Assessment of children and families who may need help

Before we can decide the best way to help, we need to carry out an assessment following a referral. You can make a referral using our online referral form.

An assessment is gathering together and evaluating information about a child and their family. It considers:

  • the strengths of the child and family
  • how these can be built upon
  • any problem areas

Sometimes this is straightforward and can be achieved relatively quickly. This is known as an initial assessment.

At other times, particularly if the problem is complex, this can take longer. We may need to ask advice from others with specialist skills. This is known as a core assessment. If a core assessment is recommended, we try and ensure that it is completed within 35 working days. If it takes longer than this, we will say why this is so.

Much of the information in assessments comes from the family themselves. In order to be able to get the right kind of help, we work hard to ensure we get the process right.

If you are being assessed the duty social worker will want to get as much information as possible from:

  • you, the parents or carers
  • your child if they are old enough

The social worker will want to know how you think the problems can be dealt with. With your consent, the social worker will also ask other professionals who know you for information. This could be the school, health visitor or doctor, or any other professional involved.

This information is treated confidentially and you will be able to view the results of this initial assessment.

At this stage we may recommend that:

  • we cannot help at the moment and suggest possible help may be found elsewhere
  • we are able to give you some short-term help with your problems
  • we need to understand the problems more fully and we need to talk to you in greater detail

How we can help

We are committed to working to keep families together wherever possible. Most children we work with stay in their own family.

Sometimes a child may be looked after by us at a time of crisis. The is usually done with the parents' agreement. Most children who are looked after by us return to live with their families within a short time. Very rarely, we may have to ask the court for authority for a child to be removed from their parents’ or carers’ home.

Your social worker will be able to give you more detail on the services available to you.

Here are some of the services we offer:

  • social work support, including advice and guidance and help to get other services
  • financial assistance to safeguard a child's welfare where there is no other legitimate source of financial support
  • family centres where we work alongside children and their parents
  • children's homes and foster homes for children who need to be looked after
  • short term breaks for children with particular problems
  • take a break respite care for children with disabilities
  • adoption services, including assessing and approving adoptive parents and placing children for adoption where appropriate
  • post adoption support is available for parents who have adopted children. Services are also available for people who have been adopted and birth parents
  • child protection - we have a legal duty to protect children from harm. If you have concerns that a child is being mistreated, contact us
  • leaving care, for young people who are, or have been, looked after and are moving into independence or living independently
  • home care is available in some circumstances
  • practical assistance is available in some circumstances
  • reports which are required by the courts

We are responsible for ensuring that any arrangements for children who are privately fostered are suitable. If you have made your own private fostering arrangements, let us know.