The Association of Directors of Social Services (ADCS)
and Cafcass have produced a template for a national social work statement which has been developed to highlight a child’s needs where in the opinion of a local authority that child needs long-term protection and support, at home or elsewhere.
It is hoped that by becoming an expectation in all family courts, the statement will make it easier to train social workers on its use, especially where social workers move between local authorities. The statement has been developed so that all court requirements are summarised in one document. In this way, it is hoped that the child’s situation can be more clearly understood.
The statement was developed in partnership with DfE and the senior judiciary, and its use is recommended by the President of the Family Division, the Department for Education, the Ministry of Justice, ADCS, Cafcass and Her Majesty’s Court Service. It complements the nationally prescribed court forms and is compliant with all relevant statute and current case-law.
The expectation is that by 31 December, all social workers will be using the statement.
1. All social work statements should be submitted on the
national template and filed and served with the C110A application and in
accordance with the Public Law Outline (April 2014 version).
2. This template must be completed to include all the children
subject to an application. Whilst the social work statement is a legal
document, its primary purpose is to tell the child’s story and to advise the
court how the child can best be helped in the future.
3. The template is available to download on the DfE, MoJ, ADCS
and Cafcass websites. The statement should include the totality of social work
evidence gathered in the case. The statement should support the judicial
management of the case and also be fair to all parties and balanced (see
section 10). The updating section (9) may be completed for the Issues
Resolution Hearing (IRH) and/or the Final Hearing if updates are minor. It will
be more normal to file and serve a final case analysis on the national template
provided for this purpose.
4. Use one template per family, not one per child. The template
allows for the common concerns for all children in a family, identified in
assessments, to be recorded, as well as for the distinct needs of each child to
be set out. The template is designed to set out clearly the social work
evidence. That evidence can be primary – the direct experience of the social
worker – or secondary – evaluation by the social worker of evidence from
assessments or from the views and judgments of other people who know the child
or who have assessed the child’s needs. Facts should be confined to those
relied upon in evidence. An indication of whether they are accepted or
contested should be given where possible in section 8.
5. Each section of the template has to take account of the
relevant welfare checklist (see below at paragraphs 24 and 25). The social work
statement must apply a welfare checklist analysis throughout, as relevant to
each section and in accordance with section 1(3)(a)-(g) of the Children Act
1989 and with s1(4) of the Adoption and Children Act 2002.
6. With respect to each child, when making recommendations on
the appropriate order to be made, the report writer must be mindful of the ‘no
order’ principle (Children Act 1989, s1(5) and the Adoption and Children Act,
s1(6). This legal principle states that the making of any order must be better
for the child than making no order at all.
7. Experience has shown that local authorities with a strong
case management and case progression function and capacity have been able to
support social workers to write and submit a good evidence-informed social work
analysis. This benefits the court and all parties equally.
8. A case analysis can be strengthened by using well-validated
tools for the assessment of domains like parenting capability and children’s
resilience. Such tools can support and strengthen the accuracy of evidence, if
9. To show due respect, adults should be referred to as Ms, Mr,
Mrs…and children should be referred to by full names initially and thereafter
by their first names. Professionals should be referred to as Dr, Ms, Mr,
Mrs….with their professional role identified.
Key terms and practical points about using the templates
10. The genogram (in section 1.2) must be completed and this
will normally be through using standard software.
11. Use of an ecomap (in section 1.3) can be helpful by setting
out diagrammatically those individuals who are keeping a child safe and those
individuals who pose a risk or a threat to that child.
12. The chronology (in section 2) lists those events or a
sequence of events which are significant in terms of their impact on the child.
The chronology should be confined to the last two years unless an event before
that point in time has a current – and therefore lasting - significance. The
chronology can be cut and pasted into a stand alone document if required.
13. The analysis of harm (in section 3) is the social work
analysis of the significant harm the local authority says the child has
suffered or is likely to suffer, and why the child is at a continuing high
level of risk.
14. A child impact analysis (in section 4) demonstrates an
understanding of the impact on the individual child of what has been happening
to them. The impact of the same event can be different on different children
within the same family, so this section analyses the differential impact, as
well as the factors supporting a child’s resilience in the face of what has
15. The analysis of parenting capability (in section 5) and of
wider family and friends capability (in section 6) should address the
fundamental question in each case – ‘can this parent or carer provide this
child with a good enough standard of care for the rest of their childhood?’
16. The care plan, including the placement and contact framework
(in section 7) must set out how the local authority proposes a child can be
given the security, stability and care she or he needs, for the rest of their
childhood. This plan for placement and contact is separate from the LAC Care
Plan, which should be filed separately.
Gathering and collating evidence
17. Gathering and collating evidence starts as soon as a case is
opened to a local authority at a high level of risk and concern. Planning for
the child’s future starts at this stage, initially by ensuring the help a
parent needs to keep a child safe and at home is made available. The timescale
for improvement in the quality and safety of care a child receives should be
set out. Depending on the nature and/or severity of the parent/s problems, the
help offered may need to be intensive and should be the best possible to
address the mix of problems the parent/s is going through. In some cases, a
longer-term less intensive or episodic service may need to be available e.g,
when parents or a child have a disability or a long-term mental health
condition. Progress should be kept under regular review, with the assessment of
a child’s needs evolving over time and as the evidence base for the standard
and level of parenting accumulates.