Getting to know children and their families
A framework of questions to help social workers gather appropriate information
By Asmita Parmar and Pat Spatcher

For practitioners and students this is an easy-to-use tool for use when undertaking any kind of children and families social work, including initial and comprehensive assessments with families based on the Framework for Assessment (DoH, 2000).

It is a reminder of ''what to ask' to make sure that appropriate information is gathered for a holistic view of a child's needs and how carers are meeting them. Its helpful design provides:
  • Suggestions and prompts to the information that often must be gathered when making family visits under tight time constraints
  • A photocopiable framework in which to record the information.
  • Selections of questions that are appropriate to children of different ages.

  • A4 wirobound. 96 pages. 978-1-903855-77-5. Published 2005. £19.95.


    The framework for assessment
    Questions for babies up to 24 months old
    Questions for 2, 3 and 4 year old children
    Questions for children between 5 and 9 years old
    Questions for children between 10 and 14 years old
    Questions for children over the age of 15


    Both Asmita Parmer and Pat Spatcher have a number of years in social work in children & families team working both in London and in Pats case in Hertfordshire. They have both worked within a range of different social work settings over the years in children and families work in both voluntary and statutory services.


    The following feedback was given to the authors when this books was being field-tested:

    "I have found this useful when looking at life-story work with a child aged 8 years old when exploring his family and social networks. Also what he liked to do, which helped me plan the work I would be doing with him. A student social worker on placement in a primary school setting in inner London I was able to use this when linking in and making a formal assessment and asking questions of the parent and two sisters who had been abused by their step-father allegedly while involved in s.47 of the Children Act 1989." A social work student on placement in a secondary school in a deprived London borough.

    "This is extremely useful for any newly qualified social workers who hesitate when visiting families and have anxiety around gathering essential information to inform how social services can support the family. " Consultant from a social work agency.

    "I would find this so useful when visiting families as I cannot remember all the concepts of the triangle and when I get back to the office I find that I have missed out pieces of relevant and vital information to inform my assessment. If I had a copy of this book with me, I could pick out the relevant questions that I need information for so that this would save me time in needing to contact the family again for more information before a service is provided from social services. "A social worker in an initial assessment team in a deprived London borough.

    "I think this book would be a useful tool for the social workers in my team to use as a guide to asking questions relevant to initial assessments to offer effective support to children and their families." A manager of an initial assessment team in Hertfordshire.

    "This would be a good learning tool not only for social workers but would recommend it for student social workers when on placements in children and families settings both in field teams and in the voluntary sector." A lecturer teaching law in a London university.

    "This book would not be useful for cases of unaccompanied minors as it does not fit with our assessment process but if the unaccompanied minor was to have a baby then we would find this very useful in looking at the holistic needs of mother providing baby's needs within the community." A manager in an unaccompanied minors asylum team in London.

    "When I am carrying outreach assessments of young people discharged from the unit this would inform me linking in with the assessment framework and the questions and sharing my social work values within the mental health professionals within my team." A social worker within a multi-disciplinary team (child and adolescent mental health team) in Hertfordshire.