Qualified Social Workers are able to undertake specialist assessments – Form F’s, Specialist Guardianship, Residence Orders, Core Assessments, Risk Assessment, and Viability Assessments. Reports are presented in standard formats with employees attending panels or court if required. In all assessment work undertaken by the Company, the safety of children and young people shall remain paramount. Assessments undertaken are holistic in their approach and build on strengths while identifying any difficulties. Assessments we carry out are aimed to build on existing or recent knowledge rather than repeating a process of generic or specialist assessment previously undertaken. We use the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and Their Families (Department of Health 2000) which allows for the gathering and analysis of information under the three domains:
- Child’s Developmental needs.
- Parents’ or caregivers’ capacity to respond appropriately.
- Impact of the wider family and environmental factors on parenting capacity and the child.
Our aim is to work alongside the allocated social worker engaging in a multi-agency approach that is systematic and clarifies what is happening to a child or young person within their family and the wider context of the community in which they live. All assessment services are carried out in accordance with the Assessment Framework of Children in Need, BAAF Form Fs, or a Local Authorities specific assessment tool. As practicing social workers, we ensure that assessments integrate theory, research, and practical knowledge to provide an informative child/family-focused assessment and are grounded in evidence. A balanced assessment is vital to inform all those involved with children, young people, and their families. We develop a clear understanding of the family dynamic as well as the child’s needs, to ensure the right services are accessed and children are protected from harm. Assessments we undertake provide the referrer with clear and realistic child-focused recommendations (where requested). Our assessments are of a high professional standard, enabling all those involved with the child and their family to make effective decisions and ensure positive outcomes. The Company provides assessments and full reports in public and private law proceedings.
Kinship/Family Assessments are tools for gathering information about whether or not a specific family member is able to provide care to a child in the short-term and long term.
Kinship/Family Assessments undertaken by the Company will pay close consideration to the contentious issue of contact and the nature of the child’s and Kinship carer’s continued relationship with the birth parent.
Kinship/Family Assessments will where possible include all family members in developing a workable care arrangement for a looked after child.
When is a Kinship/Family Assessment necessary?
A Kinship/Family Assessment is necessary when a child is unable to remain with their parents and alternative short or long-term care arrangements need to be made for the child. It is an expectation that a Local Authority considers members of the child’s extended family as alternative carers before placing the child with un-related foster carers.
A Kinship/Family Assessment is often carried out by social workers in accordance with the Public Law Outline (PLO) in the process of care planning for a child; a Letter of Instruction will be provided by the Local Authority Legal Department highlighting specific areas for consideration within the assessment.
A Kinship/Family Assessment would take 12-16 weeks to complete.
A Parenting/Risk Assessment is a detailed, community based assessment designed to identify potential risks to the child (e.g. sexual abuse, neglect, emotional/physical abuse, drug abuse, domestic violence). The risk assessment relies on information gathered from the child, parents and extended family and professional network.
We seek to achieve the best outcomes for the child by helping parents develop their skills and knowledge through direct observation, providing guidance and assistance and demonstrating practical child care issues.
The Parenting/Risk Assessment collates all the available evidence and information about the child’s situation and sets it out in the form of a comprehensive report making clear and achievable recommendations about if and how the identified risks can be reduced and managed.
When is a Parenting/Risk Assessment necessary?
Parenting/Risk Assessments are undertaken on behalf of local authorities when concerns arise in relation to a parent’s ability to adequately and safely care for their child. Concerns of a child protection nature may come about because the parent has misused drugs or alcohol, they may have mental health issues, a learning disability or there is domestic violence in the parents’ relationship. Taking this into account the child is likely to have been exposed to factors of neglect, physical and emotional and/or sexual abuse the assessment will assess the parents’ capacity and ability to change whilst ensuring the child remains the focus of the process.
We aim to complete a community-based assessment in 12 weeks. Any unavoidable delay to the assessment will be through a process of negotiation.
An assessment with a parent with a learning disability might take longer than 12 weeks to complete.
A Viability Assessment is a preliminary assessment process, usually required when a local authority is seeking to identify alternative child care arrangements for a child who is unable to remain with their parent or carer. The Assessment is concise, informative, and designed to gather information, in a short time frame to determine the suitability of the adult as an alternative carer and the feasibility of further assessment.
When is a Viability Assessment necessary?
A Viability Assessment is necessary when alternative care arrangements need to be considered for a child, for instance, if a member of the child’s wider family puts themselves forward as a carer for the child. A Viability Assessment is necessary to determine the potential carer’s ability and capacity to meet the child’s needs in the long-term as well as the immediate future.
Depending on the degree of urgency we can carry out a Viability Assessment and provide a written report, with recommendations within 7 working days.
An Initial Assessment is a brief assessment of a child’s circumstances following a referral to Children’s Social Care; the purpose of the assessment is to gather more information. It is a local authority’s duty, in accordance with The Children Act 1989, to establish if a child is in need of services when they come to the attention of Children’s Social Care.
An Initial Assessment follows the dimensions of the Department of Health, Assessment Framework.
When is an Initial Assessment necessary?
An initial assessment is necessary when a referral to a local authority indicates that a child is in need of services provided by Children’s Social Care.
An Initial Assessment will determine if a child is in need, what services would assist the child and whether a more detailed Core Assessment needs to be undertaken.
7 working days
A Core Assessment is an in-depth assessment carried out by a Local Authority. Its purpose is to clarify and identify the needs of the child by gathering information to gain a greater understanding of a child’s circumstances. A Core Assessment usually starts at the point at which the Initial Assessment ends.
One of the main principles of a Core Assessment is that it is a multi-agency assessment, incorporating the specialist knowledge of all the professionals working with a child and their family.
When is a Core Assessment necessary?
Core Assessments are undertaken by social workers if a local authority makes the decision to initiate child protection enquiries. This is in accordance with The Children Act 1989 section 47; in addition a Core Assessment may be carried out in relation to a case already open to the local authority when there is a significant change in the family circumstances or new information becomes available.
Core Assessments are undertaken within the required 35 working days
Foster Carer Assessment
BAAF Form F is an assessment tool used by local authorities, independent fostering agencies, and fostering social workers to assess prospective foster carers. Form F covers all of the areas that must be considered during the foster carer assessment process and provides a standardized way of collecting, analyzing, and presenting the information.
When is a Foster Carer Form F Assessment necessary?
Local authorities or independent fostering agencies are required by law to carry out a full assessment of all foster carer applicants before approving them as foster carers.
Foster Carer Form F Assessment takes 4 months to complete.