Pete Barr | Services Provided
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Services Provided

Independent Comprehensive Assesments in Public Law and Private Law Cases

I have been planning and carrying out assessments with families for thirty years.  In that time there have been significant changes in the accepted guidance ranging from “Good Enough Parenting – a framework for assessment” (Adcock & White 1985) through “Protecting Children” (HMSO 1988) to “Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families” (DoH 2000).

While there have been many changes in this time, much of the original guidance remains valid.  For example, assessment is a process that happens with families rather than being done to them.

It is also important to build on the strengths of families as well as identifying deficits in parenting and any properly conducted assessment should have therapeutic spin offs even if the outcome is not what the family hope for.
Written reports always follow assessments and these use the format of the “Framework” as well as the Welfare Checklist.
I am well used to giving evidence in response to my assessments.


I provide single agency training to schools and other agencies focussing on topics such as safeguarding, domestic abuse and parental substance misuse.

Latterly, working with a colleague, I have become very involved in designing and delivering training specifically aimed at Foster Carers and Supervising Social Workers. We deliver a three day Skills to Foster Programme (as part of the Form F Assessment Process), and also offer discrete training on the following topics:

  • Safeguarding (Stage 1 and 2)
  • Domestic abuse
  • Equality and diversity
  • Managing allegations against Foster Carers
  • Supervision skills (for Foster Carers and their SSW’s)
  • Foster Carer’s roles in supporting young people leaving care
  • Supporting birth children of Foster Carers

More topics are regularly added to this list. The training is designed around the needs of Foster Carers and sessions run from 10.00 – 14.30.

We have also developed training specifically aimed at staff in schools e.g. ‘Understanding the Importance of Attachment Theory in Education Settings’.

Supervision of Children in Care Placed in Cornwall and Devon by Other Local Authorities

I have increasing amounts of work from other local authority areas who have children in care placed in the far south west.  Sometimes these can be long term commitments of several years and sometimes short term placements with extended family while crises in the home area are resolved.

The work includes statutory visits, liaison with the home LA and often involves initial viability assessments to tight timescales.  In the longer term cases I often develop quasi therapeutic relationships with children and young people but only where this is requested by the local authority.

I work to the care plan and attend CiC reviews, PEPs etc.
I provide detailed recording of all visits and contacts and am happy for this to be shared with service users at the social worker’s discretion.

Supervision of Contact in Complex Cases
Many children placed in Cornwall and Devon are in care because of the significant harm caused by parents or carers.
This of course does not mean that contact ceases as it may continue to be very important for the child or young person.  However in such cases contact may need to be closely supervised by experienced persons who are able to ensure that it remains a positive experience for the child and does not contribute to re-traumatising.
I have many years’ experience of such cases and currently supervise contacts in a number of cases, often as part of other work with children in care.
Certain cases require more than one supervisor or supervisors of both genders.  In such cases my wife who was previously a non teaching pastoral head of year in a secondary school, has many years experience of work with vulnerable children and families and is CRB checked is able to accompany me.
Consultancy on Multi Agency Working
My whole career has been dominated by the clear understanding that in working with vulnerable children and their families, no one agency has all the answers and that often only properly coordinated multi agency responses are going to provide genuine support.

We are all too aware of the many child death enquiry reports and serious case reviews that highlight poor or no multi agency working as critical factors.
As well as sound theoretical knowledge in this field I have significant practical experience.  In 2005 I set up and managed a genuinely co located multi agency team on behalf of twenty six schools in the Camborne, Pool and Redruth area of Cornwall.

The Schools Multi Agency Resource Team (SMART) consisted of social workers, police, a psychologist, a DV worker and family support workers.  It also worked closely with other professionals and won plaudits nationally.
Please contact me for further information on this important aspect of social care work.

Research and Evaluation On Projects
I have already undertaken one evaluation of a funded pilot project looking at increasing the stability of placements of children in care in Cornwall.

This required both qualitative and quantitative analysis with interpretation of data and interviewing of children in care and carers as key elements.

In order to form comparisons I also researched similar projects from around the world.
Most grant funded projects require evaluation as a condition of the grant and I can supply this with both a sound theoretical background and extensive practical experience.
Please contact me to discuss your requirements.

BAAF Form F Assessments of Prospective Foster Carers
I regularly undertake these assessments for nationally recognised private fostering agencies.
Special Guardianship Order Assessments
I regularly undertake these very complex and detailed pieces of work.  This has required working to the individual local authority’s pro forma and often significant amounts of travel in order to interview key people.
Viability Assessments for Local Authorities Looking to Place Children in Cornwall or Devon
I am regularly asked by other local authorities to carry out initial viability assessments with extended family members who live in the far south west.  Often these can be at very short notice and on one occasion I made a visit within three hours of the initial request and had a report on the social worker’s e mail by the following morning!  This was necessary in order to avoid the need for young vulnerable children to be placed with strangers in an emergency situation.
I am usually able to respond quickly to requests for such assessments and frequently go on to support either the children in placement or their carers for the duration of the placement.
Mediation and negotiated Outcomes in Private Law Matters
Although I am not a trained mediator I have had considerable success in working with families in private law cases where residence or contact is in dispute.

Usually I am instructed to provide a report because of apparent intractability however where it becomes apparent that a negotiated settlement may be possible then the outcomes for children and parents are likely to be far more satisfactory and long lasting.
My role involves negotiation with lawyers and the Court as well as setting up and facilitating family meetings (ideally involving all family members) to achieve agreed outcomes.
Please contact me for further information or confidential discussion.

I also work with a clinical psychologist to provide combined social work and psychological assessments for the
courts & other bodies. Please contact me for more details of this service.