How can social workers assess the risk of FGM to a girl?

Online assessment tool takes information a social worker has gathered and organises it into a simple report

Photo: Ivan Kruk/Fotolia

By Catherine Mannu, knowledge hub and digital officer, and Sonita Pobi, national lead and professional development at the National FGM Centre

Since starting our work at the National FGM Centre in September 2015 on cases where female genital mutilation (FGM) was a concern, a consistent question raised by social workers was “How do I assess the risk of FGM to a girl, especially when there are no other safeguarding concerns?”.

We set out to develop an evidence based, independently evaluated tool that would be practical, clear and designed specifically for a social worker assessing a case where FGM is a concern.

The development of an online assessment, alongside a guidance document, came about through discussions around innovation and embracing the role digital could play in children’s social care. We wanted the online FGM assessment to take the information the social worker gathered and organise it into a simple report that would highlight where the risks were, areas of safety that could be improved, other safeguarding concerns that should be explored and whether the social worker needed to contact the police to make a mandatory report. The social worker would then be able to save and print the summary with their answers to the questions and recommended actions.

Piloting an FGM assessment tool

When piloting the FGM assessment tool with social workers from 10 separate local authorities they all believed the tool was useful and would complement their assessment of FGM cases.

Since its launch in February 2018, the tool, including guidance, has been viewed over 3,000 times, with the online FGM assessment being filled out by over 700 people, including individuals outside the UK. The tool has been embedded in several existing FGM pathways and guidance within local authorities. Feedback from training and our launch events has shown that 100% would recommend the tool.

We took on board their feedback to create a more user friendly online assessment, and the social workers felt the tool helped prompt them on areas to explore with the family, and how to explore them with the help of some activities and a detailed question guide.

What do you think of referrals to social care?

Through the promotion of the FGM assessment tool, we were asked if we could help develop a similar tool for other professionals to help them explore concerns before referring to social care. In response, we have launched two short surveys regarding referrals to social care, one aimed at professionals making referrals and the other aimed at those who receive the referrals. Our aim is to explore what professionals think about the referrals they make and receive, and what/how they could be improved.We will be closing the survey and analysing the answers in mid-October.

If you want to find out more about the tool or the National FGM Centre, please contact either of the authors or the head of centre, Leethen Bartholomew at info@nationalfgmcentre.org.uk .

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