NYSCP Questioning Approach - North Yorkshire

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Questioning Approach

Questioning approach

Past Harm – always make sure you ask questions that make it clear how the issue is affecting the children.

  • What are the worries regarding the child(ren) that gets their agency involved in this case?
  • What has happened to this child that worries us?
  • How often has the harm has occurred over time? Dates, detail .
  • How has the harm impact on the child?
  • How many times a week or month would the harm typically happen?
  • If you were the neighbour, what would you be worried about, why, what would you need them to do?
  • What do others think, what would they say they would be most worried about for ………….. if things don’t change?
  • Break down the concerns by asking scaling questions on individual harm…on a scale of 0…..10

Statements of danger (possible future harm) related to the children which links to the safety goals. It is impossible to complete safety planning without them.

  • What are you most worried may happen to the children in the future?
  • What would the parents/children/extended family members say they are most worried will happen to the child(ren) in the future?
  • What would they say you are worried about?

Complicating factors

  • What are the factors/issues/things that make this situation more complicated, both for the family and for the professionals?
  • What do we know about … mental health/drug/alcohol misuse?
  • How does this make the situation more complicated in making the child safer?
  • How does this ….. impact on the care of the children?
  • Are professionals involved with the family making this situation better or more complicated?
  • Strengths/Safety/What’s working well? Strengths and positive aspects of the situation. Existing safety (times when the child was protected in relation to the danger)
  • Tell me a time when it did work, how, who helped, what can you learn from the experience?
  • What do you value about yourself?
  • What you did – that really worked, so how would you do it again and what would you do differently?
  • What three things do you like?
  • What three things are you good at as a parent?
  • What would …………………….. say?
  • What makes …. decide it is so bad she/he needs to get out or leave?
  • How does she/he even manage to keep themselves away for a few days?
  • Imagine you are fully confident in your abilities, what would you do, what have you done in the past?
  • What do you like about these parents?
  • What are their best attributes/what do they do well (or even well enough) as parents?
  • What would the parent/grandparent say they like most about: child, about self as a carer?
  • What and who is important to make the difference / achieve / help get us there?
  • Who could help, what have they done in the past / or what would they do now?
  • What do they like about the time they spend with the child?
  • What would the children say they like about their parents?
  • Tell me about times when the children are looked after okay?
  • What would …. say are the biggest problems they have faced and dealt with in there life?
  • How would they say they did this?’
  • Always ask for exceptions regarding the danger statement (an exception is a typical solution-focused question.
  • Tell me about a time when the problem could have happened but didn’t?
  • When has…. attended to child’s needs?
  • Has there been a time when …. has stopped themselves getting anger and rather than hitting someone, has done something different?
  • So the house is a mess, how do they manage to keep the child reasonably healthy and clean?
  • Has there ever been a time when one of the parents have acknowledged even a little bit that the violence affects the children?
  • Who are the people in the network who are most helpful with the children in your view?
  • Who would parents say help them/support them?
  • Who do the family/parents turn to when they have difficulties?
  • If I was a fly on the wall and all was okay, what would I see, who, when……..?
  • What would it feel like for ……………….. when …………………?
  • What would the parents say is positive about the children?
  • What would… say are the best aspects of mum as a mother?
  • father, grandparent.
  • Have you asked the child whether there are times when the mother has been able to stop the boyfriend taking control? Or whatever the situation of concern is.
  • Who would the child say they feel safest with in their extended family?
  • How does this make the situation better for the child?
  • How does this help you/us/the family make the child safer in relation to the danger?
  • What made the change happen, how did it help you, what will you do next time?
  • How does the worker/ course/ in home help make things better for the child?

General Scaling Questions

On a scale of zero to ten, where would you rate your relationship with this father (mother, child etc) where 10 is you can talk openly with them about the problems and what is good in their life and are talking together about what can be done about the problems, but zero is you have no working relationship with that person at all and they won’t even
talk to you:

  • Where would you rate your relationship with them?
  • Where would they rate their working relationship with you?
  • How confident are we that the children receive predictable parenting which includes regular meals, bedtime routines, having house rules they understand?

On a scale of 0 – 10, where 0 means the situation for these children is so concerning you need to remove them into care immediately and 10 means that there is sufficient safety to close the case, where would you rate the situation right now?

On a scale of 0–10, where 0 means the young person’s life is out of control, there are no supports in place and around the young person and their life is going backwards fast leading to …..and 10 is their life is on track and they have everything they need emotionally, socially, educationally and practically to continue to grow up as well as they and you could hope, where would you rate the situation for this young person right now?’

Goals/What Needs to Happen?

  • What would you like things to look like in ……………………. Time and what needs to happen?
  • What do you need to see to be satisfied that this child is safe enough that the agency can close the case?’
  • If you had a magic wand to make things better, what would the one thing, first thing, three things you would change?
  • It is very important to also canvas the goals of family:
  • What would mum/dad/child/neighbour/grandma say needs to happen for them to feel everything is okay for the child and they won’t be hurt again?/don’t need any further professional help?
  • If you had the answer to get unstuck, what would that be?
  • It’s also always critical to ask:
  • Do we have those goals written down in a way and in language the parents/relatives/child will understand?


Father has demonstrated that he has alternative strategies for managing his anger that don’t involve hitting the children or mum, and he has used these every time for a period of 6 months.

Mum has demonstrated over 6 months that she has remained sober, only having one or two drinks at a time and never drunk whilst caring for the children. Same for any substance.

Mum and Dad show that they can maintain the everyday care routines of the children first on the contact visits, then in the day stays, then the overnight stays and then for three months before the children can go home full time.

Mum and boyfriend always follow and take on board the advice given by…… about caring for baby.

Every time, for six months, that ….starts to feel down and ……. they contact grandma/cousin to take over the care of …..
What else would you need to see? And what else?

Next Steps

Once the safety goals are established its time to talk next steps:

  • So if that is the safety goal, what do you think is the smallest next step in moving toward getting that happening all the time?
  • You rated the situation 3 out of 10 on the safety scale, what needs to happen next to move things up to a 3 and a quarter?
  • What would be the smallest or easiest first step for you?
  • What would mum/day/child/aunty/professionals say in the next step?’

Capacity, Confidence and Willingness

  • Think about ‘circles’ – child at centre – who needs to know all/some/nothing about the worry.
  • Who could help? + ? + ? + ?

Resource Library

Find the latest forms, guidance, tools and documents to help you safeguard children in North Yorkshire by searching in our resource library


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