Appendix 5: Use of questionnaires and scales to evidence assessment and decision making

For amendments and updates, see the Amendments & Archives.

1. HOME Inventory and the Family Pack of Questionnaires and Scales which accompany the Assessment Framework

Caption: HOME Inventory and the Family Pack of Questionnaires and Scales which accompany the Assessment Framework

HOME Inventory


The HOME Inventory (Cox and Walker, 2002) assessment through interview and observation provides an extensive profile of the context of care provided for the child and is a reliable approach to assessment of parenting. It gives a reliable account of the parents' capacities to provide learning materials, language stimulation, and appropriate physical environment, to be responsive, stimulating, providing adequate modelling variety and acceptance. A profile of needs can be constructed in these areas, and an analysis of how considerable the changes would need to be to meet the specific needs of the significantly harmed child; and the contribution of the environment provided by the parents to the harm suffered. The HOME Inventory has been used extensively to demonstrate change in the family context as a result of intervention, and can be used to assess whether intervention has been successful.

Questionnaires and Scales


The Questionnaires and Scales provide an economical and effective way of gathering information about key personal and parenting issues. The Questionnaires and Scales are invaluable for screening for emotional and behavioural difficulties in both children and adults, parenting problems and other family and environmental factors including recent life events, mental health difficulties and alcohol problems as well as the quality of family life.

Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaires


The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaires (Goodman et al, 1997; Goodman et al, 1998). These scales are a modification of the very widely used instruments to screen for emotional and behavioural problems in children and adolescents – the Rutter A + B scales for parents and teachers. Although similar to Rutter's, the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire's wording was re-framed to focus on a child's emotional and behavioural strengths as well as difficulties. The actual questionnaire incorporates five scales: pro-social, hyperactivity, emotional problems, conduct (behavioural) problems, and peer problems. In the pack, there are versions of the scale to be completed by adult caregivers, or teachers for children from age 3 to 16, and children between the ages of 11–16. These questionnaires have been used with disabled children and their teachers and carers. They are available in 40 languages on the following website:

Parenting Daily Hassles Scale


The Parenting Daily Hassles Scale (Crinic and Greenberg, 1990; Crinic and Booth, 1991). This scale aims to assess the frequency and intensity / impact of 20 potential parenting 'daily' hassles experienced by adults caring for children. It has been used in a wide variety of research studies concerned with children and families – particularly families with young children. It has been found that parents (or caregivers) generally like filling it out, because it touches on many aspects of being a parent that are important to them.

Recent Life Events Questionnaire


The Recent Life Events Questionnaire (Taken from Brugha et al, 1985) helps to define negative life events over the last 12 months, but could be used over a longer time-scale, and significantly whether the respondent thought they have a continuing influence. Respondents are asked to identify which of the events still affects them. It was hoped that use of the scale will:

  • Result in a fuller picture of a family's history and contribute to greater contextual understanding of the family's current situation;
  • Help practitioners explore how particular recent life events have affected the carer and the family;
  • In some situations, identify life events which family members have not reported earlier.

Home Conditions Assessment


The Home Conditions Assessment (Davie et al, 1984) helps make judgements about the context in which the child was living, dealing with questions of safety, order and cleanliness which have an important bearing where issues of neglect are the focus of concern. The total score has been found to correlate highly with indices of the development of children.

Family Activity Scale


The Family Activity Scale (Derived from The Child-Centredness Scale. Smith, 1985) gives practitioners an opportunity to explore with carers the environment provided for their children, through joint activities and support for independent activities. This includes information about the cultural and ideological environment in which children live, as well as how their carers respond to their children's actions (for example, concerning play and independence). They aim to be independent of socio-economic resources. There are two separate scales; one for children aged 2–6, and one for children aged 7–12.

Alcohol Scale


This scale was developed by Piccinelli et al (1997). Alcohol abuse is estimated to be present in about six per cent of primary carers, ranking it third in frequency behind major depression and generalised anxiety. Higher rates are found in certain localities, and particularly amongst those parents known to local authority children's social care. Drinking alcohol affects different individuals in different ways. For example, some people may be relatively unaffected by the same amount of alcohol that incapacitates others. The primary concern therefore is not the amount of alcohol consumed, but how it impacts on the individual and, more particularly, on their role as a parent. This questionnaire has been found to be effective in detecting individuals with alcohol disorders and those with hazardous drinking habits.

Adult Wellbeing Scale


Adult Wellbeing Scale (Irritability, Depression, Anxiety – IDA Scale. Snaith et al, 1978). This scale, which was based on the Irritability, Depression and Anxiety Scale, was devised by a social worker involved in the pilot. The questions are framed in a 'personal' fashion (that is, I feel, my appetite is…). This scale looks at how an adult is feeling in terms of their depression, anxiety and irritability. The scale allows the adult to respond from four possible answers, which enables the adult some choice, and therefore less restriction. This could enable the adult to feel more empowered.

Adolescent Wellbeing Scale


The Adolescent Wellbeing Scale (Self-rating Scale for Depression in Young People. Birleson, 1980). It was originally validated for children aged between 7–16. It involves 18 questions each relating to different aspects of a child or adolescent's life, and how they feel about these. As a result of the pilot the wording of some questions was altered in order to be more appropriate to adolescents. Although children as young as seven and eight have used it, older children's thoughts and beliefs about themselves are more stable. The scale is intended to enable practitioners to gain more insight and understanding into how an adolescent feels about their life.

Family Assessment


The Family Assessment (Bentovim and Bingley Miller, 2001). The various modules of the Family Assessment which include an exploration of family and professional views of the current situation, the adaptability to the child' needs, and quality of parenting, various aspects of family relationships and the impact of history provides a standardised evidence based approach to current family strengths and difficulties which have played a role in the significant harm of the child, and also in assessing the capacity for change, resources in the family to achieve a safe context for the child, and the reversal of family factors which may have played a role in significant harm, and aiding the recovery and future health of the child. The Family Assessment profile provides it by its qualitative and quantitative information on the parents' understanding of the child's state, and the level of responsibility they take for the significant harm, the capacity of the parents to adapt to the children's changing needs in the past and future, their abilities to promote development, provide adequate guidance, care and manage conflict, to make decisions and relate to the wider family and community. Strengths and difficulties in all these areas are delineated, the influence of history, areas of change to be achieved, and the capacities of the family to make such changes.