The initial assessment should be led by a qualified and experienced social worker who is supervised by a highly experienced and qualified social work manager. It should be carefully planned, with clarity about who is doing what, as well as when and what information is to be shared with the parents. The planning process and decisions about the timing of the different assessment activities should be undertaken in collaboration with all those involved with the child and family. The process of initial assessment should involve:
- seeing and speaking to the child, including alone when appropriate;
- seeing and meeting with parents, the family and wider family members as appropriate;
- involving and obtaining relevant information from professionals and others in contact with the child and family; and
- drawing together and analysing available information (focusing on the strengths and positive factors as well as vulnerabilities and risk factors) from a range of sources (including existing agency records).
All relevant information (including information about the history and functioning of the family both currently and in the past, and adult problems such as domestic violence, substance misuse, mental illness and criminal behaviour/convictions) should be taken into account. This includes seeking information from relevant services if the child and family have spent time abroad. Professionals from agencies such as health, local authority children’s social care or the police should request this information from their equivalent agencies in the country(ies) in which the child has lived. Information about who to contact can be obtained via the Foreign and Commonwealth Office or the appropriate Embassy or Consulate based in London.