Elizabeth Isaacs QC, St Ives Chambers, Whittall Street, Birmingham
Carmel Shepherd, Independent Social Worker
Part 1 of this article considered the historical context of interagency guidance for local authorities and other agencies working with children, the recent recommendations for change from the Munro Review, and the legal framework surrounding social work assessments including recent case law. Part 2 goes on to examine in detail the revised guidance in Working Together which has been effective since April 2013. Key fundamental changes to the revised guidance are identified, including the new duties on local authorities to comply with the requirements of the Equality Act 2010. For the first time the revised guidance explicitly applies the principles and purpose of assessments of children - the previous distinctions between children in need, child protection, children with disabilities and leaving care are now collapsed into a single definition. The key principles of best practice in assessments are outlined, including focusing on the needs and views of the child, developing a clear analysis, focusing on outcomes, and timeliness of assessments. Finally, the authors suggest a comprehensive list of questions for practitioners to consider when analysing the content and quality of social work assessments.
The full version of this article appears in the November 2013 issue of Family Law.