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Our advice service

We provide advice to parents, grandparents, relatives, friends and kinship carers who are involved with children’s services in England or need their help. We can help you understand processes and options when social workers or courts are making decisions about your child’s welfare.

Our advice service is free, independent and confidential.

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To speak to an adviser, please call our free and confidential advice line 0808 801 0366 (Monday to Friday 9.30am to 3pm, excluding Bank Holidays). Or you can ask us a question via email using our advice enquiry form.

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Our online advice forums are an anonymous space where parents and kinship carers (also known as family and friends carers) can get legal and practical advice, build a support network and learn from other people’s experiences.

Advice on our website

Our get help and advice section describes the processes that you and your family are likely to go through, so that you know what to expect. Our webchat service can help you find the information and advice on our website which will help you understand the law and your rights.

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Kinship Assessment Guide – Section 5 – Forming a conclusion

Section 5. Forming a conclusion

Elizabeth Cape-Cowens provides advice for social workers when concluding an initial assessment

Once all relevant factors have been addressed, it is the role of the assessor to consider all the information obtained during the viability assessment. They must analyse the positive and negative factors: the potential advantages to the child of being placed with this person from within their network and the positive aspects to their care, against any risks or vulnerabilities of the placement in promoting the safeguarding and wellbeing of the child both now and into the future. It is this process of analysis (see Section 2:1d) that will inform and evidence the recommendation reached as to whether or not this is a potentially ‘realistic option’ that should be assessed further.

A draft report should be shared with the potential carer who should also be invited to correct any factually incorrect information and add their comments. A final copy of the report should always be shared with the potential carer.

Family members may choose to withdraw from the assessment either before or after it is completed. It is good practice for them to be asked to provide written confirmation if they wish to withdraw. The dynamics within families can be challenging, and some carers seek the support of social workers to explain to the child’s parents and other family members that they cannot do what it is that others would like them to. Sometimes, the opposite is the case and carers need support from social workers to overcome initial resistance of other family members to them caring for the child.

The level of information gathered in a viability assessment can seem superficial in terms of social work assessment but it must be remembered that it is only a preliminary assessment.

Further assessment is always required before a decision to make a placement is made. If the recommendation of a viability assessment is that a family member should go forward for further assessment the report should identify the areas that should subsequently be explored in greater depth.

Catherine concludes with a more positive personal experience of an initial assessment

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