The professioal judgement of social sciences professionals is crucial when decision making on fundamental issues such as a child's future life or an elderly person's care and their integrity is of huge importance to the reputation of social work as a profession. Lives, families and in some cases,liberty, depend on the wisdom of decisions taken in emergencies, crises and risky situations as are found in the areas of child protection, justice and mental health. Central to the wise outcome of these issues is the objective judgment of practitioners who work at the meeting point between the client needs, the families and the statutory duty to protect the vulnerable such as children at risk or fragile adults from cruelty, abusive practices and neglect - professionals are acting for a humane society as a whole.
In order to make these prudent judgements, social workers need evidence and for this they rely on other agencies such as the police, health authoritities and education professionals. They must be watchful that the evidence these agencies is precise and carefully recorded. Signs that something is wrong with a needs analysis might include contradictory reports, concerns not properly investigated, needs being overlooked due to high staff turnover or lost records, incorrect or inaccurate data input, but mostly the lack of a thorough, exhaustive 'whole child' investigation where scrupulously detailed and evidenced reports are not dove-tailed in to a decision as information comes from various sources. Other clues could be inaccurate dates, times, school records,house moves,outstanding home visits,missed health appointments. All these can lead to a sketchy picture of the real depth of a client's needs.