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Assessment in Child Care: Using and Developing Frameworks for Practice edited by Martin C. Calder and Simon Hackett, 2nd edn, Russell House Publishing, 2013, ISBN 978 1 905541 85 0, 384pp.

This is a new, revised edition of an established textbook. Working with children and young people in need of care and protection is complex and demanding work. Assessment is one of the major keys to effectiveness in this type of work, as it is a process of laying a foundation of understanding, a framework of meaning or narrative that helps us make sense of the situation we are dealing with. Developing a sound, helpful, accurate and reliable assessment is a highly skilled process, and so a well-resourced, wide-ranging book like this is to be welcomed.

In these bureaucratic, managerialist days I have seen far too many examples of assessment reports that do not do justice to the complexities involved, which do not achieve the level of professional understanding required for high-quality work. It is as if some people see assessment as just a process of filling in a form, when of course the reality is far more complex than that. This book is effective in getting across the message of just how complex and how important assessment is. It provides quite a comprehensive overview of the subject with chapters on a wide range of aspects.

Given that the book contains so many different chapters by different authors, it is perhaps inevitable that some chapters are better executed than others, but overall this is a well-written book with important things to say about important issues. It is not the sort of book that is likely to be read from cover to cover – although no doubt some people will, and will be all the better for doing so. It is more likely to be used as a reference source, and one that could and should be available to teams of staff charged with undertaking assessment work with vulnerable children and young people.

When it comes to concern about well-being, the well-being of children and young people can often be forgotten. The growing literature on well-being and happiness has little to say about children and young people, but this book provides an important contribution to our understanding of the needs of children and young people in need of care and protection.


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