The Common Assessment Framework has been developed as part of the Every Child Matters strategy. Every Child Matters: Change for children is a new approach to the well-being of children and young people from birth to age 19 and is the government’s response to the report into the death of Victoria Climbie – so that never again should a child ‘slip through the net’ and be put in the way of abuse, harm, neglect or, as in Victoria’s case, murder.
This strategy is meant to encourage all the different agencies that work with and for children, to work together and share information.. It is not just designed to help children at risk of harm it is aimed at helping all children including those with a disability, a health problem or with special educational needs. The Common Assessment Framework gives a structure for recording information that a professional finds out in conversation with the child, young person and the family/carers.
It will help professionals get staff from other services to help because they will recognise that the concern is based on evidence. There are three parts to the Common Assessment Framework. Part 1 is a pre-assessment checklist based on the 5 key outcomes of Every Child Matters: for children to be healthy, stay safe, enjoy and achieve, make a positive contribution and achieve economic well-being. The checklist will help to find out if a child is making the expected progress and to understand if he or she has any unmet needs in any area.
Part 2 is the common assessment process. This gathers all the information needed to give an accurate picture of the child’s needs and strengths, and Part 3 is a standard form to give a consistent way of recording the discussion and outcomes and make it easier to share information. The CAF covers all needs, not just the needs that one service is most interested in. It is intended to be used by teachers and education professionals, health professionals and social work professionals so that they can work together more easily and effectively.
Information will follow the child and build up a picture of an individual child’s needs over time and, where permission is given, information about a child can be shared. The CAF can be used at any age: on unborn babies, new babies, children or young people. It will be used when a professional is concerned about how well a child is progressing, if the child’s needs are not clear or if a common assessment would identify the needs and get other services to help meet them. The decision to do an assessment will be made jointly with parents and, if the child is old enough, with the child themselves.