Since the 1990s the way in which social workers respond to referrals of children to Children’s Social Care departments has evolved. It has moved through a process that ‘screens families out’ of child protection assessment to a system aiming to ‘screen families in’ where necessary, and now uses a holistic assessment aiming to screen for both risk and need. The assessment framework developed to assess children in need and their families is the modern social work response to all referrals. Little research has been carried out to assess its suitability as a widespread social work response. This article considers the debates that have emerged in relation to its use and concludes that insufficient consideration has been given to evaluating assessment as an appropriate measure of need and risk. Wider provision of non-assessed universal services would reduce the need for assessment.
Bibliographical note© 2015 The Author(s). Published by Taylor & Francis.
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