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​​Low level concerns and early intervention

The Common Assessment Framework (CAF)

The Common Assessment Framework or CAF is a statutory early intervention strategy in England (Scotland have something similar). Each local authority has implemented this slightly differently therefore there is local variation in terminology and process. Terms such as TAC (team around the child), TAF (team around the family) and MAST (multi-agency support team) may be used. There mayalso be local variation in how these teams are accessed. You are advised to familiarise yourself with how this process works and who to contact in your locality.

CAF is a multi-agency response to a low level concern to assess and assist children and families to resolve issues and prevent escalation to more complex and serious concerns. This is a consensual process with the family and involves the practitioner who identifies the concern, completing a comprehensive assessment of the child and family needs in relation to the identified concern. CAFs are usually carried out by children’s practitioners who have received relevant training. All services involved with the child and family will be invited to contribute to the assessment. Adult services practitioners who identify concerns can make a referral for a CAF to the local CAF co-ordinator or children’s services team. Some adult service practitioners across the UK may be trained to undertake CAF’s.

All professionals currently involved with the child or and family, or professionals identified that may be able to provide relevant support or services, are invited to the CAF meeting. The child and family are integral to the meeting. At the meeting, an action plan is constructed to address the concern and needs of the family in order to resolve the identified issues. Some localities have a specific CAF budget to assist some families. The group meet regularly to assess the progress against the action plan until the issues have resolved. At any time the situation may be escalated into child protection and the assessment and action plan then form the basis for the initial assessment that children’s services undertake.

If you have concerns about a child but do not consider that your concern relates to abuse or neglect, then contact your local CAF co-ordinator to discuss your concerns and they will advise you of an appropriate course of action.