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Assessment of Strengths and Needs

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Development of the unborn, infant, child or young person


General health

The unborn, infant, child or young person's current health condition (for example, conditions of relevance to an infant, child or young person, including growth, development, physical and mental well-being).  Also includes consideration of:

  • health conditions or impairments which significantly affect everyday life functioning whether chronic or acute, including obesity; unborn child is not developing adequately;
  • access to and use of appropriate health services (by mother in case of unborn), such as those provided by a GP/dentist/optician, immunisations and appropriate developmental checks;
  • number and frequency of hospital admissions and accidents (of mother where unborn);
  • access to and use of appropriate health advice and information, for example, diet, sexual health and management of any health condition such as diabetes or asthma (where unborn, mother is following advice).

For convenience the term child will be used throughout to represent all ages of children when considering the level.  The examples listed in the boxes are not a definitive list merely a guide of different circumstances. 

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Where the child requires aids such as spectacles, asthma inhaler, sexual health adviceChild will require input from several specialist services; where parents fail to ensure that the child is encouraged to access/use the aids/advice, thus placing the child's health at risk of deterioration; where the child is unborn and the mother is not accessing services.Where child has complex disabling conditions; where parents continually ignore advice given regarding the impact of their behaviour on their child's health and the child's health is impaired eg. introducing substance misuse as acceptable behaviour.

Physical Development:

"Physical Development" refers to the infant, child or young person's means of mobility, level of physical or sexual maturity/delayed development.  Factors to be taken into consideration include:

  • being well-nourished, being active, rested and protected, gaining control of the body, acquiring physcial skills;
  • vision and hearing;
  • fine and gross motor skills including:

            -    crawling, walking, running and climbing;

            -    participation in football or other games;

            -    ability to draw pictures, do jigsaws etc.

Level 1Level 2Level 3
Where parent fails to understand need to allow child opportunities for development eg. child kept confined to pushchair, cot, home.Where inappropriate housing conditions mean that the child has little opportunity for gross motor development, or where housing adaptations required to enable independence.The child's disability impairs physical development; where the child's development is delayed because of emotional abuse or neglect.

Speech, Language and Communications Development

The ability to communicate effectively, confidently and appropriately with others.  Also includes consideration of:

  • preferred means of communication;
  • use of first language;
  • ability to gain attention and make contact, access positive relationships, be with others, encourage conversation;
  • the impulse to communicate, exploring, experiment, labelling and expressing, describing, questioning, representing and predicting, sharing thoughts, feelings and ideas;
  • listening and paying attention to what others say, making playful and serious responses, enjoying and sharing stories, songs, rhymes and games, learning about words and meanings;
  • vision and hearing;
  • ability to communicate meaning, influence others, negotiate and make choices, understanding of others;
  • language for communicating and thinking;
  • linking sounds and letters;
  • reading and writing;
  • willingness to communicate;
  • articulation skills and language structure;
  • vocabulary and comprehension;
  • fluency of speech and confidence;
  • appropriateness of social and communications skills, for example, body language, excessive use of expletives or inappropriate language.
Level 1Level 2Level 3
Where the child would benefit from more stimulation and play opportunities; medical checks needed to rule out organic reason for delay.Child in need of speech therapy; needs to attend a playgroup for structured stimulation; requires SEN support to improve performance.Severity of disability requires high level of input; child is unable to develop language skills because s/he is ignored and rejected within the family unit; is denied access to other opportunities of stimulation because of parental apathy/refusal.

Emotional and Social Development

The emotional and social response the infant, child or young person gives to parents, carers and others outside the family.  Also includes consideration of:

  • the importance of being special to someone, being able to express feelings, developing healthy dependence, developing healthy independence;
  • nature and quality of early attachments;
  • self-harm or risk of self-harm;
  • phobias or psychological difficulties; fears or psychological difficulties such as persistent sadness or tearfulness;
  • temperament, coping and adjusting abilities for example, after experiencing domestic violence, bereavement or family relationship breakdown;
  • disposition, attitudes and motivation to change.
Level 1Level 2Level 3
Child does not seem to have close attachments; has difficulties establishing friendships and maintaining them.Child is considered a loner; is exhibiting signs of phobias or other psychological difficulty.Child is self harming or is a risk to others.

Behavioural Development

The behaviour of the child or young person and whether behaviour occurs in a particular setting or all settings.  Also includes consideration of:

  • lifestyle and self-control (including participation in reckless activity and need for excitement);
  • behaviour in class or other environments where the child or young person comes into contact with their peers;
  • whether undiagnosed conditions may be impacting on behaviour (eg. hearing or visual impairment);
  • substance misuse (includes alcohol and volatile substance misuse and controlled drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971);
  • anti-social behaviour for example, destruction of property, aggression towards others, harm or risk of harm to others;
  • sexually inappropriate behaviour and attempts to manipulate or control others;
  • early sexual activity, unprotected sex, lack of reflection or positive decision making about sex and relationships;
  • offending behaviour and risk of (re)offending;
  • violent or aggressive behaviour at home or school;
  • attitudes to offending;
  • over activity, attentiveness, concentration and impulsive behaviour
Level 1Level 2Level 3
Child exhibits negative behaviour as a means of gaining attention, resorts to tantrum - like behaviour.Child is on verge of exclusion; exhibits an anti-social attitude; sexual behaviour places the child at risk.Child has disability resulting in extreme behavioiur; child has been excluded; charged with offending behaviour; rejected by family; considered to be beyond parental control.

Identity, including self-esteem, self-image and social presentation 

The growing sense of self as a separate and valued person.  Also includes consideration of:

  • growing awareness of self, realisation of separateness and differences from others, recognition of personal characteristics and preferences, finding out what they can do;
  • importance of gaining self-assurance through a close relationship, becoming confident in what they can do, valuing and appreciating their own abilities, feeling self-assured and supported, a positive view of themselves;
  • knowledge of personal and family history;
  • access to recognition, acceptance and comfort, ability to contribute to secure relationships, understanding they can be valued by and important to someone, exploring emotional boundaries;
  • sense of belonging, being able to join in, enjoying being with familiar and trusted others, valuing individuality and contributions of self and others, having a role and identity within a group, acceptance by those around them;
  • race, religion, age, gender, sexuality and disability - may be affected by bullying or discriminatory behaviour; understanding of the way in which appearance and behaviour are perceived and the impression being created.
Level 1Level 2Level 3
Child lacks confidence in own abilities and is unwilling to tackle new experiences; child is unsure regarding sexual orientation.Child has experienced bullying or racist incidents; child is referred to as being different within the family or child believes this to be true; child does not like him/herself.Child feels rejected by family/peers/society; runs away; expresses self loathing.

Self-care skills and independence

The acquisition of practical and emotional and communication competencies to increase independence.  Also includes consideration of:

  • discovering boundaries and limits, learning about rules, knowing when and how to ask for help, learning when to say no and anticipating when others will do so;
  • discovering and learning about their body, demonstrating individual preferences, making decisions, becoming aware of others and their own needs;
  • early practical skills for example, coping with routine such as washing, dressing and feeding including swallowing, chewing and weaning, in the case of the very young;
  • opportunties to gain confidence and practical skills to undertake activities away from the family;
  • independent living skills for older children for example, appropriate use of social problem solving approaches;
  • the readiness of older teenagers to make the transition from children and young people's services to adult services.
Level 1Level 2Level 3
Child may be overprotected and prevented from acquiring skills; has somewhat unrealistic expectations imposed on him/her.Child shows extended dependency; child is expected to provide extensive emotional and practical support to parent.Child will be unable to acquire independence because of disabilities; child appears autonomous and inappropriately meets own needs without parental assistance.

Family and Social Relationships

The ability to empathise and build stable and affectionate relationships with others, including family, peers and the wider community.  Also includes consideration of:

  • stable and affectionate relationships with parents or caregivers;
  • sibling relationships;
  • involvement in helping others;
  • age-appropriate friendships;
  • association with predominantly pro-criminal peers or lack of non-criminal friends;
  • understanding of others and awareness of consequences;
  • association with substance-misusing friends/peer groups.
Level 1Level 2Level 3
Child has difficulty in forming positive relationships with parents/siblings/peers.Child is lacking in empathy; choice of peer relationships is disapproved of by family; child's disability impedes friendships.Child does not appear to have a close bond with anyone; peer relationships are leading child into risk.


Understanding, reasoning and problem solving

The ability to understand and organise information, reason and solve problems.  Also includes consideration of:

  • the impact of any disability or impairment or special needs and of any potential for these outcomes;
  • making connections through the senses and movement, finding out about the environment and other people, becoming playfully engaged and involved, making patterns, comparing, categorising, classifying;
  • being creative, exploring and discovering, experimenting with sound, other media and movement, developing competence and creativity, being resourceful;
  • being imaginative, imitating, mirroring, moving, imagining, exploring and re-enacting, playing imaginatively with materials using all the senses, pretend play with gestures and actions, feelings and relationships, ideas and words;
  • exploring, experimenting and playing, discovering that one thing can stand for another, creating and experimenting with one's own symbols and marks, recognising that others may use marks differently;
  • play and interaction;
  • demonstration of a range of skills and interests;
  • numbers as labels and for counting;
  • calculating;
  • shape, space and measures;
  • progress in learning, including any special educational needs identified;
  • knowledge and understanding of the world.
Level 1Level 2Level 3
Child appears delayed; there needs to be an assessment to rule out an organic reason.Child is delayed in this area and parents need professional support and guidance to aid them.Child has a complex disability impairing learning; child is denied opportunities to learn as a result of parental influence.

Participation in learning, education and employment

The degree to which the child or young person has access to and is engaged in education and/or work based training and, if he/she is not participating, the reasons for this.  Also includes consideration of:

  • attendance;
  • the degree to which prior non-participation has led to current needs and circumstances;
  • access to appropriate and consistent adult support;
  • access to appropriate educational resources for example, books, computer, specialist teaching.
Level 1Level 2Level 3
Child needs more opportunities to play/learn than are currently available.Child needs specialist support to enable access; child is not adequately encouraged and supported to participate in learning opportunities.Child has complex needs requiring expert support; child is allowed to truant and parental disinterest continues despite professional involvement.

Progress and achievement in learning

The child or young person's educational achievements and progress, including in relation to their peers.  Also includes consideration of:

  • adult interest in the child or young person's educational activities and achievements;
  • progress, for example measured against prior attainment in learning, national curriculum levels achieved and their peers;
  • basic skills - the ability to read, write and speak in English and use mathematics at a functional level;
  • key skills - the ability to learn, work with others, carry out tasks;
  • participation in activities in the community; development of particular strengths or skills for example, in sports, arts or vocational training;
  • special educational needs - whether the child or young person has significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of children or young people of their age;
  • impact on child of caring responsibilities in the home;
  • whether the child or young person needs help to catch up when education has been disrupted;
  • disability - whether the infant, child or young person has a disability and reasonable adjustments are being made to support their access to the curriculum and school life generally.
Level 1Level 2Level 3
Child's progress is not that expected of a comparable child.Child needs additional professional help to ensure improved progress.Child is significantly delayed as a result of their environment or complex disability.


The ambitions of the child or young person, whether their aspirations are realistic and they are able to plan how to meet them.  Note there may be barriers to a child or young person's achievement of their aspirations for example, the child or young person's other responsibilities in the home.  Also includes consideration of:

  • the child or young person's view of progress;
  • motivating elements;
  • the child or young person's level of self-confidence;
  • perseverance.
Level 1Level 2Level 3
The child's circumstances mean that there is little optimism for a bright future.The child acts as a carer and is unable to pursue their own ambitions; child needs encouragement to develop hopes.The child's self esteem is so low that they hold a pessimistic view of his/her future.

© 2015 Children and Young People