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Some questions about CAF

What is the Common Assessment Framework (CAF)?

  • The CAF process can help identify, at the earliest opportunity, if a child or young person needs some extra help to meet the following outcomes – be healthy; be safe; enjoy and achieve; make a positive contribution and enjoy economic well-being.
  • A CAF form is a simple, standardised assessment form.
  • The CAF process can be undertaken by anyone who works with the child or young person (paid or voluntary).
  • It can only be completed if a child, young person and/or their parents/carers give consent.
  • A CAF form is completed after a discussion with the child or young person and their parents or carers as appropriate and identifies their strengths and needs.
  • A completed form can be used to share information with other people who might be able to offer some help (but only if consent is given).

Who can the CAF process be used for?

The CAF process can be used to identify additional support required for unborn babies, up to 18 years old, or up to 19 years if Connexions are working with them, or up to 24 years old if they have a learning disability or difficulty.  It can be used for individual children/young people or for siblings living in the same household.

I think that my child might benefit from extra support for his/her additional needs, what should I do?

You can talk to someone who works with your child or you to find out more about the CAF process or you can phone the CAF team on 01634 334325 for more information.

Who can offer the CAF process to support children/young people?

Any practitioner who works (either paid or unpaid) with children/young people can offer to start the CAF process to support a child/young person. The practitioner must have an enhanced Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check.

I am a practitioner thinking of using the CAF process, what should I do first?

Contact the CAF team on 01634 334325 to check if the process is already being used to support the child/young person. They will check to see if there is a CAF recorded for that child/young person.

What happens if a CAF has already been started?

If a CAF has already been started for the child/young person that a practitioner thinks needs some additional support, the CAF team will check who they are and their need for the information. After that they will provide the details of the Assessor/Lead Professional. The practitioner can then contact the Assessor/Lead Professional and if appropriate they will seek consent from the child/young person and/or their parent/carer for that practitioner to be part of the CAF support work – possibly by joining a Team Around the Family (TAF).

What happens if a CAF has not been started?

The CAF team will ask the practitioner if he/she intends to offer the CAF process to the child/young person and/or their parent/carer. If they do, the child/young person’s details and the practitioner's contact details will be recorded.

CAF Pre-assessment checklist

Practitioners can use the optional CAF pre-assessment checklist as a “thinking tool” to help decide whether or not it would be helpful to use the CAF process to support a child/young person.

Do practitioners need consent to use the CAF Pre-assessment checklist?

No, if the CAF Pre-assessment checklist is used as a “thinking tool” to decide whether or not to it would be helpful to use the CAF process consent is not required.  However, if the practitioner wants to share the CAF Pre-assessment checklist with another service he/she must ensure that the consent section of the form is signed and that the Exceptional Circumstances information on the CAF Pre-assessment checklist form has been explained.

Do the CAF team need to know about a CAF Pre-assessment checklist?

No, you do not need to inform the CAF team that you have completed a CAF Pre-assessment checklist for a child/young person.

Who can give consent for a CAF?

Parents/carers can give or refuse consent for the CAF process but a young person aged 16 years or older, or a child younger than 16 years who has the capacity to understand and make their own decisions about what they are being asked can give or refuse consent.

Children aged 12 years or older may generally be expected to have sufficient understanding. Or the practitioner should ask a person with parental responsibility to give consent on the young person’s behalf.

It is good practice for young people under 16 to involve their parents/carers in the CAF process if appropriate.

What if parents are separated?

Consent should be sought from the parent that the child/young person lives with.

Is there anything to explain the CAF process for children and young people and parents/carers?

You can find Medway CAF leaflets at Medway CAF Leaflets and Posters page.

What if English is not a family’s first language?

Audio (spoken) versions of the Medway CAF leaflets are available in Bengali, Punjabi, Polish, Czechoslovakian, Slovakian, Yoruba, Chinese, Russian, Bulgarian and Romanian and can be found on the Medway CAF Leaflets and Posters page.

What if a family’s first language is English but they find reading difficult?

English audio (spoken) versions of the CAF leaflets (for children, young people and parents/carers) can be found on the Medway CAF Leaflets and Posters page.

What if the parents or carers have a learning disability?

Parents/carers do not need to be able to read as long as the Assessor ensures they have a good understanding of CAF form and understand what they are signing and agreeing can be shared with other services.  If parents/carers have a limited understanding, another person ideally of the family’s choice, can act as their advocate.

What happens if CAF support is offered and is refused?

Practitioners should continue to work with the child/young person. If appropriate a multi-agency professionals meeting can be called.

The CAF team should be informed and they will record that support was offered and that consent was refused.

Why is refusal of a CAF recorded?

Children/young people and/or their parents/carers have the right to refuse the CAF process and sometimes it might be that they are worried about what the process involves. However, recording refusals of consent helps us build up a picture of the support that has been offered to a child/young person over a period of time.

Does a child/young person have an individual CAF form?

Details of children and young people who would benefit from additional support and who live in the same household can all be supported on the same CAF form to enable co-ordinated support to be offered.

What is an Assessor?

The Assessor is the person/practitioner who identifies that a child or young person may need some additional support to achieve their outcomes – be safe, be healthy, enjoy and achieve, make a positive contribution and enjoy economic well-being. The Assessor will discuss the CAF process with the child/young person and/or parent/carer and explain how it might  help. An Assessor can be anyone who works (either paid or unpaid) with children/young people in Medway.  An Assessor must have a enhanced CRB check.

What is the CAF form?

Medway CAF forms are tools used to record assessment details, to demonstrate that Consent has been obtained and that the changes needed have been identified.  The family's strengths and needs will be identified and recorded.

What do Medway CAF forms look like?

There are two Medway CAF forms:

  • CAF form for up to five children living in the same household
  • CAF form for up to 10 children living in the same household

The forms include space to record basic information about the child/young person and holistic information about their health, emotional/social and behavioural development, identity and self-esteem, learning, parents and carers and family and environmental factors.

Where can I find the CAF forms?

On the Medway Children's Trust website CAF forms and other key resources on its website.

What are the Start and Close scores?

The start scores enable the child/young person and/or parent/carer and the Assessor to discuss and decide what level of need the child/young person has – none, low, medium or high – for each element at the start of the CAF process. This is revisited at the end of the CAF process when the close scores are completed.  This enables a picture to built of what has improved for the child/young person as a result of the CAF process. Visit Medway Children's Trust for further information on Distance Travelled Scoring Guidance.

What are Exceptional circumstances on the CAF form?

On the CAF form the child/young person and/or parents/carers can specify any services which they do not want the CAF form shared with.  However, if at any time a practitioner is concerned about significant harm to a child/young person they would follow the local safeguarding procedures. In these circumstances a copy of the CAF form would be shared with appropriate services.

How long does the CAF assessment take to complete?

This depends on the needs and complexity of the situation but between one and one and a half hours should be allowed to have a comprehensive conversation to find out what is happening in the child/young person’s life and what support might be needed.  The assessment “CAF conversation” can be split over a number of shorter sessions if that suits the child/young person/parents/carers and/or Assessor.

What happens once the CAF form is completed?

Before the CAF form is finalised, agreed and signed, "'What needs to be changed?" will have been discussed and agreed with the child/young person and/or parents/carers.  After this there will be three ways forward:

  1. the required support can be provided by the Assessor’s agency and the CAF can be closed.
  2. support is only required from one service and a referral can be made, attaching the CAF form. Once the referral has been accepted the CAF can be closed.
  3. multi-agency support is required and a Team around the Family (TAF) will need to be formed.

Who gets a copy of the CAF form?

The child/young person and/or parents/carers will be given a copy of the CAF form and they can share it with anyone they like.  The Assessor will also give a copy of the CAF form to any services who have agreed to support the child/young person (unless the family have specified that they do not want the form shared with a particular service).

If multi-agency support is required who organises the first Team around the Family (TAF) meeting?

The Assessor is responsible for organising the first TAF meeting. Visit Medway Children's Trust TAF resources for an example  invitation letter, agenda and other resources.

What is a Team around the Family (TAF)?

If it is decided that the child/young person/family would benefit from multi-agency support, the Assessor will organise a Team around the Family meeting to bring together the child/young person and/or parents/carers and all the practitioners/services that are already supporting the child/young person and others that might be able to offer support.  The TAF (including the family) will agree a TAF Plan to support the child/young person/family.

Who is invited to the first CAF multi-agency Team around the Family (TAF) meeting?

With consent from the child/young person and/or parents/carers, currently /young person and services which may be able to provide relevant support and advice should be invited.  This could include voluntary services.  The child/young person and/or parents/carers should take a full part in all meetings.

How can I find out about different agencies that might be able to offer support?

Help can be obtained from Medway Family Information Service  or phone 01634 335566.

Where can TAF meetings be held?

TAF meetings can be held at any accessible venue where a confidential discussion can be undertaken and appropriate resources are available.  Venues could include schools, children’s centres, youth centres, an agency’s offices etc.  Meetings could be held in a family’s home if everyone involved agreed that was appropriate.

What is a Record of TAF meeting?

This is a record of each TAF meeting and will include the details of the Lead Professional, everyone who attended the TAF meeting, any notes/relevant information from the meeting, comments from the family and a meeting outcome.

What is a TAF Plan?

This is the rolling plan that is agreed by the Team Around the Family and specifies what the desired outcomes are for each child/young person, what action is required, who will take the action and when.  There should be actions for practitioners and the child/young person and/or family.  The TAF Plan is updated at each TAF meeting.

What is a Lead Professional?

If it is decided that the child/young person would benefit from multi-agency support and a Team around the Family meeting is organised and a Lead Professional is appointed to co-ordinate the support agreed in the TAF Plan and organise future meetings.

Why should practitioners use the CAF process rather than call a multiagency professionals meeting?

The most effective interventions require informed consent. The child/young person/family are involved at the earliest stages of the CAF process and there will be more likelihood of successful outcomes. The CAF process is undertaken with the family not imposed on them.  It also supports empowerment of the family to solve any futures issues.

Will the Assessor be the Lead Professional?

Not necessarily. There will be a discussion at the first CAF multi-agency Team around the Family meeting to decide who is the most appropriate person.

How long will a CAF stay open?

This will depend on the needs of the child/young person and the actions required – it will vary in every case.  A CAF will not stay open forever. 

How is the CAF reviewed or closed?

After the initial TAF meeting, a review meeting should be organised (unless it is appropriate to close the CAF at that stage).  At the review meeting the progress towards the desired outcomes set out in the rolling TAF Plan will be reviewed and actions closed and/or new actions agreed.  Once the desired outcomes have been achieved the CAF can be closed.

The CAF could be closed for a number of reasons:

  • Desired outcomes achieved
  • Outcomes partially achieved
  • Consent withdrawn
  • Accepted by Social Care
  • Looked after Child
  • Transferred to Adult Services
  • Moved out of area
  • Family non engagement
  • Services not available
  • Deceased
  • Other

The CAF team should be informed on 01634 334325 of the closure reason and TAF Closure Form must be completed and sent to the CAF team.

What is a TAF Closure Form?

This form must be used when a CAF which had multi-agency support and TAF meetings is closed.  The TAF Closure Form is used to record the date and reason for closure, the Close scores for the levels of need of each child, closing comments from the family and information from the Lead Professional about the case.

Who is responsible or accountable for the agreed actions in the TAF Plan?

Each action in the TAF Plan will have an identified individual who will have the responsibility for carrying out that action, this can include the child/young person/parents/carers which will help them become more empowered.

Who can information be shared with?

Information can be shared with any agency to which the child/young person and/or parents/carers give consent. Visit the Department of Education's page on information sharing.

Is there training to help practitioners use the CAF process?

Yes. There are two levels of training available:

  • Awareness – for any staff who need a basic awareness
  • CAF training – for practitioners who will be using the CAF process

Full details available at CAF training.

Who can support practitioners using the CAF process?

Managers should support practitioners using the CAF process.  The CAF team can be contacted for advice and support on 01634 334325. Visit Medway Children's Trust for a list of  CAF Champions.

Can parents or carers take a friend to a TAF meeting?

Yes, parents or carers can bring anyone of their choice (for example a relative or friend) to support them.  They need to be aware that everything discussed during a TAF meeting is confidential.

Where are forms stored?

CAF forms must be stored in a secure, lockable cabinet or room to which only authorised practitioners have access in compliance with the security procedures within a service for sensitive, confidential and personal information.

How long do CAF forms have to be kept?

CAF forms should be put into storage one year after the CAF has been closed and destroyed/purged after a further six years.

What if CAF has been started and the child/young person and/or parents/carers withdraw consent?

The CAF process can not continue without consent. However, any strategies or support that the child/young person/parents/carers are still in agreement and which were used to meet the needs of the child/young person before the CAF started should continue. The Assessor/Lead Professional should inform the CAF team that consent has been withdrawn and the CAF is closed on 01634 334325.

If a CAF is refused or consent is withdrawn and a practitioner is concerned about the safety or welfare of a child/young person, the local safeguarding procedures should be followed.  Details are available at Medway Safeguarding Children Procedures

Can a CAF be reopened?

Yes, but the timescale will be important, as there may be significant change of circumstances since the CAF was started originally. That could mean starting a new CAF might be more appropriate. Practitioners will need to make a professional judgement as to whether to reopen a CAF or start a new CAF.  Contact the CAF team on 01364 334325 to discuss and record if you are plan to reopen or start a new CAF.

For more information contact CAF Team by telephone: 01634 334325 or by email: caf.co-ordinator@medway.gov.uk

Write to: CAF Team, Medway Council, Gun Wharf, Dock Road, Chatham, Kent ME4 4TR