NUMBER 215 • 26 FEBRUARY 2003 • ASSESSMENT WITH CARE
INDEX OF QUOTES
Useful assessment information cannot be provided adequately or in an ethically acceptable manner if the child’s primary care requirements are not met. These care requirements encompass physical care: adequate feeding, clothing, sleeping and shelter; emotional care: support to achieve a reasonably stable frame of mind and some degree of happiness; and social care: protection and encouragement as an aid to acceptability and satisfaction in interaction with peers. Standards of care vary from agency to agency but there is some consensus about acceptable minima which should guarantee an adequate level of care.
An additional aim of providing care is to bring about a level of behavioural and psychological stability against which the child’s behavioural baseline may be established. A child who is abnormally upset is likely to behave in an abnormal fashion. Any information gained about his behaviour in such circumstances is likely to be only of benefit in indicating how he behaves when he is upset and would be of little value in predicting his behaviour under other conditions. Also, a child whose behaviour is unstable due to environmental conditions is likely to create major problems for the organisation and create difficulties for the assessment of other children.
This is particularly true of those children whose problems are so great that they have to be removed from home and placed in some form of residential provision, be it a hospital, a remand centre, or an assessment facility. The removal from home and the anxiety of separation from a familiar environment as well as the need to adjust to the new and potentially threatening setting are likely to induce panicky responses and other forms of transient disorder.
Although these may be of value in providing unusual information about a child, they are also likely to increase the error in evaluating the child’s predominant response pattern and his behaviour other than under those specific circumstances. In view of this, the priority task of any assessment facility should be to stabilise the child and familiarise him with the new environment until he has acquired what appears to be a basic stability and confidence to cope before the proper programme of assessment gets underway. With some children this task may be so difficult and protracted as to take several months. With the majority, however, this is achieved in a matter of hours or days if the environment is caring and competent enough to ensure that the child is welcomed and minimally stressed in his new setting. The length of time each child takes to settle down is a valuable guide to his adaptive ability, given that staff efforts to this end are relatively constant.
MASUD HOGHUGHI et al.
Hoghughi, M. S.; Dobson, C.; Lyons, J.; Muckley, A. & Swainston, M. (1980). Assessing Problem Children. London: Burnett Books/ Deutsch. pp. 73-74