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Models of Social Work Assessment

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Social Work
Wordcount: 2058 words Published: 14th Aug 2018

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Assessment is a vital function of social work acting as the starting point of the process and if not carried correctly can impact on the social workers relationship with the service user. There are no universal definitions for assessment however Whittington (2007) suggests the process is a meeting between a social worker and someone seeking help or services, which maybe held with an individual, family or a group of people. Sutton sees assessment as an ongoing cycle and describes it using the acronym ASPIRE, Assessment, Planning, Intervention, Review and Evaluate. Models for assessment include ecological, strength based, person centred which are often used when assessing a child. The Ecological model focusses on the service user’s environment including close family circle and their wider community, placing the service user firmly in the centre. Bronfenbrenner (1979) states there are 4 layer of environment which effects a service user, microsystem which considers immediate family, the mesosystem looks at relationships with extended family, neighbours, friends, work and school, the exosystem includes both the micro and mesosystem but also contains social infrastructure of the labour market, education systems, health and Social services, the final layer macrosystem includes systems including government policy, legislation and culture. Ecogram’s are illustrations often used to demonstrate these layers which can benefit to everyone involved to enable them to see everyone who is involve in his life.

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Parker and Bradley state the strength based model focusses on the positives in a service user’s life, focussing on increasing motivation, capacity and potential for making real and informed life choices. This model also requires an extensive knowledge of the service users’ environment, living system and wider system to be able to work with them using their strengths. Within this model the power imbalance between the social worker and service user is reduced as the service users is seen as the person with the knowledge of the issues. The person centred model has a similar function as the Ecological and strength based model which places the service user at the centre of any assessment and decisions made during this process.

As well as assessment models the social workers also use a variety of approaches including questioning, procedural and exchange. The Questioning approach uses a set of questions to obtain information, the social worker can have preconceived ideas about the service user which could lead the questioning in a direction which may not identify the issues which the service user may see as their main concern, this approach can be seen as a power imbalance in favour of the social worker. The Procedural approach is a systematic process set out by an organisation or framework, with set criteria which identifies eligibility, follows the rules and policies which dictates what the service user is entitled to, this approach also leaves a power imbalance as the social worker dictates what services the service user is entitled to. The Exchange process ensures partnership working where the service users is seen as the expert with an understanding of any issues, information gathered within this process is used to enable the service user to see their potential and resources available to meet this potential.

There are specific pieces of legislation and policies which have an impact on the child assessment process, The Children Act 1989 states the welfare of the child is paramount, with an overarching system for safeguarding children, it indicates roles different agencies play and introduced the concept of parental responsibility rather than parental rights. A key principle is that Local Authorities have a duty to provide services for children and their families and all children should have access to the same range of services. The Children Act 2004 updates not supersede Children Act 1989. The aim is to encourage integrated planning, commissioning and delivery of services as well as improve multi-disciplinary working, remove duplication, increase accountability and improve the coordination of individual and joint inspections in local authorities. The Children’s act does not specifically state children referred automatically have an assessment, however if a child is deemed in need then the child must have an assessment, a decision which must be made within 24 hrs., once this decision has been made an assessment needs to take place within 7 days. The decision is based on Children’s act 1989 (section 17 subsection 10) outlines the criteria for a child in need, which states:

(10) a child shall be taken to be in need if—

(a) He is unlikely to achieve or maintain, or to have the opportunity of achieving or maintaining, a reasonable standard of health or development without the provision for him of services by a local authority under this Part;

(b) His health or development is likely to be significantly impaired, or further impaired, without the provision for him of such services;

Stefan can be seen as a child in need due to his current behavioural issues at school and the ongoing issues with in his family home, both could have an impact on his health and development. If Stefan is displaying behaviours within school this is having a significant effect on his education and therefore development.

The social worker will carry out an assessment based on the Framework for the Assessment and Children in Need and their Families 2001 which is based on three areas, often viewed as a triangle, Child developmental needs including education, Emotional & Behavioural Development, Family & Social Relationships, Stefan is displaying behaviours while at school which is having an impact on his ability to learn. There have also been domestic violence situations within the home, it is not documented if he witnessed this, however the UN convention of the child states that hearing a domestic violence attack is just as detrimental to the child as witnessing the act and therefore has the same affects, this may be a factor for Stefan. Stefan and his mother are receiving support from her sister, but Stefan may have a role in the care for his mother or younger sister. Parenting capacity including Ensuring Safety, it has been highlighted Rhian, Stefan’s mother has physical and mental health issues which resulted in Stefan and his sister being left in a local park questioning Stefan’s safety. Family and Environmental Factors including Resources, Income, Employment, Housing, Wider Family & Functioning. Stefan’s mother is unable to work due to her physical and mental health which may have financial implications on the family.

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As well as the children’s act 1989 and 2004 and the Framework for the Assessment and Children in Need and their Families 2001, wales has a Children’s & families measure 2010 which was published to tackle child poverty. Section 67 of the measure looks at children’s needs arising from community care needs of their parents and applies to any child whose parents may be in receipt of care from the local authority or arranged by the local authority, or they may be in need of such services the authority must decide what services they can provide to the child and / or their family. Section 68 of the measure addresses the child’s need arising from the health conditions, including mental health, of their parents and applies when health services are provided to or funded by the NHS, the NHS must consider the effects of the medical condition on the child and if the child requires support from the local authority. Both sections relate to Stefan’s current situation, Stefan’s mother has physical and mental health issues which also may have impacted on the family.

The Human right convention of the child (1989) also has an impact on the assessment process, the convention was agree by international governments and stated all children had rights as individual’s not just objects which are cared for. The convention is made up of a 45 articles which outline the rights of a child, Stefan’s rights include a child must not be separated from their parents unless it is in their best interest, every child is able to have a say about what affects them and they must be taken seriously, each child has the right to live somewhere which is able to meet their physical, social and mental needs. If they do not then the government must support families who cannot afford to provide this, Governments must do all they can to ensure that children are protected from all forms of violence, abuse, neglect and mistreatment by their parents or anyone else who looks after them. Another pieces of legislation which needs to be complied with is the Welsh language act, Stefan currently attends a welsh school and his mother is a welsh speaker, Stefan may feel more comfortable if the assessment was carried out in welsh which Stefan is entitled to under the act.

When working with a child the social worker needs to use a variety of skills, adapt their approaches and values which include ensuring the process is child centred, at the child’s level of understanding and abilities, advocate on behalf of the child, use observational skills to observe interactions with any significate people. Parker and Bradley state research shows children prefer to be listen to, professionals to be available and accessible, non-judgemental and non-directive, have a sense of humour, straight talking, to be able to trust and, where appropriate, to have confidentiality respected. The social worker must also ensure the process is collaborative working with people involved in the service user’s life including professionals. By using these skills the social worker also complies with the Care council of wales Code of practice which states the social worker must promote the independence of Service Users while protecting them as far as possible from danger or harm. By using the fore mentioned skills the social worker using anti-oppressive practise to ensure the service user is empowered in their continued support.

Before and during the assessment process the social worker needs to ensure the issues are not pre-judged, Stefan’s behavioural issues may not be due to the issues at home he may have a learning disability, being bullied at school or finding the work hard which is causing him difficulties, Stefan may be a carer for his mother or sibling which is the issue, often what is perceived as the main issues are not necessarily the same for the person being assessed, if any of the above issues have been highlighted then appropriate assessment would be requested. Other issues which need to be considered would be where to hold the assessment, Stefan may feel unable to speak openly if carried out in front of his parents or within the family home, by carrying out any assessment meetings within his school environment either setting could make him more vulnerable, careful thought needs to be given to where assessment is carried out.

While working with a child there are many ethical issues which can arise, when there is evidence a child is being neglected and their safety at risk the social worker has a decision to make, Stefan has been left in a local park due to his mother forgetting him the ethical dilemma may be if Stefan is providing a caring role for his mother and sister removing him from the situation may cause his sister to become more vulnerable and take away a support system from his mother. Another ethical issue could be within the current economic climate carrying out an assessment but being unable to offer the services required by the child and their family, when dealing with a child such as Stefan the social worker needs to gain as much information as possible however the more people who know about the situation could cause Stefan to be more vulnerable, Stefan is also entitled to privacy and the more people who know about the situation could make Stefan vulnerable amongst his peers. The final issue could be Stefan’s parents are currently refusing support, the rights of the parents to refuse services verses the right of the child to have adequate service provision.



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