Strengths and Difficulties (SDQ)

Since April 2008 all local authorities in England have been required to provide information on the psychological and emotional health of children in care, and specifically emotional and behavioural difficulties.

This information is collected using a Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). This is a widely used tool for assessing a child’s emotional well-being, looking at the likelihood of problems being already present or of developing in the future.

All children or young people aged between 4 and 16 years old inclusive must have a questionnaire completed by their main carer which should be aligned to the health assessment.

The allocated Social Worker will be asked to complete the form in respect of young people aged below 17 years who are living independently. Schools also fill in an SDQ

The questionnaire asks the carer to read various statements and then judge how well it describes the young person living with them. The answers are given by ticking one of 3 to 4 boxes for each question. On average this should take the carer no more than 10 minutes to complete.

A triangulated approach provides a more rounded picture of the young person and enables a decision to be made about what, if any, further services they may need to address the difficulties identified.

The SDQ information will be considered within the health assessment by the Children in Care Specialist Nurse. The health assessment, health plan with recommendations, the SDQ form and score will be sent to the social worker.

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