Common Assessment Framework (CAF)
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the CAF?
The CAF is a national, standard approach to conducting an assessment of the needs of a child or young person, and deciding how they should be met. The aims of the CAF are to:
; Provide a method of assessment to support earlier intervention
; Improve joint working and communication between practitioners.
; Improve the co-ordination and consistency between assessments
leading to fewer and shorter specialist assessments
; Inform decisions about whether further specialist assessment is
necessary and if necessary provide information to contribute to it
; Enable a picture of a child or young person’s needs to be built up
over time and, with appropriate consent, shared among
; Provide better, more evidence- based referrals to targeted and
specialist services and timely allocation of services
2. When should you complete a CAF?
You can do a common assessment at any time. A common assessment can be done on unborn babies, new babies, children or young people. It is designed for when:
; You are concerned about how well a child or young person is
progressing. You might be concerned about their health, welfare,
behaviour, progress in learning or any other aspect of their well-
; The needs are unclear, or broader than your service can address;
; A common assessment would help identify the needs, and/or get
other services to help meet them
Whether or not to do the assessment is a decision you should make jointly with the young person and/or parent.
A child who has a CAF completed is described as ‘a child with additional
If you think the child/young person is a Child in Need, which includes being at risk of significant harm, you should follow the Local Safeguarding Children’s’ Board (LSCB) procedures. If you are
unsure about whether or not a child/young person fits into this category then you can speak to Social Care or the Police to seek advice
3. Do I need to obtain consent before completing a CAF?
Yes. In order to complete a CAF you must seek the informed consent of a parent or young person.
A young person under the age of 16 is able to give (or refuse) consent if they have the capacity to understand and make their own decisions
A young person has sufficient understanding if they can:
• Understand the question being asked of them
• Have a reasonable understanding of:
– what information might be shared
– reasons for sharing the information
– implications of sharing/not sharing the information
• Appreciate and consider alternative courses of action
• Weigh up one aspect of the situation against another
• Express a clear personal view on the matter
• Keep a reasonable consistency in their views
Even if a young person is able to give consent it is always good practice to encourage the young person to discuss the issues with their parent/carer.
A parent or young person may refuse to consent to a CAF or may withdraw consent at any time. The practitioner then needs to use their skills to explore this further with the parent/young person and to allay fears and worries as far as possible.
In a small number of cases refusing consent to a CAF may mean that the child/young person is then placed at risk of significant harm. In these cases the practitioner should then follow LSCB procedures.
4. How will I know if a CAF has already been completed?
Before completing a CAF you should check with the CAF/MAAG Administrator as to whether or not a CAF has already been completed. Email email@example.com Tel: 01234 276750
The Administrator will either:
(a) inform you that a CAF has been completed on that child/young person
and provide you with the name and contact details of the Lead
(b) inform you that a CAF has not yet been completed. In this case she
will update the database with your details and basic details of the
child/young person to indicate your intent to complete a CAF.
The timescale for completing a CAF from this point is one month.
5. Do I need to complete a CAF for each child in a family?
Each child or young person deemed to have additional needs will require their own CAF. There may be some information on the CAF that is relevant to all the children so this can be copied onto each form. However, the specific needs of the child will be individual to each child.
Information on individual children within the family will be linked on the database so that professionals checking to see if a CAF has been completed can be given information about siblings.
6. Where do I get copies of the CAF form?
The form can be accessed from www.bedfordshirelscb.org.uk
During the period of implementation it is likely that changes will be made to the CAF form to respond to local evaluation. It is therefore important that you regularly check the website for amendments.
The website also includes further information about the CAF process; local implementation and training.
7. What do I do with a CAF once it is completed?
Once the CAF is completed you need to give a copy to:
; The parent/carer
; The young person
; All professionals involved in the assessment
; The CAF/MAAG Administrator
All completed CAFs must be registered on the database and stored by the CAF/MAAG Administrator (the only exception to this is those
CAFs that need to be sent urgently to Social Care – see question 12)
CAFs can be sent to the CAF/MAAG Administrator by:
; Email firstname.lastname@example.org
; Fax 01234 276332
; Post - Suite K, Sandland Court, Pilgrim Centre, Brickhill Drive,
Bedford MK41 7PZ
8. How do I use the CAF to access services for a child/young person/family?
In addition to sending the completed CAF to the CAF/MAAG Administrator the professional(s) completing the CAF also have to make a decision about how to access services that will meet the needs of the child/young person using one of the outcomes listed below.
Referral to an individual agency for a more complex assessment or a service. If you believe you have a good understanding of the child’s needs;
you are clear which agency and service is needed and you know that the thresholds of the service are met you should make a referral direct to the service using the CAF.
If you are unsure about any of the information listed above please use Outcome 3.
A local meeting of the professionals already involved and the family
This outcome may be used if there are already several professionals working with the family. The meeting will enable you to:
; Compile the information from different agencies into a CAF if that
hasn’t already been done.
; Agree on the needs identified
; Discuss and agree a plan of action to meet the needs identified
(this may or may not involve referral for additional services)
; Agree the actions that will be undertaken by the family and each of
the professionals present
; Agree one person who will be the Lead Professional
The minutes from this meeting should be recorded on the ‘Common Assessment Framework Minutes Sheet’ which can be found at www.bedfordshirelscb.org.uk and a copy sent to the CAF/MAAG
A referral to the Multi Agency Allocation Group (MAAG)
If you are unsure which of the three outcomes to use please use Outcome 3.
Bedfordshire’s Multi Agency Allocation Group (MAAG) has been developed by the Children and Young People’s Strategic Partnership (CYPSP) to deliver timely, responsive, needs led services to children, young people and families.
Three MAAG panels have been set up in south, mid and north Bedfordshire. They meet fortnightly to identify the services that could best support the children and families referred to them.
In addition to allocating the most appropriate service(s) MAAG will also recommend which agency should act as the Lead Professional
Any agency can refer to MAAG using the CAF. Referrals should be sent to the appropriate email address (depending on child’s home address)
Following a MAAG panel the referrer will receive a decision sheet (usually within 3 – 5 working days) indicating which services have been allocated. It is the responsibility of the referrer to inform the family of the outcome. The decision sheet will also be sent to all those services who have agreed to offer support to the family.
9. How is information added to an existing CAF form?
If additional information needs to be added to a CAF form the professional concerned first needs to seek consent from the parent or young person. This information is then included onto a new CAF form stating clearly that the information is an amendment or additional information. The professional only needs to complete the parts of the form that are relevant.
A copy of the form should be sent to the CAF/MAAG Administrator and copied to the family and other professionals involved.
10. How do you review progress on a case?
All CAFs should be reviewed three months after completion and thereafter at six monthly intervals.
The Lead Professional is responsible for the review process.
All notes of the review meeting and any changes in Lead Professional should be recorded on the ‘Common Assessment Framework Minutes Sheet’ and a copy should be sent to the CAF/MAAG Administrator email@example.com
Case closures should also be recorded in this way.
11. Are CAFs stored on the Social Care database?
The Social Care database (SWIFT) is used to store information about completed CAFs. However, this information is held in a confidential section of the database and can not routinely be accessed by social work
staff. Only those working closely with the implementation of the CAF process have access to the information stored.
12. Is the CAF/MAAG Administrator also able to provide information on a child’s child protection or SEN status?
No. The only information the CAF/MAAG Administrator will be able to supply relates to whether or not a CAF is in place and the details of the Lead Professional. The new child information sharing index or ‘Contact Point’ will be the mechanism whereby professionals will be able to find out which systems a child is engaged with. However, Contact Point will not provide any details of the assessments themselves. The Lead Professional for a case can provide details of the Child protection/SEN status.
13. Do I use the CAF to refer to Social Care?
In Bedfordshire we have taken the decision to also use the CAF form as our multi agency referral form. Therefore the CAF form would be used to make a referral to Social Care. However, the referral to Social Care should be made in line with the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board
(LSCB) procedures rather than the Common Assessment Framework procedures in order to prevent any undue delay.
14. When should a Lead Professional be appointed? How does this happen?
If a child is identified as having additional needs which can only be met through a package of integrated support (i.e. more than one agency) then a Lead Professional should be appointed.
In Bedfordshire allocation of a Lead professional could happen in one of two ways:
(a) Via a local meeting of the professionals and the family (see
Outcome 2 in Question 7)
(b) At the Multi Agency Allocation group (MAAG).
Criteria for selection could include:
; the predominant needs of the child or family;
; the level of trust built up and the existing or potential relationship
with the child or family;
; the wishes of the child or family;
; primary or statutory responsibility for the work;
; the knowledge, skills, ability and capacity of the involved
The Lead Professional can be changed at any time and for a number of reasons. The CAF/MAAG Administrator should be informed of any changes.
15. What is the role of the Lead professional?
The Lead Professional role has three core functions:
; To act as a single point of contact for the child or family
; To co-ordinate the delivery of actions agreed by the practitioners
; To reduce overlap and inconsistency in the services received
The key accountabilities for the Lead Professional role are:
; Each Lead Professional is accountable to their home agency for
– Their part of the action plan; and
– The Lead Professional functions
; The Lead Professional is not responsible or accountable for
services delivered by other services
; The Lead Professional will be responsible for gathering people
together to review progress but it is up to the individuals to deliver
on their agreed actions
; A clear line of accountability for Lead Professionals would run from
the practitioner, through their line management to the children’s
trust arrangements and the Director of Children’s Services.
16. How is the Common Assessment Framework being publicised to families?
Two leaflets are currently being produced to publicise CAF and MAAG to parents/carers and young people. These should be available by September 2007. These leaflets will be available in public places such as GP surgeries and libraries and will available to professionals to use with families to explain the process when seeking consent for CAF.
17. Who do I contact for help and advice?
There are a number of people available to support you with regard to CAF and the Lead Professional role.
Each service has identified at least one professional to act as a CAF Champion. Champions can provide you with advice and support on all aspects of the process. Their contact details can be found on the LSCB website www.bedfordhirelscb.org.uk
The CAF/MAAG Administrator is available on firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel 01234 276750. The Administrator also has access to the CAF/MAAG Managers.
Further national information on CAF; Lead Professional and Information Sharing is available at www.everychildmatters.gov.uk
rd23 June 2007