Nottingham Child Neglect Practice Guidance for all agencies Powered by tri.x
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10. Assessment Tools

These are some ideas that practitioners suggested have been useful. You will wish to add to it as you go along.


Assessing Parenting Capacity

  • Ensure Safety
  • Guidance and Boundaries

Three circles cut out of different coloured paper / card:

Card circles

One red - (on this one write Danger), one yellow - (on this one write Unsure) and one green - (on this one write Safe).

Write on some small cards a set of scenarios (7-8) relating to the case, for example:

Card example one  OR  Card example two

Read out to ensure understanding, then ask the parent to identify which category they feel they should belong i.e. Red (danger) and place it on the circle. Encourage the parent / carer to discuss their reasoning and challenge any concerns their comments may raise.


Assessing Child Developmental Needs


Overview: this tool will enable the worker to obtain a picture of the parent's / carer's perceptions of child development in relation to their child, for example, do they expect too much? Do they baby the child? Do they have an understanding of their child's developmental stages and what is within "normal" limits?

N.B. This can successfully cover emotional development as well as physical.

Tools/ Materials Required:

  • Copy of Mary Sheridan development checklist from birth to 5 years.
  • Small cards onto which you can record extracts from the development records to represent expected achievements at a certain age. For example:
    Achievements example one Achievements example two
    Achievements example three Achievements example four

Plus a large sheet of paper divided into age sections i.e.

Age sheet

make up achievement cards to cover a varying age range (some typically reflective of subject children's age). Read the card out for the parent and ask them to place in the section they see as age appropriate. Discuss with them why they feel they should be in that particular section.


Assessing Parenting Capacity


  • Ensuring Safety

This activity will enable workers to build up a perception of the parent / carers understanding of safety within the house. It also provides an opportunity to discuss any accident injuries the child may have had and how they may be avoided in the future.

Tools / Material Required:
large sheet of paper with the simple framework of a house / flat drawn on it. Mark on it the individual rooms known to be in the family home.

House chart

Along with the parent / carer draw on or stick furniture representative of their home. By using the diagram, it will enable parents / carers to visualize the rooms in their house. The worker, through careful questioning can get the parent to talk about their awareness of safety in each room, plus storage of dangerous / risk equipment. This is especially helpful for parents / carers with learning difficulties who find free recall difficult and benefit from the use of visual prompts.


Assessing Parenting Capacity


Basic Care/Environment

  • Ensuring Safety
  • Emotional Warmth
  • Stimulation
  • Guidance and Boundaries
  • Stability

The "Needs Game" is a pictorial tool. It is intended as an aid in the assessment of a parent / carer's understanding of the needs of his / her child. The game provides a basis upon which to define the help that is needed and can be useful in identifying gaps in parenting capacity. It can also be used as a tool for monitoring the progress which is being made.

Tools/ Materials Required:
the Needs Game.

choose the cards most appropriate from the pack that meet the needs of the child/ family. Get the parent / carer to place them in priority – most important first.

When all the cards have been place get the parent / carer to talk about why the child needs what is identified on the card, how they provided it. It also provides the opportunity to double check understanding, highlight with parents / carers any positives or concerns.


Assessing Parenting Capacity

  • Play and Stimulation
  • Education

encourage the parent/ carer to talk about what toys the children have now and what they like to play with, when they play, how, when and if they play with them. Also a good way to discuss appropriate supervision.

Tools/ Materials Required:
old catalogues such as Argos, Early Learning etc.

present to the parents/ carers that they have:

  1. a certain amount of money to spend

  2. they can choose 2 toys for each child.

Get the parent/ carer to look through the catalogues and identify what they would buy and why, plus what do they think the child would gain from it. Discuss finance and cheap alternatives to entertain children. From their comments it will be easy to determine if they provide any, or have an understanding of a child's need to play.

N.B. As previously stated, parents / carers with learning difficulties respond well to visual stimulation. If appropriate, you or they can whilst having the discussion, cut out the chosen toys and stick them on sheets of A4 paper with each child's name on.


Identifying Concerns/ Assessing all 3 domains


Overview: The starting point of any assessment is to get the parents to understand and acknowledge Children's Social Care services' concerns. They will have possibly been involved in an "Initial Child Protection Conference" or another agency meeting, but what have they understood? The aim of this session is to make sure the couple understand what the concerns are and to determine the potential for change.

make up some cards labelled with identified concerns relating to the case e.g.

Concerns example one Concerns example two Concerns example three

read the ICPC recommendations, go over each point, get the parent / carer to talk about their opinions.

To use the cards, get the parents / carers either singularly of together, to place the cards with the concerns on in 2 piles – "high" concerns or "low" concerns. Encourage them to say why they feel this way.

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