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Assessments Explained.

10 Feb 2019

Different assessment. 

There are many different types of Assessments, Here are just a few 

Initial Assessment.

A section 47 Assessment.

Early help Assessment.

Team around the family Assessment.

Pre-Birth Assessment.

Child and Family Assessment.

Parenting Assessment.

Risk Assessment.

viability assessment. connected persons assessment.

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11 Feb 2019

All Assessments carried out by the Local Authority follow this structure.

Genogram ....

Every assessment must include an up-to-date Genogram which provides detail about immediate and extended family members and significant connected people. Genograms should be completed with the family's participation. An up-to-date Genogram agreed with the family should be appended to the social worker's report for child protection conferences.

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. If there is a pre-existing chronology this must be referenced in Life Events.

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.

During the course of the assessment the social worker should ask if the parents misuse drugs or alcohol, mental health illness 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.

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 how significant they are with 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.

They will evaluate and weigh up all evidences, concerns, and strengths, and consider each individually and how they 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.

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

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.

If it appears appropriate for the child to be Looked After, (see Threshold Criteria for Looked After Children Procedure).

If there are indicators that the child has other high level needs other services should be provided through a Complex Child in Need Plan.

If 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.

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10 Feb 2019

The Child and Family Assessment Explained.

The Child and Family Assessment 

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22 Jan 2019

Special Guardianship orders Explained. 

Special Guardianship assessments

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22 Jan 2019

Fostering assessments Explained. 

Fostering Assessment

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14 Jan 2019

Parenting Assessments Explained. 

Parenting Assessments

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20 May 2019

Section 37 reports Explained. 

What is a section 37 Enquiry .....

A section 37 enquiry can be ordered by the Courts during public law proceedings but are mostly ordered by the Courts in private law proceedings.

The court may become concerned about a child's welfare during a Court case in family proceedings of private law. When ordering Section 37 Report, the court is asking the local authority to consider whether there should be further steps taken in order to protect the child. The local authority has a duty to make these enquiries under Section 37(2) of the Children's Act 1989. The professional carrying out this enquiry should report there findings to the court within an 8 week timescale.

Specifically the local authority is asked to consider whether:

• They should apply for a Care Order or a Supervision Order – if this is decided then it will usually go through the legal planning process with a Legal Gateway Planning meeting and then they will start Public Law Outline (PLO) Proceedings. Remember Care Orders or Supervision Orders can only be made in Care Proceedings.

• Provide services and assistance to the child and there family.

• Take any other action in respect of the child.

No parties involved in Court Proceedings can apply for a Section 37 direction, but parties can suggest one to be carried out to the courts. When a professional is carrying out a section 37 enquiry the child should always be visited and seen when possible and they should consult and update all the professionals who are involved.

Serious consideration needs to be given to any concerns that meet the threshold criteria and a meeting to establish if any Safeguarding Procedures or Strategy Discussion need to be implemented and put into place to protect the child.

The report must include the full assessments carried out on the family and all the findings from these assessments they must cover the key areas that the court has asked for guidance on.

This should include:

• The work covered for the assessment, e.g. who has been assessed and who they have spoken to.

• Any conclusions such as whether the child is suffering significant harm while in the care of there parents,

• Any risk of/or suffering any significant harm because of Domestic Violence or Abuse or lack of care by the parents because of this, Section 31(2).

• The reasons for any decision not to apply for an order.

Or....

If they decide to start care proceedings then get legal advice immediately if you are a victim of domestic violence then you are automatically entitled to free legal aid. If they tell you that you do not need legal representation at this time do not listen to a word of this absolute nonesence go get yourself a solicitor as soon as possible.

• They must Detail all service and professionals providing assistance to the child and there family, especially cases involving Domestic Violence or Abuse.

• They must state whether the case will be reviewed or not by the courts or the local authorities and when this will take place.

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14 Jan 2019

Section 7 report's Explained. 

 what is a section 7 report ....

Under the Childrens Act 1989, section 7, when an application is made to the Courts by one or both parents under the Children's Act 1989, section 8, for any of the following...

• A Child's Arrangements Order.

• Prohibited Steps Order.

• Specific Issues Order.

• Family Assistance Order.

A section 7 is also known as a welfare report. It is requested by the Judge in private law proceedings when the courts need more information on a child's welfare to decide what course of action is best for your your child.

A section 7 report is requested when.....

• There is a case of domestic violence or abuse, the Courts will request a "safety and risk assessment" This should only be carried out by a qualified and accredited professional.

• When the social worker hasn't spoken to the local authorities legal team or no Children's Guardian has been appointed to the child because the child hasn't been made a party to the proceedings. However if the case involves Domestic Violence or abuse then the child is entitled to there own legal representation, depending on the seriousness of the case.

A Section 7 report is carried out by the families social worker if children's services are already or have been previous involved with the family in the past. If not the Court will refer the family to CAFCASS where they will be allocated a CAFCASS worker .

Families disagree usually when a couple separate and they can't agree between themselves or it might be if parents and grandparents can't agree on what's best for the child. Feelings can often run very high. This usually happens because parties can't solve the problems between themselves, even with or without the help of a mediation service or a solicitor.

Social workers are asked by a parent/relative who is considering making an application for a Section 8 Order if they will support the application. A decision to support the application can only be made if a full assessment of all the parties involved have been completed aswell as the child's wishes and feelings being noted and taken onboard.

If the Courts have ordered a Section 7 report to be carried out, the professional carrying out the section 7 report must look at the Court Order, which will have been sent to them by the Court. This will tell them what particular area the Court is asking for the report to concentrate on. The professional can comment on other areas of concern if they feel they are relevant to the case.

Importantly, they must check whether the request for the Section 7 Report requires a response to Domestic Violence or Abuse. Or comes following a Finding of Fact Hearing of Domestic Violence or Abuse. They must ensure the Judge's findings and directions are fully read.

The reason the Courts ask for a Section 7 report to be carried out is to provide the Court with more information or advice as to what (if any) Orders should be made for the best interests of the child's welfare. It is not their role to resolve disputes between parties, but they may identify and get the opportunity to help the parties to reach an agreement.

The Court's request for a section 7 report will be contained within the Court Order. This will be sent to the local authorities Legal Team who will forward this onto your Multi Agency Service Hub (MASH). MASH will then alert your allocated social worker if you have one already or they will do a new referral to children's services. If the children are already  under the local authorities the report should be completed by the allocated social worker.

In Private Law proceedings the professional carrying out the section 7 report must start their report with the presumption that you are competent parrnts and the problem is that you cannot agree about certain matters, the issues about where the child lives and contact issues regarding the child. They are not there looking for grounds to test significant harm but they may be required to evaluate harm and risks to the children or their parent / carer, where there are issues of Domestic Abuse. Neither are they there looking for the Local Authority to share parental responsibility. However, the fact that the Local Authority is involved with the child would indicate that there are concerns about the child so these should be clearly stated in their report.

The Court usually sets a timescale of 12-16 weeks for the work to be completed. The deadline for submission of the report to the Court will be specified in the Court Order. It is important that the report is filed directly to the court and they stick to the timescale set out by the Judge. Where there are reasons for delay, such as repeated failed appointments by the parties involved, the court must be notified, in writing. The letter should indicate a revised timescale for completion.

They must keep all parties aware and updated of their emerging conclusions so that the report does not contain surprises. Once they have completed there report they must clearly explain and provide you with the information on how you can request a full copy of there report either through the Court or through your solicitor. There report should be filed 14 days before the Hearing.

14 Jan 2019

Assessing Parents with complex needs Explained. 

In many cases in which there are concerns about a child welfare, parents will be facing at least one of the following issues domestic abuse substance misuse mental health problems and/or learning difficulties.

Such cases will always require specific in-depth assessment of the impact of these issues on parenting capacity............

Parent(s) please always try and get support in these circumstances.  Try and get an advocacy service to help you.

Asking the following questions may provide insight when assessing risks posed by domestic abuse

how are arguments settled?

what happens when you agree or disagree?

what happens when your partner gets angry?

have you ever felt frightened or threatened by your partner?

It is unhelpful to place all responsibility for a child protection on the non abusive parent without addressing the problem of the abusive partner. It is therefore important to engage both parents in the assessment

Social workers/Practitioners  must be cautious in threatening care proceedings if a parent does not leave an abusive partner. This fails to recognise the complexity of an abusive relationship and the dangers inherent in leaving..

Practitioners must therefore identify ways in which the abuser can be engaged in assessment and treatment programmes

Practitioners should remember that men can be victims and women can be perpetrators of domestic abuse

Substance misuse.

Substance abuse does not inevitably affect parenting capacity. However the social, legal and financial pressures associated with substance misuse make it more difficult to parent adequately

There are a number of barriers to carrying out effective parenting assessments including the denial and stigma of addiction. This can also influence practitioners, so all parents should be aware of this.

Assessments must focus on children needs and ways in which parents may be unable to meet these needs due to their addiction.

Mental health problems..

Reviews of serious case reviews have noted an association between mental health problems and the risk of serious harm for children, according to research. However, factors linked to mental health problems such as poverty and social exclusion can also adversely affect outcomes for the child.

Mental health problems such as depression can inhibit parents ability to respond to their children emotional cues and offer consistent care.  Maternal insensitivity, commonly caused by depression, can either be intrusive and hostile or withdrawn and disengaged. This can cause children distress and damage their social and emotional development this is why mental health issue’s are used so much in the court.

The stigma attached to mental health problems can lead to delays in disclosure. Practitioners and parents can also struggle to recognise and understand mental health symptoms.

During the assessment, practitioners need to focus on how mental health issues are affecting day-to-day parenting capacity. They also need to remember that mental health problems can fluctuate over time - sometimes over the course of a day.

For example, a depressed mother may function better in the evening than in the morning. For this reason, they should visit more than once, at different times of the day. It is important to note that due to the remitting and relapsing nature of some mental illness, parents will require more support at some times than at others, so the offer of support should be the first thing social services should be providing.

Learning disabilities...

Identified parental learning disabilities as a risk factor in child neglect. They concluded that "neglect appears to occur as a result of acts of omission rather than commission". For this reason parent education and skills teaching must be an integral part of any intervention. However, professionals must guard against what have termed the presumption of incompetence which leads them to assume that parents cannot cope solely because they have learning difficulties.

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Comment:
14 Jan 2019

Connected Person Assessments Explained. 

Connected Persons Assessment......

The following questions are what you will be asked while carrying out the connected persons assessment.

Section 1

A brief description of the child/young person

question:

Could you give me a brief description of (child)?

Just the first things that comes into your mind when you think of him/her.

Section 1, A description of the child/young person guidance,

These questions are intended to ‘surprise the unconscious', so the prospective guardian should be

encouraged to describe the first thing that comes in to their mind about the child. Encourage brief responses to avoid straying on to other subjects of the interview.

Strengths in the relationship might be indicated by:

• The prospective guardian should be able to provide a description that is detailed and is specific to this child.

• The prospective guardian shows warmth, interest and pleasure in the child.

• Description is balanced in terms of strengths and difficulties of child.

Difficulties in the relationship might be indicated by:

• The prospective guardian can provide only vague, generalised information (for example ‘just an ordinary little girl').

• The prospective guardian is ‘cool', detached, disinterested in child. Or indicates hostility, sees child as a burden, or appears frightened of the child.

• Description of child is largely negative and critical.

Section 2

AVAILABILITY – Helping the child to trust

The following questions are about how far the child is able to trust in close adults. We will be thinking about what happens when they get upset or worried about something.

questions:

• Can you think of a particular time when the child was upset or worried about something?

• What did the child do just before, during and afterwards?

• Why do you think the child behaved in this particular way?

• What do you think the child was thinking and feeling?

• What did you do at this time?

• How did that work out?

• Was this your usual approach when the child is upset or worried or have you found other ways of helping?

• How did the child’s behaviour at this time make you feel?

Section 2, AVAILABILITY - helping the child to trust guidance,

The child.

The child's capacity to trust is developed in the context of The prospective guardian who is physically and emotionally available. The assessment addresses the issue of trust by focusing on the child's capacity to seek comfort when anxious or upset – i.e. to trust that a close adult will be available and responsive at these times and then return to play and exploration.

For this section of the assessment, it can be helpful to consider secure and insecure attachment patterns to help make sense of how the child behaves when he or she is stressed.

Securely attached children

A child will have the means to talk to The prospective guardian as children's services provide comfort

reassurance and support when the child runs into difficulties and enables the child to return to play

and exploration. For example, a toddler might play happily, away from the parent, but glance back or

vocalise to the parent to ensure that they are still there. However, if the child hurts himself, he will run

immediately to the parent for comfort. The quality of the exploration – relaxed, inquisitive, absorbed –

is important here. Comfort seeking for a child is a means to an end – the end being to restore

equilibrium so that further exploration and activity can occur.

Insecurely attached children

Children with avoidant attachment patterns are unable to use The prospective guardian as a secure base and may try to be self reliant when in difficulty. The child is not avoiding a relationship with the caregiver, but is avoiding displays of emotion, especially negative emotion, in order to not to cause stress to The prospective guardian and to maintain some kind of physical closeness. The child may focus on toys or activities rather than seek comfort and may seem ‘unmoved' by difficult events. Such children, may mistakenly be seen as ‘resilient' or said to have no attachment, when in fact they are highly anxious but their learned strategy is to minimise attachment behaviours because they lack trust in the response.Children who have ambivalent attachment patterns have learned to get their needs met by showing their emotions and making constant demands in the hope of achieving The prospective guardian's availability and attention. These children may retreat to The prospective guardian when they are upset, indeed they may be clinging to The prospective guardian much of the time, but without being able to explore, play and learn. They cannot move confidently away from The prospective guardian because they do not trust that the caregiver will continue to be there for them if they do so.

Children with disorganised patterns who have experienced frightened or frightening parenting are left with a dilemma - how do I approach someone for comfort when they will raise my anxiety rather than reduce it? Infants and very young children are left without any effective strategy and they may display confused and confusing behaviour – perhaps ‘freezing' in the presence of The prospective guardian, or approaching and then turning away.

Older, disorganised children learn to use a range of behavioural strategies that are designed to control the The prospective guardian and make the environment more predictable. These behaviours (punitive aggression, compulsive self-reliance, compulsive guardian ) can already be developing in the pre-school years and make it difficult to interpret what the child is thinking and feeling.

The prospective guardian.

Strengths in this dimension might be indicated by:

• Plenty of physical time available to focus on the child.

• Emotional space and availability (i.e. not preoccupied with own difficult feelings and unmet needs or emotionally detached and cut off).

• The capacity to reflect on the child's needs to build trust in them as guardians and to think about ways in which they might support the child to do so.

• Alert to child's needs and signals (e.g. able to identify and describe a time when the child was

worried or upset, how the child showed this/did not show it, what signs they might look for in the child to signal distress etc).

Difficulties in this dimension might be indicated by:

• Lack of time/energy.

• The guardian's own unmet needs (perhaps from the past) are coming to the fore.

• The guardian seems overwhelmed by the child's demands.

• The guardian feels marginalised by child.

• The guardian themselves from the child.

• The guardian doesn't believe a child should need that much attention.

Section 3

SENSITIVITY – Helping the child to manage feelings and behaviour.

Children vary a great deal in how they manage strong feelings such as anger, guilt, excitement and sadness some children show them easily, some go ‘over the top’, some bottle them up. The following set of questions is about how far the child is able to

manage his/her feelings.

questions:

• Can you think of a particular time when the child had strong feelings about something?

•  What did child do when they had these feelings – just before, during and afterwards?

• Why do you think the child behaved in this particular way?

• What do you think the child was thinking and feeling?

• What did you say and/or do at this time?

• How did this work out?

• Was this your usual approach when the child has strong feelings or have you found other ways of helping?

• How did the child’s behaviour at this time make you feel?

Section 3, SENSITIVITY - Helping the child to manage feelings and behaviour guidance.

The child.

Critical to children's ability to engage comfortably and constructively with play or school work, as well

as in their relationships with family and friends is their ability to manage or regulate their feelings and

behaviour. Being overwhelmed by feelings such as anxiety or anger makes it very difficult for children

to become competent and confident in play, learning or activities with others.

This assessment focuses on how the child manages strong feelings, such as anger, as this is often one of the most problematic areas for troubled children of all ages. However, it may also be helpful to gather information about if and how the child expresses a range of feelings, such as sadness or happiness: are they being comfortably managed or suppressed or expressed explosively and excessively? Verbal and non-verbal, direct and indirect communication of feelings will be relevant. For instance, the assessment will need to include reports of rages and tantrums, but also headaches or tummy aches at times of stress.

The social worker needs to be aware that the child's capacity to express and manage the full range of

feelings appropriately in relationships relies on mind-mindedness (i.e. the ability to think about what

they and what other people might be thinking). In infancy it is the mind-mindedness of the caregiver

which contains and regulates the child's feelings. But as the growing child spends increasing amounts of time away from the caregiver, they will need to think about their own mind and the mind of others in order to regulate their own feelings and behaviour and take account of the feelings of others.

Of concern here is the need to identify and understand patterns of behaviour that would indicate the coping or defensive strategies adopted by a child when strong feelings surface – or the lack of

strategy and dysregulation that leads to extreme aggressive behaviours or to denial and dissociation.

The guardian's Strengths in this dimension might be indicated by:

• The guardian can think and talk about the child's feelings, recognise that the child has strong feelings at times, and that they are understandable, ‘in the circumstances'.

• The guardian has the capacity to ‘stand in the shoes' of the child, to think flexibly about what the child may be thinking and feeling and to reflect this back to the child.

• The guardian can think and talk about their own feelings and share them appropriately with the child and other people.

Difficulties in this dimension might be indicated by:

• The guardian lacks interest and curiosity in what is in the child's mind.

• The guardian appears overwhelmed by own strong feelings - or finds it hard to think and talk about own feelings. (N.B. There is a ‘normal variation' in this; it is extremes that are of concern. Key is the capacity to acknowledge and understand the child's needs).

• The guardian finds it hard to think and talk about the child's past – finds it too painful or feels that the child needs ‘a fresh start'.

• The guardian has difficulty in thinking flexibly about a range of possible reasons for the child

behaving in a certain way.

• The guardian is frequently negative or angry towards child without ‘pause for thought' about

why child is behaving in this way or how best to respond.

Section 4

ACCEPTANCE – Building the child’s self esteem.

The following set of questions is about how child feels about themself and how they cope if things don’t go well.

Questions Part 1

• Can you think of a particular time when the child showed how that they felt good about themself? (N.B. if there are no examples or these times are

unusual, go to Part 2).

• What did the child do when they had these feelings just before, during and afterwards?

• Why do you think the child behaved in this particular way?

• What do you think the child was thinking and feeling?

• What did you say and/or do at this time?

• How did this work out?

• Was this your usual approach when the child shows good self esteem or have you found other ways of supporting this?

• How did the child’s behaviour at this time make you feel?

Questions Part 2

• Can you think of a particular time when the child showed how that they did not feel good about themself? (N.B. if there are no examples or very few

examples leave this section out and go to Part 3).

• What did the child do when they had these feelings – just before, during and afterwards?

• Why do you think the child behaved in this particular way?

• What do you think the child was thinking and feeling?

• What did you say and/or do at this time?

• How did this work out?

• Was this your usual approach when the child shows low self esteem or have you found other ways of helping?

• How did the child’s behaviour at this time make you feel?

Questions Part 3

• Can you think of a particular time when things did not go well for the child? (for example, they lose a game, are not successful at something).

• What did the child do when they had these feelings – just before, during and afterwards?

• Why do you think they behaved in this particular way?

• What do you think the child was thinking and feeling?

• What did you say and/or do at this time?

• How did this work out?

• Was this your usual approach when the child shows low self esteem or have you found other ways of helping?

• How did the child’s behaviour at this time make you feel?

Section 4, ACCEPTANCE – Building the child's self esteem guidance.

The child.

Children with good self esteem are able to enjoy their success, take the risk of trying new things and accept that they cannot be good at everything. Self-esteem, therefore, is often about aspiring to do well, while acknowledging realistically what can and cannot be achieved.

Many children have difficulty in accepting and valuing themselves and the exact nature of this

difficulty for each child needs careful attention within an assessment. The obvious starting point is the child's history, to see where there may have been some opportunities for the child to feel loved and

valued or where particularly harsh forms of rejection or scapegoating may have occurred. This Assessment builds on this by seeking specific examples of good self esteem, poor self esteem and the child's management of failure or setbacks. Because children with low self-esteem have to defend against the feelings that this induces, what the child says openly is not likely to give you a straightforward or accurate picture. Smiles, boastfulness or an inability to accept ‘failure' such as the loss of a game may be masking very low self esteem. Accepting the self is not just about valuing personal qualities or perceived success, but is linked to a developing self-concept and identity. In this broader context, children's ability to accept and value their gender, ethnicity, community, culture and religion are important parts of the self-concept. In the minds of children who experience various degrees of disruption and discontinuity, being lovable or unlovable, a good or a bad person may become linked to being a girl, being of a particular ethnicity or having a disability. Multiple sources of information and observation relating to self-esteem are important in assessment, planning and supporting placements, whether to confirm a pattern or to provide windows on some very different aspects of the child's sense of self that need to be addressed.

The guardian's strengths in this dimension might be indicated by:

• The guardian shows joy, pride and pleasure in the child.

• The guardian can praise the child easily and readily.

• The guardian can help the child to accept failures, setbacks etc in a kind, supportive way.

• The guardian can actively support the child in pursuing the child led experiences, interests and

activities.

Difficulties in this dimension might be indicated by:

• A tendency to focus on negative aspects of the child, little pleasure or pride evident.

• Finding it hard to accept/enjoy the child's individuality and ways in which the child is different

to other family members.

• The child seen as ‘a burden.'

• The guardian offers little active support to the child in pursuing the child led experiences, interests and activities.

Section 5

CO-OPERATION – Helping the child to feel effective and be cooperative.

The following set of questions are about how effective and competent the child feels. Examples of this are:

• Able to complete a task, such as a jigsaw puzzle or laying the table.

• Able to solve a problem, such as a shape sorter toy or how to draw something.

• Able to make a choice, such as which cereal to have or what to wear.

Questions Part 1

• How does the child usually manage when faced with a task, problem or choice?

• Can you give a particular example?

• Why do you think the child's behaved in this particular way?

• What do you think the child was thinking and feeling?

• What did you say and/or do at this time?

• How did this work out?

• Was this your usual approach when you need the child to work with you or have you found other ways of helping?

• How did the child’s behaviour at this time make you feel?

Questions Part 2

The following set of questions is about how the child manages to co-operate and work together with adults.

• Can you think of a particular time when you asked the child to co-operate, compromise/work together with you? (for example, to get ready to go out, to finish a game and put toys away etc).

• What did the child do when asked to do this – just before, during and afterwards?

• Why do you think the child behaved in this particular way?

• What do you think the child was thinking and feeling?

• What did you say and/or do at this time?

• How did this work out?

• Was this your usual approach when you need the child to work with you or have you found other ways of helping?

• How did the child’s behaviour at this time make you feel?

Section 5, CO-OPERATION – Helping the child to feel effective – and be co-operative guidance.

The child.

The more appropriately effective and assertive a child is able to be, the more likely it is that the child

will co-operate and compromise. Such a child has learned that assertiveness combined with willingness to make some concessions and co-operate with others is most likely to achieve their goals and maintain valued relationships.

This Assessment focuses on the extent to which the child can co-operate/work together with adults and this provides a window to the child's feelings of effectiveness. However, the assessment of effectiveness is rarely straightforward and this area may need additional consideration and analysis. Some children's sense of effectiveness has been so undermined that they cannot assert themselves at all and they behave in a dependent and passive way. Other children become so frightened by their own powerlessness that they can only feel comfortable when they are in total control of others, and so seem very powerful. Similarly, being undemanding and self-reliant can actually be quite controlling, since the message to the parent is, ‘I won't let you look after me'. Even very dependent children can be controlling, with the message, ‘I won't let you get on with your life - I need you too much.' Because of the nature and complex links between effectiveness and co-operation, the assessment needs to look at them separately and together. Thus, additional questions may be asked about the child's capacity to make choices or to complete a task competently and confidently.

The guardian's strengths in this dimension might be indicated by:

• The guardian thinks about the child as an autonomous individual whose wishes, feelings and

goals are valid and meaningful and who needs to feel effective (for example, ‘he gets settled

with his toys and it's understandable that he hates it when we have to go out').

• The guardian can look for ways of working together to achieve enjoyable co-operation with the child wherever possible (for example, ‘we make a game of clearing the toys up and he enjoys that so he doesn't mind going out so much').

• The guardian promotes choice and effectiveness wherever possible.

• The guardian can set safe and clear boundaries and limits and also negotiate within them.

Difficulties in this dimension might be indicated by:

• The guardian emphasises the need for control, for example - differences of opinion with the

child are a battle that they must win.

• The guardian finds it difficult to accept /enjoy child's need for autonomy and to allow

choice/promote competence and effectiveness.

• The guardian finds it difficult to allow child to take moderate risks.

Section 6

FAMILY MEMBERSHIP/Helping the child to belong.

The following questions are about how the child feels about belonging to this family or group.

• Can you think of a particular time when you have been aware of how the child feels about being part of this family or group (for example, things that he or

she has said or done which have shown they feel part of things or do not feel part of things).

• What did the child say and/or do?

• Why do you think the child spoke or behaved in this particular way?

• What do you think the child was thinking and feeling?

• What did you say and/or do at this time?

• How did this work out?

• Was this your usual approach when this comes up you or have you found other ways of responding?

• How did the child’s behaviour/what the child said at this time make you feel?

For children who are members of more than one family, think of the main other (birth, adoptive, foster) family that they relate to:

• Can you think of a particular time when you have been aware of how the child feels about being part of this other family (for example, things that he or

she has said or done which have shown they feel part of not part of the family).

• What did the child say and/or do?

• Why do you think the child spoke or behaved in this particular way?

• What do you think the child was thinking and feeling?

• What did you say and/or do at this time?

• How did this work out?

• Was this your usual approach when this comes up you or have you found other ways of responding?

• How did the child’s behaviour/what the child said at this time make you feel.

Section 6, FAMILY MEMBERSHIP – Helping the child to belong Guidance.

The child

Family membership is a vital strand of emotional and psychosocial development. Assessment of this dimension requires a great deal of sensitivity to the child's experiences and views, but also to the very different ways in which families work and family membership is expressed . There are also important links to the child's need to develop a coherent sense of identity.

This assessment is not about the ‘strength' of the child's attachment or loyalty as a member of

different birth, foster or adoptive families, although issues of attachment and loyalty are part of the

story, but the quality and meaning of these family memberships to the child. Additionally, if the

arrangements are planned to be permanent, the extent to which they offer support for the child to

become a happy, settled, secure, resilient and pro-social member of the community into adulthood.

All families define their boundaries differently and develop very varied ways of signalling to each other

and the outside world ‘We belong together'. They also vary in the extent to which they include this particular child within their family boundary. Differences may be based on culture, class or ethnicity or simply ways of talking about ‘family'. These differences need to be listened to with care.

However, differences in messages of membership may also be about this child and whether this child

is willing or able to fit in with the family's expectations of its members. Therefore the way in which the child talks, is talked to and is talked about in the family will vary in meaning but will always be

significant. The meanings and long-term value of family relationships and memberships for the

particular child cannot be judged on simple criteria, such as whether or not foster carers are called

‘Mum and Dad', when children's memberships of multiple families are so much more complex than

that.

The guardian's strengths in this dimension might be indicated by:

• The guardian is able to give verbal and non-verbal messages of the child's inclusion in the family.

For children who are members of more than one family:

The guardian is able to talk openly and appropriately with the child about both the strengths and the difficulties of their other families.

• The guardian is able to support the child to get ‘the best' from both families.

Difficulties in this dimension might be indicated by:

• The guardian tends to treat the child differently to other children in the family (this may be very subtle, for example, providing a different sort of biscuit for a lunch box).

For children who are members of more than one family:

• The guardian is anxious that they might ‘lose' the child to the other family or that the other family's values might conflict with and displace their own in the child's mind.

• The guardian talks/thinks negatively about other family.

• The guardian creates unreasonable barriers to contact between the child and the other family.

Section 7

Caregiving and support

• What aspects of caring for this child give you the greatest sense of pride or

achievement?

• What has been or is the most difficult?

• What are the major sources of help and support for you as a guardian for this child?

• Can you think of any particular help that you would like with any of the things that we have discussed?

Section 7, guardian and support guidance.

The final section of the interview explores, with the guardian, the guardian's willingness to seek and use support.

Strengths in this area might be indicated by:

• The guardian showing pride and pleasure in caring for the child.

• The guardian being able to identify difficulties, but not be overwhelmed by them.

• The guardian indicating that they have tried and tested strategies and/or people that they can

rely on for practical and emotional support.

• The guardian being able to identify or be open to further help, if it is needed.

Difficulties in this area might be indicated by:

• The guardian lacking pleasure and pride in caring for the child.

• The guardian denying difficulties (unrealistically) or appearing overwhelmed by them.

• The guardian lacking support or denying the need for support (unrealistically).

• The guardian being resistant to further help if it appears to be needed.

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