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What to Expect: Single Assessment

How we investigate a child protection concern

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About Single Assessments

Children and Family Services have a legal duty to investigate all referrals, where it is judged that a child protection concern might exist.

Investigations are carried out using an assessment called the Single Assessment. This assessment can take up to the statutory limit of 45 working days, but many assessments can be completed more quickly than this.

Following the first visit, or by day 10 after a referral has been received, the social worker and a manager will agree the length of time necessary to carry out the Single Assessment.


What happens during the assessment

During a Single Assessment, the social worker will need to see the person, or people, who are caring for the child (or children) and the child themselves. The Social Worker will also want to talk to any parent who does not live with the child.

Each child will need to be seen alone. They will usually been seen in a separate room in the family home at the time of a home visit, or at school. Where a child is seen will depend on the age of the child and the social worker's professional judgment.

The social worker will usually talk to you about this before seeing your child. However, if a manager considers that a child might be put at risk if a parent or carer is contacted before a visit takes place, this will not happen. If the decision not to talk to a parent or carer before a visit is taken, the social worker will speak to them after having seen the child.

During the assessment period, the social worker will usually meet with you and the child (or children), 2 or 3 times. More visits will be arranged if the social worker believes this is required. The number of visits will depend on your family's availability and the complexity of the discussions required.

You will be asked to sign a consent form giving us permission to speak to other professionals who are involved with your family, for example, a class teacher or doctor. Any discussions with other professionals will be handled sensitively and will only include information relevant to the referral.


Completing the assessment and recommendations

The Single Assessment is a working document which reflects the information which has been shared with the social worker by the time the assessment is signed off by the manager. By the time the Single Assessment is signed off, the social workers will always have met with the child (or children). They will also have made every effort to talk to those with Parental Responsibility, or those who are caring for the child.

As part of the Single Assessment, the manager and allocated social worker will make recommendations about how Children and Family Services will support you, to minimize any potential risk to your child and/or ensure that the needs of your child are being met. The assessment and the recommendations will be discussed with you during the assessment period and should not come as a shock. Nevertheless, some of the information which Children and Family Services have to share with families can still be upsetting and difficult to hear.

Following the completion of the assessment, every effort is made to share this document with you in person, to help ensure that you understand the conclusions reached and the recommendations. If this is not possible, or if you prefer, the assessment document will be posted to you.

Please note: You will be asked to provide feedback about your experience. Your feedback will be used to improve our service.


What if you disagree with information in the assessment

If you believe that the information which has been recorded about you or your family is wrong or incomplete, you can have your comments added to the record next to the information you disagree with.

This means that your comments can always be read alongside the original information in future.

Once added to the record an item cannot be removed. This is to make sure that if there are any questions about what has taken place this can be checked easily.


What happens next

The outcome of the Single Assessment could be:

  • There is no further need for Children and Family Services to be involved
  • You are offered or continue to use further support from other agencies
  • There is an on-going Assessment from a Social Worker; if this happens you will be invited to a Child in Need meeting
  • You enter the Child Protection Process, which often starts with a Child Protection Conference

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