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Hertfordshire County Council

Aims of this guidance

The aim of this guidance is to provide a framework and clear processes for managers and practitioners in managing risk in their work with children, young people and families in order to deliver statutory and voluntary interventions which are effective and of high standard.

Further, the framework aims to support and assist practitioners at all levels to be able to approach the task of risk management with more confidence and competence, present their concerns to the appropriate forum and ensure our risk management systems are robust with the aim of being an authority that has a ‘culture of risk management and is not risk adverse’

This electronic manual is a collection of tools and additional information and guidance that is aimed at supporting practitioners and managers in their ongoing role of assessment of children and young people.

In addition to the domains of the Assessment Framework, some of the tools have also been grouped into assessment themes. 

General assessment skills

Practice notebook

This notebook has been produced by the NSPCC and is aimed at newly qualified / student social workers that are just beginning to build their assessment skills. It forms part of the pack of resources The Developing World of the Child and provides some linked tools to use when working with children, young people and their families.

Read the document


Risk assessment guidance, toolks and checklists

Risk Assessment Guidance

This Guidance aims to support and assist practitioners at all levels to be able to approach the task of risk identification, assessment, analysis and management with more confidence and competence. It provides a tool which supports methodical and systematic approaches to not only better understand risk and its presentation with children and families, but also enhance interventions and potential outcomes.
The Guidance is offered as an aide to thinking, reflection and analysis of specific issues for individual children.

Read the document

Risk Assessment Tools and Checklists

The following tools and checklists have been developed specifically for Hertfordshire Children’s Services staff and seek to support and complement existing knowledge and assessment processes. Practitioners should also be aware of lessons from research and should use these to inform your analysis.

  • Children and Young People Risk Assessment Tool
  • Risk Assessment Checklist
  • Risk matrix guidance
  • Risk management matrix template
  • Key Contacts and Basic Information Checklist - under 15
  • Key Contacts and Basic Information Checklist 16 plus

Risk and Resilience

Assesses a child or young person’s resilience and vulnerability and develop intervention options.

Read the document


Child development needs

My Baby’s Brain

My Baby’s Brain was conceived in order to convey in simple, accessible language, to parents of very young children, the principles of attachment and the direct impact they have on a baby’s brain development.

My Teen Brain

My Teen Brain focuses on a key stage of brain development and shows how changes in the adolescent brain, in conjunction with experience and environment, can affect emotions, relationships, behaviours, sleep and attitudes to risk.  

The project aims to raise awareness and provide practical information and strategies to both parents/carers and professionals.  Through training and a range of resources, the initiative will enable them to support young people through this time of change.


Parenting capacity

PAMS Pre-assessment Screening Tool

The PAMS assessment (Parent Assessment Manual developed by Dr Sue McGaw, a nationally renowned Clinical Psychologist in the field of working with parents with learning disabilities) covers: child care and development, behaviour management, independent living skills, safety and hygiene, parents’ health, relationships and support, and the impact of the environment and community on parenting. Each parenting skill area within a domain is assessed for ‘parental knowledge’, ‘quality of parenting skills’ and the frequency of parenting practice. By breaking elements of parenting down into testable components   PAMS starts to make an assessment of quality that is evidence-based. After completion, the assessor has a clear visual family profile of functioning that target parenting support needs, as well as child protection issues.

Find out more

Capacity to Change

Lancashire Safeguarding Children Board has produced an assessment framework guide for professionals who are assessing parents’ capacity to change. The guide is based on ‘Assessment of Parental Motivation to Change’ by Jan Horwath and Tony Morrison; The Child’s World, London: Jessica Kingsley.

This model can be used with parents, especially when their engagement with professionals is involuntary.

Read more


Family and environment factors 

Risk Assessment Tool re: Adults who are considered a risk to children

This Tool has been developed to ensure Assessments completed are consistent across Children’s Safeguarding and ensure that full consideration is not only given to  the potential level of risk posed, but also the primary carer’s ability to understand the risks and take appropriate safe action to protect – or where the primary carer is considered the perpetrator.

Go to the Hertfordshire Safeguarding Children's Board professionals information


Assessment themes

Domestic violence

CAADA-DASH Risk Identification Checklist (RIC)
This checklist can be used to support Social Workers:
  • Identify high risk cases of domestic abuse, stalking and ‘honour’-based violence.
  • To decide which cases should be referred to Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) and what other support might be required.
  • To offer a common tool to agencies that are part of the MARAC1 process and provide a shared understanding of risk in relation to domestic abuse, stalking and ‘honour’-based violence.
  • To enable agencies to make defensible decisions based on the evidence from extensive research of    cases, including domestic homicides and ‘near misses’, which underpins most recognised models of risk assessment.

Read the document

Domestic violence risk matrix

Barnardo’s have developed a Domestic Violence Risk Matrix which lists the significant information to collect whilst completing an assessment and then RAG rating this to support practitioners to measure the level of ongoing risk within a family unit where it is suspected that domestic violence is a feature.

Go to the Barnardo's site

Alcohol and substance misuse

Alcohol and Families Toolkit
This toolkit contains information on where parental alcohol misuse might be a particular feature within a family unit. This section looks in detail at how parental alcohol misuse impacts on the areas within the Assessment Framework, relating information on the effects on families and developing resilience to the areas in the framework and looking at what could be done to support the child or family.

Sexual behaviours

Sexual Behaviour Measurement Tool
A resource which helps to identify, assess and respond appropriately to sexual behaviours. It uses a 'traffic light tool' to categorise sexual behaviours, to increase understanding of healthy sexual development and distinguish this from harmful behaviour.


Graded Care Profile
A comprehensive assessment of neglect, across the four main areas of care, namely physical care, safety, responsiveness and esteem.

Assessment framework - questionnaires and scales

The Questionnaires and Scales provide an economical and effective way of gathering information about key personal and parenting issues. They are invaluable for screening for emotional and behavioural difficulties in both children and adults, parenting problems and other family and environmental factors including recent life events, mental health difficulties and alcohol problems as well as the quality of family life.

Strengths and difficulties questionnaires

The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaires (Goodman et al, 1997; Goodman et al, 1998). These scales are a modification of the very widely used instruments to screen for emotional and behavioural problems in children and adolescents. Although similar to Rutter's, the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire's wording was re-framed to focus on a child's emotional and behavioural strengths as well as difficulties. The actual questionnaire incorporates five scales: pro-social, hyperactivity, emotional problems, conduct (behavioural) problems, and peer problems. Attached are versions of the scale to be completed by adult caregivers, or teachers for children from age 3 to 16, and children between the ages of 11-16.

Parenting daily hassles scales

The Parenting Daily Hassles Scale (Crinic and Greenberg, 1990; Crinic and Booth, 1991). This scale aims to assess the frequency and intensity / impact of 20 potential parenting 'daily' hassles experienced by adults caring for children. It has been used in a wide variety of research studies concerned with children and families - particularly families with young children. It has been found that parents (or caregivers) generally like filling it out, because it touches on many aspects of being a parent that are important to them.

Recent life events questionnaire

The Recent Life Events Questionnaire (Taken from Brugha et al, 1985) helps to define negative life events over the last 12 months, but could be used over a longer time-scale, and significantly whether the respondent thought they have a continuing influence. Respondents are asked to identify which of the events still affects them. It was hoped that use of the scale will:

  • Result in a fuller picture of a family's history and contribute to greater contextual understanding of the family's current situation;
  • Help practitioners explore how particular recent life events have affected the carer and the family;
  • In some situations, identify life events which family members have not reported earlier.

Home conditions assessment

The Home Conditions Assessment (Davie et al, 1984) helps make judgements about the context in which the child was living, dealing with questions of safety, order and cleanliness which have an important bearing where issues of neglect are the focus of concern. The total score has been found to correlate highly with indices of the development of children.

Family activity scale

The Family Activity Scale (Derived from The Child-Centredness Scale Smith, 1985) gives practitioners an opportunity to explore with carers the environment provided for their children, through joint activities and support for independent activities. This includes information about the cultural and ideological environment in which children live, as well as how their carers respond to their children's actions (for example, concerning play and independence). They aim to be independent of socio-economic resources.

There are two separate scales; one for children aged 2-6, and one for children aged 7-12, both of which are attached below.

Alcohol scale

This scale was developed by Piccinelli et al (1997). Alcohol abuse is estimated to be present in about six per cent of primary carers, ranking it third in frequency behind major depression and generalised anxiety. Higher rates are found in certain localities, and particularly amongst those parents known to Children’s Safeguarding Services. Drinking alcohol affects different individuals in different ways. For example, some people may be relatively unaffected by the same amount of alcohol that incapacitates others. The primary concern therefore is not the amount of alcohol consumed, but how it impacts on the individual and, more particularly, on their role as a parent. This questionnaire has been found to be effective in detecting individuals with alcohol disorders and those with hazardous drinking habits.

Adult wellbeing scale

Adult Wellbeing Scale (Irritability, Depression, Anxiety - IDA Scale. Snaith et al, 1978). This scale, which was based on the Irritability, Depression and Anxiety Scale, was devised by a social worker involved in the pilot. The questions are framed in a 'personal' fashion (that is, I feel, my appetite is…). This scale looks at how an adult is feeling in terms of their depression, anxiety and irritability. The scale allows the adult to respond from four possible answers, which enables the adult some choice, and therefore less restriction. This could enable the adult to feel more empowered.

Adolescent wellbeing scale

The Adolescent Wellbeing Scale (Self-rating Scale for Depression in Young People. Birleson, 1980). It was originally validated for children aged between  7-16. It involves 18 questions each relating to different aspects of a child or adolescent's life, and how they feel about these. As a result of the pilot the wording of some questions was altered in order to be more appropriate to adolescents. Although children as young as seven and eight have used it, older children's thoughts and beliefs about themselves are more stable. The scale is intended to enable practitioners to gain more insight and understanding into how an adolescent feels about their life.

Risk management escalation guidance

It is important that staff are aware that first line managers up to senior manager must be kept informed of cases of concern and children in high risk situations in order that they are supported to manage risks identified, and ensure that the concerns are presented to the appropriate forum and that risk management is a shared responsibility. The document attached outlines the escalation guidance for each service.

Risk assessment panels

When risks have been identified that require a multi-agency approach this guidance outlines the criteria for referrals to the respective Panels.

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