Framework for the Assessment of
Children in Need and their Families
Guidance Notes and Glossary for:
Referral and Initial Information Record,
Initial Assessment Record and
Core Assessment Record
Department of Health
Framework for the
Children in Need and
Guidance Notes and
Referral and Initial Information Record,
Initial Assessment Record and
Core Assessment Records
The Stationery Office
Social Care Group
The Social Care Group is one of the four business groups in the Department of Health.
It is jointly headed by the Chief Social Services Inspector and the Head of Social Care
Policy. It supports Ministers in promoting high quality, cost effective services through
_ national policies
_ support to external social care agencies
The Social Services Inspectorate is a part of the Social Care Group. It is headed by the
Chief Social Services Inspector who is the principal professional advisor to Ministers on
social services and related matters.
© Crown copyright 2000
First published 2000
Published with permission of the Department of Health on behalf of the
Controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office.
ISBN 011 322424 9
Published by The Stationery Office Ltd
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Printed in the United Kingdom for The Stationery Office
1 Referral and Initial Information Record 1
Referral and Initial Information Record 1
2 Initial Assessment Record 4
Initial Assessment 4
Agencies contacted/involved during Initial Assessment 5
Reason for Initial Assessment 5
Child’s Developmental Needs 5
Parents’/Carers’ Capacities to Respond Appropriately to the Child’s Needs 5
Family and Environmental Factors 6
Immediate Action 6
Further Action 6
3 Core Assessment Records 7
Relationship to other Assessment Processes and Tools 7
Purpose of the Core Assessment Record 8
The Core Assessment Records 8
Structure of Core Assessment Records 9
Information Gathering 9
Summary, Analysis and Plan 10
4 Completing a Core Assessment Record with a disabled child –
Additional Guidance 12
Using the Core Assessment Record with a Disabled Child 12
Recording Specific Issues regarding Disabled Children 14
Child’s Developmental Needs 14
Family and Environmental Factors which may impact on the Child
and on Parenting Capacity 15
Plan for a Child in Need 16
The Referral and Initial Information Record has been developed in response to the
Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families (2000)
and Working Together to Safeguard Children (1999). The Referral and Initial
Information record begins the process of systematic information
gathering about children in
need and their families.
This process is continued in
the Initial Assessment and
Core Assessment Records.
The records have been
designed to provide an
integrated framework for
the process of recording and
analysing information in
line with the Guidance in
the Framework for the
Assessment of Children in
Need and their Families
Referral and Initial Information Record
The Referral and Initial Information Record gathers together the essential
information about the child including ethnicity, household composition,
parental responsibility and agencies currently involved with the child and family.
In order to meet the assessment time scales set out in The Governments Objectives for
Children’s Social Services (1999) a decision should be is made on what the response will
be to a referral within one working day of it being received.
The Referral and Initial Information Record records the reason the referral or request
for services was made and how it was responded to by the SSD. For example, some
referrals can be dealt with by the provision of information and advice, or by a referral to
another agency. When referrals require a response from a social services department
then an initial assessment should be carried out.
The Referral and Initial Information Record therefore has two purposes:
to record basic information on the child and family; and to record the SSD and other
relevant agencies response to the referral. The Initial Information Record can therefore
be used by social services departments to process referrals and to record essential
information gathered at the point of referral.
1 REFERRAL AND INITIAL INFORMATION RECORD
Family & Social
CHILD’S DEVELOPMENTAL NEEDS
FAMILY & ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS
1. SSD Case No.
This is the index number given to the referral by the Social Services Department.
2. Is the Parent/Carer aware of the referral?
This refers to awareness at the point in time the referral is being made.
A re-referral is defined as a referral about the same child received within a twelve month
period, where the child’s case has been closed.
This is the child’s usual or home address. Where parents have shared care, the child may
have two addresses.
5. Current Address if different from above
This should be used in situations where the child is not living at their usual or home
address. For example, if a child is living temporarily with a relative or is a hospital
6. Principal Carers
This should record the main carers of the child at their usual or home address.
7. Responsible Local Authority
This section should be completed if a referral is being made regarding a child who is the
responsibility of an authority other than your own. For example, a child on another
authority’s Child Protection Register, or a child in the care of another authority who is
residing in your local authority area.
8. Agency/Rel to child
This records the relationship of the referrer to the child. If the referrer is making the
referral on behalf of their agency then this should be recorded i.e. if a teacher made
a referral then ‘school’ would be recorded. A family member would have their
relationship to the child recorded. A neighbour would be recorded as such.
This is the referrer’s agency address, where appropriate, i.e. St John’s School, or home
address in the case of a relative or neighbour. If the referral is made anonymously this
information should be recorded.
The categories listed are those used by the Government. They will assist authorities in
the completion of statistical returns.
11. Other Household members
This section is used to record all those people (children and adults) living at the child’s
usual or home address.
12. Significant family members not members of child’s household
This section is used to record significant family members not living in the child’s
household. For example, a birth parent or relative who provides care for the child on a
shared basis or has a lot of contact with him or her.
• SSD case number if appropriate. This is used if a family member is already a
Social Services Department service user. This should include the parent or
carer if they are known to adult social services, for example the Community
Mental Health Team.
• Tick if also referred to SSD. This should be completed if another household
member is being referred to your social services department, at the same time.
A separate Initial Information Record should be completed for each child
referred. Following the Data Protection Act 1998 it is recommended that
each child has a separate file.
13. SSD cases associated with the referred child
In some cases it is important to record links to other social services department cases.
For example where half or stepsiblings are looked after by an authority or have had their
names placed on an authority’s Child Protection Register or are receiving family
support services. This section may also be used in situations where there are concerns
about, for example, sexual abuse which involve a number of different families.
14. Key Agencies
The name of the key professional from all agencies currently involved with the child
and family should be recorded. This includes agencies working with parents. Agencies
should be consulted/involved as appropriate as part of the initial assessment and this
should be indicated by a tick. Parental permission to contact other agencies should be
obtained from parents except in cases where by doing so the safety of the child would be
jeopardised (Working Together to Safeguard Children (1999)). It will have to be made
clear at this point whether other professionals agree to information they provide being
shared with the child and/or family.
15. Reason for referral/request for services
In this section brief details are recorded about the reason for the referral, or services
requested by, or on behalf of, the family. It is important to note these details, even when
the services requested cannot be provided, or can not be provided immediately.
16. Further Action
It is important to indicate what action has been taken and what action is planned, by
whom and from which agency. This includes no further action. The referral should be
collated with previous referrals and/or files, which should be consulted and
information in them drawn upon as part of the analysis and decision making processes.
The worker who has completed the referral should always sign and date the record. The
record should then be passed to the relevant manager to confirm the action
recommended, in accordance with the Social Services Department’s policy.
The Initial Assessment Record has been developed in response to the Framework for the
Assessment of Children in Need and their Families (2000) and Working Together to
Safeguard Children (1999).
The full title of the record, Initial Assessment of children’s needs and issues which impact on
parents’ capacities to respond to them appropriately, emphasises the link between the
Initial Assessment record and the Core Assessment Record, Core Assessment record of
children’s needs and issues which impact on parents’ capacities to respond to them
appropriately. The content of both the initial Assessment and Core Assessment Records
have been informed by relevant research findings.
The Initial Assessment Record continues the process of systematic information
gathering, commenced in the Referral and Initial Information record, and the analysis
of this material. This process of assessment is continued if a core assessment is
undertaken. The main headings of both records are organised according to the
Assessment Framework domains and dimensions.
In order to meet the time scales set out in The Governments Objectives for Children’s
Social Services (1999) an initial assessment should be completed within 7 working days
of the referral being received.
The Initial Assessment covers:
• The Child’s Developmental Needs. These are set out under the seven dimensions
in the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families.
As it is an initial assessment of the child’s needs, some dimensions which are interrelated
have been placed together, for example, Identity and Social Presentation.
• Parents’/Carers’ Capacities to Respond Appropriately to the Child’s Needs. It is
important that parent’s strengths as well as weaknesses are recorded. Key issues
which research has shown to affect parent’s ability to respond appropriately to their
child’s needs have been included.
• Family and Environmental Factors which have an Impact on the Family.The
environment within which children and families live can play an important role in
reducing or increasing the stresses on families, depending on the support available
The purpose of the Initial Assessment is to decide whether the child is a child in need,
the nature of any services required, from where and within what times scales, and
whether a more detailed core assessment should be carried out. The fact that a decision
is made to carry out a core assessment should not prevent a child or family receiving
services which are necessary to support them.
2 INITIAL ASSESSMENT RECORD
Agencies contacted/involved during Initial Assessment
Agencies should be consulted and involved as appropriate as part of the initial
assessment. Parental permission to contact other agencies should be obtained from
parents except in cases where the safety of the child would be jeopardised. It will
have to be made clear at this point whether other professionals agree to information
they provide being shared with the family. Agencies contacted or involved in the
Initial Assessment should be recorded by a tick. The name and address of any
agency contacted or involved in the Initial Assessment not already recorded on the
Referral and Initial Information Record should be added to the Initial Information
Reason for Initial Assessment
Brief details of why an Initial Assessment is being undertaken should be recorded in
Child’s Developmental Needs
The child’s strengths and current needs should be recorded under each of the
developmental dimensions listed. For example, in the case of Daniel Williams aged
Health Daniel was born profoundly deaf. In areas other than speech,
Daniel’s development is at the expected level.
Parents’/Carers’ Capacities to Respond Appropriately to the
It is important to record the strengths of all parents/carers as well as any areas of
difficulty they are experiencing. In relation to the issues affecting parent’s capacity
to respond to the child’s needs, research has shown that problems with mental
health, domestic violence, drug and alcohol misuse, a history of childhood abuse or
being a child abuser are likely to affect parenting. It is important to record not simply
that an issue is present but to whom it refers and its effect on parenting capacity.
Basic Care Mrs Williams is at times unable to care for Daniel. However
Mr Williams is able to respond to Daniel’s needs.
Physical/ Mrs Williams has suffered from post natal depression since the
mental birth of Daniel earlier this year. Mrs Williams is receiving medication
illness for this.
It is also important to record in this section any adult who poses a risk of significant
harm to the child. For example, if the grand father is a schedule one offender or a parent
is extremely violent to their partner. The social worker should select the most
appropriate category(ies) in which to record the information.
Family and Environmental Factors
It is important to record factors that support families as well as those that increase
stress. For example, extended family may offer a great deal of support to a young lone
parent, alternatively they may compound their difficulties. It is also important to
note how family and environmental factors have impact on the child and family.
Housing The family lives on the 10th floor of a block of flats. The exterior
of the building is in poor condition. However Mr and Mrs Williams
keep the flat in good condition.
This section is used to record any actions taken during or on completion of the initial
assessment. More than one box may be completed. For example, a family may be
allocated a specific service, such as sponsored day care in addition to a referral being
made to another agency and a strategy discussion. It is important to remember that if
a core assessment is planned, during the process a family should receive services as
appropriate. When deciding which services to offer, it is important to take account of
the family’s likelihood of being able to access or choosing to access these services.
Strategy Discussion If at any stage during the process there are suspicions or
allegations about child maltreatment and concern that the child may be suffering, or is
likely to suffer, significant harm there must be strategy discussions and interagency
action in accordance with the guidance in Working Together to Safeguard Children
Immediate legal action to protect the child includes court orders applied for by the
local authority, Police Protection and orders applied for by parents to protect a child,
such as an injunction.
Professional judgement is required to determine whether a Core Assessment is
appropriate. In some cases more specialist assessment(s) may be commissioned and this
should be recorded. For example, a psychiatric assessment of a parent.
The worker who has completed the Initial Assessment should always sign and date the
form. The form should then be passed to the relevant manager to confirm the action
recommended. A copy of the completed Initial Assessment should usually be sent to
appropriate family members. All decisions will have to take account of the child’s safety
and whether permission has to be obtained from other agencies to share information.
In some cases it will not be appropriate to include all the initial information. For
example where a neighbour made a referral but wished to remain anonymous.
The Core assessment record of children’s needs and issues which impact on
parents’ capacities to respond to them appropriately (Core Assessment Record) is
one of series of tools commissioned by the Department of Health to support the
implementation of the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their
The Core Assessment Records were developed over a two-year period. Following a
feasibility study in three local authorities, the Core Assessment Records have been
revised to take account of the feedback from service users, social work practitioners
and managers, and other professionals.
The records have their basis in relevant research findings, which were used to identify
the essential information that should be recorded in each dimension. Key research
findings have also been included on the left-hand side of each page to act as a sign-post
to key areas and to assist practitioners in evaluating the importance of information
gathered during the assessment.
Relationship to other Assessment Processes and Tools
A core assessment will typically follow a referral and initial assessment but it may also
be used for a re-assessment of a family already known to social services. The Core
Assessment Record has been developed to build on the information gathered in
the initial information-gathering stages to avoid unnecessary duplication of work. As
families report not liking to have to repeat the same information several times to
different professionals, it is important to avoid this.
The Core Assessment Record recognises that in order to obtain a clear understanding
of the inter-relationship between a child’s needs, parents’ capacities and the impact of
family and environmental factors it is necessary to collect and analyse information
from a variety of sources, using a number of different methods.
In many cases a number of professionals and agencies will know the family. Although
it is the responsibility of the social services staff member to complete the Core Assessment
Record, it has been designed to be inter-disciplinary in its approach. Typically
the social services staff member will be collecting and analysing information from a
number of agencies. Where detailed and up to date assessments about a family or child
are available from another agency, for example a Statement of Educational Needs or
hospital assessment on a disabled child, these should be incorporated into the Core
Assessment Record (having obtained the necessary consents). This can be done in two
ways; Either by using the information from a specialist assessment to complete the relevant
area of the core Assessment Record, or by attaching the specialist assessment as
an appendix to the Core Assessment Record. In every case the summary section at
3 CORE ASSESSMENT RECORDS
the end of the relevant area of the Core Assessment Record should be completed
by the social services staff member. So, for, example in the case of a child with a
recent statement of Special Educational Needs, the statement could be attached but
the social services staff member should complete the social worker’s summary at the
end of the Education dimension.
The use of Questionnaires and Scales can make a valuable contribution to specific
areas of a core assessment. The Core Assessment Record indicates when it may be
appropriate to use particular questionnaires and scales. Eight questionnaires and
scales are contained in The Family Assessment Pack of Questionnaires and Scales
(Department of Health, Cox and Bentovim, 2000).
Purpose of the Core Assessment Record
The Core Assessment Record is intended to aid social workers undertaking a core
assessment by providing a framework to record information systematically and in a
manner which facilities analysis and planning.
The Core Assessment Records have been structured to ensure that information is
recorded in each of the three systems or domains of the Framework for the Assessment of
Children in Need and their Families (2000):
_ the developmental needs of children;
_ the capacity of parents or care givers to respond appropriately to those needs;
_ the impact of wider family and environmental factors on parenting capacity
and the child.
The core Assessment Record is underpinned by the same principles as are in the
Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families and therefore may be
viewed as making a major contribution to the operationalisation of the Framework.
It is important to remember that the Core Assessment Record is a tool, and requires the
skills, knowledge and professional judgement of practitioners and their managers to
use it effectively. Good tools cannot substitute for good practice, but good practice
and good tools can achieve excellence.
The Core Assessment Records
There are five age related Core Assessment Records. With the exception of children
under 2, the age bands are congruent with those used in the Looking After Children
Assessment and Action Records. The age bands for the Core Assessment Records
are: 0–2; 3–4; 5–9; 10–14; 15 and over.
Structure of Core Assessment Records
The structure of each Core Assessment Record is the same. Each record can be
considered to have two parts; information gathering, and analysis and planning.
_ Sources of Information
This section is used to record the sources of information and methods used to gather
information during the core assessment. This includes agencies involved, meetings
with family members, questionnaires and scaled used. It is recommended that this page
is completed as the assessment progresses.
_ Details Concerning Core Assessment
This records the background details to the core assessment. The reason(s) the
assessment is being undertaken and details of any specific matters, including disability,
affecting the child. This section should be completed prior the beginning of the core
assessment and will draw on information already known about the child and family
from the initial assessment or existing records.
_ Child’s Developmental Needs/Parenting Capacity
This section records information about the child’s developmental needs and the
parents’ capacities to respond to these needs appropriately. There are two pages for each
developmental need of the child; health, education, emotional and behavioural
development, identity, family and social relationships, social presentation (for children
under five this is combined with identity) selfcare skills (for children under five this is
combined with emotional and behavioural development).
The first part of each section records key needs for each child. A Yes/No box is included
next to each of the key needs. The purpose of these boxes should be understood clearly.
The Core Assessment Record is not a questionnaire. The Yes/No boxes are included
to ensure that information identified from research as significant for the child’s
development or wellbeing is recorded.
They will assist practitioners and supervisors to quickly identify the key factors in an
assessment. However ticking the boxes alone is not enough. It is important that further
information is included to provide the context for information which is recorded. The
space to record this information is limited. This is not to encourage practitioners to be
brief, but to be relevant. Practitioners should consider the significance of information
before it is entered into the record.
For Example – From Education Dimension, Child Aged 5 –9
Stimulation Yes No
Parent regularly reads, tells ✔
stories, plays counting games,
watches TV with child
Mrs Foli’s depression means that
at times she has no energy to play
games with Kwane. However Mr
Foli regularly plays with him and
reads to him each evening
Following information about the child’s needs, information about the parents’
capacities to respond appropriately to those needs is recorded. Parents’ capacities are
detailed across the six areas identified in the parenting capacity domain of the
Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families : basic care;
ensuring safety; emotional warmth; stimulation; guidance and boundaries; and
stability. Key parenting responses, identified from research, are included for each area.
It is important to record the strengths as well as weaknesses of parents.
If any of the key areas identified are not appropriate for the child or parents, they can be
marked N/A. In addition, it is important that the reason the issue is not considered to
be relevant is recorded.
At the end of each of the child’s developmental dimensions is a summary section. This
is to enable practitioners to summarise the child’s needs and parents’ capacities to
respond to them appropriately. In completing this section practitioners should
consider the impact on the child’s health and development of any needs which are not
responded to appropriately. The research information on the left-hand side of the page
is intended to help with this process.
_ Family and Environmental Factors
The final section of the information gathering part of the Core Assessment Record is
concerned with the Family and Environmental Factors domain of the Assessment
Framework. The layout of this area is similar to those covering the child’s
Summary, Analysis and Plan
Research, the findings of Inquiry reports and Social Services Inspectorate inspections
have frequently highlighted weaknesses in this area of assessment. A great deal of time
and effort goes into the information gathering stage. This results in an assessment that
focuses on describing what is happening. However, often less attention is given to the
analysis of the information gathered. Analysis takes the assessment process beyond
surface considerations and explores why particular strengths and difficulties are
present, the relationship between these and the implications of them for the child and
other family members, as well as considering what types of services would best help the
child and family members. The second part of the Core Assessment Record therefore is
concerned with analysis and planning.
The second part of the record starts with a summary of the needs, strengths and
difficulties identified in each of the domains. Young people and parents are asked for
their views. This provides an opportunity for them to contribute to the assessment
summary. If possible they should be encouraged to write their views themselves or to
indicate them in some other form of communication, which can then be recorded.
The next section is for practitioners to analyse the significance and consequences of the
needs, strengths and difficulties identified in the assessment. This is a key stage in the
assessment process. Practitioners should consider the inter-relationship between each
of the domains of the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their
Families. For example, a child’s difficult and demanding behaviour may be a major
contributory factor to a parent’s depression, which may in turn lead to the home
environment being neglected. It will be helpful to list key protective and stress factors
in each domain and indicate how they relate to those identified in the other domains. It
is important that strengths as well as difficulties are identified. Parental and family
strengths should be built on and used to inform the plan. When analysing the
information gathered, practitioners should also evaluate the impact on the child and
family of any services already provided.
_ Objectives and Plans
This section records the objectives and the actions which are to be achieved to ensure
that all the child’s identified needs are responded to appropriately. The objectives of the
plan should be specific, measurable and have clear time scales. The actions should
include those to be taken by the child and family members, social services and all other
relevant agencies. It is important that the child, as appropriate, and family members are
involved in agreeing the objectives and actions to be taken and that they are able to
comment on the plan. This will enable the plan to serve as a written agreement.
The review of care plans and child protection plans are set out in Volume 3 of the
Children Act 1989 and Guidance and Regulations (paragraphs 2.59 to 2.62) and in
paragraphs 5.90 to 5.95 in Working Together to Safeguard Children (1999) respectively.
It is good practice for children in need plans to be received regularly, at least every six
months (see paragraph 4.36 in Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and
their Families (2000)). There is an outcome section for each objective which should be
completed at the review. This enables progress to be monitored and any necessary
changes made to the plan.
This guidance supplements the Core Assessment Record guidance and is intended to
support social work staff completing a Core Assessment Record with a disabled child
and their family.
The Core Assessment Records have been developed in consultation with specialists
working with disabled children and young people. They are underpinned by the
principle that children are children first: however, each child is unique.
The Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families (2000) sets out
the inter-related systems or domains that any assessment of a child should consider to
achieve a clear understanding of the child’s needs. These are:
_ the child’s developmental needs;
_ the parents’ or carers’ capacities to respond appropriately to these needs;
_ the impact of wider family and environmental factors on parenting capacity
and the child.
The Core Assessment Records are intended to assist social workers undertaking a core
assessment by providing a framework to record information systematically across all
domains and dimensions in a manner that facilitates analysis and planning.
An assessment of a disabled child should consider the same domains and dimensions as
an assessment of a non-disabled child. The needs of disabled children, however, may be
very complex in one dimension: it is important that all areas of their needs receive
attention during an assessment.
Using the Core Assessment Record with a Disabled Child
_ General Principles
The Core Assessment Records are informed by the principles which underpin the
Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families (2000). Social work staff
undertaking assessments of children in need are expected to be familiar with this
Guidance. The accompanying practice guidance Assessing Children in Need and their
Families (Department of Health, 2000) has a chapter on assessing the needs of disabled
children and the Reader which accompanies the training pack, The Child’s World: Assessing
Children in Need includes a chapter on assessing the needs of children with complex needs.
_ Using Age-related Records
The Core Assessment Records are age related. As with the Looking After Children
Assessment and Action Records, social work staff should use the record which relates to
the child or young person’s chronological age.
4 COMPLETING A CORE ASSESSMENT RECORD
WITH A DISABLED CHILD – ADDITIONAL
It is recognised that for some children this may result in some sections of the record
being inappropriate to their needs. For example, the section of the Education
Dimension which records GCSE results may be inappropriate for a young person with
profound learning disabilities. However, the preceding question, Young person’s
educational progress is at expected level provides the practitioner with an
opportunity to record the young person’s achievements.
It will also be important to record how the parents respond to the identified needs of the
It must be remembered that the Core Assessment Record is only a tool and requires the
skills, knowledge and professional judgement of the practitioner to use it effectively.
_ Links Between the Core Assessment Record and other Assessments
A key concern for many parents of disabled children is the number of assessment
processes their child is involved in. These may include general and specific health
assessments, psychological assessments, Special Educational Needs and other educational
assessments. However, each of these assessments consider a specific area of
the child’s needs. They do not provide a picture of all the child’s needs or of the interrelationships
between the needs of the child, capacities of parents’, and family and
The Core Assessment Record is a tool for undertaking a holistic assessment. In order to
complete a Core Assessment Record a social work practitioner will draw on
information from a variety of sources including the child, parent or carers and other
professionals. However a Core Assessment should also draw upon existing reports and
specialist assessments concerning the child and family, having obtained the necessary
consents to use this information. In some situations basic details from a specialist
assessment can be recorded in the Core Assessment Record and the specialist
assessment attached to the Core Assessment Record as an appendix. This should mean
that disabled children, their parents or carers, do not feel that they are repeatedly
covering the same issues.
For some children, the Child in Need Plan in the Core Assessment Record may be used
to draw together the objectives from a number of different assessments into one interagency
plan for the child. It may be useful in some situations to arrange for the review of
the Core Assessment to coincide with the reviews of other assessments in relation to the
child and family.
One consequence of completing a Core Assessment Record may be that the need for a
more specialist assessment may be identified. It is important that any further
assessment is fully discussed with the child or young person and their parents or carers.
It may be necessary to undertake a more specific assessment of some areas of the
disabled child’s abilities in order to access particular services. For example, a more
detailed analysis of a disabled child’s mobility and selfcare skills may be required to
identify the most appropriate day care or respite care resource for the child.
Where a child or young person is receiving respite care for periods exceeding 24 hours
at a time, they are looked after under S20 of the Children Act 1989.
_ The Core Assessment Record and other Children in the Family
The Core Assessment Record is designed to be completed for each child in need in a
family. A disabled child may have an impact on other children in a family, and this may
result in siblings requiring support in their own right. In such situations a professional
judgement will have to be made about whether a Core Assessment Record should be
completed for other children in the family to ensure that support provided is based on a
clear understanding of all the children’s needs.
Recording Specific Issues regarding Disabled Children
The following section provides guidance for social work staff on recording some of the
specific issues that may arise because of a child’s impairment(s).
_ Details Concerning a Core Assessment
It is recommended that an outline of the nature and extent of the child’s impairment is
recorded in this section, along with details of routine hospital and outpatient
appointments. More specific details about the child’s health needs should be recorded
in the Health dimension of the child’s developmental needs.
Child’s Developmental Needs
This section should include details of the child’s medication regime.
The type of educational provision attended by the child should be recorded in this
dimension. If the child has a statement of Special Educational Needs brief details of the
main provisions should be recorded. Full details of the Statement can be included, if
necessary, by attaching the full statement as an appendix to the Core Assessment
A summary of the nature and extent of any communication difficulties experienced by
the child should be recorded in this dimension. The ability of parents or carers to
communicate with the child should be recorded under Basic Care in the Parenting
Capacity section of the dimension.
_ Emotional and Behavioural Development
The nature of any challenging behaviour exhibited by the child, including whether it
affects the child’s safety, should be recorded under this heading. The amount of
supervision the child requires should be also recorded in this dimension. How parents
or carers respond to the child’s challenging behaviour should be recorded under
Ensuring Safety in the Parenting Capacity Section.
This dimension is important for disabled children as they may have picked up messages
that to be disabled is ‘wrong’, ‘bad’ or a burden on others. They, therefore, may reject
who they are and lack confidence and self-esteem. Having determined how the child
perceives him or herself, it is important to record how they view their identity as a
_ Family and Social Relationships
This dimension is concerned with the child’s relationships with their family, peers and
others; how the child relates to others and how they respond to him or her.
The impact that the child’s impairment has on siblings and parents or carers is
considered later in the record.
_ Social Presentation
In addition to how the child or young person presents socially, the way in which others,
particularly outside the family, respond to the child or young person’s impairment
should be recorded in this dimension. This will help to develop an understanding of the
barriers that the child and family may have to overcome when accessing and using
_ Selfcare Skills
Some of the questions in this dimension may not be appropriate for some disabled
children and young people. However the first question, Child has age appropriate
selfcare skills can be completed for all children and young people. This section can be
used to record a summary of the child’s abilities, including washing and dressing, eating
and drinking, continence, and to go out alone.
The capacity of parents to provide the level of supervision and support required by the
child, can be recorded in the parental capacity section of this dimension.
A more detailed assessment of some areas of the child or young person’s abilities may be
necessary to identify or access the resources which are most appropriate to the child or
young person’s needs.
Family and Environmental Factors which may impact on the
Child and on Parenting Capacity
_ Family Functioning
The impact of the child’s impairment on other family members is recorded in this
section. When recording the impact of the child’s impairment on siblings (FE4),
practitioners should consider whether siblings are themselves ‘children in need’ and
require a core assessment. Consideration will also have to be given to whether a separate
‘Carer’s assessment’ should be carried out in respect of parents or carers (FE6).
_ Family’s Social Integration
This is often a major issue for families with a disabled child. Any discrimination
experienced by the family as a consequence of the child’s impairment should be
recorded. Support to the family through membership of support groups for disabled
children should also be noted.
_ Community Resources
Any difficulties experienced by the child and family in accessing resources in the
community as a consequence of the child’s impairment should be recorded. This
would include difficulties in physically accessing resources, discrimination, or issues
arising from the child’s behaviour.
Plan for a Child in Need
The plan for the child should take account of the child or young person’s wishes and
feelings, the views of parents or carers, and any existing specialist assessments of the
child. The Child in Need Plan provides an opportunity to draw together into one
document individual agency plans and to produce a single inter-agency plan for
Department of Health (1999) The Government’s Objectives for Children’s Social Services.
Department of Health, London.
Department of Health (2000) Assessing Children in Need and their Families. The
Stationery Office, London.
Department of Health, Cox A and Bentovim A (2000) The Family Assessment Pack of
Questionnaires and Scales. The Stationery Office, London.
Department of Health, Home Office, Department for Education and Employment
(1999) Working Together to Safeguard Children: A guide to inter-agency working to
safeguard and promote the welfare of children. The Stationery Office, London.
Department of Health, Department for Education and Employment and Home
Office (2000) Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families. The
Stationery Office, London.
The NSPCC and the University of Sheffield (2000) The Child’s World: Assessing
Children in Need. The NSPCC, London.
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