1.3 When Can the Framework be Used?
The Framework can be used by any practitioner in any circumstances where agencies are exploring a child's needs. Any assessment of a child's circumstances should always consider the child's need to be safe and protected. Where the assessment process identifies concerns, the Framework can support practitioners to explore potential risk in greater detail. It can assist in deciding whether a single agency response will meet the child's needs or whether there is the need for a multi-agency approach that may ultimately require intervention under child protection.
The Framework, thus, aims to inform practitioners across the spectrum of needs and risks to help identify what may be of concern and then better record and communicate incidents or circumstances of concern.
In its application, it can be used within the following circumstances:
- Single agency assessment of need - to assist identifying issues of concern which require to be addressed within a single service assessment
- Child protection investigation - to help obtain initial multi-agency understanding and agreement on the level of actual and potential risk/s and the initial action/s that may be necessary to support and protect the child
- An accumulation of concerns - such as in cases of domestic abuse and neglect where practitioners require a better shared understanding of the multi-dimensional nature of the concerns, the level of risk and whether change is possible within the family context
- Child protection registration - where a comprehensive assessment of need and risk requires to be undertaken to inform the child protection plan and risk management/reduction strategies
- Where circumstances have improved and services remain involved the Framework and the tools it contains can still usefully support on-going assessment and intervention
Single and multi-agency assessments will be informed, in the first instance, by the National Practice Model and identified risk factors explored in greater detail by the use of the Generic Risk Indictors and Matrix Related Indicators in Section 2 of the Framework.
Single Agency Generic Assessment
Where single agencies begin to have concerns about a child, but are not at the point of seeking additional service involvement, the Framework can help practitioners work out whether the child's needs may be met within their own organisation or if there is a need for other agencies to be involved. Having gathered all the relevant available information about the child, the parent/carer and the child's wider environment, the Generic Risk Indicators can then be used to help identify the key risk factors and the level and type of service required.
The worker can then consult with their line manager to screen concerns and agree whether their single service can satisfactorily meet and address the needs of the child or whether there is a need to share concerns with and involve another agency. Where it is thought that the level of concern may require multi-agency involvement on a child protection basis these should be immediately shared with social work services and/or the Police.
Multi-Agency Risk Assessment
This may be conducted in response to an accumulation of concern, as part of a child protection initial investigation where decisions have to made quickly and often with limited information, or where a child is already identified as in need/at risk and whose name is on the Child Protection Register, where the assessment may be planned and undertaken over a period of time.
Where concerns are being considered under child protection the Lead Professional is likely to be a social worker and they will have the lead responsibility for collating the comprehensive multi-agency view of the risks and needs facing the child or young person, along with any strengths/resilience factors that exist to minimise risk and maximise their future safety. A generic risk assessment may however also identify the need for further specialist assessment around areas such as neglect where, such specialist tools as the Graded Care Profile, may be used to explore in greater detail the level of neglect and the aspects of parenting that require to be improved to ensure the child's safety and well-being.
Single and Multi-Agency Assessment Process