Some thought should now be given to the information that has been collected. This should lead to a list of needs which should be translated into objectives. For example:
- to improve the relationship between the siblings
- to reduce the level of drug taking in the family.
At this stage there should be no mention of services, as children’s needs can be met in a variety of ways.
Having identified needs and objectives, the Children and Families Team should now consider how to meet them. They should think about:
- specialist services available
- their own skills and abilities
- resources in the family
- universal resources.
These are then used to formulate an action plan.
In some cases the situation is more complex and even though an initial assessment has been completed it is still unclear what should happen next. If this is the case, a core or specialist assessment is required.
How to do it
It is important for the social worker and others involved in the assessment to link services to the child’s needs. They must be clear with the service provider about what they want the provider to do and achieve.
Lessons from research
Research by Dartington Social Research Unit (DSRU) led to a series of needs-led practice tools; they found that there was often lack of clarity and confusion about the best way to identify, predict and measure a child’s developmental needs. See www.commonlanguage.org.uk
Recent studies of family support services show that some children in need are refused help, or do not come forward for help, while others have their cases closed despite obviously impaired health or development. This may be due to:
- lack of service availability or resource limitations
- the family’s prior involvement (established cases get more support)
- the method of referral (professional referrals get more attention than self-referrals)
- the family’s culture, knowledge of provision and fear of stigma.
Prevention services (before situations deteriorate to crisis point) need to be intensive and long-lasting to be effective, and may at times feel intrusive, but produce better outcomes than brief bursts of activity. See Bullock R and Little M: The contribution of Children’s Services to the Protection of Children in Browne K (ed): Early Prediction and Prevention of Child Abuse: A Handbook (2002).
See also www.dartington.org.uk