1st Edition

Deciding Children's Futures
An Expert Guide to Assessments for Safeguarding and Promoting Children's Welfare in the Family Court

ISBN 9780415596343
Published November 9, 2012 by Routledge
400 Pages 11 B/W Illustrations

USD $52.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Deciding Children’s Futures addresses the thorny task of how to assess parents and children who belong to struggling families where there are issues of neglect or significant harm, and when separating parents are contesting arrangements for the care of their children.

This is a practitioner’s guide: it discusses how to create relationships that are capable of breaching natural parental defences to assessment; the importance of keeping an open mind, how to ask questions that fathom people’s experiences, and how to develop understanding of their histories, narratives, worries, hopes and fears. Joyce Scaife’s approach draws on practice knowledge, theory and research findings with a view to integrating the accounts of parents and children with safeguarding imperatives and government guidance, thereby enabling professionals to make informed decisions designed to impact positively on children’s futures.

This accessible and comprehensive book will be of great interest to ‘expert’ witnesses, practising social workers, children’s guardians, solicitors, barristers, magistrates and mental health professionals.

Joyce Scaife is a clinical psychologist with over 15 years of experience in carrying out assessments for the family court. She is former Director of Clinical Practice for the Doctor of Clinical Psychology training course at the University of Sheffield.

Table of Contents

Preface. Acknowledgements. Introduction. Being Assessed. Feelings Associated with Assessment. Confidence and Trust. Relationship, Alliance and Temptation to ‘Rescue’. Confidentiality. A Focus on Strengths. Art or Science, Analytical or Intuitive Judgement, Quantitative or Qualitative Methods? Fairness. Overall Process of Assessment. What can go Wrong and How to Avoid it. Skills. Interviewing. Issues in interviewing. Purpose of Interviews. The Role of Checklists and Formal Structures for Interviewing. Reflecting Purpose in the Start of the Interview. The Continuing Interview. Characteristics of Respondents. Bearing in Mind that we are More Similar than Different and our Lives Could Have Followed a Similar Path. Assessment of Personality, Profile and Relationship Context. Personality Traits and Psychological Profile. Characteristics and Issues that Impact on Parenting Skills. Aspects of Profiles Relevant to Family Proceedings. Assessing Motivation to Change. Assessment of Social Support. Assessment of Couple Relationships. Domestic Violence. Special Issues in the Assessment of Adults. Mental health difficulties. Drug or alcohol misuse. Physical Impairment. Learning Difficulties. Assessment of Parenting. Precautions. What Matters in Parenting? Sources of Evidence. A Framework for the Assessment of Care-giving. Formal Assessment Measures of Parenting. Prioritising Data in Assessments of Care-giving. Interventions and Sources of Support. Assessment of Children and Young People. Introduction. Legislation and the Voice of the Child. Making Sense of Behavioural Indicators. Interviewing Children. Structured Approaches to the Assessment of Children. Assessment of Attachment. Attachment and learning theories. Piaget’s Theory of Learning. The Impact of Infant Temperament. Parental Factors Affecting the Development of Attachment and Categorisations of Attachment Style. Adult Attachments. Attachment Disorder Critiques of Attachment Theory. Attachment in Practice – Relevance to Safeguarding. Assessment of Attachment. Attachment and Contact with Birth Family. Assessment of Care-giver Sensitivity Implications of Attachment Theory for Placement. Continuity of Attachment. Risk, Safety, ProtectiveFactors and Needs Assessment. Rationale for Conducting Assessments of Risk, Safety, Protective Factors and Needs. Breaking Bad News. Assessments of Safety. The Epidemiology of Child Abuse and Neglect. Actuarial and Consensual Risk Assessment Tools. Decision Tree Methods – HCR-20. Aims of Risk Assessment. Approaches to Assessing Strengths, Needs and Protective Factors. Structured Decision Making. Placement, Residence and Contact Arrangements. Issues in deciding placement. Types of Alternative Placement and Factors Related to Outcomes. The Decision to Place Siblings Together or Apart. Contact with Birth Families. Private Law. Theoretical Considerations, Data Synthesis and Formulation. The Meaning of Information. Theoretical Considerations. Organisation of Material. Strategies for Data Analysis and Synthesis. The Family’s Understanding and Explanations.Case formulation. In conclusion. Postscript. References. Glossary. Appendices.


View More



Joyce Scaife is a clinical psychologist with over 15 years of experience in carrying out assessments for the family court. She is former Director of Clinical Practice for the Doctor of Clinical Psychology training course at the University of Sheffield.


If practitioners were to use only one book to help them to carry out complex assessments this should be the one; I cannot recommend it highly enough.’ - Christine Carter, Co Founder and Co Director of Carter Brown Associates Family Expert Witness Service.