by the provision of information and advice, or by a referral to
When referrals require a response from a social services department
then an initial assessment should be carried out.
The Referral and Initial Information Record therefore has two purposes:
to record basic information on the child and family; and to record the SSD and other
relevant agencies response to the referral.
The Initial Information Record can therefore
be used by social services departments to process referrals and to record essential
information gathered at the point of referral.
SSD Case No.
This is the index number given to the referral by the Social Services Department.
2. Is the Parent/Carer aware of the referral?
This refers to awareness at the point in time the referral is being made.
15. Reason for referral/request for services
In this section brief details are recorded about the reason for the referral, or services
requested by, or on behalf of, the family.
It is important to note these details, even when
the services requested cannot be provided, or can not be provided immediately.
16. Further Action
It is important to indicate what action has been taken and what action is planned, by
whom and from which agency.
This includes no further action.
The referral should be
collated with previous referrals and/or files, which should be consulted and
information in them drawn upon as part of the analysis and decision making processes.
The worker who has completed the referral should always sign and date the record.
record should then be passed to the relevant manager to confirm the action
recommended, in accordance with the Social Services Department’s policy.
In order to meet the time scales set out in The Governments Objectives for Children’s
Social Services (1999) an initial assessment should be completed within 7 working days
of the referral being received.
The Initial Assessment covers:
The Child’s Developmental Needs.
These are set out under the seven dimensions
in the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families.
As it is an initial assessment of the child’s needs, some dimensions which are interrelated
have been placed together, for example, Identity and Social Presentation.
Parents’/Carers’ Capacities to Respond Appropriately to the Child’s Needs.
important that parent’s strengths as well as weaknesses are recorded.
which research has shown to affect parent’s ability to respond appropriately to their
child’s needs have been included.
Family and Environmental Factors which have an Impact on the Family.
environment within which children and families live can play an important role in
reducing or increasing the stresses on families, depending on the support available
The purpose of the Initial Assessment is to decide whether the child is a child in need,
the nature of any services required, from where and within what times scales, and
whether a more detailed core assessment should be carried out.
The fact that a decision
is made to carry out a core assessment should not prevent a child or family receiving
services which are necessary to support them.
Reason for Initial Assessment
Brief details of why an Initial Assessment is being undertaken should be recorded in
Parents’/Carers’ Capacities to Respond Appropriately to the
It is important to record the strengths of all parents/carers as well as any areas of
difficulty they are experiencing.
In relation to the issues affecting parent’s capacity
to respond to the child’s needs, research has shown that problems with mental
health, domestic violence, drug and alcohol misuse, a history of childhood abuse or
being a child abuser are likely to affect parenting. It is important to record not simply
that an issue is present but to whom it refers and its effect on parenting capacity.
Family and Environmental Factors
It is important to record factors that support families as well as those that increase
For example, extended family may offer a great deal of support to a young lone
parent, alternatively they may compound their difficulties.
It is also important to
note how family and environmental factors have impact on the child and family.
This section is used to record any actions taken during or on completion of the initial
More than one box may be completed.
For example, a family may be
allocated a specific service, such as sponsored day care in addition to a referral being
made to another agency and a strategy discussion. It is important to remember that if
a core assessment is planned, during the process a family should receive services as
When deciding which services to offer, it is important to take account of
the family’s likelihood of being able to access or choosing to access these services.
Strategy Discussion If at any stage during the process there are suspicions or
allegations about child maltreatment and concern that the child may be suffering, or is
likely to suffer, significant harm there must be strategy discussions and interagency
action in accordance with the guidance in Working Together to Safeguard Children
Immediate legal action to protect the child includes court orders applied for by the
local authority, Police Protection and orders applied for by parents to protect a child,
such as an injunction.
Professional judgement is required to determine whether a Core Assessment is
In some cases more specialist assessment(s) may be commissioned and this
should be recorded. For example, a psychiatric assessment of a parent.
The worker who has completed the Initial Assessment should always sign and date the
The form should then be passed to the relevant manager to confirm the action
A copy of the completed Initial Assessment should usually be sent to
appropriate family members.
All decisions will have to take account of the child’s safety
and whether permission has to be obtained from other agencies to share information.
In some cases it will not be appropriate to include all the initial information.
example where a neighbour made a referral but wished to remain anonymous.
The core Assessment Record is underpinned by the same principles as are in the
Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families and therefore may be
viewed as making a major contribution to the operationalisation of the Framework.
It is important to remember that the Core Assessment Record is a tool, and requires the
skills, knowledge and professional judgement of practitioners and their managers to
use it effectively.
Good tools cannot substitute for good practice, but good practice
and good tools can achieve excellence.
Details Concerning Core Assessment
This records the background details to the core assessment.
The reason(s) the
assessment is being undertaken and details of any specific matters, including disability,
affecting the child.
This section should be completed prior the beginning of the core
assessment and will draw on information already known about the child and family
from the initial assessment or existing records.
Child’s Developmental Needs/Parenting Capacity
This section records information about the child’s developmental needs and the
parents’ capacities to respond to these needs appropriately.
There are two pages for each
developmental need of the child; health, education, emotional and behavioural
development, identity, family and social relationships, social presentation (for children
under five this is combined with identity) selfcare skills (for children under five this is
combined with emotional and behavioural development).
The first part of each section records key needs for each child. A Yes/No box is included
next to each of the key needs.
The purpose of these boxes should be understood clearly.
The Core Assessment Record is not a questionnaire. The Yes/No boxes are included
to ensure that information identified from research as significant for the child’s
development or wellbeing is recorded.
They will assist practitioners and supervisors to quickly identify the key factors in an
assessment. However ticking the boxes alone is not enough.
It is important that further
information is included to provide the context for information which is recorded.
space to record this information is limited.
This is not to encourage practitioners to be
brief, but to be relevant.
Practitioners should consider the significance of information
before it is entered into the record.
Following information about the child’s needs, information about the parents’
capacities to respond appropriately to those needs is recorded.
Parents’ capacities are
detailed across the six areas identified in the parenting capacity domain of the
Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families : basic care;
guidance and boundaries;
Key parenting responses, identified from research, are included for each area.
It is important to record the strengths as well as weaknesses of parents.
Summary, Analysis and Plan
Research, the findings of Inquiry reports and Social Services Inspectorate inspections
have frequently highlighted weaknesses in this area of assessment.
A great deal of time
and effort goes into the information gathering stage.
This results in an assessment that
focuses on describing what is happening.
However, often less attention is given to the
analysis of the information gathered.
Analysis takes the assessment process beyond
surface considerations and explores why particular strengths and difficulties are
present, the relationship between these and the implications of them for the child and
other family members, as well as considering what types of services would best help the
child and family members.
The second part of the Core Assessment Record therefore is
concerned with analysis and planning.
The second part of the record starts with a summary of the needs, strengths and
difficulties identified in each of the domains.
Young people and parents are asked for
This provides an opportunity for them to contribute to the assessment
If possible they should be encouraged to write their views themselves or to
indicate them in some other form of communication, which can then be recorded.
The next section is for practitioners to analyse the significance and consequences of the
needs, strengths and difficulties identified in the assessment. This is a key stage in the
Practitioners should consider the inter-relationship between each
of the domains of the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their
For example, a child’s difficult and demanding behaviour may be a major
contributory factor to a parent’s depression, which may in turn lead to the home
environment being neglected.
It will be helpful to list key protective and stress factors
in each domain and indicate how they relate to those identified in the other domains. It
is important that strengths as well as difficulties are identified.
Parental and family
strengths should be built on and used to inform the plan.
When analysing the
information gathered, practitioners should also evaluate the impact on the child and
family of any services already provided.
Objectives and Plans
This section records the objectives and the actions which are to be achieved to ensure
that all the child’s identified needs are responded to appropriately.
The objectives of the
plan should be specific, measurable and have clear time scales.
The actions should
include those to be taken by the child and family members, social services and all other
relevant agencies. It is important that the child, as appropriate, and family members are
involved in agreeing the objectives and actions to be taken and that they are able to
comment on the plan.
This will enable the plan to serve as a written agreement.
The review of care plans and child protection plans are set out in Volume 3 of the
Children Act 1989 and Guidance and Regulations (paragraphs 2.59 to 2.62) and in
paragraphs 5.90 to 5.95 in Working Together to Safeguard Children (1999) respectively.
It is good practice for children in need plans to be received regularly, at least every six
months (see paragraph 4.36 in Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and
their Families (2000)). There is an outcome section for each objective which should be
completed at the review.
This enables progress to be monitored and any necessary
changes made to the plan.
Using Age-related Records
The Core Assessment Records are age related.
As with the Looking After Children
Assessment and Action Records, social work staff should use the record which relates to
the child or young person’s chronological age.
It is recognised that for some children this may result in some sections of the record
being inappropriate to their needs.
For example, the section of the Education
Dimension which records GCSE results may be inappropriate for a young person with
profound learning disabilities.
However, the preceding question, Young person’s
educational progress is at expected level provides the practitioner with an
opportunity to record the young person’s achievements.
It will also be important to record how the parents respond to the identified needs of the
It must be remembered that the Core Assessment Record is only a tool and requires the
skills, knowledge and professional judgement of the practitioner to use it effectively.
The Core Assessment Record and other Children in the Family
The Core Assessment Record is designed to be completed for each child in need in a
A disabled child may have an impact on other children in a family, and this may
result in siblings requiring support in their own right.
In such situations a professional
judgement will have to be made about whether a Core Assessment Record should be
completed for other children in the family to ensure that support provided is based on a
clear understanding of all the children’s needs.
This dimension is important for disabled children as they may have picked up messages
that to be disabled is ‘wrong’, ‘bad’ or a burden on others. They, therefore, may reject
who they are and lack confidence and self-esteem. Having determined how the child
perceives him or herself, it is important to record how they view their identity as a
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