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Publication - Guidance

Age assessment: practice guidance

Published: 22 Mar 2018
Part of:
Children and families, Communities and third sector
ISBN:
9781788516266

This document provides practice guidance for social workers and their managers involved in undertaking age assessments in Scotland.

57 page PDF

584.7kB

57 page PDF

584.7kB

Contents
Age assessment: practice guidance
Appendix 3: SAMPLE Age Assessment Report Headings

57 page PDF

584.7kB

Appendix 3: SAMPLE Age Assessment Report Headings

l details of young person

Please note: in compiling information for the assessment, action must be compliant with the relevant data protection and human rights legislation

Young person's name:

Reported age:

Current address:

Type of accommodation:

Former address in country of origin:

Current legal status:

Dates of expected legal or procedural hearings/events:

Assessment initiated by:

  • Name
  • Agency
  • Date
  • Reason

Details of workers undertaking assessment:

Other contributors:

  • Name Agency Position Qualifications (if relevant)

Process of events leading to assessment request:

Current situation

Consent from the young person to engage in the process and/ or contact other agencies:

Documentation:

  • Official documentation relating to identity, nationality and age (comment upon credibility if appropriate); personal documentation relating to family and social identity (eg. letters, photographs)
  • If absent – why? It may be relevant to refer to country information and/or (if lost or stolen) to note the young person's account of how this happened

Significant personal possessions:

  • Articles, including clothing or jewellery that might signify an age or social status or mark of a rite of passage

Current placement:

Immediate issues:

Young person's understanding of the present situation:

Basis of assessment:

  • Summary of assessment process
  • Sources of information

Young person's communication needs:

Communication methods used:

Pen picture:

  • Brief physical description/visual impression but also noting personality, emotional state, concerns and likes and dislikes; note of any particular immediate concerns concerning self and/or others; general health and wellbeing

Identity :

  • Talents; successes; external or internal attribution; personality; values/conscience; ethnicity; cultural identity; sexual identity; religion (Issues arising from these)

Summary of young person's description of journey:

  • Young person's narrative, include reason for leaving, timescales etc

Personal chronology:

  • Key events/markers and memories; Young person's grasp of the concept of time and how expressed

Note of any child protection, vulnerability or trafficking concerns:

  • Any presenting information that suggests the young person has particular vulnerabilities, is at risk or may have been trafficked; if appropriate comment upon how this might relate to the age assessment (eg. whether this could affect the young person's attitudes, behaviour or presentation)

Health:

  • History of/ current significant health matters eg. illnesses, accidents, treatments, operations; FGM and circumcision; significant stress and nutritional factors; menarche and time since onset

Physical development and appearance:

  • Facial characteristics: Hair; skin lines, tone, folds and weathering; Prominence of 'Adam's apple' in males; facial hair/shaving
  • Growth: Height, build
  • Well or poorly nourished appearance
  • Voice: Tone; pitch; expression
  • Identifying marks: Marks or scarring and accounts for these; tattoos
  • Sexual development: Only if available: the assessors will not undertake or request any examination themselves they may be able to source information from elsewhere
  • Optical; aural; dental; sexual; general (consider circumcision/mutilation issues if appropriate) NB. social workers are not expected to offer an opinion outwith their professional competence but may highlight a presenting concern and, with the young person's consent, refer him/her to a health professional

Social and emotional development and appearance:

  • Trauma; depression; self harm; eating; sleeping; emotional control; flashbacks; nightmares; dissociation
  • Demeanour and interaction: Attitude towards assessing social worker and other authority figures; eye contact;
  • Response to choice, if there has been a choice, of clothing and how worn; mannerisms; body posture/language
  • Interaction with others: e.g. adults, young people and children; formal and informal situations; with people in or perceived to be in authority; males and females; types of relationships observed and described; ability to make friends; social roles; language skills (including vocabulary and congruence with other information presented)
  • Confidence and identity: Sense of self and knowing their own mind; also consider possible factors such as: deference; assertiveness; social skills; maturity and pseudo-maturity; watchfulness/hyper vigilance; naivety
  • Gender, sexual relationships and identity: Gender role; sexual orientation and its cultural significance; marital/relationship status (note any significant issues about marriage practices e.g. forced); cultural expectations; circumcision
  • Preferred activities: Related to age and stage
  • Expressed feelings: About self, key others; current and past situations; vocabulary; conceptual content; introversion/extroversion
  • Type and level of expression: Withheld, vocalised, acted out; level of emotional control
  • Separation and loss issues: Grief; cultural dislocation; thought patterns; physical signs; behavioural signs
  • Leisure: Preferences; opportunities; who was involved
  • Peers: Who; ages; relationships; contexts; how would they describe the young person (please note it is anticipated that this information would be provided by the young person and/ or their care provider – peers should not be approached)
  • Autonomy: Degree of independence and self-direction; personal authority and decision making; ability to manage money; self-care; domestic skills; work with agencies/others; recognise danger; stay safe
  • Key events, rituals and rights of passage: Possibly linked to chronological age, sexual development, changes within family structure
  • Hopes for the future: Ambitions; sense of personal potential; priorities; ability to think into the future; abstract thought
  • Identity: Likes/dislikes; achievements; pride/regrets

Family History:

  • Role(s) in family: Provider; carer, level of authority/responsibility; have they lived alone/outwith the family
  • Household composition: Who lives/lived there; family or other; note use of mother, father, aunt, uncle may not denote relatives by blood or marriage
  • A typical day at home: What would it look like? Has this changed over time?
  • Family history narrative and meaning of key events: either one off, eg. marriages, births, or recurring annual events such as religious festivals; family origin stories or meaning of family names
  • Personal and Family role in community: Status; relationship to others
  • Personal and family political activity: Views; membership of organisations; roles and activities; consequences of these (past, present, future)
  • Location: Types of accommodation; moves from to where; neighbourhood/community description; wider environment issues

Education/ Work:

  • Where educated (names and addresses if possible); age started; subjects studied and stages reached; qualifications and awards; certification and recognition; gaps in education; number of years in total; formal or informal education
  • Relevant contextual information (from an independent source) about the education system in the country of origin (if school years are being considered as age markers check first about how children progress through year groups)
  • Employment history; duration and location; paid and unpaid; location and type; choice or forced and community history

Country and Cultural Information:

  • Key cultural factors: Religious beliefs, values systems, community expectations; caste, tribe, sect, gender, age or class issues; ritualistic or rites practices that may be relevant
  • Concept of 'age' in young person's country and culture of origin: Recording/administrative practices in country of origin and variations in practice; Different calendar systems; legal requirements and arrangements relating to age in country of origin; Cultural practices relating to age; demographic issues relevant to the stated country of origin/ethnic group

Queries concerning information:

  • Are there gaps in the young person's account that are unexpected or incongruous?
  • How does the young person respond to this being noted? Are there possible explanations?
  • Are there aspects of the account which stand out as being highly unlikely or otherwise implausible? Are there possible explanations for this?
  • Queries regarding documentation; If the young person is considered to have deliberately lied, how do they respond to this being noted? Are there possible explanations for any untruths other than a wish to deceive regarding their age?

These should be noted ( NB. It is important to raise and allow the young person an opportunity to respond to any concerns about inconsistencies or doubts about veracity. This should be done in the presence of any 'appropriate adult' involved). It is also important to be aware of possible areas of miscommunication)

  • Feedback: ensure initial findings fed back to the young person and contributing agencies for comment and clarification if necessary

Analysis of information: information

  • Key evidential points: key patterns or items of information that are regarded as significant in indicating the young person's age; include contradictory indicators; include a note of any documentation that is relied upon. A chronology is key.
  • Key interpretations: Active consideration of how to analyse the available information and how the above have been interpreted and understood so as to lead to a particular conclusion; include how contradictory indicators have been considered and weighed
  • Bias: Workers should be aware of the potential for bias in the assessment and through the adoption of a questioning approach and the use of supervision consider how to manage any points
  • Triangulation: Where possible assessments should aim to use multiple sources of information to triangulate key points and opinions
  • Supervision: Findings should be jointly reviewed by the workers and their supervisor. Workers may wish to consider using a process of 'challenging and proving' to help develop conclusions.

Conclusion:

  • Conclusion in respect of age assessment: Statement of the indicated parameters of likely age. This should indicate whether the young person is over eighteen, under eighteen, under sixteen. Where a young person has given a stated date of birth and this is consistent with the assessment then it should be accepted as their true date of birth. Where an exact date has not been stated but a season or other period in the year is indicated (and is not inconsistent with the assessment) this should be used to state a date of birth.
  • Issues of significant need arising from the assessment: Note of any significant areas of general welfare need that have been identified as a result of the assessment (irrespective of the young person's indicated likely age

Confirmation assessment outcome discussed with young person:

  • Outcome: note date of discussion; any issues/disagreements/ further information put forward/ amendments etc.

Assessed date of birth:

Signatures:

  • Lead Worker/Date
  • Second Worker/Date
  • Supervisor/Date

Contact