Our multi-disciplinary team offer services in all areas of child contact and assessments. We ensure the protection and safety of children and young people by offering to provide a forum where parents and children/young people can be together in a safe caring environment with a staff team who will work with them to promote good parenting skills. Following are the services we offer:
Child Contact Service
Our child contact centre is a warm neutral place where children of separated families can enjoy contact with their non-resident parent and sometimes with other family members; in a comfortable and safe environment. We are an independent neutral organisation and our only goal is to ensure good quality contact. All of our contact sessions take place in private rooms. ReadMore
During Supervised contact, the contact supervisor stays in sight and sound of the child at all times making notes of what happens during contact. These notes will be made available to the referrer who shares them with the other party and with the court if applicable. Contact Supervisors aim to provide a written report of each supervised contact session within 7 – 10 working days.
Escorted Contact – Escorted contact is introduced once a regular, safe and sustainable pattern of contact has been established within a child contact centre or elsewhere, involving the child and non-resident parent (or other family member(s)) being accompanied on visits to places such as local parks, shops and restaurants being supervised by a Contact Supervisor. We will ensure that the transport arrangements and places being visited are both safe and meet the needs of the child involved in the contact. We will also prepare and submit a short report.
Supported Contact – take place in one of our warm welcoming contact rooms where children can spend time with the parent they do not live with and sometimes with other family members. Our contact rooms are full of toys, games, books and crafts to keep children entertained. Staff members are on hand to oversee the sessions and offer support and guidance where appropriate; however, supported contact is not closely monitored and written feedback is not given. We only provide a record of attendance.
Handover – This is where we undertake or supervised the handover of children from one parent or carer to another. This is normally used when one of the parties feels a risk or uncomfortable about seeing each other; however there is no risk to the child but the parent requires a neutral person to be present. For more complex cases we maybe also able to provide a full handover service, collecting and transporting a child door to door (subject to the availability of staff).
Indirect Contact – is used where direct contact is either unsafe, unworkable and or not in the Childs best interests. Contact can be in the form of letters, cards, gifts or emails through our centre. It usually initially takes place over a six month period with an option to extend it to twelve months if required or what has been agreed by the parties or court ordered.
This form of contact is often used to re-introduce a child to a non-resident parent they have not seen for a long period of time or there are concerns about domestic violence; child abuse or where a child has been adopted.
We undertake a range of professional Independent Social Work Assessments commissioned by various Local Authorities; Solicitors; the Court; Cafcass or other professionals.ReadMore
- Parenting Assessments/Community Based Assessments
- Viability Assessments
- Initial Assessments
- Core Assessments
- Kinship/Family Assessments
- Foster Carer/BAAF Form F/Form F2 Assessments
- Change of Fostering Status Assessments
- Child Permanence Report
- Feasibility Assessments
- Multidimensional Assessments
- International Assessments
- Residence Order Assessments
- Special Guardian Order Assessments
- Contact Assessments
Parenting Assessment / Community Based Assessment
We undertake assessments where complex family issues exist using the DoH Framework for the assessments of children in need and their families and provide high quality analysis and recommendations following letter of instruction.ReadMore
- Basic care
- Ensuring safety
- Emotional warmth
- Guidance and boundaries
Assessments take into account the impact of wider factors on parenting and the child’s development. These include:
- Family history and functioning
- Extended family
- Social integration and community resources
During the parenting assessment the assessor will establish whether poor parenting is a regular occurrence. The assessor will also obtain a full picture of the parenting capacity, and will consider the care parents provide in a variety of settings and at different times of the day. Parenting capacity assessments involve:
- Interviewing parents/carers
- Interviewing children (if applicable)
- Whole family assessments
- Observations of parent-child interaction in a number of settings and at different times of the day
A Viability Assessment is a preliminary assessment process, usually required when a Local Authority is seeking to identify alternative child care arrangements for a child who is unable to remain with their parent. ReadMore
A Viability Assessment is necessary when alternative care arrangements need to be considered for a child, for instance if a member of the child’s wider family puts themselves forward as a carer for the child.
A Viability Assessment is necessary to determine the potential carers’ capacity to meet the child’s needs in the long term as well as the immediate future.
If the Local Authority is working in accordance with the Public Law Outline (PLO) then the Project West Independent Social Worker will carry out an assessment following the Department of Health Assessment Framework as well as considering all the points outlined in a Letter of Instruction.
The Viability Assessment will consist of meeting with the prospective carers. If further details are required then the Project West Independent Social Worker will gain additional information about the child and their family from the Local Authority Social Worker and any significant others.
Depending on the degree of urgency Project West can carry out a Viability Assessment and provide a written report, with clear recommendations within an agreed timescale.
An Initial Assessment is a brief assessment of a child’s circumstances following a referral to Children’s Social Care; the purpose of the assessment is to gather more information. It is a Local Authority’s duty, in accordance with The Children Act 1989, to find out if a child is in need of services when they come to the attention of Children’s Social Care. ReadMore
An Initial Assessment is necessary when a referral to a Local Authority indicates that a child is in need of services provided by Children’s Social Care.
An Initial Assessment will determine if a child is in need, what services would assist the child and whether a more detailed Core Assessment needs to be undertaken.
When instructed by a Local Authority, a Project West Independent Social Worker will interview the child, parents and other family members, where appropriate.
Our Independent Social Worker will gather information from other agencies involved with the family, for instance the School or Health Visitor. The assessor will collate the information and present it in the form of an Initial Assessment Report, which will include an analysis of the situation and clear recommendations.
Time-scale – 7 working days – in accordance with the Department of Health requirement
A Core Assessment is an in-depth assessment carried out by a Local Authority. Its purpose is to clarify and identify the needs of the child by gathering information to gain a greater understanding of a child’s circumstances. A Core Assessment usually starts at the point at which the Initial Assessment ends. ReadMore
Core Assessments are undertaken by a Social Worker if a Local Authority makes the decision to initiate child protection enquiries. This is in accordance with The Children Act 1989 section 47; in addition a Core Assessment may be carried out in relation to a case already open to the Local Authority when there is a significant change in the family circumstances or new information becomes available.
When a Project West Independent Social Worker is instructed by the Local Authority they will initially gather information already known to the Local Authority by reading case files.
An introductory meeting will be held with the parents and a schedule of work agreed, including individual meetings with the parents and seeing the child on their own.
All of the professionals involved with the child and their family will also be contacted and asked to provide information for the assessment.
Our Independent Social Worker will incorporate the Department of Health Family Assessment model in to the Core Assessment and utilise the Department of Health Family Pack of Questionnaires and Scales.
Project West will write the Core Assessment on the form/system that each particular Local Authority uses and the assessment will contain well thought out and balanced analysis and clear, realistic recommendations.
Time-scale – Project West will undertake a Core Assessment within the Department of Health’s required 35 working days.
Kinship / Family Assessment
This is a term generically used to refer to a variety of different types of family assessment which all basically look at the suitability or otherwise of a child remaining with or returning to live either temporarily or permanently, within the extended family, this might also include the assessment of people not directly related but considered as significant members of a child’s extended family / social networks. ReadMore
Foster Carer/BAAF Form F/BAAF Form F2 Assessments
Are assessment tools used by Local Authorities, Independent Fostering agencies and Social Workers to assess prospective foster carers. The Form F covers all of the areas that must be considered during the foster carer assessment process and provides a standardised way of collecting, analysing and presenting information. ReadMore
Project West Independent Social Workers will work in accordance with each Local Authority or Independent Fostering Agency’s own standardised templates.
Our Independent Social Worker will aim to meet with the prospective foster carer approximately 6 – 8 times. These meetings will include individual interviews as well as joint interviews if the carers are a couple. If the prospective foster carer has any children then they will be spoken to on their own to ascertain their views about fostering. Referees will be contacted and a health and safety check will be carried out on the home.
Project West Independent Social Worker will write up the Form F Assessment and provide a well thought out analysis and sound recommendations.
If the Independent Social Worker’s recommendation is approval as a foster carer then they will be available to attend the decision making panel.
Time-scale – An Avocet Foster Carer Form F Assessment takes approximately 3 – 4 months to complete
Form F2 (BAAF) Assessment Otherwise known as a specific Adoption or Fostering assessment; usually these types of assessments are carried out where the ‘subject (s)’ of the assessment are being assessed in relation to a specific child (ren). Change of Fostering Status Assessment – This is an assessment which is usually used to enable designated managers to consider the appropriateness or otherwise of changing the fostering status of a foster carers; i.e. to change from being a temporary foster carer to becoming a permanent foster carer.
Child Permanence Report
A Child Permanence Report is a comprehensive document prepared by an Independent Social Worker. The Independent Social Worker is responsible for gathering and analysing information about a child and their needs and making a recommendation about the long term care arrangements for a child. ReadMore
These assessments are frequently used when little is known about a potential placement option but quick (but informed) decisions need to be taken. ReadMore
These assessments are often requested where you have a situation which requires distinct but inter-related assessment involving one or more children and / or adults. For example the situation may require a Core Assessment of the birth parent (s), whilst simultaneously requiring a Kinship Assessment in respect of a potential family placement option in another part of the family, whilst a discrete Contact Assessment is needed in respect of another part of the family. ReadMore
This is an assessment which can either be completed as part of a wider assessment, or as a discrete piece of work on its own. Essentially a contact assessment evaluates any current and / or previous contact a child might have with either siblings, parents, carers or others, and then where appropriate recommends the future frequency and type of short, medium and longer term contact. ReadMore
Life Story Work / Reunification Work/ Identity Work
For children separated from their birth families, life story work is one way of filling in the gaps about their lives and gives children a structured and understandable way of talking about themselves. ReadMore
- My health
- My birth family
- Contact with my birth parents and family
- Maps and moves
- My thoughts and feelings
- Special memories
- About me now
- My schools
- Me and my body
- My birthplace and where I live now
- A week in my life
- The future
- Useful addresses and telephone numbers
Our Family Support Workers support families with parenting capacity issues and other day to day challenges such as stress and disruption associated to for example relationship breakdown, parental ill-health, etc. Our family support intervention builds on family strengths to maximise parental capacity and to minimise potential risks. It ranges from basic to intensive family support focusing on boundaries, routines, building attachment, behaviour management, parenting & cultural integration issues, specific parenting capacity work and much more. Its objective is to improve communication, reduce conflict and to agree on practical, workable arrangements for the future, taking into account children’s views, needs and feelings. Our focus is on putting children’s needs first and making family life less stressful for everyone.
We provide young people with an opportunity to learn new skills, broaden their experience through a structured framework of mentoring and advice and guidance over an agreed period.
Additional Professional Services
- Family Group Conferences Chairing Disruption Meetings)
- Foster Careers Annual Reviews Attendance at Reviews, Professionals meetings etc
- Court Reports
- Court Attendance
- Transportation – We can provide transport to collect and return children/young people for contact sessions subject to availability – a charge is made for this service.
- Room Hire – Our rooms are available for booking. These can be for Contact session; Professional meetings etc
- Our centre is accessible to people with disabilities.