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1.3.2 Assessments - Local Guidance

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

All local authorities with their partner agencies must develop and publish local frameworks for assessment, which are based on good analysis, timeliness and transparency and proportionate to the needs of the child and their family.

Each child who has been referred into local authority children's social care should have an individual assessment to identify their needs and to understand the impact of any parental behaviour on them as an individual. Local authorities have to give due regard to a child's age and understanding when determining what (if any) services to provide under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989, and before making decisions about action to be taken to protect individual children under Section 47 of the Children Act 1989.

RELATED GUIDANCE

DfE, Working with foreign authorities: child protection cases and care orders. Departmental advice for local authorities, social workers, service managers and children’s services lawyers (July 2014).

International Child Abduction and Contact Unit

Somerset Safeguarding Children Board

Modern Slavery Act 2015

RELATED CHAPTERS

Complaints and Representations Procedure

Local guidance – Joint Working Agreement/Protocol For Homeless 16 and 17 Year Olds

Local guidance – Pathways to Independence Process for 16 and 17 year olds Presenting as Homeless

Children and Young People Aged 0-25 with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Procedure

AMENDMENT

This chapter was reviewed and updated in October 2016 to reflect the outcome of a judgment following an application to remove a child at birth. The judge highlighted ‘good practice steps’ to undertaking assessments and issuing care proceedings in respect of the removal of a child at birth, including the assessment process. (Please see, Somerset Safeguarding Children Board Website). Section 2, Assessing Family Abroad, has also been updated to draw attention to issues relating to Disguised Compliance and a link to the NSPCC factsheet on Disguised Compliance has been added.


Contents

  1. Assessments under the Children Act 1989
  2. Assessing Family Abroad
  3. The Purpose of Assessment
  4. Principles for a Good Assessment
  5. Process and Planning of Assessments
  6. Pre-Birth Assessments
  7. Timescales and Review
  8. Recording
  9. Communication
  10. Focus on the Child/Young Person
  11. Contribution of the Child/Young Person and Family
  12. Contribution of Agencies Involved with the Child/Young Person and Family
  13. Developing a Clear Analysis
  14. Actions and Outcomes

    Appendix 1: Signs of Safety Danger Statement

    Appendix 2: Signs of Safety Practice Framework

    Appendix 3: Signs of Safety Workbook

    Appendix 4: Signs of Safety Framework Case Guidance

    Appendix 5: Guidance on Drawing a Genogram


1. Assessments under the Children Act 1989

Under the Children Act 1989, local authorities undertake assessments of the needs of individual children to determine what services to provide and action to take:

  • A Child in Need is defined under the Children Act 1989 as a child who is unlikely to achieve or maintain a satisfactory level of health or development, or their health and development will be significantly impaired, without the provision of services; or a child who is disabled. In these cases. Assessments by a social worker are carried out under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989. Children in Need may also be assessed under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989, in relation to their Special Educational Needs, disabilities, or as a carer, or because they have committed a crime. The process for assessment should also be used for children whose parents are in prison and for asylum seeking children. When assessing Children in Need and providing services, specialist assessments may be required and, where possible, should be coordinated so that the child and family know what is happening when and have a single plan of action;
  • The need to assess can also include pre-birth situations when a parent(s) own circumstances would give cause for concern that pre-birth, and then post birth, the, child could come within the definition of being a ‘child in need’. (See, Section 6, Pre-birth Assessments);
  • Concerns about maltreatment may be the reason for a Referral to local authority children's social care or concerns may arise during the course of providing services to the child and family. In these circumstances, local authority children's social care must initiate enquiries to find out what is happening to the child and whether protective action is required. Local authorities, with the help of other organisations as appropriate, also have a duty to make enquiries under Section 47 of the Children Act 1989 if they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, Significant Harm, to enable them to decide whether they should take any action to safeguard and promote the child's welfare. There may be a need for immediate protection whilst the Assessment is carried out;
  • Some Children in Need may require accommodation because there is no one who has Parental Responsibility for them, or because they are alone or abandoned. Under Section 20 of the Children Act 1989, the local authority has a duty to accommodate such children in need in their area. Following an application under Section 31A, where a child is the subject of a Care Order, the local authority, as a corporate parent, must assess the child's needs and draw up a Care Plan which sets out the services which will be provided to meet the child's identified needs;
  • Please also refer to Provision of Accommodation to Homeless 16 and 17 year olds Guidance.

Where a child becomes looked after, the assessment will be the baseline for work with the family while the child is in care. Any needs which have been identified must be addressed before decisions are made about the child's return home. An assessment by a social worker is required before the child returns home under the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review England Regulations 2010. This will provide evidence of whether the necessary changes and improvements have been made to ensure the child's safety when they return home.


2. Assessing Family Abroad

An increasing number of cases involve families from abroad, necessitating assessments of family members in other countries. However, the Court of Appeal has pointed out that it might not be professional, permissible or lawful for a social worker to undertake an assessment in another jurisdiction. CFAB advise that enquiries should be made as to whether the assessment can be undertaken by the authorities in the overseas jurisdiction. UK social workers should not routinely travel overseas to undertake assessments in countries where they have no knowledge of legislative frameworks, cultural expectations or resources available to a child placed there, without the permission of the relevant country’s embassy or consulate in the UK. (See DfE, Working with foreign authorities: child protection cases and care orders. Departmental advice for local authorities, social workers, service managers and children’s services lawyers (July 2014) and ‘International Child Abduction and Contact Unit’).


3. The Purpose of Assessment

Whatever legislation the child / young person is assessed under, the purpose of the assessment is always:

  • To gather important information about a child / young person and family;
  • To analyse their needs and/or the nature and level of any risk and harm being suffered by the child / young person;
  • To decide whether the child / young person is a Child in Need (Section 17) and/or is suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm (Section 47); and
  • To ensure support is provided to address those needs to improve the child / young person's outcomes and to make them safe.

Where a child has a disability a good assessment will support professionals to understand whether a child has needs relating to their care or a disability and/or is suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm. The specific needs of disabled children and young carers must be given sufficient recognition and priority in the assessment process, and services and support which address their identified needs.

When working with families, the Social Worker should always maintain an awareness of the possibility of disguised compliance. This is particularly important when evidence of positive change cannot be validated and where a child or young person is not able to provide their views e.g. pre-birth cases, pre-verbal children or where there are difficulties with communication.

Where disguised compliance is suspected, Agencies need to share information amongst themselves around evidence of progress. They must also feel able to challenge each other’s assessments of progress where they are not both seeing the same positive change.

Supervision is crucial in addressing disguised compliance. Within supervision, the supervisor should offer constructive reflection and challenge to practitioners around how they can evidence that positive change is occurring within families. The role of the supervisor/manager is to support the practitioner to maintain an objective view of any reported changes, to ensure that they are meaningful and real.

For more information on disguised compliance, please follow the link below:

Disguised Compliance (NSPCC Factsheet).


4. Principles for a Good Assessment

The Signs of Safety Model (See Appendices) is designed to help workers think their way into and through a child protection case in preparation to take the assessment map to the family and other professionals involved in the case. I.e. consultant/supervisor uses an inquiring (questioning) approach to help the worker ‘map’ or ‘think themselves into and through’ the case using the Signs of Safety framework. By mapping the case, workers can get their assessment out of their head and onto paper, so that the assessment and case plan can be more easily reflected on and developed, both with other professionals and the family.

At its simplest this framework can be understood as containing four domains for inquiry:

  1. What are we worried about? (Past harm, future danger and complicating factors);
  2. What’s working well? (Existing strengths and safety);
  3. What needs to happen? (Future safety);
  4. Where are we on a scale of 0 to 10 where 10 means there is enough safety for child protection authorities to close the case and 0 means it is certain that the child will be (re) abused. (Judgement).

In addition, the assessment triangle in Working Together to Safeguard Children 2015 provides a model, which should be used to examine how the different aspects of the child’s life and context interact and impact on the child. It notes that it is important that:

  • Information is gathered and recorded systematically;
  • Information is checked and discussed with the child / young person and their parents/carers where appropriate;
  • Differences in views about information are recorded; and
  • The impact of what is happening to the child / young person is clearly identified;
  • Where support or services have been identified to meet the needs of the child / young person there should be an outline plan included in the assessment which should be focused on achieving the best outcomes for the child / young person.

An outcome is simply a result or consequence of an action taken, or process. Outcomes describe what will have changed for children as well as their parents as a result of a service intervention or activity. NB. 'Outcomes' are distinct from 'Outputs'; outputs ‘describe’ what the service will do to achieve the outcomes, not what will be done as an activity.

In deciding on outcomes, careful consideration must be given to:

  • Baseline information i.e. what is the current situation and what need or risk exists that will be addressed by the intervention?
  • The specific aim of the intervention i.e. what change(s) are you planning with others for family and other professionals to make?
  • Timely long term and short term outcomes; e.g. what changes are you hoping to see made by the end of a (state time-scale) intervention (state nature of intervention) and what changes do you hope the service will make (given time-scales). Does this fit with the child’s time-scales?
  • Focus on achieving the outcomes people aspire to, rather than service 'inputs' or concerns.

Make sure outcomes are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timed) e.g. the child has contact with family and friends which is positive, or the child is free from abuse, harassment and discrimination and then drill down as to how these can be achieved.

Impact is what difference this makes to the children or young people who are receiving a service e.g. young people report that they now feel more confident sharing issues with staff and they now feel happier at school, or where the care of a child is changing e.g. a parent is taking child to school on a daily basis. An impact is difficult to measure as it doesn’t lend itself to quantitative evaluation simply. However an impact provides the richest and most useful information about what is meaningful change for an individual child or young person/family.

Take the goals as an end point and work back from there to set the outcomes that would need to happen at specific times, to allow the child/young person to move towards their goals. This ensures that no one loses sight of the end goal, but that these goals are broken down into step by step achievements.

Assessment Framework Triangle


Assessment Triangle


Assessment Cycle

Assessment Cycle


5. Process and Planning of Assessments

The Assessment should be led by a qualified social worker supervised by a qualified social work manager.

The date of the commencement of the Assessment will be recorded in the electronic database.

The Assessment process can be summarised as follows:

  • Gathering relevant information;
  • Analysing the information and reaching professional judgments;
  • Making decisions and planning interventions;
  • Intervening, service delivery and/or further assessment;
  • Evaluating and reviewing progress.

Assessment should be a dynamic process, which analyses and responds to the changing nature and level of need and/or risk faced by the child / young person. A good assessment will monitor and record the impact of any services delivered to the child / young person and family and review the help being delivered. Whilst services may be delivered to a parent or carer, the Assessment should be focused on the needs of the child / young person and on the impact any services are having on the child / young person.

All Assessments should be planned and coordinated by a social worker and the purpose of the assessment should be transparent, understood and agreed by all participants. There should be an agreed statement setting out the aims of the assessment process.

Planning should identify the different elements of the assessment including who should be involved. It is good practice to hold a planning meeting to clarify roles and timescales as well as services to be provided during the assessment where there are a number of family members and agencies likely to play a part in the process.

Questions to be considered in planning assessments include:

  • Who will undertake the Assessment and what resources will be needed?
  • Who in the family will be included and how will they be involved (including absent or wider family and others significant to the child / young person)?
  • In what grouping will the child / young person and family members be seen and in what order and where?
  • What services are to be provided during the assessment?
  • Are there communication needs? If so, what are the specific needs and how they will be met?
  • How will the Assessment take into account the particular issues faced by black and minority ethnic children and their families, and disabled children and their families?
  • What method of collecting information will be used? Are there any tools / questionnaires available?
  • What information is already available?
  • What other sources of knowledge about the child / young person and family are available and how will other agencies and professionals who know the family be informed and involved?
  • How will the consent of family members be obtained?
  • What will be the timescales?
  • How will the information be recorded?
  • How will it be analysed and who will be involved?
  • When will the outcomes be discussed and service planning take place.

On the rare occasion if it is determined that a child / young person should not be seen as part of the Assessment, this should be recorded by the manager with reasons.

The parent's consent should usually be sought, before discussing a referral about them with other agencies and consent for these agencies to receive a copy of the completed assessment, unless this may place the child / young person at risk of Significant Harm, in which case the manager should authorise the discussion of the referral with other agencies without parental knowledge or consent. The authorisation should be recorded with reasons in case notes. Please refer to Section 47 Enquiries Guidance.

The qualified social worker should carefully plan that the following are carried out:

  • That the basic demographic information has been obtained and checked for accuracy during the assessment period to include:
    • That parental consent has been given for the referral, except where there is a clear safeguarding issue and the action of seeking consent would place the child at risk of further harm;
    • Full names, dates of birth and gender of the Children;
    • Family address and, where relevant, where each family member is currently living;
    • Where relevant, school / nursery attended;
    • Identity of those with Parental Responsibility and detail of how this was obtained;
    • Names and dates of birth for all members of the household/s the Children living in;
    • Ethnicity, first language and religion of Children and Parents / Carers;
    • Any special needs of the Children including the means in which they communicate.
  • Determine what the parents should be told of any concerns;
  • That the child / young person is seen within the timescale set at point of allocation;
    • The child / young person should be seen by the social worker alone when appropriate and this should be recorded in the C&F Assessment and case note;
    • Consider whether to see the child / young person with the parents;
    • See/interview the child / young person.
  • Interview the parents and any other relevant family members;
  • Ensure that the child / young person's home address has been visited and the child / young person's bedroom has been seen;
  • Determine and consider if other areas of the child / young person’s household should be seen, for example if there are concerns about child / young person’s personal cleanliness and presentation then you may feel that the whole household should be seen;
  • Check Children’s Social Care records for what we already know about this child / young person and their family, compile and analyse a chronology;
  • Consult with referrer to check accuracy of referral details and obtain any additional information not included in original referral;
  • Consult with and consider contributions from all relevant agencies, including agencies covering previous addresses in the UK and abroad;
  • Be informed by other specialist assessments such as the assessment for children with special educational needs and disabled children;
  • Ensure that any specialist assessments are coordinated so that the child and family experience a single assessment and planning process and the plan for the child is inclusive of these assessments;
  • Continually review the impact of the resulting plan in terms of improving the child’s outcomes.

If during the course of the Assessment, it is discovered that a school age child / young person is not attending an educational establishment, the social worker should contact the Education Attendance service to establish a reason for this.

If at any time there is suspicion that a crime may have been committed including sexual or physical assault or Neglect of the child / young person, the Police must be notified immediately.

6. Pre-Birth Assessments

Where risk or vulnerability is identified for children at the antenatal stage, it is crucial that agencies work together to assess risk and offer appropriate support, in a timely manner. For fuller detail of the roles of all agencies in safeguarding Unborn babies, please follow the link below:

Somerset Safeguarding Children Board (SSCB) ‘Multi-agency Pre-birth Protocol to Safeguard Unborn Babies’.

Children’s Social Care should start an assessment as soon as they are made aware of risk or the potential for risk to a child when born. Social Workers need to ensure that they plan for an assessment to be completed prior to the birth of the child, including allowing for the possibility that the child may be born early. The completion of an assessment at an early stage also allows time for parents to address and rectify any risks or deficits in their parenting, prior to the child’s arrival.

In a recent High Court judgment five basic and fundamental good practice steps were set out with respect to public law proceedings regarding pre-birth and newly born children and particularly where Children’s Services are aware of risk at an early stage of the pregnancy.

In respect of Assessment, these were:

  • A risk assessment of the parent(s) should ‘commence immediately upon the social workers being made aware of the mother’s pregnancy’;
  • Any Assessment should be completed at least 4 weeks before the mother’s expected delivery date (local guidance outlining specific timescales for assessment pre-birth is being developed – to follow);
  • The Assessment should be updated to take into account relevant events pre- and post-delivery where these events could affect an initial conclusion in respect of risk and care planning of the child;
  • The Assessment should be disclosed upon initial completion to the parents and, if instructed, to their solicitor to give them the opportunity to challenge the Care Plan and risk assessment.

(See Care and Supervision Proceedings and the Public Law Outline Procedure, Pre-Birth Planning and Proceedings)


7. Timescales and Review

The social worker and team manager will agree the timescale for completion of the C&F Assessment based on the initial analysis. This must be clearly documented including the rationale, in the case notes.

The social worker and team manager will agree the timescale for when each child / young person who is subject of the referral should be seen by the social worker. Most children and young people should be seen within a standard period of three days from the point of allocation to the assessing social worker. Exceptions to this are when they are also subject of a S47 Child Protection Enquiry which is likely to require them to be seen sooner or in the case of an unborn child when the first visit to the family could be made at the maximum period of 10 days from point of allocation. If a child / young person is not going to be seen within 10 days from point of allocation the social worker and line manager should discuss this and the decision and rationale for exceeding the maximum time limits should be recorded in case notes.

The maximum time frame for the Assessment to conclude, such that it is possible to reach a decision on next steps, should be no longer than 45 working days from the point of Referral. If, in discussion with a child and their family and other professionals, an Assessment will exceed 45 working days, the social worker and professionals involved should record the reasons for exceeding the time limit and the social worker should discuss this with their line manager and the decision and rationale for exceeding the maximum time limits, which should be based on exceptional circumstances, should be recorded in case notes.

The Assessment plan must set out timescales for the actions to be met and stages of the Assessment to progress, which should include regular points to review the Assessment. The work with the child and family should ensure that the agreed points are achieved through regular reviews. Where delays or obstacles occur these must be acted on and the assessment plan must be reviewed if any circumstances change for the child.

The social worker’s line manager must review the assessment plan at 10 days from the date of the referral and record a case note of progress and outline actions to be taken and by when if there is not sufficient evidence of progress.

The social worker and line manager must ensure that the assessment plan is reviewed during supervision (in accordance with Somerset’s Supervision Policy).

The line manager should record a ‘Case Management Overview of File’ case note to capture any decisions, informal reviews or informal supervision discussions with social worker during the progress of the assessment.

The authorising manager for the assessment should check the following has been captured in the C&F Assessment:
  • There has been direct communication with the child / young person alone and their views and wishes have been recorded and taken into account when providing services or making recommendations;
  • All the children / young people in the household have been seen and their needs considered;
  • The child / young person's home address has been visited and the child / young person's bedroom has been seen;
  • The parents have been seen and their views and wishes have been recorded and taken into account;
  • The analysis and evaluation has been completed taking into account the reason for referral and any additional worries or concerns that have been discovered during the course of the assessment;
  • The Assessment provides clear evidence for decisions on what types of services are needed to provide good outcomes for the child and family using the Continuum of need and intervention threshold guidance.

A useful comment from ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children 2015’ to bear in mind for all professionals when reviewing progress:

“A high quality assessment is one in which evidence is built and revised throughout the process. A social worker may arrive at a judgement early in the case but this may need to be revised as the case progresses and further information comes to light. It is a characteristic of skilled practice that social workers revisit their assumptions in the light of new evidence and take action to revise their decisions in the best interests of the individual child.”


8. Recording

Recording by all professionals should include information on the child / young person's development so that progress can be monitored to ensure their outcomes are improving. This is particularly significant in circumstances where Neglect is an issue.

Records should be kept of the progress of the assessment on the individual child / young person’s record and in their Chronology to monitor any patterns of concerns.

Assessment plans and action points arising from plans and meetings should be circulated to the participants including the child / young person, if appropriate, and the parents.

The recording should be such that a child / young person, requesting to access their records, could easily understand the process taking place and the reasons for decisions and actions taken.

Supervision records should reflect the reasoning for decisions and actions taken.

Please also refer to Recording Policy and Guidelines.


9. Communication

In planning the Assessment and in providing the parent and child / young person with feedback, the social worker will need to consider and address any communication issues, for example language or impairment.

Where a child / young person or parent speaks a language other than that spoken by the social worker, an interpreter should be provided. Any decision not to use an interpreter in such circumstances must be approved by the Team Manager and recorded.

Where a child / young person or parent with disabilities has communication difficulties it may be necessary to use alternatives to speech. In communicating with a child / young person with such an impairment, it may be particularly useful to involve a person who knows the child / young person well and is familiar with the child / young person's communication methods. However, caution should be given in using family members to facilitate communication. Where the child / young person has had a communication assessment, its conclusions and recommendations should be observed.


10. Focus on the Child/Young Person

Children / Young People should to be seen and listened to and included throughout the Assessment process. Their ways of communicating should be understood in the context of their family and community as well as their behaviour and developmental stage.

Assessments, service provision and decision making should regularly review the impact of the assessment process and the services provided on the child / young person so that the best outcomes for the child / young person can be achieved. Any services provided should be based on a clear analysis of the child / young person’s needs, and the changes that are required to improve the outcomes for the child / young person.

Children / Young People should be actively involved in all parts of the process based upon their age, developmental stage and identity. Direct work with the child / young person and family should include observations of the interactions between the child / young person and the parents/care givers.

All agencies involved with the child / young person, the parents and the wider family have a duty to collaborate and share information to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child / young person.


11. Contribution of the Child/Young Person and Family

The Child / Young Person

The child / young person should participate and contribute directly to the Assessment process based upon their age, understanding and identity. They should be seen alone and if this is not possible or in their best interest, the reason should be recorded. The social worker should work directly with the child / young person in order to understand their views and wishes, including the way in which they behave both with their care givers and in other settings. The following tools maybe useful:

The pace of the Assessment needs to acknowledge the pace at which the child / young person can contribute. However, this should not be a reason for delay in taking protective action. It is important to understand the resilience of the individual child / young person in their family and community context when planning appropriate services.

Every Assessment should be child centred. Where there is a conflict between the needs of the child / young person and their parents/carers, decisions should be made in the child / young person's best interests. The parents should be involved at the earliest opportunity unless to do so would prejudice the safety of the child / young person.

The Parents

The parents’ involvement in the Assessment will be central to its success. At the outset they need to understand how they can contribute to the process and what is expected of them to change in order to improve the outcomes for the child / young person. The Assessment process must be open and transparent with the parents. However, the process should also challenge parents’ statements and behaviour where it is evidenced that there are inconsistencies, questions or obstacles to progress. All parents or care givers should be involved equally in the Assessment and should be supported to participate whilst the welfare of the child / young person must not be overshadowed by parental needs. There may be exceptions to the involvement in cases of Sexual Abuse or Domestic Violence and Abuse for example, where the plan for the Assessment must consider the safety of an adult as well as that of the child / young person.


12. Contribution of Agencies Involved with the Child/Young Person and Family

The parent's consent should usually be sought, before discussing a referral about them with other agencies and consent obtained for these agencies to receive a copy of the completed assessment, unless this may place the child / young person at risk of Significant Harm, in which case the manager should authorise the discussion of the referral with other agencies without parental knowledge or consent. The authorisation should be recorded with reasons in case notes.

Consent should be a transparent process and be specifically obtained for each agency / professional in respect of whether consent is given for the agency / professional to be consulted with as part of the assessment and also whether consent is given for that agency / professional to receive a copy of the completed C&F Assessment.

All agencies and professionals involved with the child / young, and the family, have a responsibility to contribute to the Assessment process. This might take the form of providing information in a timely manner and direct or joint work. Differences of opinion between professionals should be resolved speedily but where this is not possible, the local arrangements for resolving professional disagreements should be implemented.

It is possible that professionals have different experiences of the child / young person and family, and understanding these differences will actively contribute to the understanding of the child / young person / family.

The professionals should be involved from the outset and through the agreed, regular process of review.

The social worker’s supervisor will have a key role in supporting the practitioner to ensure all relevant agencies are involved.

Agencies providing services to adults, who are parents, carers or who have regular contact with children / young people must consider the impact on the child / young person of the particular needs of the adult in question.


13. Developing a Clear Analysis

Research has demonstrated that taking a systematic approach to assessments using a conceptual model is the best way to deliver a comprehensive analysis. A good Assessment is one which investigates the three domains; set out in the Assessment Framework Triangle. The interaction of these domains requires careful investigation during the Assessment. The aim is to reach a judgement about the nature and level of needs and/or risks that the child / young person may be facing within their family.

An Assessment should establish:

  • The nature of the concern and the impact this has had on the child / young person;
  • An analysis of their needs and/or the nature and level of any risk and harm being suffered by the child / young person;
  • How and why the concerns have arisen;
  • What the child / young person's and the family's needs appear to be and whether the child / young person is a Child in Need;
  • Whether the concern involves abuse or Neglect; and
  • Whether there is any need for any urgent action to protect the child / young person, or any other children / young people in the household or community.

The Assessment will involve drawing together and analysing available information from a range of sources, including existing records, and involving and obtaining relevant information from professionals in relevant agencies and others in contact with the child / young person and family. Where an Early Help Assessment (EHA) has already been completed this information should be used to inform the assessment. The child / young person and family’s history should be understood, including the parents perception and experience of being parented and how this will impact on their ability to parent their own children.

Where a child / young person is involved in other assessment processes, it is important that these are coordinated so that the child / young person does not become lost between the different agencies involved and their different procedures. All plans for the child / young person developed by the various agencies and individual professionals should be joined up so that the child / young person and family experience a single assessment and planning process, which shares a focus on the outcomes for the child / young person.

The social worker should analyse all the information gathered from the enquiry stage of the assessment to decide the nature and level of the child / young person's needs and the level of risk, if any, they may be facing. The social work manager should provide regular supervision and challenge the social worker's assumptions as part of this process. An informed decision should be taken on the nature of any action required and which services should be provided. Social workers, their managers and other professionals should be mindful of the requirement to understand the level of need and risk in a family from the child's perspective and ensure action or commission services which will have maximum positive impact on the child / young person's life.

When new information comes to light or circumstances change the child / young person’s needs, any previous conclusions should be updated and critically reviewed to ensure that the child / young person is not overlooked as noted in many lessons from Serious Case Reviews.


14. Actions and Outcomes

Every Assessment should be focused on outcomes, deciding which services and support to provide to deliver improved welfare for the child / young person and reflect the child / young person’s best interests. In the course of the Assessment, the social worker and their line manager should determine:

  • Is this a Child in Need? (Section 17 Children Act 1989);
  • Is there reasonable cause to suspect that this child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, Significant Harm? (Section 47 Children Act 1989);
  • Is this a child in need of accommodation? (Section 20 or Section 31A Children Act 1989).

The possible outcomes of the assessment should be decided on by the social worker and their line manager, who should agree a plan of action setting out the services to be delivered how and by whom in discussion with the child / young person and family and the professionals involved.

The social worker and their line manager should refer to and use the Continuum of Need and Intervention to identify the threshold level and the level of intervention required for each child / young person who is subject of an Assessment. (Please refer to Effective Support for Children and Families in Somerset - Threshold Document). Specific reference must be made to each need identified and how this will be met, by which service, and the threshold level identified.

The outcomes may be as follows:

  • No further action; support can be provided through universal services;
  • No further action; support can be provided through targeted or targeted and coordinated services; single service provision; early help services such as ‘Get Set’ or through the Step Down process;
  • Care Diversion Meeting; to discuss if child / young person should be accommodated by the Local Authority;
  • Provision of Services (s17); The development of a multi-agency child in need plan for the provision of child in need services to promote the child / young person's health and development;
  • Undertaking a Strategy Discussion/Meeting, the Strategy Discussion/Meeting will decide whether a Section 47 Enquiry will commence and whether it will be single or joint agency investigation;
  • Emergency action to protect a child / young person; initiation of legal action, provision of accommodation.

The outcome of the Assessment should be:

  • Discussed with the child / young person and family and provided to them in written form. Exceptions to this are where this might place a child at risk of harm or jeopardise an enquiry;
  • Taking account of confidentiality, provided to professional referrers;
  • Given in writing to agencies involved in providing services to the child with the action points, review dates and intended outcomes for the child stated.


Appendices

Appendix 1: Signs of Safety Danger Statement

Appendix 2: Signs of Safety Practice Framework

Appendix 3: Signs of Safety Workbook

Appendix 4: Signs of Safety Framework Case Guidance

Appendix 5: Guidance on Drawing a Genogram

End