What to expect at an assessment
A needs assessment is the process social services use to decide if extra help is required to meet your child and your family's needs. Find out about requesting an assessment.
Preparing for an assessment
It can be useful to make a list of questions before you meet, and you are entitled to have a friend or advocate there with you.
What to expect from an assessment
During the assessment a social worker will usually come to your home to talk to you. They should ask you for information about your child, for example sleeping patterns, eating habits and how your child communicates, and whether you have any other children to look after.
The assessment should always be based on your needs and those of
your child, rather than what services are already available.
For information about the process and timescales, or to request an assessment, contact your local authority. You can also ask your GP, health visitor, community nurse, paediatrician or a voluntary organisation to contact social services on your behalf.
Don't be worried about asking for clear information about the focus of the assessment. The person carrying out the assessment should work in an open way. This means listening to your views as well as sharing any relevant information with you. It is important to have a conversation about how to meet your child's needs.
After an assessment
If the local authority agrees that services should be provided, they should draw up a plan that sets out who is going to do what, where and when to help your child.
In England, if a child has an Education, Health and Care plan then the type of support, who will provide it, including use of direct payments, should be included.
The local authority may decide there is no need for services, which could result in your case being closed with no further action taken. If you disagree with this decision, you can challenge it using the local authority's complaints procedure.
- Download our factsheet Carers' Assessments - help for parent carers in England [PDF].
- Read our parent guide Services and support from your local authority - England [PDF].
- Wherever you live in the UK, you can call our freephone helpline (Monday-Friday, 9.30am-5pm) on 0808 808 3555, ask us a question by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or post a query on our Facebook page.
Did you find this advice useful?
This information was written by our invaluable helpline team. Although all our information is free to access, we depend on donations to keep our charity going. If you can, please donate to our Lifeline Appeal to help us continue to fund our helpline team.