So… What is the
‘risk’ and ‘change’?
What is a Risk Assessment
“The systematic collection of information to identify
if risks are involved and, if so, what these are;
identifying the likelihood of their future occurrence
(prediction); whether there is a need for further
work; and what form this should take. It can also be
used to predict the escalation of the presenting
behaviour as well as the client’s motivation for
change” (Martin Calder, 1992)
How do we understand ‘change’?
“When the winds of change
blow, some people build
walls and others build
windmills” (Chinese Proverb)
The Transtheoretical Model of
Change (Prochaska &
Parental factors associated with risk:
Source: RCPCH.org 2007
Parental factors associated with risk:
• Parent has already abused a child
• Pregnancy was not wanted
• Parent has a background of abuse when growing up
• Young, unsupported mother often with low education
• Parents have unrealistic expectations of the child and
lack parenting knowledge
• Parent is isolated and has few supports
• Parent has a mental illness or is abusing drugs or
1. Basic Care
2. Ensuring Safety
3. Emotional Warmth
5. Guidance and Boundaries
Assessing parenting capacity is a core
component of child protection social work
• Social workers do from their very first interaction
with a parent.
• To determine the parent's capacity, insight and
knowledge to provide safe and appropriate care
for their child.
• Assessing parenting capacity is not a 'one-off'
exercise; continual review may indicate the need
for further assessment at different points in time
to ensure the care being provided to the child is
continuing to meet their needs.
Parents need to be able to:
• Be able to learn and relate to others
• Develop abilities to delay gratifying immediate urges
• Be able to tolerate frustration
• Adhere to generally accepted values that restrain
adults from harming others
• Have the skills and knowledge to balance affection
while limiting poor behaviour
• React consistently to their child's behaviour
• Be involved in their child's life within their community.
'parenting capacity' versus 'parenting
• A person may be able to parent for a short
period of time within a specific setting (i.e. a
supervised visit at a neutral location), thus
demonstrating parenting ability.
• However, this does not demonstrate the
capacity of that person to parent effectively in
the long term (Conley, 2003).
‘Good Enough’ Parenting
• Social workers also need to be realistic; being a
competent parent and having the capacity to parent is
not about being 'super-human‘ or 'perfect‘.
• Instead, an assessment of parenting capacity needs to
employ a reasonable standard of parenting that
ensures the "parenting is adequate to meet the basic
safety and emotional needs of the child a [and that it
considers] the lowest threshold of parenting skills
necessary to protect a child's welfare, given the risks
and protective factors present in the family" (Budd,
2005, p. 433).
• Budd, K.S. (2005). Assessing parenting capacity in a child welfare context. Children
and Youth Services Review, 27, 429-444.
• Calder, M. (2002). A Framework for Conducting Rick Assessment. Child Care in
Practice, 8,1. pp.7-8.
• Child Matters, http://www.childmatters.org.nz/57/learn-about-child-abuse/risk-
factors , <accessed 09 11 15>
• Conley, C.(2003). A review of Parenting Capacity Assessment Reports. OACAS
Journal, 47(3), 16-22.
• Department of Health, (2000) Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need
and their Families, London, Home Office
• Fisher’s Transition Curve, (2012), https://www.hashdoc.com, <accessed 09 11 15>
• Keene, J., (2010) Understanding Dug Misuse, Models of Care and Control,
Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan.
• Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (2007), Child Protection Reader,
http://www.rcpch.ac.ukWestman, J.C. (1994). Licensing Parents: Can we prevent
child abuse and neglect? Massachusetts: Perseus Publishing.