National evaluation of the Graded Care Profile How the Graded Care Profile assessment tool helps practitioners identify when a child is at risk of neglect

Man and woman looking at papersThe Graded Care Profile (GCP) is designed to help practitioners spot when a child is at risk of neglect and get the right help to families earlier. We carried out the first UK-wide evaluation of this tool supported by Luton Safeguarding Children's Board, the GCP developer, Dr Srivastava and his colleague, Richard Fountain.

Our first report on the national evaluation of the GCP looks at the value of using the GCP in practice and why it was not used when it could have been. It draws on a range of perspectives including the views of practitioners and managers, parents, Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) and GCP trainers.

Our second report examines findings after suggested improvements to the GCP were incorporated into a second version of the tool called GCP2. We tested GCP2 for reliability and validity between September 2014 and August 2015 through NSPCC service centres.

Both reports are part of our Impact and evidence series.

Authors: Robyn Johnson and Richard Cotmore (National evaluation of the Graded Care Profile)
Robyn Johnson, Emma Smith and Helen Fisher (Testing the reliability and validity of the Graded Care Profile version 2)
Published: 2015

Graded Care Profile (GCP) helped professionals identify risks of child neglect and potential harm more effectively and promoted positive change for families. Useful features included the scoring process which helped to quantify neglect and make neglect more visible to professionals and to parents.

The GCP encouraged practitioners to focus on the child's experience rather than focusing on the adults' needs which helped in the assessment of care.

Using the GCP contributed to a constructive working relationship between practitioners and families by:

  • identifying parenting strengths as well as weaknesses
  • helping create a participative process that promoted parental engagement
  • helping parents understand professionals' concerns.

Most practitioners found GCP a useful tool across different age groups and a range of case types.

  • Practitioners gave a rating of 4 or 5 for usefulness in more than two thirds (68%) of cases (on a scale of 1-5 where 5 was "very useful").
  • Of those who were asked 87% of practitioners reported that GCP helped case planning.

Practitioners reported improved skills after using GCP. This included improvements in recording and reporting neglect and in communications with parents, managers and other professionals.

In the majority of cases (84%) of practitioners felt either fairly confident or very confident in using the GCP. 

Challenges to using the GCP effectively were identified and included:

  • language used in the tool was too complex and confusing
  • the gap between training and starting to use the GCP was sometimes too long
  • high staff turnover meant some practitioners left after training before being able to use the tool
  • management support for social workers in using the tool was variable. 

Factors that supported the use of GCP included:

  • management support
  • good quality training
  • a local champion for the tool
  • an implementation plan and a plan for ongoing monitoring and support. 


Suggested improvements to the GCP were incorporated into a second version of the tool called GCP2.

The revised version of GCP called GCP2 has been found to be a reliable and valid assessment tool for helping practitioners assess child neglect:

  • there were strong correlations between GCP2 and 2 comparison tools (North Carolina Family Assessment Scale and Home Inventory)
  • there were high levels of agreement in ratings for the 4 GCP domains (physical, care of safety, emotional and developmental care ) when different practitioners used GCP2 with the same family
  • professionals participating in face validity research agreed that GCP2 achieves what it sets out to do.

National evaluation of the Graded Care Profile

Key findings: young people's version 4
Key findings 5
Executive summary 7
1. Introduction 11
2. Implementation challenges 20
3. Practice challenges and use of GCP 25
4. Strengths and limitations of the GCP 40
5. Perceptions of usefulness of GCP and effects on practice 51
Conclusions and discussion 68
References 74
Appendices 76


Testing the reliability and validity of the Graded Care Profile version 2 (GCP2)

Key findings 5
Key findings: young people’s version 6
Executive summary 7
Main report 9

"…it (GCP) really does focus on what it's like to be a child in that house … it's actually saying this is what needs to happen now for this child in order for these negative things to stop happening." 

"I think the GCP2 provides clear, evidence based information to assist local authorities to make decisions about a child's care, needs and any plans necessary." 

Please cite the two reports as:

Johnson, R. and Cotmore, R. (2015)  National evaluation of the Graded Care Profile. London: NSPCC.

Johnson, R., Smith, E. and Fisher, H. (2015) Testing the reliability and validity of the Graded Care Profile version 2 (GCP2). London: NSPCC.

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Neglect is the ongoing failure to meet a child's basic needs. It's dangerous and children can suffer serious and long-term harm.
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