Common Assessment Framework

Common Assessment Framework

The Common Assessment Framework aims to identify, at the earliest opportunity, children’s additional needs that are not being met by the universal services they are receiving, and provide timely and co-ordinated support to meet those needs, it provides:

  • a simple pre assessment checklist to help practitioners identify children who would benefit from a Common Assessment;
  • a process for undertaking a Common Assessment, to help practitioners gather and understand information about 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

CAF Assessment Process Diagram

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Common Assessment Framework

Elements and Domains

The Common Assessment Framework has been developed by combining the underlying model of the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families (2000) with the main factors used in other assessment frameworks. The Common Assessment Framework provides a process to assess the additional needs of a child or young person and to give a holistic view that considers strengths as well as needs. Practitioners will then be better placed to agree, with the child and family, what support is appropriate.

Benefits of Common Assessment Framework

The Common Assessment Framework provides an assessment that is common across services. It will help to:

  • embed a shared language;
  • support better understanding and communications amongst practitioners;
  • reduce the scale of different assessments that historically some children and young people have undergone;
  • facilitate early intervention and speed up service delivery.

The lead professional is not a new role. Instead, they deliver three core functions as part of their work:

  • act as a single point of contact for the child or family;
  • co-ordinate the delivery of the actions agreed;
  • reduce overlap and inconsistency in the services received.

A lead professional is accountable to their home agency for their delivery of the lead professional functions. They are not responsible or accountable for the actions of others.

Who will lead professionals work with?

Lead professionals work with children and young people with additional (including complex) needs who require an integrated package of support from more than one practitioner.

Who should be the lead professional?

The role of lead professional can be taken on by many different types of practitioners in the children’s workforce as the skills, competence and knowledge required to carry out the role are similar regardless of professional background or job. The role is defined by the functions and skills, rather than by particular professional or practitioner groupings.

What skills and knowledge are required in a lead professional?

Lead professionals need the knowledge, competence and confidence to:

  • develop a successful and productive relationship with the child and family, and communicate without jargon
  • organise meetings and discussions with different practitioners
  • use the Common Assessment Framework and develop support plans based on the outcomes
  • co-ordinate the delivery of effective early intervention work and ongoing support
  • work in partnership with other practitioners to deliver the support plan

Learning from experience

Evidence from practice suggests that the introduction of a lead professional role is central to effective frontline delivery of integrated children’s services. It ensures that professional involvement is optimised, co-ordinated and communicated effectively. Most importantly, it provides a better experience for children, young people and families involved with a range of agencies.