Conducting Child and Family Assessments

Successful transition to family care depends on the careful and informed consideration of all aspects of a child’s wellbeing and development. A good assessment process is key to ensuring a child’s safety and protection, avoiding multiple placements, and preparing a child and family.

Conducting formal, individual assessments of all children who will be transitioned into families, as well as the families in which they may be placed, allows case managers to provide information needed for placement decisions (gatekeeping) and to develop individualized care plans based on the unique strengths and needs of each child and family. The assessment process helps to identify any services that may be needed and in what ways these can best be provided. In addition to any previous documentation or records, sources of information for assessment include the child and family, social workers or case managers, current and previous care providers, teachers, health professionals, extended family members, and others who know the child and family well. A sound assessment process always directly and actively engages children and families in the process, affirming their unique strengths, capabilities, and opinions.

The assessment process often begins with tracing a child’s family of origin to determine if reintegration is possible. If reintegration is not safe or appropriate, then alternative care arrangements (such as kinship care, foster care, or adoption) are explored and assessed.

Toolkit for Practitioners: Assessment Forms and Guidance Includes a searchable resource section on evaluating children’s developmental needs, parenting capacity, and family and environmental factors affecting wellbeing in care. (Better Care Network)

Child Status Index Simple monitoring and evaluation tool for case management. Provides a framework for identifying the needs of children, creating individualized goal-directed service plans for use in monitoring the well-being of children and households, and program-level monitoring and planning at the local level. (O’Donnell K, Nyangara F, Murphy R, Cannon M, Nyberg B)

Framework for Child Assessment Tool Features a helpful graphic showing areas for assessment at the individual, family, and community levels. (UK Department of Health)

10 Steps Forward to Deinstitutionalization: Building Communities to Support Children’s Rights Includes a variety of useful templates from planning to individual child assessment. (Terre des hommes and Hope for Himalayan Kids)

Child Support Index & Care Plan Training for Partners and Volunteers Details training on how to fill in a child support index form, how to talk to children, services areas, assessment, and care planning; and includes CSI assessment forms. Based on experience from a program in Ethiopia for highly vulnerable children. (Child Fund and FHI 360)

Best Interests Determination for Children on the Move: A Toolkit for Decision Making Guides practitioners in ensuring that the best interests of children are upheld and that they are supported within child protection systems. Includes the Best Interest Assessment Form and Durable Solution Recommendation Matrix with explanation of how to use them. (Save the Children)

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