The Common Assessment Framework (CAF)
The CAF is usually co-ordinated by one person who knows the family well. This may be a Children’s Centre worker for younger children or a member of staff from the child’s school or perhaps a Youth worker. A CAF is used when either a parent/carer or somebody working with a family identifies a need for further support. It may be that a child has additional needs or circumstances within the family have caused difficulties. The aim is to ensure that anybody working with the family is kept fully informed of the circumstances and that parents/carers do not constantly have to repeat themselves by undergoing a multitude of assessments. The CAF can also be used as evidence should the services of another agency be required.
Whilst the CAF is co-ordinated by a practitioner, the views of the whole family are most important. A support worker will complete an initial form with the family. Older children are also able to discuss their views on their own and, wherever appropriate, the support worker will maintain confidentiality. Parents/carers will be given a copy of the completed form to keep.
When the CAF form has been completed, an action plan will be drawn up. A meeting may be arranged so that all those who are working together with the family can attend and assist with drawing up the action plan. It is a good idea for parents/carers to bring somebody with them for support, for example, a family member or close friend perhaps. Sometimes, it may be necessary to appoint a lead professional who has the appropriate skills to co-ordinate and take the lead with the action plan, ensuring any actions are delivered.
The CAF will look at the needs of the child or young person based in three main areas:-
- The child or young person’s development - their independence, self esteem etc. Any health issues or learning difficulties they might have.
- Parents and carers – is the child or young person cared for, any issues the parents/carers may be having with regards to managing behaviour or their child’s needs.
- Family and environmental – housing, financial or any employment issues.
The intention is that, as a result of the CAF, agencies working with the family will have a wider perspective and bigger picture, for example, a child’s behaviour in school may be affected by things outside school that the teacher hadn’t realised. The school would be able to use the information from the CAF to approach their own issues differently and take more appropriate action. It quite often happens that some agencies are not aware of any other input into the family and if they had known, they might have dealt with a situation differently.