Children's Services

CAF - information

What is the Common Assessment Framework (CAF)?

A simple pre-assessment checklist to help practitioners decide who would benefit from a common assessment.

  • A three-step process (prepare, discuss, deliver) for undertaking a common assessment, to help practitioners gather and understand information about the needs and strengths of the child, based on discussions with the child, their family and other practitioners as appropriate.
  • A standard form to help practitioners record, and, where appropriate, share with others, the findings from the assessment in terms that are helpful in working with the family to find a response to unmet needs.

When should a common assessment be carried out?

A common assessment can be done at any time - on unborn babies, new babies, children or young people. It is designed for use when:

  • there is concern about how well a child (or unborn baby) or young person is progressing (this includes particularly vulnerable children and young people such as persistent truants and young runaways);
  • their needs are unclear, or broader than a service can address on its own;
  • a common assessment would help identify the needs, and provide a basis for getting other services involved.

The decision about whether to do an assessment should be made jointly with the child and/or parent. Children should always be encouraged to discuss the assessment with their parents. If the child is old enough and competent to understand, they may make their own decision.

What are the benefits of A CAF?

Potential benefits include:

  • less duplication for children, young people and families - due to the CAF information being shared, with consent, between practitioners;
  • better understanding and more effective communication amongst practitioners - due to the promotion of a common language around the CAF;
  • time savings for practitioners - who will be able to build on existing CAF information rather than collecting it themselves from scratch.

Who will carry out the CAF assessment?

The majority of CAFs will be undertaken or arranged by practitioners in universal services such as early years settings (for example children’s centres), schools and health settings. These services are best equipped to identify possible needs in their early stages.

Should a CAF be completed if there are Child Protection concerns?

NO, always follow the Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) procedures immediately. If in doubt, consult your local Social Care Reception and Assessment team.

What is the CAF’s relationship with specialist assessments?

CAF links with other assessments such as universal checks and targeted assessments (for children in need; those with special educational needs etc.) will remain in place. However, the CAF may be appropriate to be used before, or in conjunction with a specialist assessment.

Will CAF training be mandatory?

Hampshire has put in place arrangements to ensure practitioners undertaking common assessments are suitably skilled and trained in order to complete assessments that are fit for purpose. In order to undertake an effective CAF, practitioners will need to have the skills and knowledge covered by the Common Core of Skills and Knowledge for the Children’s Workforce before undertaking assessments.

If you have any questions about the CAF process and documentation, please contact your nearest Locality Team.