The assessment framework provides a systematic way of making sense of what is happening to a child within the context of their family and community.
Laming (2003) – Successive professionals never communicated with the child. “This is the first of numerous observations disclosed as evidence to this Inquiry but not at any time recorded on Victoria's case file. The importance of accurately recording observations about children cannot be over-emphasised” Clever and Walker (2004) – the impact of the assessment framework; This has been a concern in almost every child death enquiry – Jasmine Beckford and Kimberley Carlisle. Most social work cases do not end in such tragedy and most social workers do interview children as part of their assessment. However, because listening to children is so complicated, these interviews frequently result in inaccurate or incomplete information. This, in itself, can be harmful to children as the resulting plans may not keep them safe, may mean that services offered are inappropriate or that they suffer the trauma of a Section 47 investigation unnecessarily and may even be removed. Coastal Cities Study (Holland 1997-2001) Ref Sally Holland ‘Child and Family Assessment in Social Work Practice’ SAGE 2004 – The descriptions of young children were often direct quotations from the charts with little changing of the wording. It was clear that social workers were viewing children according to how well they fit in with an assessment tool rather than making observations of/ communicating with the child concerned and then using the tool to aid understanding. (Holland)
One example of a 25-page assessment cited a family with four children and a lone parent. 8 pages devoted to the parent and only two to the children. (The two-year-old was summarised in two paragraphs.) Children were described as ‘minor characters in the narrative’.
My own example “I’ve put my heart in men, but I’ve been let down”
1) Understand children’s sense of loss. They have lost their sense of self and may not feel they can be helped. They say they’re fine, we accept it, we collude with it, and we walk away – it’s easier. Example from asylum seeker’s file – young person from Angola, at age 11 years had come home from school, found his house burning, a neighbour had rushed him away and told him that his family had run away. He lived with the neighbour for a year, then was sent to England, where he was told his family had fled to. He had been sent to be with them. The various agencies, Red Cross etc., couldn’t trace them. The assessment described him as having no emotional problems, doing fine, not in need of any specialist services. 2) Developmental considerations – children’s understanding at different ages, adolescents’ willingness to engage (but don’t forget individual differences) Cultural differences. Adverse events affecting children’s responses.
‘Write Enough’ can be found on the ECM website under the Integrated Children’s System section. The focus is on how records are kept. The site includes exercises to help improve practice. Trainers should stress that one of the most important benefit of summaries is that the process itself helps you think about your approach to a case, reflection and future direction and planning.
This checklist continues on next slide.
These steps continue on next slide.
Cwc Children200612 6
Analysis and Representing Children in Assessments
Analysing information <ul><li>Assessment Framework supports systematic information gathering </li></ul><ul><li>The challenge is to bridge the gap between gathering data and using it to analyse, make judgements, plan, intervene and review </li></ul>
How do we represent children in assessments? <ul><li>Research, inspections and inquiries indicate that children’s voices are absent or minimised during assessment </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on parents rather than the child </li></ul><ul><li>Use of language in reports </li></ul>
Ways in which children’s voices are silenced <ul><li>By not reporting what was said </li></ul><ul><li>Children are minor characters in the narrative </li></ul><ul><li>More weight is given to adult views when there are differences of opinion or conflicting accounts </li></ul><ul><li>Presupposing what they might say </li></ul><ul><li>Descriptions of children being limited only to how they respond or relate to their parents </li></ul><ul><li>Presenting their voices as untrustworthy </li></ul>
Examples from coastal cities study: Child’s views (from Child and Family Assessment in Social Work Practice by Holland) <ul><li>‘ Elizabeth presents as whimsical and materialistic and may not be impressed by the current accommodation … It is clear that Elizabeth has changed her mind on a number of occasions’ </li></ul>
Examples from coastal cities study: Child’s views <ul><li>‘ Paul has remained consistent in his expressed wish to have Mr Taylor return home … Paul presents as a very sensible child who I feel would not hesitate to voice any feelings of unease’ </li></ul>
Examples from coastal cities study: Developmental milestones <ul><li>‘ Aaron knows and immediately turns to his own name and babbles loudly and incessantly and imitates adults’ playful vocalisation with gleeful enthusiasm’ </li></ul>
Good practice in analysis <ul><li>Acknowledge what you don’t know about the child – describe gaps and limitations </li></ul><ul><li>Put the information you have got in context – child development, race and culture, recent events </li></ul><ul><li>Consult widely </li></ul><ul><li>Consider language </li></ul><ul><li>Summarise </li></ul>
Benefits of summaries in the case file (from Write Enough by Walker, Shemmings, Cleaver (2003) www.writeenough.org.uk ) <ul><li>frees workers from the laborious task of hunting for information hidden deep in the file </li></ul><ul><li>helps with the process of reviewing the work </li></ul><ul><li>helps clarify the purpose of visits </li></ul><ul><li>can be ‘cut and pasted’ into longer reports, e.g. child protection conferences, court reports </li></ul><ul><li>helps workers become familiar with a new case quickly </li></ul><ul><li>enables supervision to be more helpful to the worker </li></ul>
Checklist (From Putting Analysis into Assessment by Dalzell and Sawyer 2007) <ul><li>How well do I know the child? </li></ul><ul><li>Which adults know the child best and what do they think? </li></ul><ul><li>How has the child defined the problems in their family life and the effect on them? </li></ul><ul><li>Under what circumstances did the child express their views or feelings? What has occurred and what did he or she want to happen? </li></ul>
Checklist (cont) (From Putting Analysis into Assessment by Dalzell and Sawyer) <ul><li>What has been observed regarding the child’s way of relating and responding to adults? (Consider attachment) </li></ul><ul><li>What do I know about research in relation to the experiences the child has had? </li></ul><ul><li>What communication methods have I used? </li></ul><ul><li>How confident am I that I have been able to establish the child’s views, wishes and feelings? </li></ul>
The Developing World of the Child (Aldgate and others 2006) <ul><li>A series of steps: </li></ul><ul><li>Chronology and genogram </li></ul><ul><li>The visit </li></ul><ul><li>Reflecting on the meeting </li></ul><ul><li>Analysing what you have seen and heard </li></ul><ul><li>Planning </li></ul>
The Developing World of the Child (cont) <ul><li>Gather positive and negative data </li></ul><ul><li>Weigh relative significance </li></ul><ul><li>Assessment of current situation </li></ul><ul><li>Assessment of future circumstances </li></ul><ul><li>Prospects for change </li></ul><ul><li>Plan – roles and responsibilities, timescales, who will notice changes, date of review </li></ul>