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Integrated Children's System

Assessment and Progress Record

The Assessment and Progress Records are used to assess and monitor the developmental progress of looked after children, and to inform the Care Plan. The first Assessment and Progress Record builds on the information in the Core Assessment Record.

There are four age related Assessment and Progress Records:

1-2* years (up until the child's third birthday);

3-4 years (up until the child's fifth birthday);

5-10 years (up until the child's eleventh birthday);

11-15 years (up until the child's sixteenth birthday).

* There is no Assessment and Progress Record for children under one year of age. This is because children under one year will have had a core assessment completed when they became looked after and subsequent assessment will be after their first birthday.

View Integrated Children's System Assessment and Progress Record (5-10 years) (PDF format)

Completing the Assessment and Progress Record

A decision to complete an Assessment and Progress Record is made at the second review, i.e. at four months from the start of the current care episode. This Record is to be completed by the time of the third review, i.e. at ten months from the start of the current care episode. If the child or young person returns home before the assessment is completed, the information gathered should be used to inform the plan for the child or young person as their developmental needs may not necessarily change even if their circumstances do.

An Assessment and Progress Record should be completed at least once in every six months for children up until their fifth birthday and at least once annually for children aged 5 years and over. An Assessment and Progress Record should be completed within a maximum of 35 working days from the start of the process.

The Assessment and Progress Record is a recording tool and requires the skills, knowledge and professional judgement of social workers to use it effectively. It should NOT be used as a questionnaire with children and families, carers and other professionals involved with the child: its purpose is to support social workers in recording and analysing information gathered during an assessment. This should enhance the quality of both decision making and plans for looked after children.

The Assessment and Progress Record has two key functions: as a tool for planning and conducting the assessment, and as a record which brings together the information gathered during the assessment to facilitate analysis. The Assessment and Progress Record should be completed by the child or young person’s social worker. This responsibility should not be delegated.

Key Features

The heading of each section and the far left-hand column of the Assessment Records contain information and advice to guide social workers when completing an assessment. The prompts and reminders include:

  • research based information;
  • information about child development, health and educational attainment standards; and
  • suggestions about the use of specific tools, questionnaires and scales.

The Assessment and Progress Records also contain statements that are relevant to most children and young people. The statements are intended to help social workers:

  • plan the assessment;
  • identify gaps in knowledge about a child or young person. For example, there may be a large number of reports concerning a disabled young person’s medical condition. Using the Core Assessment Record or Assessment and Progress Record to review the information may identify that there is no or little information known about how parents or carers support the young person, or whether the young person smokes or drinks;
  • with structuring and recording the information gathered during an assessment;
  • identifying areas of strengths and difficulties;
  • analysis and planning.

It is important to emphasise that the completion and use of the Assessment and Progress Record is not a mechanical task of going through the sections, filling in boxes or making a few comments. The purpose of reviewing the child or young person’s needs and their progress is to come to an holistic understanding of what should be done in order to help the young person.

The statements provide good indicators of needs and progress. Although not every statement may be relevant to a particular child or young person, it is important to complete as many as possible. They should be thought of as reminders to social workers of what they need to know about the child or young person in order to assess their progress. If many of them are not known it is unlikely that the assessment will be based on a good understanding of the child or young person’s needs and therefore unlikely that interventions identified will be appropriate or effective.

These are not the only areas of importance and an assessment should take account of all relevant areas for the child or young person using multiple sources of information. The information required to make judgements about a child or young person’s developmental needs will be collected through a variety of methods including:

  • Discussions with the child or young person, parents, carers, other family members and professionals working with child and family member;
  • observations of child and his or her interactions, for example, with family members/carers.
  • A review of existing information, for example, social services files including the existing chronology, correspondence and reports from other agencies;
  • the use of tools designed to assist in particular aspects of the assessment, for example:
  • The Family Pack of Questionnaires and Scales (Department of Health, Cox and Bentovim, 2000)
  • The HOME Inventory (for children up to and including age 10 and their families) (Cox and Walker, 2002)
  • The Family Assessment (Bentovim and Bingley Miller, 2001)
  • other specialist assessments, such as speech therapy, psychiatric & psychological, Special Educational Needs.

It is important that practitioners take time to plan how they will complete an Assessment and Progress Record. The plan should include:

The timescale for completing the record;

  • The order in which domains and dimensions will be completed;
  • How the child or young person, parents and carers will be involved in the assessment of each domain and dimension;
  • The sources of information that will be used for each domain and dimension;
  • How information will be obtained from other family members, agencies and professionals;
  • Who will have access to the completed record, and what sections of the record they should have access to.

Structure

The structure of each Assessment and Progress Record is the same:

  • Checklist of Contents

    This records which sections of the record have been completed and the date(s) of updating. Where other assessments have been used to complete sections of the Assessment and Progress Record, these should be recorded in this section and included as annexes to the record.

  • Child/Young Person’s Developmental Needs

    The child or young person’s developmental needs are assessed in accordance to the seven developmental dimensions used in Looking After Children (Department of Health, 1995) and The Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families (Department of Health, 1999).

    For children under five the dimensions of Emotional and Behavioural Development and Self-care Skills and Identity and Social Presentation are combined.

  • Corporate Parenting Capacity

    Within each developmental dimension information is gathered to assess the corporate parenting received by the child or young person in relation to their identified needs. This is recorded under the heading of ‘Corporate Parenting Capacity’ to reflect that these may be provided by the child or young person’s birth parents, foster or residential carers or by the local authority as the child or young person’s corporate parent.

  • Environmental Factors

    This gathers information about Family and Environmental Factors in relation to the caring environment that is provided for the child/young person and the support available to their carers.

  • Sources of information used

    This may include discussions with other family members or professionals involved with the child or young person, existing reports for example: school reports, newly commissioned reports such as a report from a child psychologist, and questionnaires and scales used with the child or young person and/or carers.

    Decision-making will almost always require more than one source of information.

  • Assessment of the child/young person’s needs

    In some dimensions the child or young person’s developmental needs are broken down into sub categories. For example, for children and young people aged five years and over, Family and Social Relationships contains sections on the child or young person’s relationship with carers, birth family, and peers.

    Each dimension on the child or young person’s needs contains a number of statements relating to key issues and areas. Each statement is accompanied by a Yes and No box, and a Notes and Evidence Section. The statements are intended to assist practitioners in gathering and recording key information about a child or young person’s needs. They are also intended to assist managers, supervisors and review chairs to obtain a quick overview of areas of need and strength.

    For example, the Identity section of Assessment and Progress Record for young people 11-15 includes the following statements (not in order):
  Yes No Notes and Evidence
The young person finds it hard to explain why s/he is not living with parents  
The young person sees him/herself as unattractive or unappealing  
Young person feels connected to and part of his/her birth family  
Young person can describe his/her cultural and ethnic background  

In this example the young person may report to the social worker that they have no difficulty in explaining to people why s/he is not living with their parents. The carers may confirm this but school may report that the young person has made up elaborate stories to conceal the fact that they looked after.

The practitioner would use the space on the left-hand side of the page to record their notes about this area or to record the evidence supporting their decision.
  Yes No Notes and Evidence
The young person finds it hard to explain why s/he is not living with parents School report (22/2/02) indicates that James is finding it difficult to explain honestly to teachers and friends why he is not living at home.
For some children and young people, there may be a considerable amount of high quality information available already about some areas of a child or young person’s needs. The Assessment and Progress Record can usefully organise and record this information alongside information from the child or young person and their carers. In other cases, for example where a child has profound disabilities, a practitioner may decide it is more appropriate to gather information about the child’s needs in relation to a specific dimension using specialist assessment tools. In such circumstances, the practitioner should record at the beginning of each dimension the assessment tool(s) completed.

Having considered the child or young person’s needs the Assessment and Progress Record considers the parenting inputs in relation to each dimension. Again, a series of prompts are used to guide the assessment.

  • Summary Assessment of the child/young person’s needs

    At the end of each dimension, there is a summary assessment of the child or young person’s developmental progress. The analysis of information gathered, is completed by the social worker, who should then complete the summary assessment ratings of the child or young person’s progress, based on his or her professional judgement following analysis of all the information gathered in relation to the dimension.

    There are two separate ratings to be completed in each dimension. In the first rating, there are four descriptions of the child or young person’s progress and definitions of each are given to assist social workers in making their assessment. These are intended to provide a summary assessment of a child or young person’s development in a particular dimension. This will help to identify areas of particular need for a child or young person and where actions should be targeted.

    These are not ratings of the child or young person but ratings of the child’s progress on the different dimensions. Children will often be doing well in one area but not so well in another. In making these ratings it is important not to make allowances for a child’s particular circumstances. For example, a rating should not reflect a judgement that the child or young person is doing well given what he or she has been through. Their circumstances are taken into account when analysing the information obtained in all three domains of the assessment.

    The summary assessments include indications of how the progress of disabled children and young people should be taken into account.

    For example, the Emotional and Behavioural Development section of Assessment and Progress Record for young people aged eleven to fifteen provides the following ratings and definitions:
Rating Guidance
Good The young person has many strengths. S/he shows many positive characteristics of the kind listed (or of other kinds) and there are no worries about feelings or behaviour (either for him/her or his/her carers) that cannot be reasonably easily dealt with within the home.
Satisfactory Again a positive picture with a range of strengths and only a few difficulties or difficulties that carers see as transitory or as a ‘stage’ the young person is going through (e.g. moody or inclined to be challenging) or as a reaction to recent events. Any problems are contained by the family and not seen as worrying within the overall pattern of development.
Some difficulties Here strengths are still evident, but the young person may have some more persistent difficulties in controlling emotions or in expressing feelings, challenging behaviour may be harder to deal with, periods of unhappiness of moodiness more frequent and harder to get through to, or restless and distractibility may interfere with some aspects of life such as peer relationships or education. Carers may feel the need for advice and support in dealing with the problems, although specialist help may not be needed
Difficulties currently outweigh strengths Here there are some clearly worrying emotional and behavioural problems that interfere with the young person’s life and point to the need for some specialist advice or help. The problems tend to dominate the picture and it is harder to work with the current strengths or positive features that the young person has.
The rating of the child/young person’s needs should always be completed, including when the assessment of their needs has not been completed by using the statements in that dimension or domain of the record. For example, where a child has recently had an in depth assessment of their emotional and behavioural development by a child psychiatrist the practitioner may decide, on reviewing the information available, that it is not necessary to complete the Emotional and Behavioural Development dimension of the Assessment and Progress Record. However, based on the information available the practitioner would still complete the rating of need. In such situations it is important that the evidence on which the rating is based is recorded at the beginning of the section and copied to all those receiving a copy of the record.

The next rating records the social worker’s assessment of the level of change since the last Assessment and Progress Record was completed. This is intended to give an indication of the child or young person’s development over time. Using both ratings together means that it should be possible to demonstrate whether children are showing progress over time even if they continue to show some difficulties. Conversely, the change ratings will alert social workers and the review meeting to issues that may need special attention and input. To inform the child or young person’s statutory review the ratings of progress and change are included in the Review Record. In order to monitor the child or young person’s progress over time it is important that the summary ratings are completed even when it is considered that things have changed very little.

If any sections of the Assessment and Progress Record have not been revisited within the appropriate time-scales, the review chair should query the decision and, if appropriate, ask that this work be done. As a minimum the reasons for not updating a dimension should be recorded and the basis for the ratings made clear.

The Assessment and Progress Record, like the Core Assessment Record, is structured according to the domains and dimensions of the Assessment Framework.

Social Workers should plan how they will undertake the assessment and the completion the Assessment and Progress Record. This will include an evaluation of existing information about the child or young person to identify key gaps in the social worker’s knowledge about the current situation, and the order in which dimensions should be assessed.

Involving children and young people

The involvement of children and young people in the assessment process should be a key indicator in judging the quality of any assessment. However, unlike the Assessment and Action Record there is no suggestion that the Assessment and Progress Record should be completed directly with the child or young person. A directory of materials, www.doh.gov.uk/integratedchildrenssystem, which have been designed to support children and young people to express their views has been published.

Practitioners should inform children and young people an Assessment and Progress Record is about to be undertaken. Practitioners may wish to show the record to the child or young person and discuss the information that they will be gathering to assess the child or young person’s needs and progress, how they will be gathering this information and from whom.

Practitioners may wish to share the record as individual dimensions are completed or wait until all the record has been completed before discussing it with the child or young person.

Practitioners should share their assessment in a manner that is appropriate to the child or young person’s age and understanding. An Assessment and Progress Record should never be sent to a child or young person before the practitioner has discussed it with them. Particular care should be taken in sharing the ratings of the child or young person’s needs and it will be important to stress that the ratings refer to the child or young person’s needs and that they are not a rating of the child/young person.

On rare occasions a child or young person may chose not to participate in an assessment of one or more dimensions of their needs. In these situations the assessment should still take place, but the practitioner should record in the Assessment and Progress Record the dimensions that were completed without the benefit of the child or young person’s contribution and why the child or young person did not contribute.

Links with other parts of the system

  • Using the Assessment and Progress Record with the Review

    The Assessment and Progress Record should be used to inform a child or young person’s review. The ratings of Progress, and where appropriate Change, from the most recent Assessment and Progress Record should be recorded in the Review record. The Assessment and Progress Record should assist practitioners in evaluating the impact of actions and services in identifying further actions.

  • Using the Assessment and Progress Record with a Care Plan

    The Assessment and Progress Record should be used to inform the Care Plan for the child or young person. The Assessment and Progress Record should help practitioner to judge whether:

    - the overall objective of the Care Plan remains appropriate to the child or young person’s needs

    - the impact of actions and services

    - there are areas of previously unidentified or unmet need

    - the placement is meeting the child or young person’s needs

  • Using the Assessment and Progress Record with a Child’s Plan

    Where a looked after child or young person returns to their birth family and there is an up to date Assessment and Progress Record this should be used to inform the Child’s Plan. The Assessment and Progress Record should ensure that the Child’s Plan is based on an assessment of the child or young person’s developmental needs and progress. However, the Assessment and Progress Record does not contain an assessment of the birth family’s parenting capacity or the family and environmental factors impacting on the birth family. Therefore a core assessment should be completed prior to or within 35 working days of the child or young person returning to live with their birth family.

 
 
 
By Steve Walker, David Shemmings and Hedy Cleaver
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