Child assessment practices in the Family Advocate Office
It is critical that a child’s voice is heard in care and contact disputes before any important decisions are made as to future care and contact arrangements. In South Africa, the Family Advocate Office was established to form the concept of collaborative assessment by professionals (family advocates and social workers) with specialized skills, training and education. Due consideration should be given to the views and wishes of minor children caught up in such disputes as per legal authority (The Children’s Act 38 of 2005, as amended) see South Africa (2005). Problems currently experienced regarding the child-assessment relates to the lack of skills and competencies of social workers, lack of the use of multiple data sources, efficient techniques, tools and a framework of criteria for assessment, as well as lack of a protocol or interview structure. The mentioned problems in child assessments are found locally, but also internationally. The study aims to obtain a comprehensive understanding of current child-assessment practices within the Family Advocate Office. A quantitative and descriptive survey design in the form of a self-designed survey was used to collect data. The population of this study includes family counsellors duly appointed by the Family Advocate Office in South Africa. The findings suggest that the current child-assessment practices are not adding to a standardized, quality product which can be widely accepted by Family Courts in South Africa.
- Health Sciences