Either you or someone else on your behalf, has asked for help with some difficulties you or your chlld are having which affects your child (or children). Before we can help you, we need to know more about you and your family. This will involve collecting information, talking the issues through with you as we recognise that our decisions need to draw upon your knowledge and understanding. We call this an assessment. The assessment will help us to look at your situation and see what help and support you and your family need and who could give that help.
In some cases, there will be serious concerns about a child’s safety. Making sure that the child is safe is our first concern. Please ask your Social Worker to explain this to you. You have a right to know. An assessment also involves an analysis of that information which means making sense of it and making decisions from what has been learnt.
Types of Assessment
The amount of information gathered by the worker depends on the kind of help being asked for and the nature of the concerns. Because children and families have different types of needs there are different types and levels of assessments.
- Initial Assessment - is a brief assessment usually done in a face to face meeting with you and your child.
- Core Assessment - is a more detailed assessment including the whole family support needs and should be completed within 35 working days.
- Carer’s Assessment - a person with parental responsibility for a disabled child has a right to ask for an assessment of their ability to provide (and continue to provide) care for their child. The assessment should be done in accordance with guidance set out in ‘Framework for assessment of Children in Need and their families’. Parent/Carers are assessed by the DCT as part of their assessment of the child.
Who will be involved in the assessment ?
The main people who will be involved are you, your child if they are old enough and your social worker. The social worker will also want to talk to other staff who know your child, for example a school teacher or health visitor. With your permission we may also want to talk to other family members. Those with parental responsibility have rights to be involved in decisions about their children. Children of sufficient age will also be encouraged to take part.
Not all assessments however, involve meeting with you. For example, when we are contacted for help and it is clear early on that we will take no further action or that we will direct you to another source. In such cases you will usually be informed over the phone.
How will the assessment be done ?
When you ask for a service from Social Services we want to find out more about your family and your child. We will need to see your child some time during this assessment. You can be present when this happens. We will meet with you at least once to talk about:-
- How your child is doing. We may ask about their health, how they are doing at school, their behaviour and whom they have relationships with.
- Your health and whether you are having any difficulties as a parent.
- Your circumstances eg your income, housing and family support.
Once we have this information we will talk to you about how we think we can best help your child. Social Services may offer to provide services or we may put you in touch with another organisation that can help. Your social worker will talk to you about this.
We will also pass on a copy of the assessment to other professionals, for example the health visitor and teacher, especially if they made a referral to Social Services in the first place. If it is decided that your child (or children) is in need and further services are to be offered, then a Core Assessment may take place. Core Assessments are also carried out when there are child protection concerns.
Core Assessments are more in depth assessments where more detailed information is gathered, looking at the wider picture and the child’s needs in the context of their family and wider community. A Core Assessment will involve a number of meetings with you and your child, as well as contacts with other people who know you and your family, for their contributions.
What will happen during my assessment ?
Many things will be considered as part of your child’s assessment of need, for example their age, sex, health, personality, race, culture and life experiences.
Your own needs may be explored too, as you might be entitled to support to help you meet your child’s needs. Some parents caring for children with disabilities may be entitled to an assessment in their own right, called a Carer’s Assessment. You will always be encouraged to take part and have the opportunity to say what you think is best for yourselves and your family.
When other people are already helping you and your family, it is likely that the social worker will need to see them for their views. However, this should be done in a way which helps you have your say and encourages you to take part.
Any information you give to us will be held in confidence within the Social Services Department. If there is a need to discuss this information with anyone else, we will normally ask for your permission. The only exception to this is if information comes to light which, in the social worker’s view, may indicate a serious threat to the well being of your child, or another person. If this is the case, you will be told what your rights are in this situation.
Information will be gathered and written down. This is because it is important from your point of view and ours to have a record of what was said at the time and how decisions were made. Those with parental responsibility and the child when old enough, are entitled to a copy of this assessment record and their views recorded.
What will the assessment cover ?
When completing the assessment the social worker will look at a number of issues that may be affecting your child (or children) and family. The worker will find about the strengths and difficulties in the family by asking questions about:-
- Your family’s situation, including who is employed, money issues, housing, relationships within the family and those who support the family.
- How your children are including their health, behaviour, school and friends, as well as their social and emotional wellbeing.
- The care of the children including how well parent(s) or carer(s) are offering basic care, keeping the children safe, helping them learn, offering guidance and a stable home.
Are my views taken into account ?
Yes, it is important that we know what your views and wishes are. Your views will be considered in deciding how help is to be provided, but because of the demand for services, it may not always be possible to meet your preferences.
We also want to know the views of your child or children. This is an important part of the assessment.
What can I expect ?
When you or someone on your behalf contacts our department, a decision about whether or not to offer an initial assessment will be made within 24 hours.
A professional contacting our department on your behalf will have talked to you and obtained your agreement to involve us, unless the professional has serious concerns about your child.
We will seek your consent before talking to other people and sharing information about you and your child, unless we have concerns about the safety of your child.
A worker will be identified to do the assessment and you will be given the name of the worker:-
- An initial assessment will be completed within 7 working days
- A Core Assessment will be completed within 35 working days
- A copy of the initial and/or core assessment will be sent to you.
What if I do not agree with what the social worker says ?
You will be able to correct any factual errors and, if you do not agree with what the social worker says in the assessment, there will be an opportunity for you to record your point of view on the assessment record.
What happens next ?
Following the initial assessment if it is decided that services should be offered, services will be set up.