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Assessment, Analysis and Planning Assessing parental capacity P12 1.

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1 Assessment, Analysis and Planning Assessing parental capacity P12 1

2 Learning Outcomes To assess parents’ capacity to respond to a child’s needs. 2

3 Keep the child at the centre ‘There are some parents who will not be able to change sufficiently within the child’s timescales in order to ensure that their children do not continue to suffer significant harm. In these situations, decisions may need to be taken to separate permanently the child and parent or parents.’ (Department of Health, Department for Education and Employment, and Home Office 2000, p58) 3

4 Understanding the impact of parental problems  Recent research suggests that the problems that affect parenting capacity are frequently not addressed or understood.  Unless the root problems affecting parenting capacity are assessed and addressed, children are likely to continue to experience chronic neglect. 4

5 Dimensions of parenting capacity  Basic care  Ensuring safety  Emotional warmth  Stimulation  Guidance and boundaries  Stability 5

6 Family and environmental factors  Family history and functioning  Wider family  Housing  Employment  Income  Family’s social integration  Community resources 6

7 Start with engagement with parents  Specific challenges will include:  how to be honest and clear with parents without creating hostility;  how to be empathic without colluding with unacceptable behaviour;  how to reconcile the different imperatives of the role within practice with parents. (Forrester et al. 2008, p24) The task is to empathise and work with parents (wherever possible) while retaining a focus on the child and their welfare 7

8 What do parents tell us? They want workers who are:  courteous  turn up on time  speak directly to them  don’t use jargon  ‘listen and ‘really hear’ and accept what is being said  explain what is happening and why  do what they say they are going to do and don’t over- promise  say honestly when they can’t help  are patient and make enough time to understand. Source: Teaching and learning communication skills in social work – SCIE 2004 Guide 5 8

9 Barriers to engagement  Parents may have fears that their children will be removed from their care (or not returned if already removed).  They may deliberately avoid contact with professionals – physically or emotionally.  They may appear to be co-operating with professionals whilst not really accepting the concerns about neglect.  Their lives may be fraught with a series of crises that deflect from sustained attention to the assessment process. 9

10 PASTFUTURE Current Circumstances Family history and the Parent’s perceptions of own childhood = Key Transition Theoretical framework Assessment must be both chronological and ecological A Snapshot and aMovie

11 Plan for assessment  Assess the factors affecting parenting capacity.  Consider chronology and past history and patterns within cases.  Assess parent’s current ability to form a range of healthy relationships as indicated by:  balance of attention to children's needs and own needs  awareness of effects of relationships  ability to take responsibility for behaviour  meeting the child’s needs. 11

12 Importance of past history Definitions of a chronology include: ‘ A list in date order of all the major changes and events in a person’s life.’ ‘A chronology seeks to provide a clear account of all significant events in a child’s life to date, drawing upon the knowledge and information held by agencies involved with the child and family.’ ‘The purpose of a chronology is early indications of emerging patterns of concern.’ (Social Work Inspection Agency 2010) 12

13 Compiling a chronology:  decide on purpose;  identify key elements to be recorded;  make sure information is accurate and in date order;  take account of adult’s perspective. Core elements of a chronology:  key dates: births, life events, moves;  key facts;  life changes, transitions;  brief note of events and actions taken. 13 Importance of past history (Social Work Inspection Agency 2010)

14 Assess capacity to change  Parent’s willingness to accept responsibility for aspects of their problem over which they have some control.  Parent’s ability to change, linked with child’s developmental needs and timescales, and extent to which compromised.  Parent’s willingness to change. 14

15 Assessing impact of parental problems  In many cases of neglect, parents are affected by:  domestic abuse  mental health problems  substance misuse  learning disabilities  or a combination of the above.  There needs to be specific in-depth assessment of the specific ways in which these parental problems are affecting parenting capacity. 15

16 What would help?  The planned interventions should take account of an analysis of the reason for the continuation of any of these parental problems.  Does there need to be therapeutic help for underlying emotional distress?  Is specialist treatment required, of what type and by whom?  Is support required to develop a range of healthy relationships?  Does the mother need help to separate from a violent partner? 16

17 Impact of wider family factors If isolated from extended family:  may be a deliberate protective strategy;  may be due to difficulties with attachment relationships;  may be due to distance, resources, time - for example. 17 Parents need opportunity to explore and understand these areas and the positives and negatives of re-connecting with extended family members.

18 Impact of environmental factors  Assess the interaction between the wider family/family functioning/ family history affecting parenting capacity and wider environmental factors.  Are practical help and resources required?  If so, in what way should they be provided and the impact of their use measured for change over time?  What can the parent do to buffer the child from the effects of deprivation? 18

19 ‘Recognising the past in the present’  Adults will have ‘internal working models’ of relationships formed on the basis of childhood experiences of being parented.  Parents can unconsciously be affected by their internal working models in their interactions with their own children.  Assessing and helping people to recognise these patterns is an important part of assessment and planning. 19

20 Capacity and willingness to change Capacity to change:  prior evidence of changes as a result of interventions  examples of concrete improvements over time  capacity to translate information into action. Willingness / motivation to change:  acceptance of responsibility for own actions  sustained changes over time  making use or/accessing available resources and services. 20

21 21 Assessing parental ‘intentions’ ‘There is a linguistic and conceptual dilemma between a wish and need to protect children from harm, and a reluctance to label or blame caregivers who hold a primary role and responsibility in the child's life’. (Glaser 2002) Is not necessary to determine that there is neglect. Is not necessary for a decision to start to intervene. Is essential in deciding the nature of intervention. Is essential for deciding what legal action to initiate.

22 22 Further Reading Barlow, J. with Scott, J. (2010) Safeguarding in the 21st Century: Where to now? Totnes: Research in Practice. Department of Health, Department for Education and Employment and Home Office (2000) Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families. London: The Stationery Office. Horwath, J. (2007) Child Neglect: Identification and Assessment. Hampshire: Palgrave MacMillan. Horwath, J. and Morrison, M. (2000) ‘Assessment of parental motivation to change.’ In J. Horwath (ed) The Child's World: Assessing Children in Need and Their Families, pp London: Department of Health, NSPCC and University of Sheffield. Jack, G. and Gill, O. (2010) ‘The role of communities in safeguarding children and young people.’ Child Abuse Review 19(2):


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