Journal Article

Representing Children's Identities in Core Assessments

Jane Thomas and Sally Holland

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 40, issue 8, pages 2617-2633
Published in print December 2010 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online December 2009 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
Representing Children's Identities in Core Assessments

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This paper reports findings from a qualitative research study of twenty-six core assessments, concerning thirty-two children, completed over a six-month period in one Welsh local authority. The data reported in the paper come from the twenty-six written assessment reports and interviews with the thirteen social workers who completed the assessments. The study was concerned with how social workers assess and report on children's identities. Identity is one of the seven developmental needs of children categorised in the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families (National Assembly for Wales, 2001b). It is noted that practitioners display a broad understanding of identities when discussing their own identities in interview and report a practice commitment to learning about the details of children's lives in an attempt to ‘get to know’ the children. However, the assessment reports tend to convey only narrowly defined and negative aspects of the children's identities, with many descriptions standardised and replicated between reports. Similarities to findings from a study conducted by one of the authors prior to the introduction of the Assessment Framework are noted, and it is suggested that bureaucratic constraints, the need to argue a case and defensive practices may have impeded change.

Keywords: Assessment; bureaucracy; children in need; identity

Journal Article.  7116 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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