Developing contextual responses to the abuse and exploitation of young people


Assessment and Intervention Planning for Young People at Risk of Extra-Familial Harm



We are delighted to publish a new practice guide that prompts practitioners to consider both the context of children’s experiences within their family home and in other social spaces, including in the local neighbourhood or online, their school or their peer group.

By helping practitioners identify and assess other forms of harm that young people may face in these various spaces, the guidance enables a more holistic assessment than a traditional child and family assessment, which tends to focus on harm that happens inside the home and family environment.

More specifically, the practice guide supports practitioners to:

  • Assess the risk of extra familial harm to a young person;
  • Consider the needs of a young person subject to extra-familial risk; and
  • Make recommendations and plan for on-going work which addresses extra-familial risk of harm.

The practice guide was developed by Rachael Owens (Practice Development Manager of the Hackney Contextual Safeguarding Project) with contributions from Hackney Children and Families Service and the University of Bedfordshire’s Contextual Safeguarding team.

It is available on the Contextual Safeguarding Implementation Toolkit assessment section. The toolkit also contains exemplar documents to help other areas consider how they may develop similar work, including:

  • Hackney’s revised child and family assessment form showing additions related to extra-familial considerations
  • Hackney’s local protocol that sets out arrangements for assessing, planning and responding to an individual or context referral

Reflection from practice

The practice guide was piloted by Hackney practitioners and they have shared their experience and key learning in the four short videos, also available on the toolkit.

One of the Hackney practitioners who piloted the practice guide shared how she found the guidance helpful in:

  • Supporting parents to understand the young person’s ‘world’, so that they recognise the limited choices their child might have within extra-familial contexts
  • Considering each area of the assessment through an ‘extra-familial’ lens, rather than in the ‘environmental’ section, to give you the best chance of getting as full a picture as possible
  • Thinking openly about whose capacity to safeguard – apart from the parents is being undermined and considering how intervention can be focussed there, rather than all the focus being on with an individual young person and/ or their parents.

We hope that you find these resources useful. As always, we are keen to hear from you. Please email any feedback or suggestions to the team:

Posted: 20 Aug 2019

Author: Delphine Peace

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