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Common Assessment Framework

The Common Assessment Framework (CAF)

A CAF is a standardised approach to conducting an assessment of a child’s additional needs and is used to decide how those needs should be met. It is a general holistic assessment.

It is used by practitioners across childrens services in England, such as schools, childrens centres, youth workers, private nurseries, and anybody within the childrens' workforce who has received CAF training.

The CAF will promote more effective, earlier identification of additional needs, particularly in universal services. It is intended to provide a simple process for a holistic assessment of a child’s needs and strengths, taking into account the role of parents, carers, and environmental factors on their development.

As a result of the assement practitioners are then better placed to agree, with the child and the family, about what support is appropriate.

The CAF will also help to improve integrated working by promoting co-ordinated service provision and information sharing.

CAFs are available for children up to the age of 18.

The form is completed by a Lead Professional who becomes the main point of contact throughout the process.

The holistic approach adopted by the common assessment focuses on three main areas.

  • Development of the child or young person - how well they are developing, including their health, emotional and social development, and progress in learning.
  • Parents and carers - how well they are able to support their child or the young person's development, and their ability to respond appropriately to their needs.
  • Family and environment - the impact of wider family and environmental elements on the child or young persons development and on the capacity of their parents or carers.

A CAF can be done anytime there is concern about a child or young persons progress towards the five Every Child Matters priority outcomes without additional services.



Every child matters outcomes and aims

Be healthy

  • Physical health
  • Mental and emotional health
  • Sexual health
  • Healthy lifestyles
  • Choose not to take illegal drugs

Stay safe

  • Safe from maltreatment, neglect, violence and sexual exploitation
  • Safe from accidental injury and death
  • Safe from bullying and discrimination
  • Safe from crime and anti-social behaviour in and out of school
  • Have security, stability and are cared for

Enjoy and achieve

  • Ready for school
  • Attend and enjoy school
  • Achieve stretching national educational standards at primary school
  • Achieve personal and social development, and enjoy recreation
  • Achieve stretching national educational standards at secondary school

Make a positive contribution

  • Engage in decision making and support the community and environment
  • Engage in law-abiding and positive behaviour in and out of school
  • Develop positive relationships and choose not to bully and discriminate
  • Develop self-confidence and successfully deal with significant life changes and challenges
  • Develop enterprising behaviour

Achieve economic well-being

  • Engage in further education, employment or training on leaving school
  • Ready for employment
  • Live in decent homes and sustainable communities
  • Access to transport and material goods
  • Live in households free from low income

Inspiring families to achieve more