We undertake comprehensive family assessment/intervention programmes with parents to ascertain their ability to care safely for their child/ren. We work with a range of families, varying from those requiring predominantly skills development and support to those where serious abuse and/or neglect is known to have occurred. In the main, we work with families where there are serious concerns about the risk to a child’s well-being.
A comprehensive family assessment includes the evaluation of risk factors such as family history, domestic violence, substance abuse, alcohol misuse, mental health issues, chaotic lifestyle and poor parenting experience. In addition, the family’s strengths and protective factors are assessed to indentify resources that can support the family’s ability to meet its needs and better protect the child/ren.
We show due sensitivity to the individual needs of children and families, and all parents are treated as individuals with potential for change. Throughout the assessment & intervention process we treat all family members with dignity and respect. We strive to work in partnership with families, promoting parental engagement and participation throughout the process, seeking to build on strengths and empower parents to acknowledge, own and address concerns. This enables us to establish a clear and accurate picture of needs, risks, protective factors and potential to change. We ensure parents/carers are fully aware that the child’s safety, health and welfare must be given first priority.
All assessments are guided by ‘Assessment Requirements’ (as identified by the placing Local Authority) or ‘Joint Instructions’ and an Assessment/Placement Plan is constructed prior to the commencement of any assessment.
Comprehensive family assessments always consist of two elements, i.e. parenting assessment and risk assessment.
The assessment and intervention is in line with the ‘Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families’ and within this framework we systematically collect and analyse information to support our professional judgement. The assessment therefore takes into account the three domains:
- The child’s developmental needs;
- Parental Capacity – the parent(s) ability, commitment and motivation to respond appropriately in meeting these;
- The wider family and environmental factors.
We provide a Child Protection/Child-Centred Approach in which the safety, health and well-being of every child comes first. This remains the primary focus of our work with parents. Throughout the process the assessment team (Team/Case Manager and allocated Family Assessment Workers) incorporate a range of direct individual work, group work and daily observations, as well as utilizing other external resources as deemed appropriate to meet the needs of the family and its individual members.
The risk assessment process:
- is ongoing
- expands as new information emerges, so that family strengths as well as problem areas need to be continuously redefined and considered in case planning
- systematically assesses the family’s strengths and needs in order to link to the most appropriate level of services
- takes into account the frequency, intensity, nature and duration of risk factors and child protective factors which may decrease or increase the risk of abuse and/or neglect.
Flexible Services to meet individual needs
Both Centres are able to provide a wide variety and combination of various assessment arrangements in order to meet the needs of children and their families & to provide detailed information and analysis for decision making purposes.
Whilst most of our assessments are conducted between 4-12 weeks, we can work to a range of timescales and, due to our resourceful tailoring of assessments, we can undertake assessments in varying formats.
What is our uniqueness?
Dudley Lodge is committed to providing a first class service and believes that the components of our uniqueness are :
The QUALITY of our assessments;
The FLEXIBILITY of our assessments;
DECISIVENESS - placements do not last any longer than they need to;
The STABILITY of the staff team; and
Our INDEPENDENT STATUS
We provide a range of Residential Assessments for families at both our Dudley Lodge and Bonner House Centres. We undertake the majority of our residential assessments within timescales between 4 - 12 weeks.
However, within these timeframes, we reserve the right to suspend/terminate an assessment if, at any stage, it is felt that it is not in the best interests of the child for the placement to continue. Should such a situation arise, full consultation with the Social Worker and Children’s Guardian would take place, and a final decision would be made in conjunction with these professionals.
Community Based Assessment
Community Based assessments are undertaken in the family home, where the children may be in care of the local authority, or resident at home with their parents/carers. This type of assessment minimises disruption for the children. We provide supervision at times deemed most ‘risky’ for the child/ren, for example early mornings, evenings and/or weekends, Community Based Assessments are conducted for a period of up to 12 weeks.
In a significant number of the families we work with one or both parents experiences a learning difficulty. We have many years of experience in this area of work and we have a good reputation for offering a quality service to these individuals.
The PAMS Assessment (Parent Assessment Training Manual) was developed by Dr Sue McGaw, a nationally renowned Clinical Psychologist in the field of working with parents with learning disabilities. It covers:
- child care and development,
- behaviour management,
- independent living skills,
- safety and hygiene,
- parents’ health,
- relationships and support, and
- the impact of the environment and community on parenting.
We can undertake Viability Assessments in a range of ways via any of the following:
- Paper Assessment
- Day Assessment
- In the community
If a Residential or Community Based Assessment is not considered appropriate, we can offer families a Day Assessment.
We provide families with a fully furnished flat at either Centre to undertake a realistic assessment of their parenting. This can be a more cautious way of conducting an assessment where there is significant concern and hesitation regarding placing the child back into their family’s care. It can also be useful for where the current family home is not safe/appropriate to undertake a community based assessment. It limits the level of disruption to school age children placed in foster care as assessments can be undertaken over weekends and school holiday periods.