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CAF frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions - Practitioners

What is the CAF?

The CAF is a shared assessment tool for use across all services for children and all local areas in England. It aims to help early identification of children with additional needs and promote co-ordinated service provision.  The CAF is undertaken with the consent and full participation of the child and their family.

Who is the CAF for?

Children who will not achieve one or more of the 5 outcomes in Every Child Matters without the provision of additional services. The outcomes are that every child should:

  • Be healthy.
  • Stay safe.
  • Enjoy and achieve.
  • Make a positive contribution.
  • Achieve economic wellbeing.                        

What does the CAF consist of?

  • A process common to all services for children and their families to enable practitioners to undertake, in partnership with the child/family, an assessment of their needs and strengths and then act on the result.
  • A standard form to record the assessment.
  • A pre-assessment checklist to help decide who would benefit from a common assessment.                         

The assessment covers three areas: a) development of the child, b) parents and carers, c) family and environment.

Who will use the CAF?

Every practitioner working with children, young people and families should understand the Government outcomes for all children, and know about the CAF or how to undertake one themselves.

Every organisation offering services to children should ensure at least some of their staff are equipped to complete a CAF.

How does the CAF link with other assessments?

The CAF process will be used when a child has additional needs which will benefit from the provision of services. The aim is to ensure that the child receives these services at the earliest opportunity.

It is expected that it will replace the need for multiple assessments at the early stages of intervention in a child's life. Where a more specialist assessment (such as an Initial or Core Assessment under the Framework for the Assessment of Children in need and their Families) is required the use of the CAF should help ensure that the referral is really necessary and that it is supported by accurate up-to-date information.

The information gathered will follow the child and builds up a picture over time, rather than a series of partial snapshots.

How can you reassure concerns about the level of expertise of people who may be expected to conduct a CAF assessment?

All people who will conduct an assessment will first need to have been trained as CAF Practitioners, regardless of their professional background.

How will CAF be involved with Social Services for adults (individuals over 16 years old)?

The CAF is designed to be used for all children from pre-birth to 18 years of age. There will need to be protocols for hand over of assessment information to adult services.

Can you confirm how many children in Liverpool are likely to require CAF?

At this stage no, where possible we will be looking to see which existing processes can be replaced by the CAF process.

Who will have access to CAF?

CAF trained professionals from all agencies who work with children. However the individual CAF will be owned by the child/family and the practitioner who undertook the CAF process.

Information contained in the CAF will not be able to be shared without the consent of the child/family.

What are the differences and/or linkages between SAP and CAF?

CAF and SAP are aimed at different age groups of people with additional needs, there will of course be procedure in place to ensure hand over from CAF to SAP as and when people reach the age band.

Is CAF definitely here to stay?


How will CAF fit in with Person Centred Planning?

CAF fits exactly with person centred planning as the CAF has the identification of needs and strengths of the child/family at its core. It is universal to all agencies and is the 'property' of the person being assessed.

How does CAF impact on The Core Assessment?

The CAF does not impact on the Core or Initial Assessments undertaken by Children's Social Care, or indeed any other specialist Assessments.

CAF addresses children with additional needs and may form the basis of information for a referral for a specialist assessment.

At what age do children not need a CAF?

The CAF age range goes from un-born babies to 18 years of age.

Will we need to do a CAF for existing cases?

It is proposed that where possible CAF should replace existing processes and therefore should be used for new cases when it is introduced.

If an assessment has already been completed for the child a CAF assessment will not be automatically needed but may be completed as part of a referral for additional services. The existing assessment will provide a substantial part of the information required. 

Frequently asked questions - Lead professional 

Who is the lead professional?

The Lead Professional is the person responsible for co-ordinating the actions identified in the assessment process and being a single point of contact for children with additional needs being supported by more than one practitioner.

Could the role of Lead Professional be allocated to a Primary School Teacher or School Nurse for example?

The Lead Professional should be the person most involved in meeting the child's additional needs or who has greatest contact\trust with the child. As long as the practitioner has received Lead Professional training they will be eligible to undertake for the role.

Is it the Lead Professionals responsibility to co-ordinate all dealings and feed all information from the various agencies that may be involved with any one particular child?

The lead professional will coordinate provision and act as a single point of contact for a child and their family when a range of services are involved and an integrated response is required.

What is the agreed number of multi agency dealings before a Lead Professional is allowed to be introduced?

No set number has been decided upon, each case will be different.  Each time an additional agency becomes involved with a child there should be a review to ascertain whether the appointment of a Lead Professional would be beneficial to the child and their family.

Frequently asked questions - Other 

What exactly is the role of the Safeguarding Board?

The Safeguarding Board is a multi-agency group and is the statutory successor to the Area Child Protection Committee. The Board has the duty to promote the wellbeing of all children in the area.

What about police involvement how much of an undertaking will be required from them?

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has agreed that:

  • Some 5,000 police officers, nationally, will be trained to complete common assessments; these officers will primarily be in multi-agency settings, for example those seconded to YOTs, school beat officers, and family liaison/domestic violence liaison officers.
  • There should be general CAF awareness training, which may include how to use the CAF checklist, to be incorporated into initial training for all police beat officers over time. This will enable police officers to consider whether it is appropriate to make a referral to a colleague or another service to undertake a common assessment.
  • The majority of officers will not undertake common assessments themselves; they should, however, always consider CAF when in contact with children and know who would undertake a common assessment if required.

There are lots of agencies with clients and caseloads and funding is scare. How can we ensure that the relevant professionals/practitioners share the information and update the records?

A CAF Co-ordinator appointed will ensure that the information recorded is relevant and up-to-date and to ensure that information is shared when appropriate. They will also be able to resolve disputes between agencies and monitor assessment progress.

What happens next if consent is not given do they not receive access and support from those services

Refusal to give consent to share information or to take part in the completion of a CAF assessment does not preclude anyone from the help they are entitled to. However the sharing of information may actually ensure that support is received faster.

Will similar awareness raising sessions be provided as consultation to parents/carers?

There are no plans at present to provide awareness-raising sessions to parents/carers. However, information will be posted regularly on these web pages and will be sent to parents when appropriate.

What will be the process to make a direct referral if they know what service it is they want?

A common assessment will help you in getting other services to help, because they will recognise that your concern is based on some evidence, not just an assumption. Other services in your area will also be using the common assessment and so they will recognise and expect an assessment in this format.

If for example you are a health professional and feel there is a concern around education how would that professional progress this request and instigate the relevant service? In terms of accessing information what about some professionals who need permission to contact the school first?

Contact the CAF coordinator and they will be able to make the contact on your behalf.

Where there is a split family do you need parental consent from both or one parent?

Where practical, consent should be gained from both parents but in the event of a dispute, the consent of the parent with whom the child resides should be obtained.

Why is the pre-assessment checklist not compulsory?

Pilot authorities have found that after basic awareness has been given, practitioners instinctively know when a CAF is required. The pre-assessment check list will be made available, should a practitioner wish check use it, for instance in discussion with their manager but the checklist will not form part of the CAF assessment.