This chapter outlines briefly the statutory context for the assessment of children and the values and principles underpinning it. It describes the theoretical and research evidence on the aetiology and maintenance of child abuse commonly used by social workers in making assessments, illustrating the lopsided nature of this research. The problems accruing from attempts to eliminate risk are discussed and a safety-focused assessment approach is presented. Then the evidence of good practice in the assessment of need is presented and outcomes for children are discussed. The chapter concludes with suggestions as to the ways in which the wishes and needs of children can be assessed and good working relationships with parents and colleagues promoted. The learning exercises in this, and the following chapter, are intended to complement student placement and work experiences.
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