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Core Assessment Record

The Core Assessment Record records the key information gathered by social work practitioners during a core assessment. A core assessment is defined as an in depth assessment which addresses the central or most important aspects of the needs of a child and the capacity of his or her parents or caregivers to respond appropriately to these needs within the wider family and community context.

The time scale for core assessments in The Government's Objectives for Children's Social Services (1999) gives a maximum of thirty-five working days for their completion.

Using the Core Assessment Record

Although a core assessment is led by social services, it will invariably involve other agencies or independent professionals who will either provide information they hold about the child or parents, contribute specialist knowledge or advice to social services or undertake specialist assessments. This, combined with the information that will be gathered from the family, means that a core assessment will produce a large amount of information.

The Core Assessment Record is a tool to assist practitioners in systematically recording the key information gathered during a core assessment. It should not be used as a questionnaire. The left hand side of the page throughout most of the Core Assessment Record highlights key areas for practitioners to consider in relation to the Child's Developmental Needs, Parents'/Carers' Capacities to Respond Appropriately to the Child's Needs and Family and Environmental Factors. This information is gathered through work with the family and from other key individuals and agencies and summarised in the Core Assessment Record.

The Core Assessment Record is not intended to act as a running record of the core assessment process, in which the detail of every interview and discussion is recorded. Rather it is intended to act as a summary of the key information gathered. It is important, therefore, that the Core Assessment is carefully cross-referenced with other information for example, reports from other professionals and key documents in the record to avoid or minimise duplication.

An assessment is more than information gathering, and the Core Assessment Record provides a structure to analyse the information collected during the assessment process. The information is used to make professional judgements about the child's needs within their family and wider environmental context and to decide on the content a plan to safeguard and promote the child or young person's welfare. The objectives specified in the plan should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Related to the assessment and have a clear Time scale for completion. The progress made against each objective is then reviewed with the child and family and other key individuals and agencies at specified intervals.

The Core Assessment Record is intended to support work with children, families and other agencies. The completed Core Assessment should be shared with the young person and relevant family members and their views of the assessment recorded.

The plan should be developed in partnership with the child/young person, family and other key individuals and agencies building on the strengths identified during the assessment.

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By Steve Walker, David Shemmings and Hedy Cleaver
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