Evidence Based Decisions Reviewing family situations to protect children

When there are serious concerns about how a child is being cared for, people who work with children and families need to make effective decisions based on real evidence.

We’re working with local authority social workers (people who work with children and families in particular areas) to assess parents’ abilities to look after their children where there are serious concerns about the wellbeing of the child.

The assessment is made using a tool called the North Carolina Family Assessment Scale (NCFAS).

Two women sitting at a table and having a conversation

How it works 

Families will receive at least 3 visits lasting between 1 and 2 hours, where they can talk about their situation and how they’re feeling. We then write a report (called a family functioning review) which includes:

  • strengths
  • key goals
  • any changes needed to make sure the children remain with their family safely.

We also help to find any additional support a family might need to achieve their goals.

The family will be reviewed again after around 3 months, or sooner if needed, to see if progress has been made based on the changes identified.

The local authority social worker will then use this information in their decisions about whether it's safe for the child to remain at home, and what additional support the family need.

We believe this tool could help effective decisions, meaning better help for neglected children in the UK. We’re testing it to find out.

The North Carolina Family Assessment Scale (NCFAS) was developed in the USA by Dr Ray Kirk at the University of North Carolina-Chapel-Hill. 

In other countries, it’s been shown to improve the way social workers interact with families, how they gather and analyse information and how they make decisions.

Children's stories

"I even felt lonely when mum and dad were in the house because mentally they were completely out of it."

Read Sophie's story

Evaluating the impact

Find out how we're evaluating Evidence Based Decisions.

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Thriving Families

Helping to define, detect and tackle neglect and provide the right support for families.
Thriving Families service

Graded Care Profile 2

Assessing the care of children and identifying neglect.
Graded Care Profile service

Improving parenting, improving practice

Helping parents who are struggling to care for their children.
Improving parenting, improving practice service


Encouraging, informing and promoting better parenting to protect young children from harm.
SafeCare service

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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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