Judgements or Assumptions? The Role of Analysis in Assessing Children and Young People's Needs



Helm D (2011) Judgements or Assumptions? The Role of Analysis in Assessing Children and Young People's Needs. British Journal of Social Work, 41 (5), pp. 894-911.

Professionals involved in assessing the needs of children and young people are required to make sense of complex information. Judgements may be made intuitively or through more explicit, analytical thinking. Judgements are required in relation to risk and need and will impact on children and young people's lives in the immediate future and ultimately across the lifespan. While there are many demands placed on those developing best practice in assessment, two themes appear consistently from studies of serious case reviews and inspections. The quality of assessments has improved but there is a persistent difficulty with levels and quality of analysis in assessments. Also, there is a repeated failure amongst professionals to pay sufficient attention to what children and young people may be saying about their own needs and experiences. There are tensions between policy and practice in the exercise of analysis and judgement. Neither governance nor good intentions may be sufficient to address current weaknesses in practice and practice can benefit from further study of judgement in child welfare and protection. Contemporary policy and practice developments may be a connecting contributor to ongoing professional failure to analyse and failure to represent the child's lived experience accurately and empathically in assessment.

analysis; assessment; judgement; children

British Journal of Social Work: Volume 41, Issue 5

Publication date31/07/2011
PublisherOxford University Press

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Dr Duncan Helm

Dr Duncan Helm

Senior Lecturer, Social Work