Surrey County Council

Child & Family Assessments

Surrey County Council’s Referral and Assessment Service was struggling with large backlogs of Child and Family (C&F) Assessments. Compounded by caseloads for Council social workers often exceeding 40 children, many assessments were falling out of statutory timescales.

The Council commissioned ICS Assessment Services to provide interim support to their Referral and Assessment Service. After meeting with the Council, we proposed a bespoke solution to efficiently complete C&F Assessments on their behalf over a period of 12 weeks.


Key Achievements:

  • 653 Child & Family Assessments completed on time and within budget
  • 98% of assessments completed completed and returned to the Council within 20 days
  • All assessments cleared within 12 weeks
  • Social worker caseloads cut from 40 to 20 children, ensuring the in-house team can focus on providing safe and sustainable services for the future
  • A cohort of locally-based Assessors used to complete the assessments
  • Council using ICS data to analyse referral patterns and help set up new MASH service
  • 70 cases screened
  • no longer requiring assessment


The Council’s Children & Families (C&F) social care service had experienced a high demand in contact and assessments which in turn had put severe pressure on their Referral and Assessment Service. This, along with a change in policies and procedure had led to increased caseloads of substantive staff and a significant backlog of C&F.

The Council had set about making internal changes, re-configuring their front door with the intention that this will offer an enhanced screening function in the future. However, there was a need to gain additional support while the programme of changes was established, otherwise there was a risk of significant drift in cases.

This project provided the council with management oversight of the case to ensure the child has been seen and whether the initial picture of the family and child circumstances require ongoing assessment or not. The outcome of our assessment is a clear recommendation back to The Council on whether the case should be closed, stepped down to Early Help/Team Around the Family or reallocated back to The Council for further investigation and support planning.


  • Initial screening relieves significant pressure on the Council’s Referral and Assessment Services, allowing the existing teams to focus their attention on existing caseloads and undertaking casework on those cases which require social care intervention
  • Quickly mobilise our resource to respond to fluctuations in demand without going through a lengthy and often expensive recruitment exercise

Not dis-similar from the national picture, Surrey County Council’s Referral, Assessment and Intervention Service (RAIS) was experiencing drift in statutory timescales. This was being compounded by the caseloads of social workers becoming unsustainable and the need for a more effective ‘front door’ and screening process. "Internally, action was being undertaken to build a more robust Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub and we required a proactive, short-term solution to ensure that children were being seen in a timely manner and risk was being assessed. "Throughout the project the team were extremely proactive in managing performance and communication to maximise benefits for ourselves and Surrey’s children and families. "Cases were managed and completed in an extremely efficient manner and to a high standard. Feedback from our social workers has been extremely positive. Overall the project has been a success with the impact being felt across the Social Work teams.

Kevin Peers, Assistant Director, Children’s Services and Safeguarding, Surrey County Council