Frequently Asked Questions about the Common Assessment Framework (CAF)

By Harry Morris,2014-10-17 12:13
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Frequently Asked Questions about the Common Assessment Framework (CAF)

    Information & Guidance

    For Completion of a

    Common Assessment


    November 2007

    Review December 2010

    Common Assessment Framework (CAF)


What is the CAF?

    The CAF is a shared assessment tool for use by practitioners across all children’s services. It aims to help early identification of need and to support co-ordinated service provision where more than one professional is involved. It is intended to be simple to use and to promote a solution focused approach to support parents/carers and their children. It should also help avoid unnecessary duplication of assessments and remove the need for families to repeat information again and again.

Who can complete a CAF?

    All practitioners working with children and young people and their families should have an awareness of the CAF and either know how to complete a common assessment themselves or know how they might arrange for one to be carried out. Everyone working with children should be aware of the sorts of situations that indicate the need for a common assessment.

    We expect that practitioners in universal services, such as schools, early years and health settings, will undertake the majority of common assessments. However any practitioner who is working with a family could complete one. If a practitioner does not feel able to complete a common assessment themselves they should find out who else is involved with the family to talk through their concerns and see if they are able to complete a CAF with the family.

When should I complete a CAF?

    Most children, young people and their families will never need to be assessed using the CAF. They will only require access to universal services, for example schools and general health care, to make progress. Others may have needs that are not being met by their current provision and who, without extra support, may not reach their potential in terms of the five Every Child Matters outcomes. It is these children and young people who may benefit from an assessment using a CAF.

    Some children and young people need additional support that can be provided by a single agency/practitioner. In these cases a CAF is not essential but may be useful to inform the work.

    A few children and young people have a number of additional needs and are likely to require support from more than one agency/practitioner. In these cases, assessment using a CAF will help identify the actions needed, initiate a multi-agency response, if this has not already happened, and support continued close working between agencies/practitioners. A multi-agency response can be initiated or supported further by referral to one of the Multi-Agency Area Family Support Panels (MAFS). A referral for a MAFS panel must be made using a CAF.

    A few children and young people are considered to be ‘in need’ under section 17 of the Children Act 1989. An assessment using the CAF and the involvement of a MAFS panel may still be the way to support and safeguard these children and young people. Providing an allocated social worker is not necessarily the best way to meet their needs and those of their families. The MAFS panel will usually provide the most effective way of networking and co-ordinating support and will nominate a lead professional if required.

    However, in some cases ‘children in need’ should be referred to the Initial Assessment Team. Consideration for such a referral should be on the basis that assessment by a CAF has established that:

    ; the support of a service provided by the Children and Families

    Department is necessary

    ; professionals are concerned about the cumulative impact of low level

    neglect or emotional abuse but the threshold for significant harm has

    not been reached

    ; the desired outcomes identified in a CAF have not been achieved and

    the child remains a ‘child in need’.

    This list is not exhaustive and if in doubt contact the Initial Assessment Team for advice.

    In all cases the referral should be made using a CAF. The ‘Initial Assessment Team Front Sheet’ should also be completed to ensure clarity about the

    desired outcome of the referral.

    A very few children and young people are children in need of protection. Such children are children who are suffering or who are likely to suffer significant harm i.e. at risk of physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect. Such referrals should be made immediately to the Initial Assessment Team on a Child Protection Referral Form. If a CAF has been completed previously it should be attached to the referral.

How will I know if someone else has already completed a CAF?

    Contact the multi-agency process administrator who will be able to tell you if a CAF already exists and who has completed it. If a CAF has been completed contact the practitioner involved to discuss how you might work with the family together.

What should I do with the CAF when it has been completed?

    The practitioner who has been responsible for completing the CAF with the parent/carer or young person should notify the multi-agency process administrator that a CAF has been completed. They should ensure that they keep a copy of the CAF within their files. A copy should also be given to the parent/carer, young person and any other family member who was an important part of the discussion. If, as a consequence of completing a CAF, a referral to another service or to a Multi-Agency Area Family Support Panel (MAFS) is needed, the practitioner, with consent from the parent/carer and young person should forward the CAF to the relevant service, with the appropriate referral form, or to the multi-agency process administrator for referral to MAFS.

Who is the multi-agency process administrator?

    This is currently Alison Ladley. She can be contacted on 01582 548231, e-mail

Can I use the CAF with a young person on their own?

    Yes, if that young person is able to understand the process. However, it is good practice to try to involve other family members if possible.

Can I use a CAF for an unborn baby?

    Yes, the expected date of delivery can be entered in the box used for date of birth.

Do I need to fill out all the boxes on the CAF form?

    It is good practice to consider all three domains (development, parents and carers, and family and environmental) but you do not need to complete every box. Try to focus on strengths as well as needs. However it is important to find out and record what the child/young person and parent/carer want to achieve and how they will know when things have improved.

    If I complete a CAF with a family will I automatically become the lead professional?

    Not necessarily. If, following completion of the CAF, you and the child/young person, parent/carer concerned find a way forward which does not require

    access to another agency or service, you will simply continue to support the family as you have been doing. If you make a referral to a Multi-Agency Area Family Support Panel, they will decide whether a lead professional is necessary and if so who that should be.

    What should I do if a family refuses to complete a CAF or to sign a completed CAF?

    Continue to work with the parent/carers as you would have done before the CAF if a family was difficult to engage. Over time they may become more prepared to accept support. Failure to engage with a professional or to accept the CAF does not necessarily mean that there is a risk of significant harm and that the child involved should be referred as a ‘child in need of protection’. However if other evidence suggests that the child is suffering or is likely to suffer from significant harm you should follow the child protection procedures.

What other information is available?

    Further local information on CAF, Multi-Agency Area Family Support Panels and Lead Professional and interactive web based training is available on the Luton Children & Young People's Partnership website:

A direct link to the CAF form is:

    National information is available on the Department for Children, Schools and Families and Children Workforce Development Council websites via the links below:

    Luton CAF Flowchart DRAFT V.1- July 07

    Common Assessment Framework (CAF) FLOWCHART

     ; Concern identified that child/young person

    is not progressing against 5 ECM

    outcomes (Check with CAF coordinator whether CAF

    has already been completed)

    Not sure how well Definite concern Evidence that child is at

    child/young person is risk of harm or in need about progress

    progressing of protection

    No consent Complete a CAF pre-Complete a CAF Refer to child obtained assessment form and involve protection retain CAF for checklist. procedures. CAF children, young own records NB. The family does not people & family in NOT REQ’D only necessarily have to be the process. (See Consent involved at this stage box below)

    Consent obtained,

    forward CAF to CAF

    coordinator for No further action. recording Retain CAF pre- assessment checklist

    for records.

    Can the C/YP be Devise a plan with Review plan supported & the family to support managed by you them within agency or your setting. agency/service?

    ; Single agency Use CAF as referral assessment process form or complete Does the individual ; Care plan/care agency specific require access to pathway/other plans referral form and another identified ; Review progress attach CAF as agency or service? additional


    CAF coordinator will circulate

    CAF to MAFSP members for Does the individual discussion at MAFS Panel. require a multi-Practitioner who completed CAF agency response to will be notified of time & date of concerns? MAFS panel to attend.

    When a CAF should be completed:

    A CAF should be used when there is a concern about how well a child is progressing, there maybe concerns about their health, welfare, behaviour, “Consent “is required to store and share the information progress in learning or any other aspect of their well being or where a contained with the Common Assessment only. Where parent has raised a concern or the needs are unclear, or broader than you

    consent is refused, this should not prevent a practitioner from or your agency can address and a common assessment would help identify

    the needs and/or get other services to help them. working with a child or young person but the practitioner

    When a CAF is not required: should not share any information obtained unless it can be When children are progressing well, or have needs that have already been justified to protect children or others from harm, to promote identified. Neither is a CAF required when it is obvious what the needs are the welfare of children or to prevent crime and disorder. and your agency/service can meet the full range of those needs. 6

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