Every assessment should be child centred and all decisions should be made in the child’s best interests. The ensures that each assessment responds to the child’s individual needs and takes note of any impacts external situations or people may have on them (such as parents’ behaviour). This is especially important, as every child is different. It is important to draw together information from the child, the family and relevant professionals so that all aspects of the child’s situation are taken into account.
The child centred approach uses all information to identify difficulties, risk factors, strengths and protective factors. Once the assessment has taken place, plans can be put into action to help the child. Support is given to the child to enable them to be healthy, stay safe, enjoy and achieve, make a positive contribution and achieve economic well being (the five Every Child Matters outcomes). Every child will achieve these five outcomes a different way.
Even minor improvements by parents/carers and professionals can dramatically help the child. The child centred approach focuses on what these improvements may be. Each professional or agency working with the child will have a different area of expertise and ways in which they can help the child. The child therefore needs coordinated help from health services, education, social care, the voluntary sector and often the justice system to ensure that all of the child’s needs are met. To effectively safeguard and protect the child there must be good communication between all of the services available.
By piecing together all information from every service, a bigger picture of the child’s situation is created and the child is better supported. Every organisation that the child is involved with, from school to doctors to swimming pools to “Brownies” must have policies in place for safeguarding children to ensure their safety.
Unfortunately the need for a partnership for safeguarding children has ermerged from the case of Victoria Climbie who died in 2000. Her death could have been prevented if the doctors, social workers and police who were working on her case had all shared information on what action they were taking and what action they thought the other services were taking. In the end, this situation resulted in a lack of investigation into Victoria’s case, even though many professionals had concerns, ultimately resulting in her death. Although this is a tragic story, some good has come since now recommendations are put in place for organisations and professionals to work in partnership to safeguard children. The common assessment framework provides early intervention for children before a crisis is reached. This is a shared assessment and framework for all services and is given to all professionals and organisations. The framework centres on safeguarding children and promoting welfare.