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.
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:
The assessment covers three areas: a) development of the child, b) parents and carers, c) family and environment.
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.
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.
All people who will conduct an assessment will first need to have been trained as CAF Practitioners, regardless of their professional background.
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.
At this stage no, where possible we will be looking to see which existing processes can be replaced by the CAF process.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The CAF age range goes from un-born babies to 18 years of age.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has agreed that:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Contact the CAF coordinator and they will be able to make the contact on your behalf.
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.
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.