Lancashire Common Assessment Framework and Continuum of Need

The refreshed Common Assessment Framework and Continuum of Need for Lancashire, went 'live' on 31 October 2013.

The Common Assessment Framework (CAF) is a shared assessment tool for use across all children's services in England.  It helps in the early identification of needs for children, young people and families.  The CAF promotes a co-ordinated approach on how those needs should be met and is a process that has been designed specifically to help practitioners assess needs at an early stage and then work with families, alongside other practitioners, to meet those needs.

As part of the Lancashire Improving Futures (LIF) Programme, it was recognised that the CAF and Continuum of Need (CON) could be improved to incorporate a Total Family approach and further embed Early Support, including early assessment.  These changes were developed by a multi-agency Project Board, and were implemented as of 31 October 2013.

What does this mean?

  • CAF will be the primary assessment tool for Early Support;
  • All new CAF assessments should be carried out using the new processes and forms;
  • Referrals into Children's Social Care (CSC) will now be done via the CSC Referral Form.  This will ensure that CAF is used as an assessment and not as a Referral;
  • The CON Level's 2 and 3 are Early Support responses, with all statutory responses grouped into Level 4.  This change demonstrates the Directorate's and our Partners commitment to Early Support;
  • Thresholds have not moved, and supporting guidance has been developed and is available to assist practitioners in understanding more about thresholds;
  • Various training is available, including a CAF Champion model (Train the Trainer);

The Lancashire Family CAF:

  • Is a consensual assessment done with a family and focusses on strengths as well as needs;
  • Incorporates a whole family approach and enables assessment and planning to be undertaken against the need of the individual child, young person or as part of a family;
  • Is now a simplified form, reducing the need to repeat information where there is more than one sibling using a three part approach;
  • Allows practitioners to add multiple children or young people to a single family CAF.

The Refreshed Lancashire CON:

  • Is now simplified;
  • Uses the Children and Young People's Plan Priorities to classify need rather than in old Every Child Matters categories;
  • Supports Early Support across a large section of the CON with any statutory assessment or plan now sitting in level 4;
  • Provides clarity around Thresholds and has Supporting Thresholds documentation.

The CAF should reduce bureacracy for families, by providing practitioners with a fuller overview of a child, young person or families needs and responses, thereby reducing the number of inappropriate and duplicate inter-agency requests of service, separate assessments and difference agencies working with the child.  This means that families do not have to tell and re-tell their story every time they come into contact with different agencies.  The CAF is empowering for families and should always be completed in partnership with children and families at all stages and, where possible, enable them to take thte lead, thereby, promoting and building resilience in families.

Training and Support

  • Supporting Guidance- More information and access to supporting guidance and forms can be obtained from the CAF website;
  • ELearning package available.  All practitioners working with Children, Young People and Families are encouraged to complete this.  Click here to access the e-learning system.
  • CAF Champions (Train the Trainer) dates now available.  Organisations are asked to nominate CAF Champions.  Training is 2 days.  CAF Champions will be responsible for delivering CAF Training in their organisations.  Sessions are available to book on Click Delegate.
  • CAF Champions Briefings.  These sessions aim to provide information on the role of a CAF Champion and assist colleagues in deciding who is best to carry out that role within their organisation.   Also available to book a place on click delegate. 

Further information can be obtained from Nicola Parker - nicola.parker@lancashire.gov.uk

or CAF Officers:


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