Single Assessment Process: Overview
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This chapter provides an overview of the Single Assessment Process it outlines the principles of a good assessment and describes the way the single assessment has been structured locally.
AMENDMENTIn July 2018, this guidance was reviewed to ensure it continues to reflect current processes for carrying out Assessments in Derbyshire.
The Single Assessment Process in Derbyshire helps to:
- Ensure the voice of the child is heard and recorded throughout the assessment process;
- Enable a collaborative assessment where children, young people and their families are encouraged to participate;
- Encourage and promote practitioner analysis;
- Strengthen reflective and reflexive social work practice and supervision;
- Strengthen the use of research in social work practice and analysis;
- Recognise the importance of early, and outcome focused, planning in interventions;
- Aid the creating and sustaining of positive relationships with children and families, where the relationship is seen as the context within which change can take place;
- Ensure clarity for children, their families and other involved professionals in relation to the reason for our involvement;
- Promote sustained improvements to the quality of life for children and their families;
- Ensure the assessment process is accessible for all involved;
- Promote transparency at all stages.
2. Principles for Good Assessment
High quality assessments:
- Are child centred. Where there is a conflict of interest, decisions should be made in the child's best interests;
- Are rooted in child development and informed by evidence;
- Are focused on action and outcomes for children;
- Are holistic in approach, addressing the child's needs within their family and wider community;
- Ensure equality of opportunity;
- Involve children and families;
- Build on strengths as well as identifying difficulties;
- Are integrated in approach;
- Are a continuous process not an event;
- Lead to action, including the provision and review of services; and
- Are transparent and open to challenge.
3. The Assessment Process
The assessment process involves gathering relevant information, analysing that information, reaching professional judgements and making decisions and planning intervention. This should take place in partnership with children, families and other professionals. Intervention and service delivery should be founded on good quality assessment which becomes the baseline for further assessment, evaluation and review.
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. And as an essential component of good social work practice, good assessment facilitates the monitoring and recording of the impact of any services delivered to the child and family and aids the review of the help delivered. Assessment is not a standalone event and should be seen as an essential part of undertaking quality social work with children and families. Whilst services may be delivered to a parent or carer, the assessment should be focused on the needs of the child and the evaluation on the impact any services are having on the child.
4. The Assessment Framework Triangle
The assessment triangle in Working Together to Safeguard Children 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 and their parents/carers where appropriate;
- Differences in views about information are recorded; and
- The impact of what is happening to the child is clearly identified.
How the three domains interact with each other requires careful consideration during the assessment. The Assessment needs to address the central or most important aspects of the needs of a child and the capacity of his or her parents or carers to respond appropriately to these needs within the wider family and community context.
5. Focus on the Child
Children should to be seen, listened to and included throughout the assessment process to ensure the child's voice is heard and acted upon. Every child communicates, including young children, it is the practitioner's responsibility to listen and observe verbal and non-verbal communication in all circumstances. 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 so that the best outcomes for the child can be achieved. Any services provided should be based on a clear analysis of the child's needs, and the changes that are required to improve the outcomes for the child.
Children should be actively involved in all parts of the process based upon their age, developmental stage and identity, including the opportunity to say what they think might help them and their families. Direct work with the child and family should include observations of the interactions between the child and the parents/care-givers.
All agencies involved with the child, the parents and the wider family have a duty to collaborate and share information to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child.
6. The Single Assessment Process
The Single Assessment Process incorporates Early Help (Early Help Assessment), Child in Need / Section 17 Assessments (Single Assessments) and Child Protection (Section 47) Assessments (Section 47 Enquiry and Investigation, Assessment or Report to ICPC)
If at any point during the Single Assessment process it becomes evident that a child has suffered significant harm or is at risk of suffering significant harm, workers must follow the Derby and Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Partnership Procedures.
The template for partner agencies to use when completing an Early Help Assessment can be found in the Documents Library.