As better practice is developed in the field of assessment, we have tried to lead by offering integrated services to a high standard, based around the families’ own home or in contact centres. This has meant significant changes to personnel and operational procedures, which we believe have been improved considerably.
Unfortunately there is no regulatory authority responsible for ensuring the quality of community based assessment services. However, at Jamma Umoja all our staff are vetted under regulation and fully comply with all the requirements of the National Care Standards whether they be working in residence or in the community.
Least disruption:– All community-based assessments are designed ensuring the level of disruption to the child is minimised. This includes the child’s placement during the assessment. The positive and negative aspects of returning the child to the care of the parent/s would be considered. Travel for the child will also be minimised wherever possible.
Community based programmes can be conducted with the child/ren at home or if the children are in alternative care. We also offer someday assessment in our centres which may include group sessions in relation to domestic violence, men’s role in parenting, positive parenting etc.
Jamma Umoja offer Community Parenting Assessments conducted mainly at the parents’ home but with attendance at our Centre in Croydon.
We are not solely an independent social work agency though our primary staff group are qualified and experienced social workers in child protection but we are also a multi disciplinary agency wholly dedicated to offering intensive assessment in complex and multi faceted cases.
These assessment programmes require four or five days per week of interventions with the mother and father and would involve observations of their care of the children within agreed contact arrangements.
In addition to these individual sessions, Jamma Umoja runs groups at our Centres (over one day), including the Men’s and Women’s Domestic Violence group, the Personal and Community Awareness and Positive Parenting Groups, which we would expect the parents to attend, where possible.
We would explore what is the parents’ capacity to care for their children and assess what reasonable supports could enable them to offer good enough, safe care. We will examine if the parents can place the focus of their efforts on the children thus demonstrating a potential to meet their needs and place them foremost.
We would also examine what support could be provided to the parents from professionals, the community and their family/friends and assess if it is appropriate, sustainable and likely to benefit the children or otherwise. The assessment would also entail the detailed interviewing of other family members and friends of the family, if appropriate.
On average, in addition to the group attendances and on site Key Work sessions, each week we would expect to undertake two announced home visits to address the issues set out in the Letter of Instruction and two unannounced home visits, which can take place at any time, in the morning, evening and at weekends in order to confirm stated lifestyles.
The Community Assessment can include more than is listed above as this is not an exhaustive list but rather a demonstration of the types of assessment protocols that would be necessary to produce a comprehensive report to help determine the way forward. It is also designed to allow for an end to assessment if such is not considered viable or in the children’s best interests.
We could commence such an assessment immediately on receipt of a Letter of Instruction and ideally following a professionals meeting. We would file the Report one week after the end of the six week assessment period.
Our community parenting assessment costs are in line with Legal Aid Agency hourly rates. We have included an example of our assessment average charges for your information.
Residential into community
Community Rehabilitation Outline
Once the former residential service user(s) are in their own accommodation and living independently, Jamma Umoja may propose further assessment and support in the community, which would cover the main areas which have been identified as necessary to assist the family’s transition into the community.
The Jamma Umoja Rehabilitation programmes are generally three to six month community assessment packages of three phases, namely, an initial High level of support and monitoring followed by a Medium phase and a Low level phase to finalise the work. We believe that the six month timeframe is an ideal standard but we are aware that costs are a significant consideration and we can confirm that the Rehabilitation assessment can be safely undertaken over a three month period.
Initially, the family would be seen on two pre-arranged times a week at their home to support this integration and continue the necessary work with the family. There would also be three additional unannounced home visits which would be brief for the purpose of monitoring the home circumstances and are a standard part of all the Community and Rehabilitation assessments. These spot checks on the family could be early in the morning, late at night and at weekends. As previously indicated, these visits would be brief if circumstances were going well but could be much longer if the worker has concerns about the circumstances they find on arrival at the home.
This intensive monitoring would be utilised during the initial weeks with the programme then being tapered down until the family is ultimately seen just twice a week at the end of the assessment.
A brief outline of these phases and the work undertaken would, therefore be as follows;
High level phase – Month One. There would be a minimum of three unannounced and two announced visits, including evenings and weekends to the parent’s home per week and a Review session every week. They would also include weekly attendance at the Mother and Father’s Groups, the Awareness group and the Positive Parenting group.
There would be Professionals Meetings to review progress at the end of week six and a Final Review at the end of week eleven (and repeated similarly if extended to the six month Rehabilitation assessment).
Day assessment provision
Day Community Assessments are appropriate where there is concern regarding the abilities of the parent to meet all of the needs of their child/ren and a Residential Assessment is not considered necessary to safely consider the holistic parenting capacity. These assessments would focus on specific areas of care, or generally across all areas. They may also be used in situations where a parent needs to become familiar with staff before a residential stay.
A Day Assessment would follow the outline for a Community Assessment but would involve the parent attending the Centre on a regular daily basis as set out in the care planning and would focus more directly on modelling, mentoring, training and empathetic support and assistance.
A specialist area for Day Assessment intervention could look at issues of Emotional Abuse. All forms of abuse and neglect include an element of emotional abuse. For this reason, emotional abuse has sometimes been overlooked as a significant obstacle to children having a healthy and happy life.
Whether on its own or in conjunction with another form of abuse, emotional abuse can have serious long term effects on a child’s emotional development and physical health. Emotional abuse is the second most common reason for being made subject to a child protection plan or put on the child protection register in England, Wales and Scotland and is a core element of all other forms of child abuse.
Parent and Child Foster Placement Assessments
Package to Foster Placement Services carried out by Independent social workers
Jamma Umoja has established a new twelve week assessment outline specifically geared to the assessment of parents resident in (normally) Mother and Child Foster placements.
At Jamma Umoja we understand that this particular assessment format requires us to work closely in partnership with the foster carers. We appreciate that foster carers are not professional assessors and they will be very varied in their experience, however it is important, indeed essential that we work in close co-operation with them.
An essential part of establishing a base line regarding the assessment of basic care capacity. At the residential family centres we would usually see every observation of every key task but we believe that a very robust alternative is available using the combined skills of our staff and the carers in foster placement.
Jamma Umoja’s role in these circumstances would be to use our expertise to set up a programme where we would undertake an agreed level of monitoring and evaluation ourselves with regular review and feedback sessions with the carer, utilising the same format and agenda.
The first six weeks of the Mother and Child Foster placement assessment would be considered a Viability phase and would normally commence with a professionals’ meeting (to include the foster carer) to discuss the details of our Instructions and ensure that all assessment areas would be covered to the satisfaction of all the professionals involved.
At the end of the six weeks a Report would be prepared and another professionals’ meeting would be held to discuss the progress of the assessment. If there were enough positives the assessment could go on and conclude following an additional six weeks. If however, the assessment is proving to be negative, it can end at this point with the final report prepared.
In the initial phase, we would explore what is the day to day functioning of the Mother and her attitude to and engagement with professionals. We would also need to assess the parent about their own skills in a range of areas, be they literacy; domestic skills etc and again get agreement with the carer about who is doing what. We do not want workers having to teach someone to cook in the foster carer’s home when the foster carer could do that though we would endeavour to do one or two one off sessions to be able to see for ourselves and observe the foster carer and young person working together to gauge the quality of that relationship.
We would explore what is the Mother’s potential to care for her child and assess what reasonable supports could enable her to offer good enough safe care for the child. This would involve agreeing a programme that sets out expectations of what the parent, the foster carer and Jamma Umoja needs to do e.g. baby needs to go to HV, who will go with them and how will we assess that?
We use group techniques for some of our interventions and have a wide range of these; in most cases a parent will come to the groups for assessment as well as meet with us in the foster homes over an assessment period.
We would normally ask the parent to attend Jamma Umoja so they get to do these group sessions and we would also undertake individual key work sessions with them utilising the team of multi-discipline professionals available on site.
The Jamma Umoja Mother’s Group is set up to address specifically concerns about violence, power and control in intimate relationships. It would address any propensity for inappropriate and unsafe relationships in the past and in the future.
Attendance at two additional groups would also be part of the assessment – an Awareness Group which focuses on issues of day-to-day care as well as a variety of other topics, including safety in the home, personal safety, and how to undertake basic home tasks. The Positive Parenting group is a detailed course covering issues of child development, setting boundaries, effective discipline and the emotional needs of children.
We would liaise closely with the Local Authority, the Health Visitor and the Guardian as a matter of course.
Jamma Umoja’s Consultant Psychologist can undertake full Psychological assessments, Psychological Risk Assessments and Cognitive testing.
Connected Other Assessment (kinship assessments), including our Two Week Viability Assessment.
A Kinship / Family Assessment by one of our team is a tool for gathering information about whether or not a specific family member is able to provide care to a child in the short term and long term. The Kinship / Family Assessment undertaken by Jamma Umoja will pay close consideration to the contentious issue of contact and the nature of the child’s and the kinship carers’ continued relationship with the birth parent.
These Assessments will endeavour to include all family members in developing a workable kinship care arrangement for a looked after child. The Jamma Umoja team can be commissioned when a child is unable to remain with their parents and alternative short and long term care arrangements need to be made for the child.
It is an expectation that a Local Authority considers members of the child’s extended family as alternative carers before placing the child with unrelated foster carers in the care system. Our team will gather information about the child and their circumstances from the Local Authority. We will convene a meeting with all the significant family members to gain an understanding of the family’s plan for the child.
A programme of work will be agreed with the prospective kinship / family carers. This will include individual interviews, seeing the child on their own and observing them with the prospective kinship / family carers. We will meet with the birth parents to ascertain their views and gather information from any professionals involved with the prospective carers.
The Jamma Umoja Connected Other Viability Assessment incorporates essential areas required by the Framework for Assessment of Children in Need and their Families (National Framework for Assessment Triangle). We would cover the history of family and friends, initial assessment of their parenting capacity, assessment of their ability to meet a child’s needs and their ability to protect a child from parents if the Local Authority does not have an Order.
Family and Friends Assessments
These assessments determine whether a family or friend’s placement of the child is achievable.
We can provide kinship assessments of family and friends that meet the stringent requirements of Local Authority. We are able to provide assessment reports in accordance with the requirements of your local Panel. We liaise closely with the Local Authority Family Placement Social Worker to ensure that the specific requirements of a local Panel are met. We are happy to present our assessment reports to your local Panel and provide an additional assessment report to be used within the Court Proceedings.
Specialist Domestic Violence Reports
Jamma Umoja can offer stand alone Reports were the principal area of is recurring Domestic Violence.
Families who are assessed by Jamma Umoja often bring a history of difficulties that they are trying to come to terms with and overcome. Many of our families who have experienced violence first hand themselves as children and have later become embroiled in one or a series of violent partnerships and as a consequence their children have also been exposed to Domestic Violence.
The impact on children of Domestic Violence has been well researched and exposure to it (even if one is not a direct victim of abuse) is grounds for determining significant harm[i]. Often women Jamma Umoja work with have already lost children in earlier proceedings for failing to protect them. Often men Jamma Umoja work with have lost children because of their history of unmanageable anger, physical abuse and threats of abuse. The children of these families have lived in fear and have seen their parents being beaten, threatened and humiliated.
Our domestic violence programme aims to address all these issues, to build awareness of patterns of behaviour, to look at the impact of violence in the home upon children, to build up self esteem and to encourage parents to take control of their lives and make a difference for their children.
Jamma Umoja offer on a Day Assessment basis, wide ranging support and guidance to nurture immature, cognitively or emotionally challenged parents through our specially adapted programmes. We offer baby massage, sessions on learning about stimulating art and creative experiences for young children anticipating relevant learning for the next stages of their child’s development.
Children need direct and continuing access to people with whom they can develop healthy, supportive relationships. To assist this we facilitate and encourage parents taking their children to libraries, museums, local parks and sporting events. We discuss and encourage the use of community services for family needs, such as parent education classes or respite care and how to communicate effectively with childcare or school staff.
Through our Nurturing Programmes we hope to encourage the understanding that a healthy, nurturing relationship with your child is built through countless interactions over the course of time. It requires a lot of energy and work, but the rewards are well worth it.
Associated with the Nurturing Programmes is our commitment to the continuation of the family’s progress by facilitating their involvement in community based projects after the assessment is completed.
Positive Parenting Programme
Jamma Umoja can also offer specific a Positive Parenting Programme on a Day Assessment basis.
Our Positive Parenting Programme aims to help parents think about what it means to be a child, what their needs are and how families can live together with minimum conflict. The Positive Parenting programme is about understanding your children, teaching how to manage tantrums, become better listeners, communicate clearly, feel confident in what they are doing and how to manage conflict inside and outside the home by using different techniques.
We seek to strengthen relationships with your children, including: make sure your children know you love them, even when they do something wrong. Encourage your children. Praise their achievements and talents. Recognize the skills they are developing. Spend time with your children. Do things together that you both enjoy. Listen to your children. Learn how to use nonphysical options for discipline.
We offer workshops on parenting, weekly sessions to support parents, one-to-one advice and coaching for everyone and expert training and development strategies. Our weekly sessions cover;
The definition of what parents’ needs are and the importance of getting them met. We explore how to accept and acknowledge feelings. We examine how to recognise the importance of special time and play and show how praise can change behaviour. How to understand the importance of discipline and the effects of tangible rewards and be able to use listening skills.
Form F Applications
Jamma Umoja can provide qualified experienced staff to undertake Form F applications etc. We would liaise closely with the Local Authority Fostering team to ensure that the specific requirements of a local Panel are met. We are happy to present our assessment reports to your local Panel and provide an additional assessment report to be used within the Court Proceedings.
Section 7 & 37 Reports
Section 7 Reports
A court may ask the local authority for a welfare report when they are considering any private law application under the Children Act 1989.
Jamma Umoja Section 7 Reports cover the background to the matter, the history of Children’s Services and other agency interventions, a profile of each child, profiles of each adult who is a party to the proceedings and the response of the family members to the current circumstances.
Our Reports include a summary of the social worker’s assessment, the social worker’s comments regarding the welfare checklist, the social worker’s comments regarding the ‘no order’ principle and its relevance to the case and the social worker’s conclusions and recommendations, with reasons.
Section 37 Reports
Jamma Umoja can offer qualified and experienced staff when a Local Authority has been directed to undertake an investigation of the child’s circumstances and report to the Court its findings. (The timescale for completing this report is 8 weeks).
The Jamma Umoja social worker conducting the investigation would consider if the local authority should consider applying for a Care Order, if the local authority should provide services or assistance for the child and her/his family and if the local authority should take any other action in relation to the child.
Any S. 37 Report would similarly cover the background to the matter, the history of Children’s Services and other agency interventions, a profile of each child, profiles of each adult who is a party to the proceedings and the response of the family members to the current circumstances.
We provide rehabilitation-assessment programmes and support for families where a consideration is being if the children should be returned home following a period in care. Community based assessments are frequently used to determine if a reunification assessment should be undertaken to determine if the children can safely return and be cared for appropriately after the assessment is completed. We also have a new overarching-assessment procedure, drawing on government and other assessment protocols and our own extensive experience. It reflects the Framework for Assessment documents, the Parenting Manual for Parents with a Learning Difficulty our own assessment protocols and other assessment protocols, as appropriate to each case.
There are no geographical limits to our catchment area, as we work throughout the UK and beyond – with particular links in the Caribbean. We have worked extensively in Scotland, Wales and the North of England, as well as in, and around, our London bases.