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1.3.2 Statutory Assessments (Child and Family Assessments)

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

Every child who has been referred into local authority children's social care should have an individual Single 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. Locally in Newcastle, statutory single assessments are called Child and Family Assessment.

This section should be read in conjunction with sections relating to:

For cases with a foreign element, see also:

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)

Guidance: The International Child Abduction and Contact Unit

RELATED LEGISLATION

Modern Slavery Act 2015

AMENDMENT

In August 2018 Section 6, Involvement of the Child and Their Family was updated to include reference to parents with learning disabilities.


Contents

  1. Assessment
  2. When to Initiate a Child and Family Assessment
  3. Timeliness
  4. Child and Family Assessment and a Single Plan
  5. Guiding Principles for Assessment
  6. Involvement of the Child and Their Family
  7. Significant Harm and Provision of Services
  8. Planning the Assessment
  9. Involvement of Other Agencies
  10. Pre-existing Assessments
  11. Genograms
  12. Chronology (Life Events)
  13. Analysis
  14. Outcomes
  15. The Plan
  16. Arrangements for Children in Specific Circumstances
  17. Recording
  18. Review of the Assessment


1. Assessment

‘Good assessment is a complex activity. It involves the systematic and purposeful gathering of information but is more than simply a process of collecting ‘facts’ (which may, themselves, be disputed). The practitioner needs to know why they are seeking the information in the first place, and then to be able to ‘process’ a mass of multi-faceted and sometimes contradictory material to come to a view about its meaning – including understanding its meaning to the child and to the parents - and to decide how to proceed. This requires a range of knowledge and skills, including the capacity to think analytically, critically and reflectively. Intuition also has a role to play and can, additionally, be helpful in establishing rapport and demonstrating empathy’ (Holland, 2010; Munro, 2008).

Social work assessment of children in need: what do we know? Messages from research DFE 2011.

Assessment involves the methodical collation of information which allows the practitioner to identify, through analysis and evaluation, the risks to, and the needs of, the child(ren) and family. Crucially the Child and Family Assessment undertaken by Children’s Social Care should provide the social worker with a level of understanding about the child and the family context to enable an appropriate plan to be formulated which builds on child and family strengths and addresses the areas requiring change in order to improve the child’s outcomes and keep them safe. Through this process the practitioner will develop an understanding of those factors and indicators which denote the likelihood of success within a timescale appropriate for the child. The Child and Family Assessment process and consideration of such factors will also provide the practitioner with an indication of which services are the most appropriate to be involved with the child and family to meet the identified needs. At its heart, the assessment should hold the child in sharp focus and consider carefully those factors which pose a risk to the child.

Associated plans and the provision of services to the family must be focused on the needs of the child and relate to improving the circumstances in which the child is living. This includes any factors which may indicate that the child is or has been trafficked or a victim of compulsory labour, servitude and slavery. Note: if there is a concern with regards to exploitation or trafficking, a referral into the National Referral Mechanism should be made - see GOV.UK Human trafficking/modern slavery victims: referral and assessment forms.

Assessment is not a one off event. In terms of the child’s journey the assessment is best understood as a picture taken at a moment in time. As such the child’s circumstances will change as a result of maturation, changes in circumstances, and the impact of professional intervention and/or life events. Each change may impact on the child and will require the social worker to reconsider their assessment in light of any such events. It is important that a cycle of assessment planning, monitoring, and review is undertaken throughout the practitioner’s involvement with the child.

Assessment is a dynamic process, which analyses and responds to the changing nature and level of need and/or risk faced by the child. A good assessment will monitor and record the impact of any services delivered to the child 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 and on the impact any services are having on the child.


2. When to Initiate a Child and Family Assessment

An assessment of a child’s needs must be undertaken by a qualified social worker from Children’s Social Care in the following circumstances:

Under Section 47 of the Children Act 1989, the local authority is required to make enquiries to enable it decide whether it should take any action to safeguard and promote the welfare of a child. Where an outcome of a Strategy Discussion /Meeting is that Section 47 Enquiries should be initiated, a Child and Family Assessment led by Children’s Social Care must be started.

Under Section 17 (10) of the Children Act 1989, a child is a Child in Need if:

  1. He/she is unlikely to achieve or maintain, or have the opportunity of achieving or maintaining, a reasonable standard of health or development without the provision for him/her of services by a local authority;
  2. His/her health or development is likely to be significantly impaired, or further impaired, without the provision for him/her of such services; or
  3. He/she is a disabled child.

Where the above criteria are thought to be met, a referral should be made to the Initial Response Service who will consider the need to undertake a Child and Family Assessment by Children’s Social Care. Where such an assessment is deemed appropriate, a Social Worker will complete the assessment within at least 45 working days.

A Child and Family Assessment must also be authorised if new information or concerns are received about a child already open to Children’s Social Care, which indicates that a further assessment should be undertaken. This may be as a result of new concerns coming to light which require consideration by a multi-agency planning meeting or strategy meeting. In such circumstances, the assessment must also be completed within 45 working days.

For Looked After Children who are permanently placed, a review Child and Family Assessment must undertaken every two years to ensure that information and an analysis of the child and their family’s needs are current.

For Looked After Children who are not permanently placed a review Child and Family Assessment must be undertaken every year to ensure that their plan is dynamic.

For Child Protection and Child in Need plans open to the long term social work teams a review Child and Family Assessment must be undertaken every year.

The need to assess can also include pre-birth situations when a mother's own circumstances would give cause for concern that the pre-birth, and then born, child would come within the definition of being a 'child in need'. (See Section 3.1, Pre-birth 'Good Practice Steps'.)


3. Timeliness

As noted above, where a Child and Family Assessment is initiated, a social worker must complete the assessment within a maximum of 45 working days. Depending on the complexity of the case, it is expected that the majority of assessments will be concluded well within this timescale to provide a timely response to families. There should be no delay in the provision of services to meet the needs of families identified during the course of the assessment. and the initiation of a Chid in Need plan should be considered by the Team Manager at each of the checkpoints (7, 20 and 40 days).

Within the assessment timescale for a Child and Family Assessment of 45 working days the following check points should be observed to ensure the circumstances in which the child is living are understood and acted upon in a timely way.

All new referrals that require a Child and Family Assessment will be allocated to a named social worker within 24 hours. Until allocation the Team Manager will be identified as holding case responsibility to ensure decision making and case tracking. The Child and Family Assessment should be led by a qualified and experienced social worker supervised by a highly experienced and qualified social work manager.

When a decision is made to undertake a Child and Family Assessment, the Team Manager will:

  • Allocate assessment to a social worker;
  • Undertake an initial allocation discussion with the social worker, recorded by the social worker on the child’s record, to ensure that the social worker is clear about:
    • What has been allocated;
    • What action is required;
    • The appropriate timescale;
    • How any action will be recorded on ICS;
    • How that action will be reviewed and supervised; and
    • Any agreed action regarding staff safety.
  • Check that all relevant information is available, including, electronic data, papers and historical files (including closed files), up to date Chronology, and updated ICS.

Where an assessment is deemed appropriate under Section 17, a decision regarding timeliness must be agreed between the allocated social worker and the Team Manager on allocation. The presenting circumstances of the referral will provide an indication of urgency and issues of immediate risk for the child and, where necessary, should be evaluated within a Strategy Meeting / Discussion with other agencies who know the child or family.

Check point 1: Within 7 working days following the decision to undertake the assessment.

Check point 2: Within 20 working days following the decision to undertake the assessment.

Check point 3: Within 40 working days following the decision to undertake the assessment.

At each of these checkpoints the Social Worker and Team Manager must:

  • Consider the information that has been gathered and how other agencies have or should contribute: This should include consideration of agencies or services that are currently involved in providing services to the child or family and whose involvement will need to feature in the planning for the child. This is particularly relevant where there are or have been specialist assessments or for example assessments undertaken within Youth Offending Service or Child and Young People’s Services (CYPS);
  • Consider the current circumstances from the perspective of the child(ren);
  • Consider and evaluate the level of parental engagement in the process;
  • Identify information that is not yet known and how this will be gathered;
  • Discuss, on the basis of known information, if services should be provided immediately to improve the outcomes for the child;
  • Consider if a different course of action is needed;
  • Discuss emerging hypotheses and how these will be tested;
  • Discuss and begin to implement a proposed plan for the child; on a Child in Need basis pending the conclusion of the assessment;
  • Consider the need to hold a multi-agency meeting to discuss progress and coordinate involved specialists in the formulation of a single plan;
  • Agree the anticipated timescale for completion;
  • Record the discussion and agreed actions on CareFirst.

The needs of the child should drive the assessment; delay is not in the child’s interest. The period in which the assessment is conducted should not exceed 45 working days from the point of referral, unless an extension is approved by the Team Manager who records the reasons and identifies new time limits. Delays should be related to the needs of the child (for example for the completion of a specialist assessment or piece of direct work). Some assessments will be completed more quickly.

Any assessment which exceeds 45 working days must be reviewed by the Service Manager to ensure the child is being safeguarded. Any assessment exceeding 60 working days must be escalated to the Assistant Director of Children’s Social Care by the service manager with a plan as to how the child is being safeguarded pending assessment and reasons for delay.

Where an assessment under Section 47 is agreed as appropriate the timescale for the completion is 15 working days from the point the decision was made. The assessment should be in sufficient depth so as to identify the immediate safeguarding needs of the child. Where further assessment work is required following the Section 47 this should be completed within the timescale identified above.

3.1 Pre-birth 'Good Practice Steps'

In a High Court judgment (Nottingham City Council v LW & Ors [2016] EWHC 11(Fam) (19 February 2016)) Keehan J set out five points of basic and fundamental good practice steps with respect to public law proceedings regarding pre-birth and newly born children and particularly where Children’s Services are aware at a relatively 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;
  • 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.)


4. Child and Family Assessment and a Single Plan

The interplay between Early Help Assessment and Child and Family Assessment undertaken by Children’s Social Care should be viewed as a continuum in the planning and assessment of the child and their family. In some situations the assessment and plan identified within a Early Help Assessment will need to be stepped up into a Child and Family Assessment and the plan built upon for the purposes of meeting need at a higher level of the continuum of need. Conversely, an assessment and plan established within Child and Family Assessment may no longer be appropriate at that level and should be stepped down to the provision of services at a lower level. The transfer of cases between the various levels should not be fragmented from each other and one should inform the other. Practitioners and line managers should consider whether the current provision of services continues to be appropriately provided at each level. This should be considered as part of the cycle of assessing, planning, monitoring and reviewing.

Where services are thought to be more appropriately provided at a different level - whether this is a step up or down - the circumstances of the child and their family along with the current assessment should be discussed with the family, and the most appropriate service lead. To assist in the decision making reference should be made to the threshold document and the transfer be made via a meeting between the relevant services and where appropriate the family.


5. Guiding Principles for Assessment

All assessments will hold to the following principles:

  1. The child is at the heart of the assessment;
  2. The child’s known or perceived experiences will form the corner stone of plans which will be designed to improve the outcomes for the child;
  3. A working agreement will be made with the family so that they are clear about:
    • Why an assessment is needed;
    • Who will undertake the assessment;
    • How the assessment will be conducted and who needs to be involved;
    • The anticipated timescale;
    • What is expected and what can be expected from whom, including the parents.
  4. Assessments will be concluded within a timescale that ensures the needs of the child are understood and are addressed in accordance with identified need;
  5. Assessments will be conducted openly and honestly with children and their families and will actively involve them in the assessment and planning process;
  6. Assessments will take due consideration of the context within which the child lives, the views and wishes of the child and their carers, and be conducted in such a way so as to facilitate their involvement and engagement;
  7. Assessments will identify strengths as well as areas of concern;
  8. Assessments will be evidence based and where appropriate reference current research in support of the conclusions reached;
  9. Assessments will include information from other professionals as appropriate and be integrated in approach;
  10. Where there is more than one child the assessment process will specifically consider each child individually;
  11. Areas of disagreement will be taken seriously and considered with the family. The child and family will have information that informs them how to make a complaint;
  12. Assessments will result in a single plan designed to coordinate professional intervention;
  13. Plans will be reviewed with the family and their effectiveness monitored.


6. Involvement of the Child and Their Family

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

The Child

  • Consider whether to see the child with the parents;
  • The child should be seen by the lead social worker without their caregivers unless there are compelling reasons not to do so and this should be recorded in the Assessment Record; The use of child friendly tools to assist the child in articulating their views should be considered at this stage. Signs of Safety tools: Words and Pictures; or Three Houses will provide evidence that the views of the child have been sought;
  • Determine what the parents should be told of any concerns;
  • Consult with and consider contributions from all relevant agencies, including agencies covering previous addresses in the UK and abroad.

The Parents

  • Establish if there are any communication issues;
  • Seek parental permission to discuss the referral with other agencies, unless this may itself place a child at likelihood of suffering Significant Harm and if this has not already been done. Consent is always required when the assessment is undertaken under Section 17 of the Children Act;
  • If consent is refused a professional judgment should be made as to whether it is in the child’s best interests to proceed with enquiries;
  • Record the consent, or refusal, on the Children’s Social Care Consent Form, a copy of which should be kept on the child’s record;
  • Explain clearly to the family what is going to happen and on what grounds and provide relevant information regarding the assessment process, the investigation process and the Complaints Procedure (see What to do if you want to make a Complaint, Comment or Suggestion).

The child and their family have the most vital role in the process of assessment. Their agreement is required and they must understand the purpose of the assessment and who is to be involved. When families are reluctant to work with Children’s Social Care, the social worker will need to work proactively with the family in their child’s interests. 

Consideration should always be given to the involvement of absent parents in the assessment as their perspective may be essential to obtain an accurate analysis. It is important that the views of both parents inform the assessment. If the views of both parents have not been included in the assessment, an explanation for this omission must be included in the assessment.

The social worker completing the assessment must have an understanding of the child’s perspective of his or her life and what is or has happened. The views and the wishes of the child must be heard. To do this, the child should be seen alone and if this does not happen the reasons why must be recorded. Such information will form a part of the assessment.

Children must be helped to communicate with the social worker to capture their views and this can take many forms including the use of tools to communicate with children for example, Three Houses. Work completed with children must be uploaded on to Total View and included in the assessment document. Work completed by children should also be presented to the Child Protection Conference, if appropriate.

The dates and the detail of the social worker visits to the child and the family to undertake the assessment must be clearly recorded on Care First, and must specify whether the child has been seen alone. On those exceptional occasions where the child has not been seen alone, the reasons for this must be recorded on Care First.

In planning the Child and Family Assessment and in providing the parent and child with feedback, the social worker will need to consider and address any communication issues, including communication difficulties and language.

Where a child or parent with disabilities has communication difficulties it may be necessary to use alternatives to speech.

In communicating with a child with such an impairment it may be particularly useful to involve a person who knows the child well and is familiar with the child's communication methods. However, caution should be given in using family members or friends to facilitate communication. Where the child has had a communication assessment, its conclusions and recommendations should be observed. See also Section 15, Arrangements for Children in Specific Circumstances.

Children must be helped to communicate with the social worker to capture their views and this help can take many forms including use of tools for communicating with children. Assessments with children whose ability to communicate is limited, need to identify ways of independently identifying their wishes and feelings without an over dependence on the analysis of their carers.

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

Where the parents have learning disabilities, it may be necessary to adapt communications to meet their needs – for further information, see the Newcastle Safeguarding Children Board Procedures Manual, Children at Risk where a Parent has a Learning Disability Procedure and Good practice guidance on working with parents with a learning disability (2007) updated 2016.

In some cases a Child and Family Assessment may be started but the parents or child may decide to withdraw their cooperation or move away before all the information had been gathered. In such cases, subject to the paragraph below regarding Section 47 Enquiries, the team manager may consider the Assessment to be completed. In such circumstances, the team manager must record this decision, together with the reasons and ensure that the decision is shared with the parent and child (depending on his or her understanding) and other agencies involved. Services provided during the Assessment process may still be provided or arranged.

Where a Section 47 Enquiry is being conducted as part of the Child and Family Assessment and the parents or child withdraw their cooperation or move away, the Assessment cannot be considered to have been completed unless the team manager is satisfied that arrangements are in place to safeguard the child concerned. The response may include:


7. Significant Harm and Provision of Services

If at any point of the assessment, a concern arises that the child is likely to or is suffering Significant Harm, a Strategy Meeting must be convened. This meeting must consider any steps that need to be taken to provide immediate protection of the child. See Newcastle Safeguarding Children Board Procedures Manual, Strategy Discussion / Meeting Procedure. This should also be considered if there is a difficulty with the parents or carers frustrating access to themselves and particularly the child. In these circumstances legal advice as well as a strategy meeting should be sought to agree welfare checks with other agencies including the Police and rights of access.

7.1 Conducting Section 47 Enquiries / Assessments

This section should be read in conjunction with Newcastle Safeguarding Children Board Procedures Manual, Section 47 Enquiries (Initial Investigation) Procedure.

The Child and Family Assessment is the means by which a Section 47 Enquiry is carried out. The objective of the Section 47 Enquiry is to determine whether action is required to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child. The decision to initiate a Section 47 Enquiry will be taken by the team manager after a Strategy Discussion/Meeting and where such a decision is made the Section 47 Enquiry must be completed within 15 working days.


8. Planning the Assessment

The social worker should convene an Assessment Planning Meeting the start of the Assessment.

The planning meeting should consider the following:

  • The timescale for the various elements of the assessment, enabling it to be completed within the required timescale agreed by the social worker and team manager on allocation;
  • Has the issue of consent been discussed and obtained?
  • The areas to be focused upon within the assessment;
  • Who will undertake the assessment and what resources will be needed?
  • Who in the family will be included and how will they be involved?
  • In what groupings will the child and family members be seen and in what order?
  • Are there communication issues, if so, how will these be met?
  • What methods of collecting information will be used?
  • Where will particular assessment tasks take place?
  • How will information be recorded?

The need for any specialist assessments should be considered.

Participants at the Planning Meeting should include agencies or individuals who will contribute to the assessment, including the family and child, where appropriate. Consideration of a Signs of Safety consultation to map out the family’s strengths and needs should be undertaken at this stage.


9. Involvement of Other Agencies

If during the course of assessment, it is discovered that a school age child is not attending an educational establishment, the social worker should contact the local education service to establish a reason for this.

If there is suspicion that a crime may have been committed including sexual or physical assault or neglect of the child, the Police must be notified immediately.

While Children’s Social Care retains the responsibility for the completion of the assessment, it is the duty of any agency who knows the child and the family to contribute to the process. This contribution will vary depending on the circumstances of the child; it can include the provision of information and services. Agencies who contribute to the assessment should be involved in its planning, review and analysis. Contribution from the following agencies should always be considered:

  • Police (whether or not an offence has been committed);
  • Health, especially in relation to the child’s development and the family history;
  • Education, including where relevant, pre-school and further/higher education.

Other agencies and organisations may need to be asked to contribute to the assessment process, depending on the circumstances of the child and their family. This may include agencies which work with adults, for example where parents or another adult living in the household have drug, alcohol or mental ill health problems or learning difficulties or where there is domestic abuse or violence. Professionals who are primarily providing a service to the child’s parents or carers have a vital role to play in developing an understanding of the parent’s capacity and capability and they have a duty to participate in the process of assessment.

In more complex cases, i.e. those assessments which continue beyond the first 10 day check point The expectation is that by at least Day 25 before the next checkpoint of an assessment a multi-agency meeting will take place to co-ordinate the plan for the child and their family. This is to ensure that all relevant information is shared between partner agencies to inform the assessment and to develop a multi-agency plan. A Signs of Safety consultation should be considered for use at that meeting.


10. Pre-existing Assessments

Where there is a pre-existing assessment conducted by a partner agency such as a Early Help Assessment this should be used to inform the assessment, although it should be clear that the information must be up-to-date and when the child was seen, wherever possible. If not, the reasons why the child was not seen should be included in Early Help Assessment.

The social worker conducting the assessment must collate information from other pre-existing assessments such as a CYPS or a consultant paediatrician in relation to a child’s specific health needs for example. Collating such assessment information will help the social worker understand the child’s needs, assessment analysis and decision making.

Particular care needs to be taken in relation to new assessments of disabled children and those who are being assessed in relation to Special Educational Needs (SEN). The experience of these children and their families is often that they have been subjected to many assessments which gather the same information over and over.


11. Genograms

Every assessment must be informed by an up-to-date Genogram which provides detail about immediate and extended family members and significant persons. Genograms should be completed with the family's participation. The hand written version of the Genogram completed with the family must be uploaded onto Total View with a note recorded in activities on CareFirst, to reference that the Genogram has been completed and is available on Total View. All Genograms should be typed up and uploaded on to Total View with the handwritten version. An up-to-date Genogram agreed with the family should be appended to the social worker's report for child protection conferences.


12. Chronology (Life Events)

Every assessment must be informed by an up-to-date Chronology of historical information regarding the family held by Children’s Social Care, including decisions on further action and referrals which resulted in no further action by Children’s Social Care. This captured via Life Events on Care First. If there is a pre-existing chronology this must be uploaded on to Total view and referenced in Life Events.


13. Analysis

It is the social worker’s responsibility to analyse all the information gathered from the enquiry stage of the assessment, decide the nature and level of the child's needs and the level of risk, if any, they may be facing.

During the course of the assessment the social worker should ask if the parents misuse drugs or alcohol, mental health or any other known issues, and record the response even if information and evidence from elsewhere suggests otherwise.

Using an up to date Chronology on Life Events, the assessment must include an up to date analysis of historical information regarding the family held by Children’s Social Care, including decisions on further action and referrals which resulted in no further action by Children’s Social Care. Consistent with the Regional Assessment Framework (to follow), the assessment will constitute of four domains.

Click here to view the Assessment Diagram

  1. Child’s development needs as they relate to:
    • Their Health;
    • Their education;
    • Their emotional and behavioural development;
    • Their identity;
    • Their family and social relationships;
    • Their social presentation;
    • Their self-care abilities and skills.
  2. Parenting Capacity as it relates to the care given to the child:
    • Their ability to provide basic care;
    • Their ability to ensure the child is safe;
    • Their ability to give and demonstrate emotional warmth;
    • Their ability to provide appropriate stimulation;
    • Their ability to provide appropriate guidance and boundaries;
    • Their ability to provide the child with stability and security.
  3. Family and environmental factors as they relate to the child in the context of:
    • Who’s who and significant in the family;
    • The community and community resources;
    • The family’s social integration in the community;
    • The family’s income, employment and housing;
    • The extended family network;
    • The family’s history and how they function as a family.
  4. Risk analysis and evaluation that:
    • Evidences concerns and strengths and considers each individually and how they do or might interact with each other;
    • Judges likelihood of harm and the severity of any harm on the child over a specific period of time. Known harm and likely harm should be weighted in terms of significance and probable impact on the outcomes for the child;
    • Evidences the parent/carer’s ability to ensure the child is protected from physical, emotional, sexual harm and neglect;
    • Demonstrates an understanding of causal factors and impact on the child now and in the future should nothing change;
    • Provides an evidenced opinion regarding the potential for sustained change in keeping with the child’s timescale;
    • Expresses an evidenced opinion on parental cooperation and motivation to change.


14. Outcomes

On conclusion the social worker should:

  • Analyse information gathered from the family, Children’s Social Care records, including historical and paper files, and other agencies;
  • Write up, with recommendations for future services (if any) clearly made;
  • Where the child is old enough and has an appropriate level of understanding consider and record his/her views;
  • Discuss the conclusion of the Assessment with their Team Manager and agree what further action is needed;
  • Sign and date the Assessment Record;
  • Ensure that the end date is entered onto ICS once the Child and Family Assessment has been completed;
  • Share and supply a copy of the Assessment with the family including the child, if appropriate and preferably in person. Share with other family members if appropriate, and agreed by the child and family. The date that this information is shared with the family and child must be recorded on CareFirst;
  • If the family are to receive further services provide them with the Child Plan which must be completed with them;
  • Parents and, if appropriate, the child/young person should sign the Child Plan;
  • Inform other relevant agencies of the outcome.

The Team Manager will:

  • Discuss the conclusion of the Child and Family Assessment with the social worker and agree what further action is needed;
  • Ensure that the Assessment has been completed to a satisfactory level;
  • Sign and date the Assessment document;
  • The Chronology /Life Events has been be set up or updated;
  • Ensure the social worker has completed the above actions;
  • Decide on any further services;
  • Ensure that the end date is entered onto ICS, once the Assessment has been completed.

There are 4 potential outcomes from an Assessment, which must be authorised by the Manager:

  1. That there are indicators that the child is suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm, in which case a Strategy Discussion/Meeting must be conducted with a view to incorporating a Section 47 Enquiry. If there are indicators that immediate action is required to protect the child, consult the Duty Manager and consider Police Protection, applying for an Emergency Protection Order or arranging for the child to be Looked After. If the outcome of a Section 47 Enquiry is that the child(ren) has suffered or is likely to suffer Significant Harm and following the decision of the Strategy Meeting that an Initial Child Protection Conference is convened, this should be done within 15 days of the Strategy Meeting which identified the need for the Section 47 Enquiry;
  2. If it appears appropriate for the child to be Looked After, (see Threshold Criteria for Looked After Children Procedure);
  3. That there are indicators that the child has other high level needs other services should be provided through a Complex Child in Need Plan;
  4. That the child is not a Child in Need or has low level needs requiring the provision of information, signposting to another agency and/or no further action. This can include a referral or re referral to services provided under the Early Help.

If the child is Looked After, other records must be completed (see Threshold Criteria for Looked After Children Procedure).


15. The Plan

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. 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 regularly with the social worker and ensure that actions such as those below have been met:

  • There has been direct communication with the child alone and their views and wishes have been recorded and taken into account when providing services. Signs of Safety tools: Words and Pictures; or Three Houses will provide evidence that the views of the child have been sought
  • All the children in the household have been seen and their needs considered;
  • The child's home address has been visited and the child'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;
  • The assessment provides clear evidence for decisions on what types of services are needed to provide good outcomes for the child and family.

Every Child and Family Assessment will be focused on outcomes, including which services and support to provide to deliver improved welfare for the child and reflect the child’s best interests. The assessment outcomes should be decided by the social worker and line manager, who should also agree a plan of action setting out the services to be delivered, how and by whom with clear timescales. The plan should be discussed in a multi-agency meeting who will form either the Team around the Family or Care Team depending on the outcome of the assessment. The outcome of the assessment should be discussed with the child and family and the outcome also provided to them in written form. Exceptions to this are where this might place a child at risk of harm or jeopardise an enquiry.

Partner agencies who have been involved in the assessment should also be informed of the outcome in writing. Where they are involved in providing services to the child, this information should clearly state action points, review dates and intended outcomes for the child, as agreed between them and the social worker.

To this end any plan formulated following any assessment should be clear about the following:

  1. What type of plan it is e.g. Early Help Assessment or CWCN; CP. LAC, and what other plans it incorporates;
  2. A summary of the main findings of the assessment as they relate to the child and their circumstances;
  3. A list of professionals and services involved in the plan and the name and profession of the lead worker;
  4. A clear statement about what the concerns are and the likely impact on the child if their circumstances are not addressed;
  5. A clear indication of what the intended outcomes for the child are;
  6. What services and work will be provided in order to achieve the identified outcomes;
  7. Who is responsible for each aspect of the services/work to be provided;
  8. The period of time- linked to the identified needs of the child- that each aspect of the plan is intended to cover with a clear indication of when improvements must be in evidence;
  9. The expectations and responsibilities placed on family members;
  10. Identified review points;
  11. A contingency plan.


16. Arrangements for Children in Specific Circumstances

Disabled Children

All disabled children are Children in Need and they can be referred to Children’s Social Care in the same way as other children. Where a referral relates to a family group of children one of whom is disabled, the Children with Disabilities Team will advise the social worker in IRS about any specialist issues. All other referrals of disabled children will be assessed by the Children’s Disability Team who will undertake the Child and Family Assessment. See Children with Disabilities Team: Access to Services Eligibility Criteria.

Young Carers

All children who provide care to adult family members are entitled to an assessment in their own right. This may be provided through a Early Help Assessment but this may be provided by IRS if there are concerns about the needs of the child.

See Young Carers Procedure.

Children and young people who commit offences

All children and young people who commit offences are referred to the Youth Offending Service which provides the primary service to this group. However, if it becomes apparent that such children may require additional services or that they are suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm, the Youth Offending Service will make a referral to Children’s Social Care. See Protocol between Newcastle Youth Offending Team and Newcastle Children's Services Directorate.


17. Recording

Recording should include information on the child'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’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, if appropriate, and the parents.

The recording should be such that a child, 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.


18. Review of the Assessment

The Review Child and Family Assessment document will be completed on every open case to Children’s Social Care i.e. those children and young people who are deemed to be a Child in Need, Child Protection or a Looked After Child, within twelve months of completion of the previous Child and Family Assessment. If the Child and Family Assessment was completed pre- birth a Review Child and Family Assessment must be completed within six months of the child’s birth.

See also, Newcastle Safeguarding Children Board Procedures Manual, Child and Family Assessment Procedure.

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