Viability Assessment - Principles of the Welfare Check List

When undertaking a Visibility Assessment it is necessary to have in mind the principles of the welfare check list. Viability Assessments underpin crucial and serious decisions made in a child's life and the principles of the welfare check list ensure all areas of a child's welfare are considered. Given the understandably emotive nature of Viability assessments for extended family members wishing to ebb considered to care for loved ones, these assessments are also more frequently becoming open to the scrutiny of the court. Evidence that the welfare principles have been given due consideration will add value to any assessment undertaken.

The Children (Guernsey and Alderney) Law 2008 identifies the principles thus:-

1.     That a child's welfare is normally best served by being brought up within his own family and community

2.     That, where it is not possible for a child to be brought up within his own family or community, his welfare is normally best served by maintenance of regular contact with his family and community

3.     That no compulsory intervention shall be made in respect of a child, unless it is necessary for the effective provision to the child of care, protection, guidance or control

4.     That any delay in determining a question about a child's upbringing is likely to be prejudicial to the child's welfare

5.     That irrespective of age, development or ability, a child should be given an opportunity to express his wishes, feelings and views in all matters affecting him

6.     That, except where it is shown to the contrary, it is presumed that a child is capable of forming a considered view from the age of 12 years

7.     That a child in the care of the States is entitled to be provided with, and may expect to be subject to, insofar as is practicable, similar levels of care, protection, guidance and control as would be expected to be provided or exercised in respect of a child by reasonable parents

8.     That in any case involving criminal activity, or the risk of criminal activity, by a child, the primary purpose of any compulsory intervention shall be the prevention of such activity in both the short and long terms

The qualities and abilities that make a good carer

Long term commitment to the child and ability to put their welfare first, even when it conflicts with loyalty/ concern for the birth parents;

Understanding and acceptance of the real reasons which led to the child's removal from the parents' care;

Ability to protect the child from further harm;

Ability to deal with the strain of changing family roles;

Sufficient support network;

Sufficient time and space to devote to everyone in the family;

Capacity to offer warm, stimulating care;

Capacity to understand, adapt to and meet the child's changing needs;

Ability to promote the child's educational and health needs;

Commitment to helping the child develop an understanding of their history and promote a positive identity including their ethnic and cultural identity;

Capacity to be realistic about the possible problems and special needs which the child may present;

Commitment to using training and professional support;

Ability to work with professionals and to seek out and accept help.

What makes family and friends carers unsuitable?

Health - where medical and/or psychiatric history and current state of health give serious cause for concern about the prospective carer's future health prospects;

Age - where the medical opinion is that the carer may not survive all the years of the child's dependence or retain sufficient energy and vigour to meet the child's needs until independence;

Drug/alcohol problems - if the carer has a drug or alcohol dependence that is likely to affect their ability to offer safe care;

Criminal record of prospective carer and adults in the household - certain types of offences will automatically bar the offender from caring for a child. i.e. any conviction for an offence against a child under Schedule 1 of the Criminal Justice Act. Other offences will need to be discussed in detail to establish if they may impact on the care of the child. Any conviction for an offence involving violence will be of particular concern;

Housing - where the current accommodation is temporary, overcrowded and/or poorly maintained and there are no realistic prospects for re-housing within near future;

Finance - where the family is in debt to the point that it cannot manage its finances, is in danger of losing the home due to arrears or would be wholly dependent on the fostering allowance to support the family;

Work/lifestyle - where the prospective carer's work responsibilities and/or leisure pursuits severely limit the time available for child care;

Family composition - where the needs of other children and or dependent adults in the household/network are likely to conflict with the needs of the child to be placed;

Parenting concerns - where there have been serious difficulties in how the prospective carers parented their own children, particularly a history of abuse or neglect;

Understanding children's needs - inability to demonstrate an understanding of children's development and needs;

Meeting needs of a specific child - unwillingness or inability to understand or meet the identified educational, medical or emotional needs of the child, including for those who may require a high level of specialist care;

Protecting the child - unwillingness or inability to protect the child from abusive parents and enforce restrictions on contact with birth parents;

Working together - lack of co-operation with social services and other professional services.

Below you will find various documents to assist with completion of a viability assessment. This included the designated form, consent to agency checks for and a list of specified agencies with whom agency checks would be undertaken. A positive Viability Assessments is dependant upon agency checks having been undertaken and the finds of these checks must be considered positive for the purposes of the assessment. Guidance in relation to findings of agency checks can be obtain from the family Placement service.