BEGINNING THE ASSESSMENT
Working with children and their family groups rather than ‘individuals’ creates a number of additional difficulties. The first arises from the fact that families are not simple conglomerate entities that can be treated as if everyone in the family has the same characteristic beliefs, attitudes, experiences and behaviours. Families consist of a number of individuals, each of whom may have radical differences from the others in certain ways. They may, for example, have radically different expectations about who is involved in the problem and who should come to the appointment. Over the last twenty years, there has been a marked increase in the numbers of fathers who attend with their children, but there are still wide variations between families about this. In practice, when a family is deemed to have a problem it is crucial to understand who in the family is defined as part of the problem (and by whom) in order to be clear about motivation for change. Although this sounds simple, in practice it is not, particularly when the role of other child agencies involved is considered. Child development involves health, education, and social factors. Some problems require the involvement of several agencies to resolve effectively and others can at least partially result from an unsatisfactory relationship between the family and one of these agencies. Another issue for child and family workers concerns the strength of privacy boundaries within such a natural social group like the family, leading to problems to do with the disclosure and confidentiality of information, particularly where there is a conflict of interest between family members.