- HMIE (2009) reported that assessment was a national priority area for improvement. Child protection practitioners are liable to make certain common errors when working with families. They are more likely to take account of information that is easily available, that is received at the start or end of the assessment process, and which is striking.
Such errors can be reduced through practitioners’ awareness of these possible errors, effective supervision and, crucially, the ability to question assessments in the light of new information. It is also important that, organisationally, individual practice is contextualised within the wider systems in which it is undertaken rather than seen in isolation. Wider systems create conditions for practice which will make individual practitioner errors more or less likely. A learning organisational culture, which accepts this and seeks both to develop individual practitioners’ assessment capacity and improve the conditions in which they practice, will be most effective.
- There have been moves to improve assessment through developing more rigid risk assessment tools, procedures, protocols and guidance. While these have some rationale, it is crucial for organisations to recognise the central role of professional judgement in child protection assessment.
- Effective multi-agency assessment in child protection is essential to effective practice. It requires that practitioners challenge their own assumptions about inter-professional communication and work constructively to address inter-professional distance arising from cultural, power and value differentials.
Munro, 1999; White and Featherstone, 2005; Barry, 2007; Fish et al, 2008