1.2.3 The Framework for Assessment of Children in Need and their Families

The Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need (DoH 2000) is to be used by Children’s Services for the assessment of all Children in Need, including those in Need of Protection.

The Framework is statutory guidance issued under Section 7 of The Local Authority Social Services Act 1970. The Assessment Framework provides a systematic basis for collecting and analysing information to support professional judgments about how to help children and families in the best interests of the child.

The Framework is to be used for the assessment of all Children in Need, including those in Need of Protection. The assessment process determines whether a referral should be responded to only as a Child in Need of support (Section 17, Children Act 1989) or additionally as a Child in Need of Protection (Section 47, Children Act 1989).

Throughout the assessment process, the safety of the child remains paramount at all times and in all circumstances.

Information is required from all agencies that have knowledge of the child and his/her family to complete the assessment in a systematic way and in order to reflect the child and family’s strengths as well as their needs.

The Assessment Framework involves gathering and analysing information in three domains:

  • Children’s developmental needs;
  • Parents’ or caregivers’ capacity to respond appropriately;
  • Impact of the wider family and environmental factors on parenting capacity and children.

If an adult is subject to a referral the professionals should check whether the adult has parental responsibility for a child under 18 years and whether or not there are any issues with respect to meeting the child’s needs. If so, a referral should be made to Children's Services Initial Response Service as well as the Adult Safeguarding Team.

At all stages of referral and assessment, consideration must be given to issues of diversity, so that the impact of cultural expectations and obligations are understood.

It is vital that where there are any communication difficulties an interpreter is used. This includes families who may speak English adequately for day to day interactions, but whose linguistic abilities may not be sufficient to understand the delicate and complicated discussions about parenting and the needs of their children.