Hounslow Council


Assessment of children in need

Services for children, young people and families include:

  • supporting children and families who experience difficulty in their lives

  • advice about parenting

  • dealing with cases of neglect or child abuse

  • looking after children in care by providing residential and foster homes or arranging adoption

  • supporting young people leaving care

Anyone can contact social services if they have concerns about a family. An assessment is made where more than advice or information is required and it appears you might need services to assist you and the children in your family.

You are entitled to an assessment if a child or children in your family appear to be in need, or at risk of harm if an assessment is not carried out.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why would someone contact Social Services?

Why make a Children in Need Assessment?

What happens when someone is referred to Social Services?

What happens when I first contact Social Services?

What happens in an assessment?

What should I do to help?

What about confidentiality?

Who has priority following an assessment?

What if there are concerns that a child is at risk?

What happens after an assessment?

Do I have to pay for services?

What are my rights?

What if I am not happy with the help I receive?

Telling us your views

What other specialist services might be able to help?

Contact us

Why would someone contact Social Services?

  • Parents may want advice or support about caring for children.

  • Children or young people may want help or support if they are having problems at home, at school or in other circumstances.

  • People who come into contact with families, like school teachers, doctors, health visitors, may be worried about a child's care or development.

These and other professionals have a responsibility to contact Social Services if they believe that any child may be at risk. We expect that any professionals involved with a family will have talked to them first and asked permission to make a referral to Social Services. They may contact us without your consent if they are really concerned that a child may be at risk of injury or emotional or physical harm.

Why make a Children in Need Assessment?

All children and young people are different and have different needs. Similarly, a family’s ability to respond to and meet their needs may also differ. A Children in Need Assessment will identify all those needs and ensure that all the family receives the right help. During an assessment staff gather information about your family’s needs and wishes and work out with you the best available way to help you. We cannot force anyone to work with us except in situations where there is a suspicion or knowledge that a child or young person has been, or is likely to be, abused. It is our responsibility to make sure all children and young people are safe and protected from harm. An assessment is made in response to your request for help.

We know that almost all parents want to do their best for their children and completing the assessment will help both you and us to understand your family's strengths, as well as your difficulties. We assess your situation to find out how you are managing to meet your child's needs and to find out what may help you as a parent.

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What happens when someone is referred to Social Services?

We will find out the reason for the request and to what extent any child or children are being affected. If there is reason to believe that any child is either in need or at risk, the Social Worker will contact the family directly to find out their view of the situation. If we are going to work with you we will need to find out more about you, your child's needs and your family. This is by means of an assessment of needs - we call it an initial assessment.

What happens when I first contact Social Services?

In the first instance, a Customer Service Officer will discuss your needs with you and advise you about which service may be best able to help you. We will then pass your request on to the appropriate section. If your child's needs are urgent, we will start an initial assessment immediately. Otherwise we aim to do the initial assessment in 7 working days. If we cannot help you we will advise you of other options or agencies that may be available.

What happens in an assessment?

Before we can help, we need to know more about you and your family. Through making an initial assessment of your situation, it should be possible to see what support you and your family might need and who could best help you. An initial assessment involves talking to parents and children and any other key people involved in your family's life such as relatives, schools or nurseries, doctors or health visitors. We will always talk to you about who else we would like to speak to and unless there is concern for the safety of your children we will make sure that you agree to us talking to them first.

We make sure that the assessment is based on a clear understanding of your needs and will take into consideration your ethic and cultural background. We will provide appropriate support for your communication needs. We want you and your children to be fully involved and take account of your views and wishes, which will be included in the initial assessment record.

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What should I do to help?

We will listen carefully to what you have to say. We know that with a little help most families can sort out their own problems and our aim is to help you do that. Please tell us about the good things about your family as well as the difficulties. It helps us if you agree to us speaking to other professionals who know you and your children. We must try to find out your child's views. It may help the Social Worker to speak to your child on his or her own. We will not do this without your permission. Please keep any appointments with us that you have agreed to. It helps if we can visit you and your children at home.

What about confidentiality?

To help us make an assessment of your needs, we will need to ask you for personal information about your circumstances and permission to record this information. It will be kept in a confidential file.

Who has priority following an assessment?

Unfortunately, having an assessment does not automatically mean that you will receive services from us. The limited amount of money available to spend means that we have to offer services to those who need them most. To do this as fairly as possible, we assess people according to three levels of priority.

Priority 1 - high priority need

Children in this group would be in immediate danger without our help. This might mean children at risk from abuse or neglect or whose family units have broken down.

Priority 2 - medium priority need

Children in this category are children whose health or development could be affected without support services, perhaps through family problems or because of disability.

Priority 3 - low priority need

Children in this category may require a universal service, and advice and information to promote their welfare. Our Customer Service Officers will assess and help identify community resources to provide support to these children and their families. If you are a young carer, you are entitled to your own assessment. We will take into account your views and ability to help the person for whom you are caring.

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What if there are concerns that a child is at risk?

Sometimes in a very small number of cases, there are serious concerns about a child’s safety. If we find out that there are child protection concerns we may have to talk to other agencies without the consent of the family and may have a meeting, called a strategy meeting, to decide how best to undertake the assessment to make sure that the children are safeguarded.  

Once we have decided how to proceed, we will need to talk to you about these concerns, find out your views and any difficulties you are experiencing which may affect how you care for your child. This will help us to assess whether your child is at risk of significant harm. We will also discuss with you what might help you to meet your child's needs. We will keep you informed about what is happening and what we are thinking throughout.

What happens after an assessment?

At the end of an initial assessment or child protection investigation we will discuss with you what will happen next. The possible outcomes could be:

  • If we cannot help you, we will advise you of other options or agencies that may be available.

  • No further action is taken as we do not think your child is at risk and you do not need any additional support.

  • A Family Support Plan outlining support is offered to your family to help you manage the difficulties you are experiencing.

  • In a very small number of cases a Child Protection Case Conference is convened as we are concerned that your child is at risk. A Child Protection plan will be set up which will identify a range of support for your family. The progress will be reviewed regularly with yourself and all involved professionals.

  • If we are concerned that a child has been harmed and is likely to continue to be harmed, we may ask the Court's permission to protect your child.

What can I expect from Social Services?

We will tell you what we are doing and thinking at each stage. If you are unsure about anything please ask us to explain. After the initial assessment we look at the information and make a recommendation about the best services available to help you and your child. We try to offer you some choice within the resources available. We will meet to explain why we have reached our recommendation or decision. If we cannot offer you the service you want, we will explain why. For children with complex needs we may decide to do a more detailed assessment. This is called a core assessment. We aim to finish this in 35 working days.

Do I have to pay for services?

These services are generally free of charge. Parents of children who are looked after by Hounslow may have to contribute to the cost of the care of their child. As part of an assessment we will let you know about any charges for your services.

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What are my rights?

If you do not agree with what the Social Worker says in the assessment, there will be an opportunity for you to record your point of view on the assessment record. We will give you a copy of the initial and core assessment. We keep information you give us confidential. Information may need to be shared with other agencies who may assist you but we will discuss this with you before passing on any information. The only exception to this is if we believe there is a serious threat to the safety or welfare of your child. If this is the case, we will explain your rights to you. If you are unhappy about any part of the assessment you should discuss this with your Social Worker. If you still want to complain, you can talk to a Manager, or the Social Worker who will explain how you can complain and give you a copy of our complaints booklet ‘Comments and Complaints about Social Services’, or select here for a PDF file.

What if I’m not happy with the help I receive?

If you feel your needs are not being met you must tell us and we will discuss this with you, note your views and make changes where possible. You can also use the Complaints Procedure to make a complaint. We realise that sometimes things may go wrong. Your complaint is the first step in helping us put matters right. It will not prejudice the council against you. To help sort things out, you can contact the Customer Relations Manager call: 8583 3333, email: complaints.sshp@hounslow.gov.uk or contact our Customer Service Officers.  You can also download our leaflet, see link on the right.

Telling us your views

After the initial or core assessment has been completed, you will be sent a customer satisfaction questionnaire. It is important for us to hear your views about the assessment process and how helpful it was in assisting your family.

We are committed to ensuring equality of access, and to providing high quality services and standards for the community of Hounslow. If you have any comments about our services and information and what we can do to improve them, please let us know.

You can call, write to Customer Relations Manager, Hounslow Social Services and Health Partnerships, Civic Centre, Lampton Road, Hounslow TW3 4DN. Telephone: 020 8583 3333 or email: complaints.sshp@hounslow.gov.uk

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What other specialist services might be able to help?

The Youth Offending Service

The team is a multi-agency team working with young people aged 10 to 17 years old, focusing on reducing crime within the borough. The team prepares reports on young offenders when requested by the Youth Crown Court. It also works with young people on statutory orders from the Court such as supervision and probation orders. Staff act as the appropriate adults at Police Stations when parents are unable to be present and their child is being questioned about an alleged offence. For further information contact:

The Youth Offending Services
Redlees Centre, Twickenham Road
Isleworth
TW7 7EU.

Telephone: (020) 8847 8000
Fax: (020) 8847 8001

Social Work Team for Children with Disabilities

The team works with children/young people with severe learning, physical or sensory disabilities and/or complex health needs and their families who are in need of support.

Social Work Team for Children with Disabilities
Civic Centre, Lampton Road,
Hounslow, TW3 4DN

Telephone: (020) 8583 3177
Fax: (020) 8583 3187
Minicom: (020) 8583 3186
E-mail: childrenssocialcare@hounslow.gov.uk

The Hospital Social Work Team

The team offers an Assessment Service to children and families experiencing problems such as maternity, illness, mental health, accidents or disability, who are either in hospital or are attending hospital and are not supported by one of the local Social Services Teams contact:

The Paediatric Social Work Team
Percy House Complex

West Middlesex University Hospital

Twickenham Road, Isleworth TW7 6AF
Telephone: (020) 8321 5620/5615
Fax: (020) 8321 6457/5212

Please telephone for an appointment on weekdays 9am to 5pm (Fridays until 4.45pm).

Contact Children's Services

Our office is open Monday to Thursday 9am to 5pm, Friday 9am to 4.45pm.

Our office has blue badge holder parking, induction loops and are wheelchair accessible. We may be able to arrange a home visit if you are unable to travel.

We will provide support appropriate to your ethnic, cultural and communication needs.  BSL Signers can be provided on request, call 020 8583 3132 or Minicom on 020 8583 3122.

Interpreters can be provided in almost any language, if asked for in advance. For Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu and Gujarati, this can be arranged most easily by phoning the council’s Language Line in the language of your choice on 020 8583 2299.

Children's Services
88 Lampton Road
Hounslow
TW3 4DN

Tel: 020 8583 3200/3400 Option 1
Fax: 020 8583 3245
E-mail: childrenssocialcare@hounslow.gov.uk

Emergency out of hours social services

Tel: 020 8583 2222

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