Home
 Introduction
 Records and
 recording
 Recording skills
 Pitfalls in recording
 Recording in
 residential care
 Video Exercises
 Training materials
 Resources
 
 About Write Enough
 Order CD copies
 

Integrated Children's System

Initial Assessment Record

The Initial Assessment Record is the record of an initial assessment, and the decisions and actions resulting from this assessment including an Initial Plan for the child or young person.

An initial assessment identifies whether a child or young person is a child in need, and the services and interventions that are required to respond to those needs. It will also identify where a core assessment is necessary to develop a fuller understanding of what is happening to a child or young person and family in complex circumstances.

View Integrated Children's System Initial Assessment Record (PDF format)

Completing the Initial Assessment Record

An initial assessment should be completed within a maximum of 7 working days from the date of referral, but could be very brief depending on the child or young person’s circumstances. In completing the initial assessment, if it is known that a core assessment will be required, social work staff should make a professional judgement about whether it is necessary to complete all sections of the Initial Assessment Record before beginning a core assessment. The fact that a decision is made to carry out a core assessment should not prevent a child and family receiving the services that are necessary to support them. The initial assessment record should be shared with the child or young person as appropriate and parents, unless to do so would place the child or young person at risk of significant harm.

Key Features

  • Front page

    This records the child or young person’s details, a brief explanation of why an initial assessment is being undertaken, and the views of the child or young person and parents/carers.

  • Sources of information:

    The child or young person and their family will be a key source of information during an initial assessment and dates when family members were seen should be recorded. The Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families (Department of Health, 1999) requires that a child or young person be seen as part of an initial assessment.

    Other agencies should be consulted and involved, as appropriate, as part of the initial assessment. The names and addresses of agencies should be recorded in the Referral and Information Record.

    Parental permission to contact other agencies should be obtained except in cases where the safety of the child or young person may be jeopardised. Parental consent is recorded in the Referral and Information Record. It will have to be clarified at this point whether other professionals agree to information they provide being shared with the family.

  • Child/young person’s developmental needs

    Each dimension of a child or young person’s developmental needs is considered along with the parent/carers’ capacity to respond appropriately to those needs.

    For example, from the Health dimension of Daniel Williams aged eighteen months:

Health

Child’s needs: Daniel was born profoundly deaf. In areas other than speech, Daniel’s development is at the expected level.

Parenting Capacity: Until her recent illness Mrs Williams was able to meet Daniel’s health needs. Currently she is unable to do so, however, Mr Williams is meeting all Daniel’s needs in this area.

It is important to record the strengths of parents/carers as well as any areas of difficulties experienced.

  • Attributes of parents’/carers’ capacities which affect their ability to respond appropriately to the child/young person’s needs

Research has shown that problems with mental health, domestic violence, drug and alcohol misuse, a history of childhood abuse or abusing children are likely to affect parenting. It is important to record that an issue is present and also to whom it refers and its effect on parenting capacity.

For example:

Issues affecting parent’s capacity to respond to the child’s needs

Mrs Williams has suffered from postnatal depression since the birth of Daniel’s brother earlier this year. Mrs Williams is receiving medication for this.

It is also important to record in this section any adult who poses a risk of significant harm to the child or young person; for example, if a grandparent is a schedule one offender or a parent is extremely violent to their partner. The social worker should select the most appropriate category(ies) in which to record the information.

  • Family and Environmental Factors

The environment within which children and families live can play an important role in reducing or increasing the stresses on families depending on the support available to them.

The initial assessment should record factors that support families as well as those that increase stress. For example, extended family may offer a great deal of support to a young lone parent, alternatively they may compound their difficulties. It is important to note how family and environmental factors have impact on the child and family.

For example:

Housing

The family lives on the 10th floor of a block of flats. The exterior of the building is in poor condition. However Mr and Mrs Williams keep the flat in good condition

  • Analysis

The information gathered during the initial assessment should be analysed and this analysis used to inform decisions and further action(s).

  • Decisions

This identifies whether the child or young person is a child in need within the definition of the Children Act 1989. Where the professional decision of the practitioner is that a child or young person is in need and no services are provided the reason should be clearly recorded.

  • Further actions

This section records any actions taken during or on completion of the initial assessment. More than one box may be completed. A family may be allocated a specific service, such as sponsored day care in addition to a referral being made to another agency and a strategy discussion. It is important to remember that if a core assessment is planned, a family should receive or continue to services as appropriate during the process. When deciding which services to offer, it is important to take account of the family’s likelihood of being able to access or choosing to access these services.

For example:

The initial assessment on Daniel revealed that his mother is suffering from post-natal depression and his father is struggling to cope. In order to support Daniel and his family whilst further assessment is carried out Mark is provided with sponsored day care.

The Further Action arising from Daniel’s initial assessment identified:

Initiate strategy discussion Provide short term services
Immediate legal action to protect the child Commission specialist assessment(s)
Core Assessment Referral to other agency(ies)
Provide accommodation (including respite care) Please specify_______________________  
    No Further Action
Details of any actions identified should be specified in the Initial Child’s Plan.
If accommodation is to be provided, please complete a Care Plan and Placement Information Record and Agreements.
The child or young person and their parent/carers should be encouraged to record their views on the Initial Assessment Record.

The worker who completed the initial assessment should always sign and date the record. It should then be passed to the relevant manager to confirm the action(s) recommended. Where appropriate, a copy should be sent to relevant family members. All decisions will have to take account of the child or young person’s safety and whether permission has to be obtained from other agencies to share information. In some cases it will not be appropriate to include all the initial information. For example, where a neighbour made a referral but wished to remain anonymous.

  • The Initial Plan

An Initial Plan is set out at the end of the Initial Assessment Record.

A child or young person should have an Initial Plan:

  • where services are to be provided as a result of an initial assessment and a core assessment is not necessary;

  • where services and actions are being provided whilst a core assessment is being carried out.
  • Completing an Initial Plan

The layout of the Initial Plan uses the same tabular format as the other plans, with two minor differences:

The first is that the domains are not broken down into dimensions. Social Workers should record relevant information, in relation to each dimension, within the appropriate domain.

For example, the Initial Plan for Daniel Williams included the following:

Identified needs and strengths in each domain
How will these needs be responded to: actions or services to be provided
Frequency and length of service: e.g. hours per week
Person/
Agency responsible
Date Service will commence/
commenced
Planned outcomes: progress to be achieved by next review or other specified date
Actual Outcomes: to be completed at the review or at closure

Child’s Developmental Needs

Health: Due to his disability Daniel’s speech is not at expected level. Daniel has missed his last two speech clinic appointments

 



An appointment will be made for Daniel after 4pm to enable Mr Williams to take him.

 

 



Dr Clark, GP

 



By 22nd June 2002

 



Daniel will attend speech clinic

 

The second difference is the inclusion of a column to record the outcome of actions and services. It is expected that other plans in the Integrated Children’s System will be reviewed using the Review Record. As the Initial Child’s Plan should only be used with less complex cases the final column should be completed by the practitioner at closure or if the child’s circumstances change requiring a different plan to be completed.

For example:

Identified needs and strengths in each domain
How will these needs be responded to: actions or services to be provided
Frequency and length of service: e.g. hours per week
Person/
Agency responsible
Date Service will commence/
commenced
Planned outcomes: progress to be achieved by next review or other specified date
Actual Outcomes: to be completed at the review or at closure

Child’s Developmental Needs

Health: Due to his disability Daniel’s speech is not at expected level. Daniel has missed his last two speech clinic appointments

 



An appointment will be made for Daniel after 4pm to enable Mr Williams to take him.

 

 



Dr Clark, GP

 



By 22nd June 2002

 



Daniel will attend speech clinic

 



Daniel attended clinic on 14th June.

Links to other records in the Integrated Children’s System

  • Initial Child’s Plan and other plans

    An Initial Child’s Plan is used to support the provision of services whilst other assessments are carried out. Where there is a significant change in a child or young person’s circumstances, the Initial Child’s Plan should be replaced by the plan appropriate to the child or young person’s circumstances. For example, if a child becomes looked after the Initial Plan should be replaced by a Care Plan.

    The Initial Child’s Plan should be used to inform the development of any further plan. At this point the practitioner should consider:
  • Whether planned actions or services were provided or carried out;
  • Where services were made available, the extend to which they were used;
  • The impact of actions and services, and the extent to which the planned outcomes were achieved.

The identified progress to date should be recorded in the Actual Outcomes column of the plan.

  • Using the Initial Assessment Record in child protection

When children or young people, who are referred due to concerns of significant harm, are unknown to social services or are not an open case, an initial assessment should be carried out to assess whether the concerns are substantiated. The initial assessment may be brief, but the child or young person should always be seen. When new information is received on an open case which raises concerns about possible harm, it may be appropriate to repeat the initial assessment to establish whether these concerns are substantiated.

If, at any stage during the initial assessment there is reasonable cause to suspect a child or young person is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm, there should be strategy discussions/meetings and interagency action in accordance with the guidance in Working Together to Safeguard Children (Department of Health et al, 1999). This decision should be recorded in the Initial Assessment Record.

Where s47 enquiries are initiated this should be recorded in the Record of Outcome of s47 Enquiries. The outcome of the s47 enquiries may result in an Initial Plan being updated.

 
 
 
By Steve Walker, David Shemmings and Hedy Cleaver
Copyright information | Disclaimer