Guidance

Young offenders: assessment using ‘SIFA' and 'SQIFA'

Forms for the assessment of the mental health of young offenders.

Documents

SQUIFA

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SIFA

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Detail

These tools support the assessment of young people under the supervision of youth offending teams.

It contains the mental health screening questionnaire interview for adolescents (SQUIFA) and the mental health screening interview for adolescents (SIFA).

The tools provide an approach to screen for and assess the mental health needs of children and young people. If a young person scores 2 or more in Section 8 of Asset (Emotional and Mental Health) then SQIFA can be completed. Your action depends on the score:

Score Action
0 or 1 No problem in this area
2 Consider repeating the questionnaire in 4-6 weeks or if circumstances change
3 or 4 Possible problems, full screening interview SIFA can be carried out

If the score suggests that further assessment is required, you can use SIFA and:

  • complete a full SIFA interview
  • provide support and seek input from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHs)

In addition to SIFA and SQUIFA there are a range of specialist assessment tools, some published by the YJB, which may be used to support the overall assessment of the child or young person. Please consult with your local health services to ensure you are providing the most relevant information and are using agreed assessment processes.

It is also worth noting that SQIFA does not explicitly assess for learning disability or speech, language or communication needs. You should therefore be aware of these issues and the process in screening for them, making referrals for fuller assessment as appropriate. As an alternative to the above, you should consider using the Comprehensive Health Assessment Tool (CHAT).

The CHAT is a validated, evidence-based screening tool, developed in partnership by the YJB and the Department of Health. It provides for the consistent and comprehensive identification and assessment of the health and health-related needs of children and young people in contact with any part of the youth justice system (YJS).

The tool is based on academic research findings into the circumstances, needs and responses to children and young people. It is the preferred tool to use because it is used in all under-18 secure establishments and aligns assessments across custody and community and supports continuity of treatment/care.

The data collected on children and young people through CHAT helps complete the youth offending team (YOT) Health and Wellbeing Needs Assessment. This in turn is used to inform the health commissioning process and decisions.

You may also want to refer to the Health Needs Assessment toolkit, which also aligns with CHAT.

AssetPlus is the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales’s (YJB) comprehensive end-to-end assessment and planning framework which replaces the Asset framework previously in use by YOTs.

Following the introduction of AssetPlus in 2016, CHAT will become the only YJB-recommended health assessment tool.