The Common Assessment Framework, or CAF, is a standardised assessment and referral tool. It is used throughout Britain to identify a child’s needs and help decide how best these needs can be met. No matter what the issues are, whether they are delayed speech, behavioural problems or learning difficulties, the CAF consists of one main assessment form that covers everything.
The CAF can be used for children of any age, including unborn babies, and can be initiated by parents as well as any practitioner working with the child or her family. Unlike previous assessments, it takes a much more holistic view of the child. The parent’s input is crucial as the form covers aspects of a child’s home life that only the family will know. Because of this, the CAF form should be completed with the parents.
Once completed, a panel of professionals such as paediatricians, speech and language therapists and educational psychologists will decide upon the next course of action to support the child. It may be necessary to carry out further specialised assessments. A plan of provision will then be drawn up and delivered by the appropriate agencies.
Once a child has been CAF-ed any future professional working with that child will know exactly what support has been provided to date and who to turn to if further support is needed.
Most schools will only use the CAF when they:
- Have already provided support for a child, but it has had little impact.
- Feel that outside agencies would provide more effective support.
- Feel that the child has issues or problems that the school is not equipped to properly identify or support.
If your school or children’s centre wants to CAF your child please don’t worry – everyone only wants what is best for her. Also remember, if your child is struggling for whatever reason you too can initiate the process. To do this you will need to speak to her class teacher, special needs co-ordinator, head teacher or your health visitor or doctor.