Assessing Needs of Children and Families: Using Questionnaires and Scales

Children Services
Planning and Intervention Skills
Direct Work CYPs

Posted: 14 January 2018

This pack, which accompanies the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families (2000), sets out how a number of questionnaires and scales can be used by social work and other social services staff when assessing children and their families. The materials were piloted in a number of child care situations within five social service departments and modified to suit children and families and the requirements of staff working in this setting. The instruments can assist staff preparing reports for the Court, by providing a clear evidence base for the judgements and recommendations made regarding a child, and inform the child care plan. 

Summary of Questionnaires and Scales 
- The following eight questionnaires and scales are included in the pack: 

  • The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaires (Goodman, 1997; Goodman et al, 1998). These scales are a modification of the very widely used instruments to screen for emotional and behavioural problems in children and adolescents 

  • The Parenting Daily Hassles Scale (Crnic and Greenberg, 1990; Crnic and Booth, 1991). This scale aims to assess the frequency and intensity/impact of 20 potential parenting ‘daily’ hassles experienced by adults caring for children. 

  • Home Conditions Scale (The Family Cleanliness Scale. Davie et al, 1984) addresses various aspects of the home environment (for example, smell, state of surfaces in house, floors). 

  • Adult Wellbeing Scale (Irritability, Depression, Anxiety – IDA Scale. Snaith et al, 1978). This scale looks at how an adult is feeling in terms of depression, anxiety and irritability. The questions are framed in a 'personal' fashion (i.e. I feel..., My appetite is...). The scale allows the adult to respond from four possible answers. 

  • The Adolescent Wellbeing Scale (Self-rating Scale for Depression in Young People. Birleson, 1980). It was originally validated for children aged between 7–16. It involves 18 questions each relating to different aspects of a child or adolescent’s life, and how they feel about these.
  • The Recent Life Events Questionnaire This scale was taken from Brugha et al (1985), with nine additional items added. It focuses on recent life events (ie. those occurring in the last 12 months) but could be used over a longer time-scale. It is intended to assist in the compilation of a social history.
  • The Family Activity Scale (Derived from The Child-Centredness Scale. Smith, 1985). These scales give practitioners an opportunity to explore with carers the environment provided for their children, through joint activities and support for independent activities.
  • The Alcohol Scale This scale was developed by Piccinelli et al (1997). Alcohol abuse is estimated to be present in about 6% of primary carers, ranking it third in frequency behind major depression and generalised anxiety.
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