The CAF is a four-step process whereby practitioners can identify a child's or young person's needs early, assess those needs holistically, deliver coordinated services and review progress. The CAF is designed to be used when:
- a practitioner is worried about how well a child or young person is progressing (e.g. concerns about their health, development, welfare, behaviour, progress in learning or any other aspect of their wellbeing)
- a child or young person, or their parent/ carer, raises a concern with a practitioner
- a child's or young person's needs are unclear, or broader than the practitioner's service can address.
The process is entirely voluntary and informed consent is mandatory, so families do not have to engage and if they do they can choose what information they want to share. Children and families should not feel stigmatised by the CAF; indeed they can ask for a CAF to be initiated.
The CAF should be offered to children who have additional needs to those being met by universal services. Unless a child is presenting a need, it is unlikely the CAF will be offered. The practitioner assesses needs using the CAF. The CAF is not a risk assessment.
The Common Assessment Framework (CAF) process was developed for practitioners from a range of backgrounds to use to gather and assess information in relation to a child’s needs in development, parenting, and the family environment.
After gaining consent from the child/ family to share information gathered from discussions, the initial task for a practitioner is to refer the child or young person to the CAF Co-ordinator to contact other relevant service practitioners to come together in a TAC (Team Around the Child) Meeting to assess those needs and decide with the child/ family a course of action to provide the services needed.
A TAC is a multi-disciplinary team of practitioners established on a case-by-case basis to support a child, young person or family.
TAC supports particular elements of good professional practice in joined-up working, information sharing and early intervention. The TAC is a model of service delivery that involves:
- a joined-up assessment, usually a Common Assessment Framework (CAF).
- a lead professional (LP) to coordinate the work
- the child / young person and family at the centre of the process
- a virtual or flexible multi-agency team that will change as needs change
- coordination at the point of delivery
- a TAC family service plan to meet the needs of the child / young person
- regular meetings to which the child / young person and families are invited to attend.
The lead professional is not a new role, but a set of core functions to help deliver effective, integrated support, namely:
- act as a single point of contact for the child or family
- coordinate the delivery of the actions agreed by the practitioners involved
- reduce overlap and inconsistency in the services offered to families.
A lead professional will be required to carry out a number of tasks, which will be a normal course of action. These might include:
- building a trusting relationship with the child and family (or other carers) to secure their involvement in the process
- being the single point of contact for the family and a sounding board for them to ask questions and discuss concerns
- being the single point of contact for all practitioners who are delivering services to the child
- coordinating the effective delivery of a package of ‘solution-focused’ actions. And also establishing a process by which this will be reviewed regularly.
Any practitioner taking on the role will naturally have strongly developed strengths in communication.
If the child is young or developmentally young, the lead professional is likely to draw on skills that involve:
- communicating with the child using forms of communication appropriate to their age and level of understanding
- engaging parents and carers
- understanding key transition points in a child’s life, for example, moving into the next key stage at school.
If the lead professional is working with young people, he/she will draw on skills that involve:
- gaining the child's trust and respect
- being able to challenge the child when necessary and help them move on in their thinking
- ensuring an effective transition to adult services if necessary.
Alternatively, please contact Children's Social Care for more information on:
Telephone: 01720 424354
Children’s Social Care Services
Council of the Isles of Scilly
Carn Thomas Children’s Centre
Isles of Scilly