Posted: March 24th, 2023

Holistic Assessment of Child Protection Frameworks


In the field of child protection, social worker practitioners encounter many challenges. In fact, it is hard to unveil what transpires in the family setup because each family has a unique situation, and the level of growth and sustainability in a given family remains a mystery (Munro, 2010). Henceforth, it is hard for practitioners to ascertain whether child protection has been premeditated (Solomen & Sturmfels, 2011). The rationale for this research paper is to provide a persuasive argument for the importance of holistic assessment in child protection. The essay will explain the nature of the assessment required in the field of child protection. In addition, the significant information required for a comprehensive assessment and how the assessment may streamline the action will be discussed. Accordingly, the use Whare Tapa Wha model will be instrumental in exploring the required holistic assessment. Furthermore, the triangle framework by Crawford comes in handy in outlining the fundamental areas that the holistic approach utilizes in a social work context. Furthermore, the specific function of practitioners in social work will be debated as to how they conduct an assessment and recognize ways to augment their personal reflection and level of awareness when dealing with children. While details of a child are being considered, practitioners must maintain an inclusive perspective, despite the uncertainty in the child protection field.

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Understanding the Child

Solomen & Sturmfels (2010) aver that understanding the child’s situation is a key component in a child protection context. In fact, a practitioner should understand any safety concern that exists in the child’s life and the nature of the such concern. Therefore, an assessment is undertaken to better understand the situation or any event that takes place in the child’s life. Indeed, the practitioner must gather the facts based on the uncertainty and suspicion of the situation occurring in a child’s life. The holistic approach assessment explores the environmental context of the child, such as the schools, church, history, and the child’s relationship with the parent and the influence the environment has on the child. Therefore, the child’s life and situation are understood on those grounds. Notably, the holistic assessment indicates that practitioners must have a complete awareness of the child’s aspects of life and understand the influences of those aspects on the child’s life (Morrison, 2000). In essence, the understanding will ensure that the intervention targets the core areas of concern. For instance, if a child is undergoing abuse or neglect, the best approach is to refer him or her to the CYFS for a holistic approach. Thus, after the assessment, the practitioner may discover the extent of issues the child is undergoing, such as an addiction in the family. Therefore, with more understanding of the child’s issues, the practitioner can provide the prerequisite assistance.

The Whare Tapa Wha Framework

Whare framework provides a comprehensive assessment of child protection by identifying a child’s life. The model was identified by Mason Durie and later outlined by Rochford (2004). In this model, child protection is assessed through four important components. The first component is Taha Hinengaro which encompasses psychological/mental features in a child assessment. The aspect assesses the behavior and emotional circumstances and allows the practitioner to understand the child’s mental health and emotional support (Rochford, 2004).

Hence, the aforementioned factors require assessment in the child’s life. The second component is Taha Wairua which looks into the child’s spiritual well-being and the environmental and cultural influences in the child’s life. According to Rochford (2004), the component focuses on the impact the specific culture and religion have on the child’s life. It seeks to divulge if there exist specific cultural practices that take place in the family and whether those practices have an impact on the child’s life. In addition, the aspect looks for other areas that focus on the child’s well-being. In this context, a holistic assessment of a child’s physical health will be considered. The fourth aspect is Taha Whanau. The Taha aspect discusses the social aspect of the child, which involves the family’s history and financial impact. Additionally, other aspects of life, such as society, schooling, and a child’s network, are put into consideration (Rochford, 2004).

Expressively, all the aspects considered under the Whare Tapa Wha framework are imperative in the child’s life, especially when assessing the child’s needs. Other assessment compartments include the child policy, registration, and macro system, which must be assessed when exploring the child’s life and implementing the outcome of the protection assessment made by the social worker.

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The Requirements of a Practitioner

The social worker needs a holistic assessment of the child’s life, which establishes the vital elements of the nature of protection required. On the other hand, a holistic approach is the outcome of the deliberate efforts of the social worker. The effort is geared toward their ability to explore their impact and influence on the implementation of child protection policies. They make decisions that influence the child’s life based on their assumptions, beliefs, and personal values that they have toward the child. In fact, those personal values allow them to respond to a child’s problem according to their perspective (Salome & Sturmfels, 2011). Therefore, social workers must understand their beliefs, assumptions, and personal values, which might affect their response, decision-making, and judgment when dealing with the child’s life. Salome & Sturmfels (2011) sustain that personal values influence the responses and dictate the direction in which our suggestions are directed without thinking of a different opinion.

Markedly, the practitioner should have a balance during an assessment to avoid becoming traumatized and upset after discovering the event occurring in a child’s life. Therefore, to avoid the imbalance, the practitioners must engage in self-reflection, which will assist them in engaging with student assessment. Essentially, the strategy develops awareness around the social practitioner, and they understand their beliefs, experiences, assumptions, and values. In child protection, self-reflection is of the essence since it helps practitioners to make careful inquiries, avoid biased assumptions, and make informed decisions devoid of negative influence when dealing with children and families. A holistic assessment explores a wide area of a child’s life, making it suitable for a culturally diversified situation. Frequently, the interaction and communication between the social worker and the family reveal the underlying concerns about the child’s safety in the environment he/she lives (Salome, Sturmfels, 2011). By and large, many children are not involved in decision-making in many institutional setups. They are restricted from airing their views, a situation that makes them live in other people’s decisions. However, in the holistic assessment approach, the child can decide on several issues according to their situation, and an inclusive perspective, such as child rights, is adopted. In other words, all the assessments must observe part six of the Children and Young Persons and Their Families Act (1989). The enactment ensures that all social workers are aware of the thought and opinions of the child before they start the assessment process (Munro, 2010).

The Triangle Framework

Crawford (2011) adopts the framework from Child Youth and Family and identifies three core aspects that require assessment in child protection. The framework acts as a guide for the practitioner when assisting families and Whanau. The first aspect of this framework assesses the child’s parenting capacity. This aspect ensures that the practitioners can assess the parenting awareness, skills, relationship, knowledge, and connections between a parent and the child (Salome & Sturmfels, 2011). The essence of parenting capacity allows the practitioner to interact with the family and the child and then individually with either the child or the family to enhance and understand the interaction (Crawford, 2011). The interaction allows the child to communicate for better understanding and gives a perspective on how the children view their parents. The aspect allows practitioners to diversify their methods because parents use different approaches when interacting with their children.

The second aspect entails the assessment of the child’s needs such as health, education, behavioral and emotional growth, and well-being, vis a vis the child’s relationship with the family. When the child’s development is assessed, the environment such as school, community, or home is understood. In fact, the holistic approach ensures that the child’s strength is identified.

The third aspect necessitates the assessment of environmental and family factors that involve support from the community, the nuclear family, and the impact of available resources. The practitioner in this stage can assess the connection between the child and the family and understand the mutual impact. The assessment of how a lack of resources affects the child’s development is considered. Therefore, the child’s issues, such as mistreatment, are established, and the causes are unveiled. The core aspect of the assessment allows the social workers to understand the relationship between the child and the family. Hence, this allows the practitioner to construct and build their knowledge on how to do an assessment. The practitioner establishes where the child’s concerns are anchored, whether in finances or otherwise.

The triangle framework gives a holistic approach during the examination and allows the children to explore diversely. Notably, all the three elements of this framework function well together and support the achievement of stability, safety and the well-being of the child. Implementing this framework in child protection assists the social worker to have a clear picture of what will be implemented for every child and their families and how the practitioner will meet their target in meeting those needs (Salome & Sturmfels, 2011). The approach focuses on families that can share their stories and get involved with their children. The triangle framework works as a standard approach that aims at understanding and increasing knowledge about the children’s life and their relationship with the environment and the family. In addition, the framework endeavors to understand the perceptions and personal views of the children toward their parents and their environment. Another perspective that this framework offers is the guidance and direction of the social workers. It gives an insight on how intermingle and practice assessment with families and children. In fact, the practitioners can understand and see the situation of the child and the family holistically (Child Youth and Family, n.d).

The child assessment is anchored on several factors, such as home stability, self-care, basic care, emotional development, social networks, and family history. Essentially, when undertaking a comprehensive assessment in the context of child protection, factors such as safety information about the child, the happiness of the child, and health issues need to be considered. Those pertinent issues that surround the child cannot be disregarded unless the assessment approach is not holistic. After the assessment has taken place, the information gathered by the social worker practitioners is used to lay down the strategies that will mold the course of action. The outcome reveals many concerns about the child’s life, such as their safety, health, and educational performance. The information from the assessment may reveal the challenges the child is facing and suggest the required course of action. For instance, a child may be taken away from the home if his/her life is under threat. Then, the practitioner will suggest the resources required to cater for the child’s needs while he/she is away from home. During this period, the practitioner gets an opportunity to know the child and to understand their needs and their environment.

The holistic assessment approach is of great fundamental in many ways. Indeed, it allows the social worker to have a diverse understanding of the child’s life and understand the best method that will suit the child’s needs. Therefore, those approaches integrate all the required systems that would influence the child’s life in a positive way (Connolly & Healy, 2009).

The Whare Tapa Wha model and Triangle assessment profess a similar standpoint regarding children’s life. Both theories dictate that a holistic approach is of the essence when dealing with child protection issues. They consider culture, environment, and the nuclear family as the predominant factors that influence a child’s life. The approach offers valuable references to the practitioners when gathering data from the families and the children (Child Youth and Family, n.d). Specifically, a holistic approach comes in handy in the child protection context, especially when a practitioner requires information about the child’s safety, happiness, and well-being.

Equally, the approach allows the social work practitioners to begin their analysis of the child’s issues from the good fare to the safety. In addition, social workers can maintain a balance within a global perspective during the information gathering (Salomen & Sturmfels, 2010). Therefore, a holistic approach is necessary because while details of a child are being considered, practitioners must maintain an inclusive perspective despite the uncertainty in the child protection field. Hence, the child protection field requires an intricate process that must be developed from the initial stage to the final stage of implementation. It is only through the required assessment in the field of child protection and the gathering of significant information for a comprehensive assessment that may streamline the best course of action.



Child Youth and Family Assessment Triangle Guideline, (n.d). Retrieved. Oct 21, 2014 from

Connolly, M., & Healy, K. (Ed.). (2009). Social work practice theories and frameworks. In M. Connolly & L. Harms (eds.) Social work: Contexts and practice (2nd ed., pp. 19-36). London, England: Oxford University Press.

Crawford, J. (2011). Bringing it together: Assessing parenting capacity in the child protection context. Social Work Now, 47, 18-26.

Marlow.J., & Chinnery, S. (2011). Use of self in practice: A framework for integrating personal and professional knowledge. In C. Noble, M. Hendrickson, & I. Ha (Eds), Social work field education and supervision across the Asia Pacific (pp. 349-374). Sydney, Australia: Sydney University Press.

Morrison, T. (2000). Working together to safeguard children: challenges and changes for inter- agency co-ordination in child protection. Journal of Interprofessional Care, 14(4), 363-373.

Munro, E. (2008). Effective child protection. New York, N.Y: Sage Publishers.

Munro, E. (2010). The Munro review of child protection interim report: The child’s journey. New York, N.Y: Sage Publishers.

Rochford, T. (2004). Whare Tapa Wha: A Maori Model of a Unified Theory of Health. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 25(1), 41-57.

Salomen, N., & Sturmfels, D. (2011). Making the most of child and family assessments in child protection. Social Work Now, 47, 3-9.

Sturmfels, D., & Manion, K. (2012). Giving children a voice: Paving the way for Child, Youth and Family’s participation strategy. Social Work Now, 49, 40-46.


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