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7.2 Assessment Framework Guidance


Paragraph 5.2 (which includes links to the Risk Assessment Toolkit) and paragraph 5.4 (which requires particular consideration as to who will receive assessments to be given in domestic abuse situations) were added in January 2012.


  1. Introduction
  2. Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and Their Families
  3. Lancashire Model of Children in Need
  4. Working with the Child
  5. Risk Assessments
  6. Plans

1. Introduction


This guidance should be read in conjunction with the procedures in this Manual, in particular, the Referrals Procedure and Lancashire Assessment and Planning Framework, together with other key texts including the:

1.2 It is essential that any concerns that a child is, or may be, suffering Significant Harm are responded to in accordance with the Lancashire Safeguarding Children Board Multi-Agency Policy, Guidance and Procedures.

2. Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families


The Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and Their Families (the Assessment Framework) was issued in 2000 by the Department of Health, Department of Education and Employment and the Home Office provides guidance for professionals and other staff who will be involved in undertaking assessments of children in need and their families. The full text can be found at:

Publications policy and guidance at the Department of Health website

See also Working Together to Safeguard Children 2015.

2.2 The Assessment Framework is intended to provide a systematic way of analysing, understanding and recording what is happening to children within their families and within the wider context of the community within which they live.
2.3 The guidance emphasises that assessment is not an end in itself, but a process which will lead to an improvement in the well being and outcomes for a child.
2.4 The Assessment Framework introduced the assessment triangle, the sides of which are the three “domains” to be addressed as part of every assessment. Each domain is subdivided into a number of “dimensions”.

To ensure a timely service response, there are target timescales for the completion of assessments. These are:

  • Decision about the response to a referral or new information on an existing case to be made within one working day – see Referrals Procedure;
  • Assessment to be completed within a maximum of 45 working days of the referral being made – see Lancashire Assessment and Planning Framework;
  • Assessments to be completed within a maximum of 45 working days of the end of the Assessment or of any Strategy Discussion at which it is decided to initiate a Section 47 Enquiry.
2.6 Assessments should always be multi-agency.
2.7 There should be an assessment of the needs of each child in need in the family.

All assessments should:

  • Be child centred;
  • Be rooted in child development;
  • Be ecological in their approach;
  • Ensure equality of opportunity;
  • Involve working with children and families;
  • Build on strengths as well as identify difficulties;
  • Be inter-agency in their approach to assessment and the provision of services;
  • Be a continuing process not a single event;
  • Be carried out in parallel with other action and providing services;
  • Be grounded in evidence based knowledge.
2.9 Practitioners and their managers must ensure that practice and its supervision are grounded in the most up to date knowledge and that they make use of the resources described in the Assessment Framework and other critical materials.

Social work practitioners should be able to demonstrate that they have:

  • used knowledge critically from research and practice about the needs of children and families, and, the outcomes of services and interventions, to inform their assessment and planning
  • recorded and updated information systematically, distinguishing sources of information, for example direct observation, other agency records or interviews with family members
  • obtained the views of the child and the family
  • evaluated regularly whether the intervention is effective in responding to the needs of an individual child and family and modified the intervention accordingly
  • evaluated rigorously the information, processes and outcomes from their own interventions to develop practice.

The Assessment Framework guidance states that the conclusion of any assessment should result in:

  • An analysis of the needs of the child and the parenting capacity to respond appropriately to those needs within the family context;
  • Identification of whether and, if so, where intervention will be required to secure the wellbeing of the child or young person;
  • A realistic plan of action (including services to be provided) detailing who has responsibility for action, a timetable and a process for review.

3. Lancashire Model of Children in Need

See the Continuum of Need – Thresholds Guidance.

4. Working with the Child

4.1 Direct work with children is an essential part of assessment, planning, review and service provision, as well as recognising their rights to be involved and consulted about matters which affect their lives. This applies to all children, including disabled children and should include the use of interpretation/translation services and alternative communication media as required.
4.2 As part of all assessments, the child must be seen alone, their well being and their views (if appropriate) ascertained. The social worker/family support officer/Family Support Resource centre worker should record whether or not the child has been seen, their observations regarding his or her well-being and the child’s views.
4.3 Similarly, where there are child protection issues and within a Child Protection Plan it is essential that the child is seen, and their presence and well being ascertained, on a regular basis – at a minimum every four weeks but more often if circumstances require it. The social worker should record whether or not the child has been seen and the relevant observations regarding his or her well-being.
4.4 Direct work with children will include involving and including them in planning, evaluating and reviewing service inputs and outcomes. In addition to including them in planning forums and reviews, social workers and other staff from the Directorate for Children and Young People should routinely spend time with them assessing their needs and ascertaining their views.

5. Risk Assessments

5.1 Issues of risk should be considered at all levels of involvement with a child and his or her family. Where indicated within an assessment, any kind of contact or a review that a specific risk assessment is required, staff should discuss the advisability of completing a risk assessment with their manager.

Risk Assessment Toolkit - Where the social worker considers that the child and family are experiencing a number of difficulties, they must use the relevant Risk Assessment Tool (for a younger child, or an older child) and should consider completing a Risk Assessment to accompany the Assessment or where risks have not been previously identified in a Care Plan, Child Protection Plan or Child in Need Plan. The social worker should discuss the Risk Assessment with their team manager.

Please click on the relevant link below to access these documents:

5.3 Risk may be related to children, family members or it may relate to the health and safety of staff and other service users.
5.4 Particular consideration as to who will receive copies of the assessment should be given in domestic abuse situations, having regard to any risk which may arise in these circumstances.

If a risk assessment is completed it should be:

  • Clearly recorded;
  • Dated;
  • Discussed with the appropriate manager.
5.6 Identification of the need to complete a risk assessment may also serve as a trigger for a reassessment of the child’s needs within the Assessment Framework.

Risk assessments may be particularly appropriate when staff members are engaging in certain types of work with children and their families. These may include:

5.8 The Directorate’s Health and Safety Manual may also be of help.

6. Plans


Between them, the Assessment Framework and Working Together to Safeguard Children offer detailed guidance for plans for children which is of relevance regardless of their circumstances. They recommend that any plan should:

  • Describe the identified developmental needs of the child, and any therapeutic services required;
  • Include specific, achievable, child-focused outcomes intended to promote and safeguard the welfare of the child;
  • Include realistic strategies and specific actions to achieve the planned outcomes;
  • Include a contingency plan to be followed if circumstances change significantly and require prompt action;
  • Included timescales that are not too short or unachievable;
  • Not be dependent on resources which are known to be scarce or unavailable;
  • Clearly identify the roles and responsibilities of professionals and family members, including the nature and frequency of contact by professionals with children and family members;
  • Lay down points at which progress will be reviewed and the means by which it will be judged.

More specifically, the Assessment Framework lists those areas in which clarity is required in child care planning, as follows:

  • The objective of the plan, for example to provide and evaluate the efficacy of therapeutic interventions;
  • What services will be provided by which professional group or designated agency;
  • The timing and nature of contact between the professional workers and the family
  • The purpose of services and professional contact
  • Specific commitments to be met by the family, for example attendance at a family centre
  • Specific commitments to be met by the professional workers, for example the provision of culturally sensitive services or special assistance for those with disabilities
  • Which components of the plan are negotiable in the light of experience and which are not
  • What needs to change and the goals to be achieved, for example the child’s weight to increase by a specific amount in a particular period, regular and appropriate stimulation for the child in keeping with her or his development and age
  • What is unacceptable care of the child
  • What sanctions will be used if the child is placed in danger or renewed danger
  • What preparation and support the child and adults will receive if she or he appears in court as a witness in criminal proceedings.

6.3 Family support and child in need plans

A family support plan will usually involve simple services, to be provided following an Assessment and not requiring the continued involvement of a social worker. It will be developed in a family support planning meeting.

A child in need plan will usually be more complex, will be informed by an Assessment and will require the continuing involvement of a social worker. It will be developed in a child in need planning meeting.

Most family support/child in need plans will envisage the cessation of the Directorate for Children and Young Peoples intervention within twelve months. However, family support should not always be seen as a short-term service provision. Exceptionally, it may be that in order to prevent a crisis from being reached, some children and families may require longer-term support. Such exceptions may include:

  • Disabled children/young people;
  • Children/young people subject to child protection plans;
  • Children/young people whose parents/carers are disabled;
  • Children of asylum seekers.

In all cases, consideration should be given to implementing a contingency plan where objectives are not being achieved after twelve months.

6.4 Child in need (child protection) plan

The essential elements of a child in need (child protection) plan are the same as those for a family support/child in need plan. However, Working Together amplifies the Assessment Framework guidance by adding that a child protection plan should set out clearly the roles and responsibilities of those professionals with routine contact with the child, for example, health visitors, GPs and teachers, as well as those professionals providing specialist or targeted support to the child and family.

6.5 Child in need (child protection) plans are intended to safeguard those children and young people in the community who are most at risk. Therefore, if the need for such a plan persists for more than one year, consideration should be given to the need for other interventions, for example removal of the child from the situation of risk.