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The Paperwork tool seeks to improve the clinical assessment of children in need. It is designed to be accessible to professionals across the range of children’s services agencies, to connect research with policy making and to link the preoccupations of managers, practitioners and consumers. The goal is a single, succinct record that focuses on the needs and developmental
progress of the child.

The tool rests on formulations of the underpinning concepts of the Common Language: risk, protective factors, need, threshold, outcome and services. It aims to aid analysis by connecting salient information from the child's life over time and across dimensions of need. It interlocks with the Prediction and Threshold tools.

The design of the Paperwork forms enables practitioners and supervisors to link case particulars and concepts systematically, so assembling a broad picture of a child's changing situation. The forms encourage users to record less but think more, to develop a healthy scepticism of data sources, and to connect past, present and future.

The quantitative aspects of Paperwork help practitioners to assess risk and protective factors operating in the child's life and to take proper account of past events and future developments. A threshold section involves determining the level and type of impairment (actual and likely). Specific, measurable outcomes are then identified (with timescales), and appropriate and realistic services are set out. The completed form can act as a record, a supervision tool or a review document.

Paperwork has been tried and tested in recent years in four local authorities, where social workers have used it to complete initial and core assessments and to develop pathway plans. A computer-based online version is being developed and is available for a demonstration from the instruments page.