Presentation on theme: "Framework for the Assessment of Vulnerable Children and Their Families"— Presentation transcript:
1 Framework for the Assessment of Vulnerable Children and Their Families Helen BuckleyACWA Seminar31st January 2008
2 Problems identified in child protection and welfare services prior to development of the Framework Disparities about thresholds for serviceNeglect of neglect with primary emphasis on problems with a more vivid manifestationProblems with multi-disciplinary workLack of focus on childrenWeakness in integrating informationNeed for higher profiling of family support services
3 Research findings on assessment frameworks Assessment can have a therapeutic function and can encourage openness; the skill and approach of the worker are essential (Millar & Corby, 2005)Requires strong leadership and a clear plan for intervention and can promote best practice (Cleaver and Walker, 2004)Assessment tools have been criticised for having a ‘narrow, normative and prescriptive view of the world’ (Garrett, 2005)Concerns about computer based data (Munro, 2004)
4 What international research says about assessment frameworks Establish the foundation stones for practice, linking philosophy, theory and principles to practice triggers (Connolly 2006)Can facilitate practitioners to draw on a range of evidence and improve conceptual skills but effective use requires training and supervision in order to avoid mechanistic use (Crisp et al, 2007)Assessment is ‘both a head and a heart activity’ (Horwath, 2006)Service users are positive about involvement (Platt, 2006)
5 Some questionsWhat principles should underpin an assessment framework?What factors will maximise the effectiveness of the process?What implicit or qualitative elements are the most significant?
6 Underpinnings of Irish AF Framework should be informed by practitioners, rather than top downNo assumptions about service users willingness or motivation to engageGender sensitiveNeeds to include risk and avoid over categorisation
7 Outcomes of the pilot study Framework largely successful in its aimsNeed to show concurrent as well as sequential activitiesUnder use of evidence for decision makingDeficiencies in documented information about childrenNeed for more communication between statutory and voluntary agencies regarding use of the framework
8 Shaping of Assessment Framework One document incorporating tool, practice guidance and research readerQualitative assessmentBased on principlesTime lines to be agreed on a per case basisCore assessmentRole of coordinator/manager
9 Assessment processProcess of assessment needed to be clearly spelt out – more than a concept, broader than a set of toolsEmphasis on engagement, planning and reflectionRequired to differentiate between concurrent and sequential phasesUser friendly document with tabs and index
11 The Finished Product – Format A Single Document in Two PartsPart One – Assessment ToolPart Two – Practice Guidance in Two SectionsSymbols – Book, Keys, SpiralColours and TabsIndex
12 The Finished Product Assessment Wheel – Visual Aid Three Concurrent Activities – Circularity of AssessmentFive Steps – Sequence of AssessmentThree Dimensions of a Child’s Life and Knowing the Child – Child CentrednessMultidisciplinary ContributionsFive Key Questions – Evidence Based PracticePrinciples to Underpin Assessment – Seven Practice Principles-
15 Key questions:What facts, observations and opinions do you have to support the information gathered?What does this mean in relation to the child’s safety, welfare and development?How do practice experience, research findings and literature inform this part of your assessment?Should an intervention be made now? If so what?Where is the parent/carer within the change process?
16 Five Steps Responding Protecting Devising Gathering and Reflecting Sharing, Analysing and Planning
17 Engaging : overcoming distrust Consider who needs to be involvedWork on engaging involuntary service usersTake a gender sensitive approach,Involve children in a meaningful wayCheck the family’s understanding on a regular basis: recap on aimsShare information as it emergesEnable the family to identify their own needs, in writing if possibleBe available
18 Concurrent Activities: Collaborating Anticipate inter-agency and inter-professional problems and find means of solving themBe clear about rolesEstablish contact times and personnelClarify what is meant by confidentialityEstablish feedback arrangements
19 Concurrent Activities: Safeguarding Ensure all relevant information is gatheredEnsure child is seen regularly in a way that can satisfy any concernsCheck that contracts or conditions are being keptKeep an eye out for any changes in the child’s circumstances and assess what they might mean for the child’s safety
20 Step 1: Responding Is this a new referral? What is the referrer saying?What evidence is being presented?What are the strengths in the situation?Who is involved?What do we need to know now?Do the family know?
21 Step 2: Protecting Are there signs of neglect or abuse? Can someone protect the child from the alleged perpetrator right now?Can the child protect him or herself?Is there a history of abuse by this alleged perpetrator?Are there complicating factors?
22 Step 3: Devising What is the purpose What is the time frame? What information is needed from whom?From what other sources should it be got?How do I involve other professionals?How will the child and family be involved?What needs to happen immediately?
23 Step 4: Gathering & Reflecting Two equally important interrelated activitiesEmphasis on reflection / analysisApplication of the Five Key QuestionsThree Dimensions of a Child’s Life:Child’s developmental needsParents’ capacity to meet those needsExtended family and community’s capacity to meet those needs
25 Step 4: Gathering & Reflecting Additional Considerations in Relation to Dimension 1 (Child’s Needs)Children with disabilities and complex health needsChildren from ethnic minoritiesAdditional Considerations in Relation to Dimension 2 (Parent/Carer Capacity to Meet Child’s Needs)Includes for example the impact of mental health difficulties, the impact of alcohol and drug misuse and the impact of domestic violence on parent / carer capacity
26 Step 4 Gathering & Reflecting Knowing the Child Knowing the child means being able to describe:Child’s personalityFavourite things: likes/dislikesHobbies/favourite celebrities/interestsBest friends, petsWhat makes him or her happy or sadDreams, fantasies, ambitions
27 Step 4 Gathering & Reflecting Describe a Day in the Child’s Life As well as gathering information about the child, it is important for practitioners to have a real ‘sense’ of the childYou should aim to be able to describe an average day in the child’s life – use a clock face to facilitate this (Raynes, 2003)
28 Step 5: Sharing, Analysing & Planning Prepare reportDemonstrate knowledgeBase conclusions on sound informationLook at strengths and weaknessesEncourage participationShare the reportMulti-disciplinary meeting
29 Step 5: Sharing, Analysing & Planning What are the long term goals?What type of interventions are most appropriate?What resources are needed?Who else should be involved?How long should it take?How will I know if change has happened?How can I evaluate progress?
30 Areas for reflection Engaging families Considering caregivers’ incentive to changePromoting participationReflecting on information using the key questionsUsing the evidenceRecording
31 What’s different? Centred in on the child as opposed to child centred Guides through the entire process rather than information gatheringEncourages workers to reflect at all pointsAvoids obsession with labelling if needs and services are the focus
32 Training issues Child development Knowledge base on factors that affect parentingMulti-disciplinary workingAssessment skillsInfluences on decision making
33 Supervisory issuesAcknowledge and address coping mechanisms adopted by staffAccept that bias and distortion are inevitable from time to time, including groupthink, fixed ideas, over optimism and over-pessimismEncourage workers to self challenge
34 Organisational issues Promotion and support of multi-disciplinary workDevelopment of structure and context – not just an add onPromotion of a positive image of the system
35 Loose ends Difference between initial and full assessment? ‘One size fits all’ approachExpectation that the assessment framework will make decisions on its ownExpectation that multi disciplinary work is easily achieved