Speaking to the child: Ensuring that they see and interview the child on their own. The interviews should prioritise the welfare of the child and so must be child centred, avoiding distress and based upon solid rapport building. Avoid asking leading or suggestive questions, listening to and respecting the child’s views, explain the assessment process, and enable them to make choices where possible (Bell, 2002; Cleaver, Walker and Meadows, 2004; Turney et al, 2011). It is also important not to overestimate the resilience of adolescents, particularly if they are difficult to engage (Turney et al, 2011).
Interviewing parents and/or carers individually; Conduct whole family assessments; and observations of parent- child interaction in a number of settings and at different times of the day. Consider the relationships between parents and each child in the family individually, as parents may be able to provide adequate care for one child but not for another.
Explore the role and influence of fathers within the family, even if they are not currently living with their children.
The importance of a family history, particularly any previous involvement with social services and the outcomes of this involvement for the child, cannot be underestimated.
Note how the family interacts, e.g. be vigilant to signs of family disunity, poor communication, inflexibility, and friction between the adults – these features of family functioning are strong indicators of a number of different types of child maltreatment (Higgins and McCabe, 2000; Turney et al, 2011).
Sometimes, an assessment may need to be informed by appropriate medical tests and specialist evaluations by experts E.G. psychiatrists, psychologists and drug and alcohol counsellors.
Seek collateral evidence through interviews with extended family and friends, and professionals from other sectors including health, education, housing and the police, as well as access to health, educational and criminal records.