1. Initial assessments of referrals must be completed within 10 working days
2. If initial assessment confirms concerns of significant harm a strategy discussion/meeting will be arranged.
3. If significant harm is not confirmed further support may still need to be provided for the family within a Child in Need or a Family Support Plan.
4. The initial assessment is complete when it is authorised by a Team Manager
5. Child/parent should be given a copy of the assessment
6. The referrer must be informed of the outcome of the initial assessment
An ‘initial assessment’ is a brief assessment of each child referred to Children’s Social Care where it is necessary to determine whether:
- the child is formally “in need”,
- there is reasonable cause to suspect the child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm,
- services may be required to meet the child’s need(s),
- a further, more detailed ‘core assessment’ is required.
Initial assessments are completed by Children’s Social Care working with colleagues from other agencies, within seven working days from the date of referral.
NB From 1 April 2011 the timescale for completion of an initial assessment is extended to 10 days.
Where it appears from the referral that there is reasonable cause to believe the child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm, or preliminary enquiries reveal this to be the case, the initial assessment may consist of little more than the clarification of the referral and a record check, or the collection of additional information on a known child. This will lead to a Strategy Discussion/Meeting which will make the decision about undertaking Section 47 enquiries within which a core assessment will then be completed.
The initial assessment must:
- be led by a qualified social worker who is supervised by an experienced and qualified manager,
- be planned,
- be clear about who is doing what and when,
- be clear about what information is to be shared with the parents
Decisions on how the different parts of the assessment will be handled should be taken in discussion with all those involved with the child and the family.
The child should be seen within a time that is appropriate to the nature of the concerns, and without their parents/carers present if necessary.
When the initial assessment has been completed, Children’s Social Care must decide on the next course of action. The assessment can conclude that:
- the child is neither ‘in need’ nor is – or has been – at risk of significant harm, and so there is no need for further action by Children’s Social Care
- actual or likely significant harm is not evident or suspected, but the child is ‘in need’ and requires services or help either through a Family Support Plan or a Child in Need Plan (this may require a core assessment if the circumstances are complex)
- there is reasonable cause to suspect that the child is suffering , or is likely to suffer, significant harm and a Strategy Discussion/Meeting is required to decide on further action to be taken under s47 of the Children Act 1989
The conclusions of the initial assessment must be discussed with the child and the family, unless such a discussion may place the child at risk of significant harm. If there are concerns about this, it will be necessary to decide what the parents should be told, when, and by whom.
Whatever decisions are taken at the conclusion of the initial assessment, they must be agreed in writing by the Duty/Team Manager, with the reasons for the decisions, and what further action is to be taken, clearly stated.
The initial assessment is deemed to be completed when it has been recorded, discussed with the child and family and has been viewed and authorised by a manager.
Unless doing so would increase any risk of significant harm or jeopardise any police investigation, the parent and child of sufficient age and understanding should be given a copy of the assessment and the referrer informed of the outcome of the assessment.
In all cases where an allegation is deemed to have been made without foundation, Children’s Social Care must ensure that the parents are informed of the outcome of enquiries.