Criteria for Initial Assessments

Posted on Sunday, 30th Aug, 2015 at 03:49:52 PM
Following a referral to Children's Social Care there are 5 decisions that can be made at the referral stage:
That No Further Action is necessary;
That an Initial Assessment (IA) is required;
That a Child Protection Enquiry (S.47) is required;
That the matter should proceed straight to a Core Assessment (CA);
That the matter relates to another formal process, e.g. a S. 7 report or a Subject Access Request.

An Initial Assessment will be undertaken in the following circumstances:

If there are indications that a child meets the threshold for Children's Social Care, the Team Manager will authorise an Initial Assessment;
If there are indications that a child does not meet the threshold for Children's Social Care, the Team Manager can authorise an Initial Assessment but they should satisfy themselves that another service is not able to meet the child/ren's needs;
If there are indications that a child is suffering or is likely to suffer from Significant Harm, the case will proceed in accordance with S.47 of the Children Act 1989. An Initial Assessment must be authorised with a view to progressing to a Strategy Discussion, prior to a Section 47 Enquiry and Core Assessment commencing.

An Initial Assessment is defined as a brief assessment of each child referred to Children's Social Care where there is a request for services to be provided

The purpose of the Initial Assessment is to gather enough information to determine whether a child is in need of services, in need of care or in need of protection. The Initial Assessment provides a "snap-shot" of what life is like for the child and should provide an indication of whether further intervention or assessment is needed.

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.

Following a referral being made, the Team Manager makes a decision within one working day about whether the case needs to progress to an Initial Assessment. The Initial Assessment commences at this point. The timescale for completing the Initial Assessment is 10 working days. The assessment should ideally be completed on day 7 to enable the Team Manager to review the assessment and add any comments/actions needed before day 10.

The Initial Assessment should be led by a qualified and experienced social worker supervised by an experienced and qualified social work manager.

Unqualified staff can undertake Initial Assessments provided that they are fully supervised and supported.

The social worker should carefully plan that the following are carried out:

Inform the parents/carers of the reason for the assessment; outlining the concerns raised if applicable;

Ensure that the child is seen and that an assessment is made of their needs, as well as any risks posed to the child. The child's views should be recorded in the Initial Assessment. With very young or pre-verbal children, observation of the child will be necessary;

The child should be seen by the lead social worker without their caregivers when appropriate and this should be recorded in the Initial Assessment Record;

Interview the parents/carers and any other relevant family members;
Seek parental agreement to consult with and consider contributions from all relevant agencies, including agencies covering previous addresses in the UK and abroad;

The Initial Assessment will gather preliminary information about individual need. All assessment information should be recorded in the Initial Assessment document, and the process recorded in case notes;
The Initial Assessment should conclude with a brief analysis which triangulates the information gathered. Needs and risk factors will be balanced with strengths and difficulties. The social worker should make a recommendation about the next steps and whether any further intervention or assessment is needed.


There are 4 potential outcomes from an Initial Assessment, which must be authorised by the Manager:

That there are indicators that the child is suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm, in which case a Strategy Discussion/Meeting must be conducted with a view to conducting a Core Assessment incorporating a Section 47 Enquiry. If there are indicators that immediate action is required to protect the child, consult the Duty Manager and consider Police Protection, applying for an Emergency Protection Order or arranging for the child to be Looked After;
That there are indicators that the child has other high level or complex needs, in which case a Core Assessment must be initiated;
That the child has identified needs which require further assessment or intervention. A Core Assessment may be initiated and/or services may be provided;

That the child is not a Child in Need or has low level needs requiring the provision of information, signposting to another agency and/or no further action. This can include a referral or re referral to services provided under the Common Assessment Framework.

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