Common Assessment Framework (CAF) guide for parents

There may be times your child needs extra support - perhaps before they're born, when they're very young or when they're at school. One way of providing support to them is to use the Common Assessment Framework (CAF).

The CAF is a way of working out what extra support your child may need. It involves meeting with practitioners to make sure you only have to tell your story once and that help is provided as quickly and effectively as possible. With your approval, practitioners will work with you to identify your child's needs and strengths.

The CAF assessment record outlines what's going well for your family, what extra support may be needed and which practitioners may be best placed to help.

Working with you

The CAF is voluntary. However, someone who knows you and your child may suggest a CAF to ensure you get the right support if it's needed. You have a say in which worker you want to help coordinate your action plan. This worker is usually called your lead professional.

The CAF action plan, agreed with you and your family, is put in place to ensure everyone gets the right support.

The plan brings together all the practitioners working with you, which can include:

  • your health visitor
  • your child's teacher
  • the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) at the school
  • a speech and language therapist
  • any other practitioners who work with children and families

This way of working together is called a Team Around the Child (TAC) or Team Around the Family. We'll work with you to find solutions and meet any identified needs.

For some families, there are specific problems or safeguarding concerns which make it necessary for a referral to be made to Children's Social Care. This is to make sure a social worker is allocated to undertake an assessment. The assessment, which you'll be a critical part of, explores the concerns and identifies whether there's ongoing need for social care help and support.

Unless there are immediate safeguarding concerns, the practitioner completing the CAF with you will always discuss the option or necessity of referring to social care.

If you want further information about CAF, a CAF leaflet for parents and carers (pdf, 277kb) is available. You can also look at the kinds of records (pdf, 79kb) practitioners use when they're working with you through CAF.    

Share your thoughts

If you've completed a CAF with a practitioner, or have been working with a TAC or Team Around the Family, we'd love to know your thoughts. Telling us about your experiences, good or bad, helps us to continue providing quality support to children and families in the borough.

When you fill in our parent and carer survey, you'll get the chance to tell us if:

  • you've been included in the work that's been happening with your family
  • services have been flexible and responsive
  • it's making a difference

We also have a children's survey for your child to complete if they want to share their thoughts.

The surveys are available in a number of community languages: Arabic, Bengali, French, Portuguese, Somali, Spanish and Yoruba. If you want a copy of a survey in one of these languages or would like a copy of the survey sent in the post, email icss@southwark.gov.uk.

You can contact the early help services on 020 7525 2714 or email icss@southwark.gov.uk.

Page last updated: 21 September 2017