top of page
First Steps Fostering Baby

Additional Services

Parenting Assessment


First Steps Fostering offer Parenting assessments, subject to availability.

First Steps Fostering are delighted to offer the completion of a variety of parenting assessments alongside excellent placements which will include foster carer notes. First Steps Fostering recognise the pressures on the Local Authorities to undertake robust assessments on family circumstances and extend their services of timely assessments by qualified practitioners.

First Steps Fostering are asked by the Local Authority to (measure) a parent(s) parenting capacity to meet the needs of their child/children and consider what additional support would be required to develop their skill set. Through the assessment, we consider a parent(s) skills in looking after their child, their knowledge about what their child needs and their ability to give their child what they need until they reach their majority. 

We are not looking for 'perfect' parents. The Court is thinking about the child's safety and the assessment is to establish the parents ability to meet the child’s needs to a 'good enough'  standard and to ensure the child’s safety.
The NSPCC says that 'good enough' means:

  • meeting children's health and developmental needs 

  • putting children's needs first 

  • providing routine and consistent care 

  • acknowledging problems and engaging with support services. 

Things that are not safe for children are:

  • Neglecting basic needs; examples of neglect may be an inability to provide a warm loving environment, not accessing appropriate health treatment, putting adults' needs first.

  • Chaos and lack of routine resulting in inconsistent parenting

  • Unwillingness to engage with support services such as that of the Local Authority, health services, be that for yourself/ your child that is to the detriment to the child’s wellbeing.

Parents will be provided with a parenting assessment plan in a layout that they best understand, detailing the sessions to be completed, the dates in which sessions will take place along with the purpose of the parenting assessment sessions. First Steps Fostering recognise that everyone is different and will work closely with the Local Authority to develop a plan that is clearly understood by parents. 

Observations of care will also be undertaken by a First Steps Fostering Social Worker to develop an understanding of the child’s lived experiences. The parenting assessment does not only focus on the areas of concern, but also the positive attributes of parenting. 

Parents may also be asked to access a psychological assessment if identified factors such as Mental Ill Health, adverse childhood experiences, substance misuse and or learning difficulties are factors impacting on a parent’s ability to look after their child. Such assessments will be considered in the parenting assessment plan completed by First Steps Fostering. 

A parenting assessment develops a holistic view of the family’s needs, that being of the parent and the child and utilises an ecological approach along with a signs of safety model.

Domestic abuse, substance misuse, mental health needs and/or learning difficulties can make parenting difficult. Additionally, not having a positive experience of being parented themselves can also impact on the parenting a parent offers their own child. We would consider these factors within the parenting assessment and consider how parents may be supported further to promote their ability to care for their child. Such learning would be recommended as an outcome of the parenting assessment completed by First Steps Fostering. What is essential is that changes are made within the child’s timeframe, to achieve permanency at the earliest opportunity and to accomplish the best outcomes for the child. The parenting assessment will inform care planning for the child.

What the Local Authority can expect
  • Notice of request will need to be made to First Steps Fostering at point of referral alongside the placement request. This will ensure meticulous planning for the completion of the parenting assessment.

  • A planning meeting will be convened between First Steps Fostering and the Local authority to discuss the assessment plan considering the needs of the parents and concerns held by the Local Authority.

  • Within 5 working days, a parenting assessment plan will be devised and considered by the Local authority prior to sessions being commenced. 

  • A weekly synopsis will be provided to the Local authority to ensure consistent oversight of the assessment being undertaken. Parents will also receive written updates following weekly sessions to promote transparency. Through utilising the signs of safety model updates will consider what is working well and what are we worried about so we can recommend what needs to happen next. 

  • A meeting will be convened during the final trimester of the assessment between the Local Authority and First Steps Fostering to discuss the final report. The assessment outcome will also be discussed in depth with the parents by the First Steps Fostering assessor. 

  • Partnership working will be upheld by First Steps Fostering throughout the duration of both the placement and assessment process to ensure family focussed practice, ensure concerns are raised and addressed at the earliest opportunity, with the safety of the child be paramount. 

bottom of page