View the Medway SCB Procedures
View the Medway SCB Procedures
View the Medway SCB ProceduresView the Medway SCB Procedures

1.2.1 Common Assessment Framework

The Common Assessment Framework (CAF) is an early help inter-agency assessment. It offers a basis for early identification of children's additional needs, the sharing of this information between organisations and the coordination of service provision. Early help assessments should identify what help the child and family require to prevent needs escalating to a point where intervention would be needed via a statutory assessment under the Children Act 1989.          

The findings from the Common Assessment may give rise to concerns about the child's safety and welfare. In these circumstances, it should be used to support a Referral to Children's Social Care: however undertaking a CAF is not a pre-requisite for making a referral.

Department for Education (GOV.UK)


This chapter was substantially revised and updated in June 2015 and should be re-read.


  1. Introduction and Overview
  2. Optional tool - CAF Pre-Assessment Checklist
  3. CAF Assessment
  4. In all Instances (Own Service Response, Single Agency Response, Multi-Agency Response
  5. Own Service Response
  6. Single Agency Response
  7. Multi Agency Response
  8. Step Down to TAF

1. Introduction and Overview

The CAF process is for use when a practitioner becomes aware that a child or young person (from 0-18 years, 19 years if Connexions are working with them, or up to 24 years if they have a learning difficulty or disability) has additional needs and might need help to achieve their full potential:

The CAF process should never be used if the practitioner has identified safeguarding issues. If there are safeguarding or child protection concerns about a child or young person; follow the Kent and Medway Safeguarding Board Procedures.

For all CAF Resources and forms click on the link to the Medway CAN website.

2. Optional tool - CAF Pre-Assessment Checklist

If a practitioner is unsure as to whether a CAF would be useful, the optional Pre-assessment checklist can be used to help decide if a child/young person needs extra support. Consent is not required for this unless the pre-assessment checklist is shared with other professionals in other agencies.

If no further action is required, the CAF Assessor should retain the Pre- assessment checklist until such time the child/young person leaves their care.

3. CAF Assessment

If a CAF is required for a child or siblings living in the same household it is important to find out if a CAF case has already started, the CAF Team hold details of Medway CAFs with the child(ren)/young person's, the CAF Assessor and CAF Lead Professional's details. This helps reduce duplication of work, enhances joint working and ensures that there is only ever one CAF open for an individual/siblings at any one time.

The CAF Assessor needs to check with the CAF Team to see if a CAF has been recorded - 01634 334325/338667/337218.

If there is an existing CAF, the CAF Team will provide contact details of the CAF Lead Professional, or the CAF Assessor to the practitioner who is making the enquiry. A discussion can then happen about meeting the newly identified needs. If suitable, and consent from the family is gained, the service making the enquiry will then be asked to join the CAF Team around the Family (CAF TAF).

If there is not a CAF already, the CAF Assessor will provide the CAF Team with the details of child(ren)/young person's name, date of birth, address,ethnicity; the name of the CAF Assessor, their job title and contact details. It is important for the CAF Assessor to explain to the parent/carer the value of undertaking a CAF. It is also important for the CAF Assessor to speak to children and young people where appropriate. This will give an opportunity to discuss concerns with the child(ren)/young person/parents/carers and talk to them about the CAF process and explain how it might be able to help - use the Medway CAF leaflets, including audio versions to support if required (available on the Medway CAN website).

The CAF Assessor must explain that the CAF process is voluntary and gain the consent from Parent/Carers or Young People in order to proceed.

If consent is not gained, the CAF Assessor must make a note on the child(ren)d/young person's record and continue to support the child(ren)/young person within the context of their service. The CAF Assessor can review whether a CAF is needed at a later date. The CAF Assessor must inform the CAF Team so that the CAF records can be updated.

If consent is gained, the CAF Assessor will arrange to meet in order to undertake the CAF Assessment and complete the CAF form:

  • With child(ren)/young person (someone to support them if they choose);
  • With parents/carers (someone to support them if they choose).

It is important to ensure that the child(ren)/young person /parent/carers have contributed to the assessment and this may take more than one meeting.

The CAF Assessor is required to record on the CAF form who was present during the CAF assessment.

For each element of the assessment, the CAF Assessor will agree and complete, the level of need with the child(ren)/young person/parent/carer - none, low, medium, high at the time of the assessment and record in the Start boxes - refer to Distance Travelled scoring guidance.

The CAF Assessor will check the form to ensure that all relevant sections have been completed and that it is a good quality assessment. (the use of the CAF Practitioner Self-Assessment Checklist is recommended).

The CAF Assessor will check the form with the child(ren)/young person and parents/carers to make sure that the assessment is a clear representation of all views and is accurate and amend if necessary.

The CAF Assessor will also ensure that the What needs to change? section has been agreed and that it reflects the rest of the assessment.

4. In all Instances (Own Service Response, Single Agency Response, Multi-Agency Response

The CAF Assessor will:

  • Sign the form as the Assessor;
  • Gain written consent/signature on the CAF Form from the child(ren)/young person/parent/carer;
  • Give the child(ren)/young person/parent/carer a copy of the completed signed CAF Form;
  • Retain a copy of the CAF form following the CAF retention guidelines;
  • Send a copy of the form to the CAF Team.

5. Own Service Response

If after the assessment all the needs can be supported by the CAF Assessor's own service and the family, an action plan will be agreed with the child(ren)/young person/parent/carer.

Notify the CAF Team that the CAF is closed and that the CAF Assessor's own service can support in order for the CAF Register to be updated and current. The CAF Assessor will retain a copy of the CAF form, following the CAF retention guidelines. Send a copy of the CAF form to the CAF Team.

6. Single Agency Response

If a single agency response is required, the CAF Assessor will identify the relevant agency and gain written consent from the child(ren)/young person/parent/carer to share the information with that agency.

Use the CAF form as a referral form or complete the agency specific referral form.

Notify the CAF Team that the CAF is closed and that a single agency response is required in order for the CAF register to be updated and current.

Retain a copy of the CAF form following the CAF retention guidelines. Send a copy of the CAF form to the CAF Team.

7. Multi Agency Response

If a multi agency response is required then the CAF Assessor will organise the first CAF Team Around the Family (CAF TAF) meeting, inviting relevant professionals and family members. The CAF Assessor will:

  • Invite the services that are already working with the child(ren)/young person;
  • Ring the other services that have been identified to help meet the needs of the child(ren)/young person;
  • Once services have confirmed that they plan to attend or they agree their involvement, a copy of the completed CAF form should be sent to them, so that the attendees can fully prepare for the meeting.

At the first CAF TAF meeting it will be decided who will be the CAF Lead Professional with the agreement of the child(ren)/young person/parent/carer's. Notify the CAF Team of the CAF Lead Professional's details.

The TAF Plan should be written at the meeting with clear Desired Outcomes and  recommendations as to which professionals/family members will deliver the actions/interventions and by when. The TAF Plan should be written in partnership with the child(ren)/young person/parent/carer.

At the CAF TAF a date should be set for the next review meeting.

After the meeting, the CAF Assessor or CAF Lead Professional circulates the completed TAF Plan and Record of TAF to the services involved and the child(ren)/young person/parent/carer and the CAF Team

At each subsequent review meeting, review the progress and update the TAF Plan. The purpose of the reviews is for the CAF Lead Professional, the CAF TAF and the family to update each other on what has been achieved, if there are new actions that need to be started, and if anything has not been achieved.

Reviews should be held regularly. If additional services need to be invited, then the CAF Lead Professional needs to gain consent from the child(ren)/young person/parent/carer. (Optional tool) At the review meetings, the CAF Distance Travelled record sheet can be updated to record the progress/non-progress of the child(ren)/young person (Optional Tool).

After each subsequent review meeting the Lead Professional will circulate the updated TAF Plan and Record of the TAF to the TAF members and CAF Team.

If the CAF is still current but is going through a transition (whether this is a natural progression e.g. primary to secondary school or another service, specific consent on the CAF transition form needs to be gained to transfer the CAF documentation. CAF documentation (whether the CAF is open or closed) in a child(ren)/young person's file cannot be transferred, even from one school to another without consent from the child(ren)/young person/parent/carer.

If the needs for the child(ren)/young person have been met and there are no further needs, the CAF TAF can agree on an exit strategy with the child(ren)/young person/parent/carer and close the CAF. The CAF Lead Professional to notify the CAF Team by completing (with the family) and sending a TAF Closure Form

If the needs have increased and a referral needs to be made to Social Care, the CAF TAF should continue to support the child(ren)/young person until notification from Social Care whether or not the referral has been accepted.

If the referral has been accepted, then close the CAF  (but continue to support) and notify the CAF Team by completing and sending a TAF Closure Form.

At or after the final review meeting, the CAF Lead Professional needs to:

  • Inform all the services involved that the CAF has been closed in order for them to securely destroy their copy of the CAF form;
  • Retain the paperwork for their service records following the CAF retention guide.

All CAF paperwork should be sent to the CAF Team by using 7 Zip to:
or secure email If sending by email type "signed copy on file"

If you do not have secure email send by post, or school courier, marked "confidential" to

CAF Team
Children and Adults Directorate
Medway Council
Level 4 Gun Wharf, Dock Road

8. Step Down to TAF

Children and young people’s cases can also be Stepped Down to TAF by Social Workers if Social Care intervention is not required but multi-agency support would be beneficial. Cases can be stepped down from a Child and Family Assessment or a Child in Need review.

The Social Worker should:

  • Discuss with the family the benefits of the case being stepped down to TAF and gain their consent;
  • Identify a Lead Professional;
  • Draft a Step Down to TAF Plan;
  • Organise a Step Down to TAF meeting (this can be the final Child in Need meeting);
  • Once the Step Down to TAF Plan has been agreed, the Social Worker circulates the TAF Plan to all parties and the case is handed over to the new Lead Professional;
  • The Lead Professional organises review TAF Meetings and follows the process explain in Section 7 above.