The Family Rights Group has launched guidance to help social workers to carry out initial family and friends care assessments.
There is currently no guidance or minimum standards covering these assessments also known as viability assessments which has led to inconsistency in the way practitioners carry them out.
“The guide aims to provide social workers with a clear framework for undertaking preliminary assessments of family and friends. Ultimately, it will be for the judge to decide which option for permanence is the right one for the child but this guide will enable practitioners to demonstrate with confidence to a child, family members, professionals and the judiciary that potentially viable options for a child to be raised within their family network have been fully and fairly explored,” says the guidance
It says that the viability assessment should set out clearly:
- the information gathered by the social worker in relation to the child’s current and anticipated future needs
- the ability of the family member or friend being assessed to meet these needs (with appropriate support)
- the social worker’s analysis of this evidence, which underpins the recommendation they have reached
During the assessments, social workers need to give consideration to factors including the age, employment, financial, health and accommodation status of the potential carer, the motivation behind their desire to care for the child, their relationship to the child, lifestyle and background.
Social workers should then analyse the information before them including positive and negative factors the child could potentially be placed with this person.
“It is this process of analysis that will inform and evidence the recommendation reached as to whether or not this is a potentially ‘realistic option’ that should be assessed further,” the guidance concludes.