Common Assessment Framework - questions and answers for professionals

How do I get a signature on the electronic CAF?

Those signing the CAF should sign a paper copy which is held on the Lead Professional case file.  If you are sending in the CAF electronically you can type in the space where the signature goes the words ‘signature held on file’ and record the date of the signature.

How do I let the Early Help Brokerage team know about a change of Lead Professional?

Email with updated forms  to tell them that the LP has changed from xxxx to xxxxxx and their contact details and we can make the changes on our case management system.

What do I do if a new Lead Professional cannot be identified?

If there is reluctance for whatever reason to take on the lead professional role, and normal conversations cannot resolve this, the matter should be escalated to your line manger who should discuss with the proposed LP’ s manager.  The needs of the child should be borne in mind when considering this. Contact Early Help Brokerage if this is still not resolved.

Can I do a CAF or be a lead professional without being CAF trained?

Yes you can in the short term.  If you have identified that a child has additional needs, then that child needs to have an assessment as soon as possible.  You can ask someone in your agency that has had the CAF training to assist you. You could also contact the Early Help Brokerage team who have practitioners with CAF experience who can support you through the process. You should book onto the CAF training as soon as possible to benefit from the multi agency training that will help you put the CAF process into context and give you more detail.

What do I do if other professionals don’t turn up for CAF meetings?

If a CAF member is unable to make a meeting they should contact the LP to let them know. They should give a written report in their absence that can be shared at the meeting. 
If one agency is persistently absent follow up directly and if necessary escalate through line management. One manager talking to another manager often solves the problem. If the problem is not resolved your manager will report the situation to the Early Help Brokerage team. You must evidence what has happened,  when and how you have tried to manage this.

How often do I need to review the CAF?

National Guidance recommends 3 months, however this is a needs based process and meetings can be held more frequently.

Do I need to do a new common assessment if a child/family has been stepped down from social care?

If there is relevant up to date assessment information from social care, you will not need to do a CAF assessment. You will need the assessment information from social care.

The CAF procedures can be picked up using a multi agency meeting form. This should be completed at the last review that social care hold, where they should be preparing for case closure from their point of view and  arranging for an ongoing package of support from a multi agency group. This should help to prevent (but may not necessarily do so) a re-referral into Children’s Social Care (CSC).  Please refer to the Step Down on the LSCB which explains this process.

Can a teenager give consent for a CAF without their parents knowing?

National guidance is clear that children aged 12 or over may generally be expected to have sufficient understanding to make their own decisions – this has to be made on a case by case basis taking the child maturity into account. It is recommended that practitioners encourage children under 16 years to involve their parents/carers.   For further guidance refer to national guidance – The Common Assessment Framework for children and young people pages 60/61 (PDF, 2.5MB).

What do I do if a child’s parents won’t consent to a CAF?

A Common Assessment cannot go ahead without consent from the child's parents (unless the child themselves is of sufficient age and understanding and has consented in their own right as above). You will need to consider whether this leaves the child at greater risk and consider a referral into Children’s Social Care. However, there may be alternative ways of dealing with this situation. Have further discussions with parents. If the answer is still no, and you feel the child is not at risk, or  the situation is not meeting the thresholds for social care services, then you will need to  consider how to offer support in a less structured or formal way. Your work can still carry on but perhaps in a less coordinated way than you would have liked. You will need to make sure you record all that you have done with regard to the CAF and the reasons why this has been unable to proceed.

There are some circumstances in which an assessment, either a Common Assessment or an assessment led by social workers under the National Assessment Framework is legally necessary, for example for Direct Payments for children and young people with a disability.

What if only one parent is agreeing to a CAF?

National guidance states that the consent of one parent is sufficient, so if parents are living separately you should normally obtain consent from the parent the child is living with.    However each situation is different and you will need to manage each situation carefully so as not to exacerbate situations and potentially put people at risk.   For further guidance refer to national guidance – The Common Assessment Framework for children and young people pages 60/61 (PDF, 2MB).

If I have concerns about more than one child in a family do I have to do a CAF on each child?

CAF should take account of the needs of the whole family.  Within the CAF document the individuals needs should be reflected

Some information may be the same e.g. the family and environment issues. The action plan created at a review should be joint as long as actions/tasks for each individual are separately identified and it is clear to which person they relate. Some issues may be outside your remit or expertise and you will need to involve other professionals to meet the needs of the family. A multi agency action plan will help to address the needs of the whole family. Ideally there should be one LP for the family but if, for example there are big age differences with a wide range of identified needs, it may be appropriate for two practitioners to jointly undertake the LP role liaising closely together to ensure continuity for the family and consistency of advice.

If there is more than one child in a family with a CAF in place, can we hold joint meetings?


If a family has more than one child with a CAF do I need to be LP for all children? 

No, there can be more than one, for example for different schools.  Joint meetings may be held.Ideally it is easier for the family to have one Lead professional. It is important the child/young person and their family are comfortable with arrangement and that communication and information sharing is given a high priority. 

Do I have to fill in all the boxes on the CAF - what if they are not relevant?

Yes. All the boxes are relevant to assessing the needs of the child and the family. If you are unable to complete each box ask the family and other professionals for the information.

How much information do I need to put in the assessment?

Information should be correct, relevant, up to date and meaningful. State the facts and include the views of the child/young person and parent.

Can I hold a Review meeting without the child/young person/parent/carer being present?

If a parent does not attend you can have a professionals meeting but this should not be recorded on CAF forms.  Book a new meeting as soon as possible.  

What age should I start including the child’s views on the CAF and Closure Summary?

The child's voice is essential and should be documented.  This can be represented via observations for the non verbal, very young or unborn.

What support should I expect from my Manager?

As a practitioner undertaking Common Assessments you should be able to seek support and advice from your manager and receive appropriate supervision. The expectations and role of Managers in the CAF process are set out in National Guidance and can be found on our website, under the section on Information for Managers.

Contact us

Common Assessment Framework (CAF)
Cheshire East Council

0300 123 5012 option 3

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