1.4 Common Assessment Framework
The Common Assessment Framework for children and young people (CAF) is a shared assessment tool used across agencies in England. It can help practitioners develop a shared understanding of a child’s needs, so they can be met more effectively. It will avoid children and families having to tell and re-tell their story.
The CAF is an important tool for early intervention. It has been designed specifically to help practitioners assess needs at an earlier stage and then work with families, alongside other practitioners and agencies, to meet them.
The CAF is not for when there is concern that a child may have suffered or may be at risk of suffering Significant Harm. In these circumstances the procedures set out in Part 3 of this Manual must be followed.
The most important way of ensuring that these children can be identified earlier and helped before things reach crisis point is for everyone whose job involves working with children and families to keep an eye out for their well-being, and be prepared to help if something is going wrong.
The CAF has been introduced to help do this. It is a tool to identify unmet needs. It covers all needs, not just the needs that individual services are most interested in. Even if a practitioner is not trained to do a common assessment him or herself, knowing about the CAF will help them recognise when it might help so that they can arrange for someone else to do the assessment.
Each area has its own local CAF processes which can be accessed from the relevant websites: