A common assessment framework (CAF) was introduced across the country as part of the 2004 Children Act. The aim is to improve the way different services work together for families to provide early help. The same approach, form, process and language make it easier for different services to work together and make things more easily understandable for families.
The label (CAF) is changing but the principle remains the same. In Leeds our early help process can be seen as four simple and practical steps.
1. Identify strengths and needs early. A practitioner works together with a child and family to gather information about their circumstances and understand the priorities for change. They then record the information on suitable forms. A common form called a Common Internal Record can be used if an agency’s own paperwork focuses too narrowly to take account of lots of different needs.
2. Assess strengths and needs. Our framework in Leeds gives guidance on the following; capturing the right information; understanding how to analyse that information; recognising the different responsibilities of those involved; realising what can be achieved and knowing the process to make achievement possible.
3. Deliver integrated services. If a number of agencies work with a family, their early help activity is captured and registered using a common form. This is a way of ensuring families have the best possible joined up support and everyone works together on the same agreed goals:
- a meeting will be arranged by the practitioner to bring together the child and family and the relevant agencies. These people become a Team Around the Child/Family (TAC/F) and importantly the TAC/F always includes family members;
- the TAC/F creates a plan with a long term goal and a summary of actions which identifies who is leading an action and when it will be completed by;
- the TAC/F nominates a Lead Professional and sets a date for a review meeting;
- all this information is captured on a common Summary Assessment Delivery Plan, which is circulated to all the members of the TAC/F.
4. Review the delivery plan. The Lead Professional organises and chairs a meeting of the TAC/F to discuss the progress that has been made and decide on the next steps. This is captured on a common Delivery Plan Review. The plan is reviewed as often as required until progress is good enough to no longer need the same level of integrated working.
Lead Professionals co-ordinate the agreed plan and act as a single point of contact for a family. This role is not new to most practitioners and they will be expected to take on the role as required. The Lead Professional is NOT responsible for services delivered by other people. Each person is accountable through their normal line management and supervision arrangements in their home agencies for fulfilling their commitments to children and families.
It is expected that practitioners in the children’s workforce will use the shared forms and processes whenever it can improve outcomes for children. For information about Common Assessment / early help in Leeds, please contact the Integrated Processes team on 0113 247 6830.
Please use the Documents section for further information about the process.