When undertaking assessment of looked after children, it is useful to bear in mind some of the broader guidance on assessment in social work. Milner and colleagues (2015) provide a useful overview of the key stages involved in assessment: (1) preparation; (2) collecting information; (3) interpreting information; (4) making judgments based on the information; and (5) deciding what should be done. That assessment should be an ongoing process rather than a one-off event (Coulshed and Orme, 2012) is often emphasised, while the latest version of child protection guidance, Working Together, lists key qualities of assessment within children and families work to include participation, child centeredness, an orientation towards action and that they be ‘transparent and open to challenge’ (HM Government, 2015, p. 21). The importance of practitioners reflecting on their own assumptions in children and families assessment practice is underlined. Research has found that there are some common errors that tend to occur in assessment practice. These include the tendency for practitioners to focus on information which is most readily available, rather than the most crucial.
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