Different Types Of Assessments.
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.
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 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.
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.