Social Work Assessments including PAMS
We are able to offer a range of Social Work assessments for pre-proceedings and care proceedings. Some examples of these are shown below, although bespoke assessments and risk assessments can be undertaken upon request.
The Parenting Assessment Manual Software (PAMS) is a tool to assess parents/carers with a learning disability. It uses a Knowledge, Skills & Practice Contingency Model (McGaw 1997) and is a methodical and functional method of looking at parenting, which incorporates evidence-based and multidimensional assessment tools – including the exploration of the parent’s knowledge of parenting, observations of the parent and child together, feedback from the parent and feedback from other professionals.
The software can also be used as a comprehensive assessment tool with families with additional vulnerabilities and needs (for example, learning needs).
PAMS accepts, incorporates and tries to compensate for the subjectivity of an assessor. It does this by systematically covering a number of areas relevant to parenting; for example, it provides questions and exercises around feeding, healthcare, parental responsiveness, stimulation, relationships and safety. Guidelines and example answers are provided to aid the social worker in making judgements.
PAMS assessments will usually take about 12 weeks and can be undertaken with one or two parents/carers. As well as interviews with the parents and observations of the parents and children, we will need to have access to the court bundle/case file and meet with the allocated social worker/relevant professionals involved. Capacity update reports can also be provided if required.
Assessment of parental capacity must be undertaken on a ‘child by child’ basis as a parent or parents may be able to care for one child but not another within the family. Where parenting difficulties or likelihood of impairment to the child’s health and development are identified, there should be formal assessment of the parents’ capacity to change. Capacity to change must be understood and assessed within a timeframe that is compatible with the developmental needs of the child.
Assessing parents’ capacity to change presents many challenges and a multi-faceted approach including interviews, observation, standardised measures, use of previous reports about the child and family members, and gaining information from multiple informants is needed.
Psychological assessment can also be valuable alongside a social work assessment to assess parental capacity for change. (This is not currently offered by the Independent Safeguarding Hub).
We understand the need for comprehensive parenting assessments that are robust and have clear recommendations, including a detailed analysis of risk.