We provide the following services:
Child Contact Service
Project West provides all levels of Contact; Supervised; Escorted; Supported; Handover and Indirect. Read More
Supervised Contact -
Supervised Contact is defined as: A service where contact takes place in the constant presence of a trained person with the direct responsibility to observe and ensure the safety of those involved. Supervised contact not only ensures the physical safety but also the emotional wellbeing of a child when risks have been identified. It also assists in building and sustaining positive relationships between a child and members of their non-resident family.
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 report.
Supported Contact –
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.
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 –
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. Read More
- Parenting Assessments/Community Based Assessments
- Viability Assessments
- Special Guardian Order Assessments
- Contact Assessments
- Life Story Work / Reunification Work/ Identity Work
- 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
Parenting Assessment / Community Based Assessment
We undertake assessments where complex family issues exist in compliance with The Department for Education’s Working Together guidance which has been effective since April 2013; following receipt of letter of instruction.Read More
The Assessment process:-
Parenting assessment focuses on identifying strengths and weaknesses in relation to six dimensions of parenting:
- 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(s).Read More
The Viability Assessment is a concise, informative assessment, designed to gather all the necessary information, in a short time-frame to determine the suitability of the adult as an alternative carer and the feasibility of further assessment.
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 Education 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.
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.
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.Read More
Work will also be undertaken with the children. The nature and extent of this work will be dependant upon the children’s’ ages and level of understanding. It is also likely to include time spent without either of the children’s parents present and if it is agreed and appropriate time spent with their non resident parent. My Life and Me is a tool that we often use which provides a much-needed template to help children separated from their family of origin develop and record an accurate knowledge of their past and their family. Once completed, the book will provide them with a permanent record which they, and the adults caring for them, can refer to at any time and which the child can carry with them through life. This comprehensive workbook can be used flexibly by any child, including children with special needs and children adopted from abroad. Colour coded sections include space for drawings, photographs, documents and a record of feelings and thoughts at various stages in the child’s life. My Life and Me starts with ‘A Photograph of Me’. It is then divided into sections including: Things I know about myself
- 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
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.Read More
An Initial Assessment follows the dimensions of the Department of Education Assessment Framework.
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 Education 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.Read More
One of the main principles of a Core Assessment is that it is a multi-agency assessment, incorporating the specialist knowledge of all the professionals working with a child and their family.
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 Education Family Assessment model in to the Core Assessment and utilise the Department of Education 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 Education’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.Read More
Our Independent Social Workers gather information about whether or not a specific family member is able to provide care to a child in the short and long term.
Our Independent Social Workers will closely consider the contentious issue of contact and the nature of the child’s and the Kinship carers’ continued relationship with the birth parent.
A Kinship / Family Assessment will endeavour to include all family members in developing a workable kinship care arrangement for a looked after child.,When A Kinship / Family Assessment by an Independent Social Worker is necessary when a child is unable to remain with their parents and alternative short and long term care arrangements need to be made for the child.
It is an expectation that a Local Authority considers members of the child’s extended family as alternative carers before placing the child with un-related foster carers in the care system.
A Kinship / Family Assessment is often carried out by Social Workers in accordance with the Public Law Outline (PLO) in the process of care planning for a child; a Letter of Instruction will be provided by the Local Authority Legal Department highlighting specific areas for consideration within the assessment.
Our Independent Social Worker will gather information about the child and their circumstances from the Local Authority. After being instructed Project West will convene a meeting with all the significant family members to gain an understanding of the family’s plan for the child.
A programme of work will be agreed with the prospective kinship / family carers. This will include individual interviews, seeing the child on their own and observing them with the prospective kinship / family carers. The Independent Social Worker will meet with the birth parents to ascertain their views and gather information from any professionals involved with the prospective carers.
Time-scale –Assessments usually takes 12 – 16 weeks to complete.
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.Read More
Local Authorities or Independent Fostering Agencies are required by law to carry out a full assessment of all foster carer applicants before approving them as foster carers.
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.Read More
A Child Permanence Report is a requirement of the Adoption Agencies Regulations 2005. It is the document that is presented to an Adoption/Fostering panel to enable a decision to be made about whether it is in a child’s best interests to be placed for adoption or with long term foster carers. Adopters, foster carers, fostering Social Workers and children rely on Child Permanence Report’s to provide them with detailed and accurate information about a child’s life history and the reasons why a child has not been able to remain in their birth family. Project West assessors will gather information from Local Authority case files, the allocated Social Worker and foster carers, wider family and expert assessments. Where appropriate a fostering Social Worker will meet with the child to ascertain their wishes and feelings and the child’s parents. Project West endeavours to ensure all the relevant people have an opportunity to contribute to the Child Permanence Report and to work sensitively with all those involved.
Timescale – Project West aim to have a Child Permanence Report completed and ready for presentation at a best interest panel in 8 weeks.
These assessments are frequently used when little is known about a potential placement option but quick (but informed) decisions need to be taken.Read More
In our experience where these types of assessment are carried out, they almost invariably save significant time, money and energy in case management, prevent wishful thinking overtaking reality and in the process considerably reduce delay in progressing a case.
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. Read More
Whilst these assessments by their nature tend to be somewhat larger undertakings than most other assessments, they do tend to be favoured by families local authorities and the courts, not least because they help provide a consistent and well informed approach towards all of the assessment work which needs to be carried out.
International Assessment – Project West can complete these assessments in most parts of the world. In recent years we have worked with families throughout England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, several Caribbean islands, Cyprus, India Sweden; Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa.
Residence Order Assessment – These assessments consider the suitability of a Residence Order being made in favour of someone in respect of a child (ren).
Special Guardianship Order Assessment – These assessments consider the suitability of a Special Guardianship Order being made in favour of someone in respect of a child (ren).
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. Read More
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, 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