In the summer of 2016, The CSE Response Unit consulted with its members to determine its work priorities for the forthcoming year. One of the biggest challenges identified by professionals was in relation to risk assessment, including inconsistency, victim blaming language, inappropriate categories of risk, numeric scoring based tools, and lack of application of professional judgment, to name a few.
Following this feedback, we decided to review our existing tool and made the decision to develop something new which addressed the challenges faced in practice and we now know from recent research that these challenges exist within the wider children’s workforce
We have developed a new tool to support multi-agency practitioners to better exercise professional judgement and to promote greater involvement of children, young people and parent(s)/carer(s) in the assessment and planning process. This includes a focus on strengths and protective factors.
The tool moves away from a scoring and tick box approach and is designed to be used to inform rather than determine professional judgements. This approach will require good engagement with children and their families to complete the assessment and we know from research, including the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, as well as learning from serious case reviews, that this is fundamental to good assessment and planning.
The tool is designed not only to assess risk but to identify need and opportunities for intervention as early as possible. There are also opportunities for professionals to consider other forms of exploitation, recognising that CSE is not always the overriding or only factor in a young person’s life.
The tool has revised definitions of a child’s level of need, risk and harm and this is to address current practice where children who are being exploited are referred to as at ‘high risk of sexual exploitation’, rather than victims of abuse/exploitation and those being categorised as ‘low risk’ not receiving early help services.
The revised tool has been informed by consultation with NWG network members. Young People and Parents/Carers have also been consulted during this process to ensure their voices are heard and represented in this tool. In addition, available research has informed the update however we recognise that there is a limited evidence base in this area and to this end we will seek to evaluate the assessment tool on both the quality of practice, and outcomes for children and young people.
The draft tool was piloted by multi agency professionals and services in order to test the process and received positive feedback.
The tool will be accompanied by a comprehensive training offer, for further information, please email email@example.com
The NWG Response Unit have launched the tool at a series of national events between September and November 2017 and the final version of the tool (which has been amended based on feedback from the events) is now available on the NWG website.
The tool will now be piloted in several sites and evaluated to understand how it is used in practice. This will then inform a wider evaluation to understand the impact on children, young people, their families and also professionals experiences.
Please call the Response Unit on 0300 303 3032 for further information
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