Research and analysis

Social work assessment of children in need: what do we know?

Investigates the quality of assessments and outcomes for children in contact with children's social care services.



The assessment of children in need and their families has attracted considerable attention over the past decade. Good assessment matters and is important to effective intervention and to improving outcomes for children. Significant decisions are made on the basis of social work and other professional assessments that affect outcomes for children in both the short and the long term.

This review of research was funded by the Department for Education with a view to gaining a better understanding of the relationship between the quality of assessments and outcomes for children in contact with children’s social care services. In particular, the aim was to increase understanding of the central importance of quality assessments being undertaken of children in need and how information collected and analysed during an assessment has both a short and long term effect on future planning and choice of interventions.

The review identifies the increasing range of knowledge and skills needed when undertaking assessments, and highlights factors that contribute to or inhibit effective practice and the production of high quality assessments.

Published 30 March 2011