chapter  7
20 Pages

Assessment of family needs

Assessing family needs in partnership with the parents and family members is a relatively

recent development in professional work, and it is useful to start with a brief exploration

of the changing thinking and legislation underpinning this practice. Until recently, the

‘needs’ of children with special needs and their families were decided upon mainly by

expert opinion (i.e. what professionals and service providers viewed as necessary) and by

supply (i.e. what was available in services and material resources). The new movement

towards involving parents and users in the assessment of needs heralds a major shift

towards a demand-led definition of needs based on what users and consumers say they

need. At least two strands of practice and law have driven and reflected this change in

practice. First, we will consider significant developments in the United States, before

reviewing the British angle.