The Core Assessment Record provides a structured framework for social workers to record information gathered from a variety of sources to provide evidence for their professional judgements, facilitate analysis, decision making and planning. The core assessment must address the My World Triangle in depth.
Instigation of a core assessment
A core assessment must be started at the point when a decision is made to place a child's name on the Child Protection Register. It can be started before this, if when beginning the Initial Assessment it becomes obvious that this more detailed assessment is needed. The core assessment should be completed within 35 working days of its commencement. A completed Core Assessment Record is then used to develop the Child's Plan .
Consideration must also be given to whether compulsory intervention may be necessary to meet the child's needs. If this does seem likely the social worker/manager will consult with the service manager, responsible for the Assessment and Intervention team to explore whether it is necessary to make a referral to the Children's Convenor and/or to call a Legal Threshold meeting to explore an application to the Court.
Services for Children and Young People are responsible for the coordination and completion of the core assessment, other relevant professionals should be actively involved in contributing to the assessment by means of interviews with the family, reports to the social worker, telephone discussions and meetings.
Seeing the child
The relevant children should be seen and involved in the assessment. How this is done should be determined by the age and ability of each child. Parents are usually willing for their children to be seen.
However, sometimes parents are not happy for their children to be involved, or seen alone. In this case there are four possible scenarios:
- In the case of a younger or less able child who is not suffering, or at risk of suffering, serious harm, the social worker should still try to see the child, with or without the parent. But the worker would not be able to insist if the parent continues to refuse contact.
- In the case of an older and competent child who wants to see the social worker and is not suffering, or at risk of suffering, serious harm, the child has the right to be seen and the social worker should see them. It may not be possible to complete an assessment without the agreement of the parents, but the social worker should make sure that the child is not suffering, or at risk of suffering, significant harm.
- In the case of a younger or less able child who may be suffering, or at risk of suffering, serious harm, the social worker must see the child alone, unless this is inappropriate, as would be the case with a very young child. If the parents continue to deny contact, the social worker should contact their manager. A strategy discussion should be held immediately to decide the best course of action.
- In the case of an older, competent child who wants to see the social worker and who may be suffering, or at risk of suffering, serious harm, the child has the right to be seen and the social worker should see them.
- The social worker should give a copy of the completed core assessment to the child and parents. It may be appropriate to give copies to other family members as well, but only with the agreement of the child and parents.
Lessons from research
Based on their research with children and young people the Children's Rights Office has drawn up a list of questions for adults to ask when deciding whether children understand something enough to make a decision about it:
- can the child understand the question they are being asked?
- does the child reasonably understand the main reasons for what is being proposed?
- does the child understand what choices they have to decide between?
- does the child reasonably understand what will happen if they choose each of the choices they can decide to take?
- can the child weigh up these different choices against each other?
- can the child tell you their personal choice, rather than repeating what someone else thinks they should do?
- can the child keep to one decision, without constantly changing their mind?
- Worried about a child?
- Case Conference
- After the Initial Case Conference
- Supplementary Guidance