The UNOCINI Assessment Framework

Understanding the Needs of Children in Northern Ireland (UNOCINI) is an assessment framework developed by health and personal social services in conjunction with colleagues from other agencies and organisations, such as education and the police.

It aims to support professionals in assessment and planning to better meet the needs of children and their families by providing a process by which their circumstances can be considered. It provides a format for a preliminary assessment that can be undertaken by any professional within any agency. This helps professionals make effective and safe decisions about how a child and their family’s needs can be addressed.

The UNOCINI framework is intended for use by professionals working with children as a tool to help them identify children’s needs at an early stage and prevent problems from escalating.

A UNOCINI Initial Assessment will be carried out after social services receive a referral. Where appropriate this will lead to a UNOCINI Pathway Assessment. The framework has three assessment areas, each of which are split into four domains:

  • the needs of the child or young person.
  • the capacity of their parents’ or carers’ to meet these needs.
  • wider family and environmental factors that impact on parental capacity and children’s needs.

Guidance about how and when to use UNOCINI can be found in Understanding the Needs Of Children In Northern Ireland (UNOCINI) guidance (PDF) (Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, 2011).