Assessment Plus Service Marigold - Open Objects

Assessment Plus Service
Allan Cole Accredited Child Contact Service
Understanding the needs of families
ƒƒ Comprehensive, independent,
community based parenting
assessments for local
authorities and courts.
ƒƒ Accredited children’s contact
centre, offering safe and assessed
contact in the Allan Cole Centre
and other local resources.
ƒƒ Marigold Solutions Plus
programmes, providing solution
focussed interventions with
children and families towards
best outcomes for children.
The Marigold Assessment Plus is an integrated
assessment, contact and therapy service for children
and their families. Its aim is to offer comprehensive,
independent and professional community based
assessments, intervention and contact services all in
one place.
Our assessments provide balanced and informed
recommendations about whether it is in a child’s/children’s
best interest to be reunited with their parent/s or family. This is
achieved through the integration of interventions and assessed
contact within parenting assessments, giving families the best
chance to reunite or alternatively make timely decisions about
alternative placements for children by eliminating the need for
multiple assessments.
Our assessment and intervention model is informed by social
learning and eco-systems theory, helping us to understand
the inner and outer world of children and families, as well as
the social and economic context and beliefs which underpin
parents’ behaviour.
We consider attachment as an integral part of our parenting
assessments, using the Marchak Intervention Model as a tool
to measure and improve attachment. Our service therefore,
adopts an eclectic approach, balancing the need to avoid delay
and make robust decisions in child care proceedings with the
support parents need to make changes. This means that we
incorporate solution based interventions, such as cognitive
behavioural therapy to help accelerate and maintain change.
Our practitioners are skilled communicators who adopt
a person-centred approach, transactional analysis and
motivational interviewing during the 8 weeks intensive process
of assessment meetings with families. Their C.V.’s include
training in:- the Principles of Theraplay Programme, Parenting
Assessment Manual; Family Game intervention; Sandplay
techniques; Sensory Attachment and
Coaching qualifications.
Where sexual
abuse is the prevailing risk factor, we have access to a
sessional therapist who offers assessment of risk, risk
reduction programmes and therapeutic work to families
referred to our service
The Marigold Assessment Plus, Allan Cole contact centre is
an accredited member of the National Association of Child
Contact Centres (NACCCs) and offers assessed and community
based contact in a variety of settings. Contact supervisors are
trained to help parents increase the quality of contact and offer
mediation and assistance.
“The purpose of a family assessment is to identify
and explore, in considerable depth, the unique
complexity of developmental and ecological factors
in each family and their environment that may
contribute to or may mitigate maltreatment”1
Although in general the assessment team at Marigold believe
that all children have the right to family life, and in the majority
of cases this should be with their birth family, the child’s
needs are paramount. Where the assessment concludes that
a child cannot be reunited with their birth family, we, using
our team’s expertise, will recommend alternative placement
The team has considerable experience working with a wide
range of families, including those from different cultural and
social backgrounds. It has particular expertise in working
with vulnerable families; assessments have involved working
with parents with learning disabilities, Aspergers Syndrome,
parents with hearing impairments, mental health issues and
substance misusing parents. Likewise the team has experience
of supporting children with autism, physical disabilities and
behavioural problems.
Recently the team have enhanced their assessment model
whilst at the same time reducing time scales from 12
weeks (the usual time scales for family centres and other
local authority assessors) to between 4 and 10 weeks with
a report completed by end week 6 or 9 (or 12 weeks for
parents with learning needs who will be participating in a
PAMS assessment). An interim report can be available upon
request after the first review. The reduced time scale has been
achieved by adopting the community based assessment model
and re-organising tasks within the team in line with the high
level of skills and expertise of its practitioners.
Uniquely assessments at the Marigold Assessment
Plus allow for the possibility of integrating parenting
intervention programmes based on a Strengths approach.
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(Rycus and Hughes (2003;11) as cited in Research Report, December
2003, Department of Community Services;,
1.Assessment of
Parenting Capacity
Marigold Assessment Plus will enhance
the social worker’s statutory
assessment by providing the one
family, one assessment model,
underpinned by research, evidence
based, and integrated with
intervention services, removing
the need for multiple specialist
supporting assessments.
Marigold Assessment Plus adopts a
strengths based approach to parenting assessment. In
adopting this approach we are mindful of the need for timely
decision making so as not to cause delay for children or incur
unnecessary expenditure. The assessment team would not
recommend that an assessment continue without due cause.
Each parenting assessment will start with two weeks of
high intensity assessment, consisting of at least 15 hours
observation of parent-child interaction and 3 interviews (one
of which will be conducted by the Clinical Lead manager), as
well as a review of significant historical information. An early
review meeting will take place after the initial two weeks
assessment at which one of the following recommendations
will be made:
1. Assessment prognosis is likely to have a positive
outcome; assessment to continue for the
remaining 6 weeks, supported by an intervention
if appropriate; a report will be available by end
week 9.
2. Assessment prognosis less likely to have a
positive outcome and/or parents not engaging:
recommend that assessment is halted;
assessment report available end week 4.
3. When PAMS assessment is used, i.e. vulnerable
parents, with learning needs, assessment report
will be available by end week 14.
Marigold Assessment Plus adds in suitable interventions
(solutions plus) to deal with issues identified early on in the
assessment, making the service a one stop shop and helping
parents utilise services towards the best outcome for their
child(ren). This reduces the need for such interventions to
be recommended at the end of a parenting assessment,
inevitably causing delay. Another benefit of interventions
running alongside assessments is the opportunity for Marigold
Assessment Plus to measure the ability for parents to gain
new skills and insights. Rather than having to buy in separate
services, Marigold Assessment Plus is able to offer the
following, using our own expertly trained staff:
Principles of Theraplay
Theraplay is a structured play therapy for children and their
parents/carers and its goal is to enhance attachment, selfesteem, trust in others and joyful engagement. The method is
fun, physical, personal and interactive and replicates the natural,
healthy interaction between parents and young children. It is
structured, led by a member of staff and parents/carers are
actively involved. The focus is on ‘the here and now’ and does
not attempt to interpret the child’s past experiences. Nurturing
touch forms an integral part of the Theraplay sessions.
Parent-child game intervention
The Parent/Child Game is an intervention programme designed
to enable parents to recognise their own strengths and abilities
as they grow more confident in managing their child(ren)’s
behaviour. The programme helps parents to develop a more
nurturing relationship with their child(ren) through effective
interaction. Parents are coached to enhance their child-centred
behaviours. Feed back is given after the session so that the
parent can discuss progress. Children enjoy the sessions as
they spend special time with their parent whose attention is
focussed on them.
Motivational interviewing
Motivational interviewing (MI) refers to a talking treatment
approach that evolved from professional experience in the
treatment of problem drinkers. MI is a semi-directive, clientcentred counselling style for eliciting behaviour change
by helping clients to explore and resolve any ambivalence
that they may have about the need to alter their behaviour.
Compared with non-directive counselling, it is more focused
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and goal-directed. Motivational
Interviewing is a method that
works on facilitating and engaging
expressed motivation in order
to change behaviour and the
examination and resolution
of ambivalence is a central
purpose. The counsellor is
intentionally directive in pursuing
this goal. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT, is a talking therapy
that helps individuals to recognize that often the difficulties that
we encounter in life are not created by the ‘problems’ we face
but by the way in which we think about, or interpret, these
‘problems.’ CBT encourages individuals to think differently
about their problems, and by thinking differently it is
anticipated that the individual will feel and act differently when
presented with future problems. Unlike some other talking
therapies, such as psychoanalytical psychotherapy, it focuses
on difficulties in the ‘here and now’. Instead of focusing on the
causes of distress or symptoms in the past, it looks for ways
to improve the individual’s state of mind both now and in the
future. CBT has been shown to help with many different types
of problems, including anxiety, depression, panic, phobias
(including agoraphobia and social phobia), stress, bulimia,
obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder,
bipolar disorder and psychosis. CBT can also help those
individuals who have difficulties with anger and low frustration
tolerance (LFT); low self-esteem or physical health problems,
such as pain or chronic fatigue. The Marigold Assessment
Plus extends the theory and practice of Cognitive Behavioural
Therapy with individuals into the work that it undertakes with
couples and families.
Cognitive behavioural programmes have been demonstrated
to reduce physical punishment and parental aggression in less
time than alternative approaches
3.Back Together
The Marigold Assessment Plus offers support to families once
they are back together, by way of a positive parenting and/
or principles of theraplay programme. Where children have
been separated from their parents, getting back together after
a successful parenting assessment can be a crucial period
for the family. Research shows that between a third and half
of children who return home from foster care re-enter care.
Children who have experienced separation often feel insecure
on returning to their parents and may express this by testing
the boundaries. Attachment may also have been affected. A
support programme can greatly enhance the probability of
the family continuing without further need for intervention or
placement breakdown.
The Marigold Assessment Plus team offers a support
programme, which consists of elements which according to
research contribute most to the success of staying together.
Meeting with the family to review care
Plan and complete the ‘family reunification
tracking checklist’ (which identifies family’s
support network).
Refer to Family Group Conference if
Helps families to link with support network,
including community resources.
Refers parent(s) to Marigold Assessment Plus
team counsellor if appropriate.
Refers family to Principles of Theraplay if
Allocate family a Children and Families Worker
who will provide 5 hours support per week
for between 8 and 12 weeks (as appropriate);
support will be a mixture of face to face and
telephone contact including out of hours access
to advice.
A post reunification report at completion of
the programme with an overview of support
given and progress made, including a
recommendation for possible continued support
by volunteer services.
A linking meeting with volunteer.
These interventions can also be commissioned as stand alone
programmes to support parents who have already participated
in an assessment elsewhere.
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4.Assessed Contact;
Allan Cole Contact Centre Site
Contact sessions where the possibility of returning a child to their parent(s)’ care is considered will be assessed
by Contact Supervisors and Children and Families Workers. This provides an integrated service where contact
informs the parenting assessment and interventions.
One of the most important aspects for children who cannot be cared for within their families is good quality
safe contact. The Marigold Assessment Plus will concentrate on helping children and young people to maintain
valuable contact with their parents, siblings and in some cases extended families. In order to achieve this, the
Allan Cole centre has been divided into a number of rooms that have been decorated and furnished in a homely
fashion. Parents and children can be together and parents will be able to participate in their children’s play
activities and to assist them with their hobbies and even homework.
There is a comfortable area for families to wait for their children with appropriate security arrangements. ƒ
Contact rooms are clean and airy and child-focussed. Each room has its own colour
scheme, toys and activities and some are specially designed for babies and
children who have a disability. The sensory room is designed as a white
room with projector, touching activities and therapy rocker.
The centre staff are experienced and qualified to support and supervise
contact. They work closely with children, their families, social workers
and other professionals in providing the highest quality contact facility.
ƒƒ Contact sessions may also take place at one of our other venues, such
as children’s centres in the community and home based contact. We
will always facilitate contact in the best interest of the child/ren and
their families.
5. Thames-Valley Partners Programme
The programme is for female partners of men attending the Sex Offender Treatment Programme who may in some capacity
have children in their care who are still potentially at risk. ‘Partner’ is defined as being in a current or recent relationship. The
group is also appropriate for women who have been in a relationship with men where there has been an allegation of sexual
abuse against a child that could make their children vulnerable to sexual harm. The term partner can also apply to women who
have relationships with the men, such as mother or sister, who would benefit from information and support to keep children safe
and to reduce the risk of men re-offending against children in the future.
The group aims to:
Assist participants in making and maintaining informed decisions about their relationship with the offender and
their children’s safety.
Assist participants who remain in a relationship with an offender:
In protecting children from sexual abuse by him or another offender;
In contributing to the offender’s new life plan, including monitoring the relapse prevention plan and supporting him
in positive future attributes behaviour and lifestyle.
Assist participants who choose not to remain in a relationship with the offender in protecting themselves and
children in their care against any other sex offender.
Help each participant to understand and deal with the effects of her partner’s abuse on the victim, on herself and
on her family, and to resolve associated problems.
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8.Look at Me
6.Assessment of
Sibling Attachment
Where the local authority has been asked to make
recommendations about the placement of siblings, the
Marigold Assessment Plus Assessment Team can assist
in conducting an assessment of sibling attachment. The
assessment will take between 4 and 6 weeks and will involve
observing siblings together and individually in their placement
settings and at the Centre; including exploring their wishes
and feelings. A report will be available within 2 weeks of
completion of the assessment.
7.Life Story Work/
The purpose of a life story book is to provide a child with an
accurate chronological account of his/her life, which remains
relevant and has an enduring value. The Adoption guidelines
specify that the local authority has to provide each child who is
being adopted with a life story book. Life story books help children
to understand the background and history of their birth family;
know where they come from and develop a sense of identity;
understand why they are separated from their birth family and
who has cared for them; and put their past into perspective.
At Marigold Assessment Plus we have a team of experienced
practitioners in conducting life story work and compiling life
story books.
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The Look At Me Programme (LAMP) is designed to assist
children who are presenting with behaviour that is of concern
to their carers and/or school/other agencies. Children referred
to the programme usually have unresolved feelings of grief
and anger about their past and/or current situation. The
programme is intended to give the child an opportunity to
express his/her feelings and provide the child with strategies
to cope with overwhelming feelings without having to resort
to behaviour that gets them into trouble. This programme is
suitable for children and young people who are not entitled to a
service from CAHMS.
An experienced Children and Families Worker will meet with
the child on 4 occasions to assess the underlying reasons for
the child’s behaviour. This will be followed by a brief report
with recommendations as to how to manage the child’s
behaviour and help him/her cope with his/her difficulties. The
report will be available to the child’s carer(s) and at his/her
request can be made available to other adults involved in the
child’s life, for instance school staff. Consultation can be made
available to help these adults carry out the recommendations in
the report or to talk through further developments. The LAMP
can also be of support to families when they first get back
together and help prevent placement breakdown with birth
parents and foster carers.
9. Keep Safe Groups
Keep safe work is a programme designed to help children
protect themselves from harm. It is an activity based
programme, which includes information about bullying,
physical, emotional and sexual abuse, and drugs and alcohol.
It can be delivered individually and as a group. Marigold
Assessment Plus have in the past assisted local schools in
delivering the programme to their pupils and would be happy
to assist other schools through consultation and co-working.
10. Counselling
11. Student Placements
The Marigold Assessment Plus has a small team of student
counsellors supervised by our clinical lead manager.
Counselling is available for parents and young people and has
proven to be helpful in keeping families together, facilitate
positive contact and where parents are separated help them
to provide consistent care for their children regardless of any
issue between parents.
The Marigold Assessment Plus offers high quality placements
for student social workers on BSc and MA degree courses.
Two members of the staff are qualified and experienced
practice teachers, one of whom won the social worker
(practice teacher) of the year award in December 2011.
Following an initial assessment by the counsellor, usually
between six and eight sessions are offered. Most of the
counselling students are trained in person-centred therapy,
however other types of counselling are available depending on
the individual’s therapeutic needs.
Students are able to experience a variety of practice settings,
including experience of working with adults, children and
young people, partnership working with other agencies and
observing court proceedings.
Recent service users’ comments
“The mother…attended an exclusive parenting programme at the Marigold…focussing on the
quality of contact…it went very well and now mother and child are having semi-unsupervised
contact in the community.”
Commissioning social worker, April 2013
“JW (practitioner at Marigold) …was excellent…giving clear, pertinent evidence…an asset to the
local authority…”
Parenting Assessment; Judges summing up; June 2013
“Ms W was a professional witness who appeared unbiased and not influenced by the local
authority’s case or chronology.”
Parenting Assessment; Judge’s summing up July 2013
“…C (Children and Families Worker at Marigold)…has been…a great support for me at home when H
(child) has been challenging…since H has been attending the theraplay sessions she has managed to
control her anger by calming herself down…we have noticed a significant difference at home in her
behaviour and school have also commented on how well H is managing her anger in the classroom…..” Letter from foster carer; August 2011
“…I thought you were just another counsellor, well you’re not…you are the one that helped me to
get to know myself and accept who I am and I really appreciate that…..”
Young person after receiving a CBT service; letter undated
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Marigold Assessment Plus
Allan Cole Centre
166 Delaware Road
Tel: 01702 212852/212851
Department for People
Second Edition, Published June 2014