In some circumstances family problems and issues, such as housing, homelessness and family breakdown, lead to children being in need and this large group of children often remains hidden in official statistics until their needs escalate and they require statutory safeguarding intervention, for example, the s. 47 Children Act 1989 duty to investigate risk of significant harm. This chapter discusses assessments and the guidance which informs them. Because of the differences in how needs are understood and responded to, practice guidance stipulates what an assessment should cover. Local authority threshold criteria can often exclude children from accessing resources and services and so an understanding of the dimensions of need, potential avenues of support and close liaison with other agencies is important. The third (voluntary and community) sector plays an important role in promoting and developing community-based models of support to children in need which support families and work with them in partnership to address their needs outside of statutory services. These services can be provided under s. 17(1) Children Act 1989.
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