6.3 Family Assessments (Child and Family or Strengthening Families Assessments)

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Last reviewed in April 2024

Next review in April 2027


Working Together to Safeguard Children 



Timescales for Family Assessments


Assessments must be completed within a maximum of 45 working days of the date of the referral to Children's Social Care.


Any extension to this time scale must be authorised by the first line manager, with reasons recorded. For example, there may be a need to delay in order to arrange for an interpreter, or to avoid a religious festival. Any such delay must be consistent with the welfare of the child.


The timescale will be shorter where the criteria for initiating Section 47 Enquiries  are met at any stage during an Assessment, in which case the  Assessment should be regarded as concluded and a Strategy Discussion held immediately to decide if a Section 47 Enquiry is required.

Process of Family Assessments


The Assessment should be led by an experienced social worker supervised by a experienced and qualified social work manager. It should be carefully planned, with clarity about who is doing what, as well as when and what information is to be shared with parents or carers. 


The planning process and decisions about the timing of the different assessment activities should be taken in collaboration with all those involved with the child and family. It should involve:

  • Seeing and speaking with the child (according to age and understanding) and family members where appropriate. The child should be seen by the social worker leading the assessment without their caregivers whenever possible and this should be recorded in the Assessment Record
  • Drawing together and analysing available information from a range of sources (including existing records
  • Involving and obtaining information from health care and education professionals and others in contact with the child and famil
  • All relevant information should be taken into account (This includes information about the history and any issues involving family members such as domestic violence, substance misuse, mental illness and criminal behaviour/convictions).

Parents should be openly involved in the assessment process (see Information Sharing and Confidentiality) unless this may:

  • Place the child at risk of Significant Harm e.g. from the reaction to an assessment from those close to the child/ren or by leading to an unreasonable delay;
  • Lead to the risk of loss of evidential material. There would be consultation with relevant partner agencies in regard to involving parents in the assessment process.



The first line manager should authorise any decision to discuss the referral with other agencies without parental knowledge and the reasons for such action recorded.


Professionals approached by Children's Social Care and asked to share information about the child and the family must respond in accordance with the guidance in Information Sharing and Confidentiality  and record:

  • The explanation provided by Children's Social Care for sharing information;
  • The information consequently shared; and
  • The rationale for decisions to share and / or withhold any information.

If the child and / or carers have moved into the authority, all professionals should seek information covering previous addresses from their respective agencies. This is equally important for children and carers who have spent time abroad.


Children's Social Care should make it clear to families (where appropriate) and other agencies, that the information provided for this assessment may be shared with other agencies and contribute to the written form completed at the end of the assessment.


If during the course of the assessment it is discovered that a school age child is not attending an educational establishment, the local authority with education responsibilities must be contacted to establish the reason for this.

Outcomes of Family Assessments


A Family Assessment is deemed completed once the assessment has been discussed with the child and family and authorised by the manager.


The possible outcomes of the Family Assessment are:



Where there are concerns identified about any adults at risk of harm or abuse, a referral should be made to Adult Social Care under the Pan Sussex Safeguarding Adults Procedures.


A manager must sign and approve the outcomes of a Family Assessment and ensure:

  • The child(ren) have been seen and spoken to or there has been a recorded management decision that this is not appropriate e.g. where a Section 47 Enquiry has been or is to be initiated which will plan the method of contact with the child;
  • The needs of all children in the household have been considered;
  • A Child in Need Plan is completed for cases where the child and family are provided with a service under Section 17, but not progressed to Section 47 Enquiry;
  • A chronology has commenced or has been updated.

Taking account of confidentiality, written information on the outcome of the Family Assessment should be provided to professional referrers and family members. Exceptions are justified only where this might jeopardise an enquiry or place any individual at risk.


Feedback should be provided to non-professional referrers about the outcome of this stage of the referral in a manner consistent with respecting the confidentiality and welfare of the child.

This page is correct as printed on Friday 24th of May 2024 04:32:33 PM please refer back to this website (http://sussexchildprotection.procedures.org.uk) for updates.