This essay will discuss why Common Assessment Framework was introduced to Children’s Services, what it attempts to achieve and whether or not it has been successful, the concept behind it and briefly, the difficulties in working with other health professionals to get the Common Assessment Framework to do what it was set out to do.
“The Every Child Matters “Green Paper proposed the introduction of a Common Assessment Framework (CAF) as a central element of the strategy for helping children, young people and their families.” (DfES 2004)
Common Assessment Framework is a standard assessment tool to be used by all professionals working with children for assessments and referral (British Journal of Social Work (2009). The reform agenda in Children’s Service was catalysed by the public inquiry into the death of Victoria Climbie (Laming 2003), an eight year old West African girl who was abused and murdered in the UK in 2000 as a result of extreme cruelty and neglect by her great-aunt and the her partner, who were her guardians.
Background and Why CAF was Introduced
An inquiry into the death of Victoria Climbie (Laming 2003) exposed a failure to put in place the necessary basic procedures to protect her. Factors identified included lack of early intervention, poor co-ordination, failure to share information and the absence of anyone with a strong sense of accountability. As a result, the Common Assessment Framework (CAF) was one of the measures introduced under the changes in child protection policies and the green paper, Every Child Matters (2003) therefore was introduced to set out proposals for major changes in children’s programmes to allow every child, whatever their background or their circumstances, to have the needed support towards the achievement of a better outcome in the following key areas:
“being healthy, staying safe, enjoying and achieving making a positive contribution and achieving economic well-being” (DoH 2003)
The design, in conjunction with the lead professional and better information sharing policies and procedures; to change the method by which services are delivered, moving the focus from dealing with the consequence of difficulties in children’s lives, towards a more proactive preventative and precautionary measure. CAF is intended to be used for children who have additional needs which may not be complex or severe enough to require statutory intervention. It is for use in situations where there are concerns with how a child is progressing in any way (raised by the child, a parent or a professional), the child’s needs are unclear, the child’s needs are broader than a professional’s own service can address or where it is thought that CAF would help to identify the child’s needs.
The draft ‘Common Assessment Framework’ was developed in late 2004 with its revised version published in 2005. CAF is a new, more standardised approach for assessing the needs of children for service and deciding howthose needs should be addressed and met. It is meant for children with additional needs; that is, children at risk of poor outcomes (DfES, 2005b,p1). CAF is designed to be evidence-based , focusing on needs and strengths, rather than ‘concerns’ as seen in the British Journal of social work (2009) 39, 1197-1217.
“The three stated aims of CAF are to support earlier intervention, improve multi-agency working by, for example ’embedding a common language of assessment’; reduce ‘bureaucracy for families” (DfES, 2005b, p1.)
CAF is not meant to replace many other assessment schedules used in the various agencies, such as the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families documentation, but the government would like the CAF to represent the main assessment tool to support inter-agency referral and multi-agency working (DfES, 2005b, p 2).
“Common Assessment Framework (CAF) is one of the contributing elements to the following both of which are outlined in the Children’s Act 2004, the delivery of integrated services the support inter-agency co-operation; and the safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people”. [email protected]
How are children services organised? What is the key legislation that governs children and children’s services,
The aim of Every Child Matters is to have a few agencies working together bearing in mind their professional boundaries to liaise and support children from 0 to 19, using a simple language to meet the needs of these children. It came up with the Integrated Children’s System (ICS), the Contact Point and the Common Assessment Framework (CAF), they all have different systems and style of working but have one common goal which is to improve the well being and to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people.
When a child is seen as suffered neglect, abuse or has any server difficulty or being looked after under the Children’s Act 1989, their needs are assessed using the Framework for Assessment of Children in Need and their families. The Integrated Child System (ICS) is used at this stage, this is done by putting information together step by step and recording information about both the child and family, where a thorough assessment is required an in depth information is needed at this stage and must be gathered in a way that can set as the basis for decision making and can be used for different purposes. ICS is supported by information technology and it’s the basis of the electronic social care record for children. The IT system is also known as ISC. Contact Point is a fast method to find out who else is working with a particular service user, making it a lighter way to liaise and support, it is a major tool Every Child Matters uses to deliver a better service to Children and young people, having said that Contact Point only holds a little information about a child, parent, practitioners providing services to the child and carers until their 18th birthday, except for exceptional cases for example children with mental health and sexual health problems where their details are still held under sever security. Common Assessment Framework on the other hand comes in as soon as assessment is needed at the very early stage and deciding what action to take. It gives practitioners the chance to put together and record information about a child or young person with additional needs in an orderly, straight forward and simple. Work start from then and practitioners begin to look out for the needs and what should be done and it’s dealt with. CAF makes practitioners across all agencies, after the required training to go according to the procedures to achieve a dependable assessment that can be used by everyone dealing with the case. The national IT system to support CAF will be developed. (eCAF). This will help authorised practitioners to electronically create, share and store CAF within the agencies. Unlike Contact Point CAF only holds the information about some young people and children, with consent, and for a limited period of time. Both Contact Point and CAF were created to for use within children’s services, their goal is to help children with additional needs get the help and support they need, it’s a tool to make easy early intervention and help deal with additional needs before they get out of control and become more difficult to resolve. CAF and ICS has a common method to assessment, they both have a common way of collecting data about a child or young person around the domains of developmental needs of a child; parent capacity; and family and environmental factors. CAF and ICS are supported by technology where as Contact Point is a basically technology solution www.evertchildmatters.gov.uk
Why was CAF introduced and what’s it’s aim
The green paper, Every Child Matters, proposed the introduction of a national Common
Assessment Framework (CAF) as an important part of a strategy for helping children and young people to achieve the five priority outcomes of:
being healthy: enjoying good physical and mental health and living a healthy lifestyle; staying safe: being protected from harm and neglect; enjoying and achieving : getting the most out of life and developing the skills for adulthood; making a positive contribution: being involved with the community and society and not engaging in anti-social or offending behaviour; economic well-being: not being prevented by economic disadvantage from achieving their full potential in life.
The Common Assessment Framework (CAF) was decided upon based on the five basic keys. By the help of a lead professional and better information shearing procedure CAF was designed from the concerns that the existing procedures for identifying and responding to the needs of children who are not achieving the five outcomes identified in Every Child Matters do not work as effectively as they were meant to, to bring a better way of how services could be delivered, due to the fact that services have in the past been delivered based on dealing with the consequences of difficulties in children’s lives to preventing things from taking the wrong route from the start. It’s main focus is to attain to the fact that every child gets the five keys. It is also created to help assessing children with additional needs which are not too complex or sever as to demand external intervention such as statutory intervention. CAF’s aim is to give a method of assessment to give support to early intervention, to help decide what needs to be done at an early stage rather than later, it’s to provide good and a lot more evidence based referral to targeted and specialist services. CAF is created to enhance on joint working and communication between practitioners in a common language of assessment and views and as to how it could be resolved, it was also designed to improve the coordination and consistency around assessments leading to fewer and shorter specialist assessments. CAF was designed to help to decide whether other specialist assessments are needed and if so provide information to help get it done. It was to give a clear picture of a child or young person’s needs to be built up over time and with the right consent shared among professionals.
Has CAF achieved its aim?(positives and negatives)
Through CAF some practitioner began to accept sheared responsibility for children and young people with additional needs. Apart from having to get parents consent to be part of the assessment procedure some practitioners and managers are in view that in conjunction with other services CAF has a lot more prospects in support to early intervention mostly universal services. Some also had doubt as to whether there was enough funds to meet the problems raised and the requirement of CAF.
It is apparent that CAF has had mixed responses. One estimation of path-finding authorities revealed that practitioners and managers believed it has enabled a more rigorous follow-through of service delivery, promotion of better multi-agency working and were optimistic that it would eventually pull down thresholds for service receipt (Brandon et al., 2006). The introduction of CAF like everything has its strengths which in general gives a positive view seen by all, however, others have expressed their concerns about its been too formal to some organizations as ‘descriptive tyranny’, restricting the narrative making sense of the situation; the difficulties of various professionals and practitioners with other skills and expectations completing CAF differently or partially in the assessment process (Garrett, 2008; Gilligan and Manby, 2008; White et al, 2008). CAF in the East Riding for example is exclusively aimed as a minimal level involvement which will help use universal services to manage early problems and deject wrong referrals to Social Care. The major intentional level for engagement agencies with the CAF has broader responsibility than CAF alone, covering all included services provision. The different agencies involved is broad, but some agencies are less active in attending meetings and buy in, in terms of resource input is limited. However, there some problems which lessen the positive involvement, and makes CAF less effective, these include less involvement of some agencies in terms of resources input. Practitioners were of view that CAF was not reducing the need foe reassessment, giving examples of some parents forced to repeat their stories during reassessments, I can understand sometimes practitioners would just want to be sure that things have not changed since the last assessment, but the public is of the view that CAF always has the updated information at any time needed, but for luck of training and human error we find out that CAF still is not doing what it was set out. As well as distracting story-telling way of writing reports, the CAF writers often found that the boxes did not help them adequately to characterize the child and parents. The format of the CAF was opposed by some professionals and practitioners working with it.. Only some professionals used the language of need, whereas over 80 per cent talked about challenges. In addition to the descriptive demands, CAF forms also make
“CAF doesn’t tell a story it feels like school exams, multiple choice, you can tick the boxes with the right answer, but it really doesn’t give you er the er ….The story. It is about narrative isn’t it. It’s about people’s lives. It isn’t about um dividing a life up into a lot of small boxes. And when you put all those boxes together it will be EQUAL to the narrative” As seen in (BJofSW 2009 39, 1197-1217)
“Sure start worker said “I prefer a blank sheet of paper to express by thoughts” ibid..
Upon a period of over a decade’s work in human services organizations, Gubrium et al describe what they call the ‘descriptive tyrannies’ of ‘people forms’, forms used in one way or the other to describe and categorize people coming to the attention of human service professionals, hence, for Gubrium et al, the relations of form completion to human activity is two-fold. They are concerned with what sorts of descriptions the forms invite or the ‘reportorial expectations assumed to underlie acceptance organizational description (Gubirum et al, 1989, p 197). What may be the rational, moral and artful capacities of form-completers? That is, what ‘wiggle room’ (Erickson, 2004, p, 20) do they have with these descriptive demands? (Oxford University press 2008). Gubrium et al argue that, completed forms like any mode of description, have transformative effects. They do not simply describe events as they occurred in real time. For example they may contain mutually exclusive categorizations, which demands that the form-computer suspend disbelief that only one category can apply at any one time, bearing in mind that CAF is designed to have evidence-based , focused on needs and strengths, rather than ‘concerns’. Professionals are encouraged to evaluate strengths, needs, actions and solutions for children across three domains derived from the framework for Assessment of Children in Need and their Families (DoH 2000).
Please ignore the recommendation below still have that to do I have it written down will type it out tomorrow, I’m working in the dark because my landlady forgot to get some electricity and my eyes are hurting now. My lecture ends at 11 so will finish it all with the Ref..
Recommendation and conclusion
It is clear to me that the purpose of the CAF and its work load is to ensure that professionals attend to, and record information deemed most relevant to their primary activities as distinct at this historical moment. The CAF is also an over view presented as a complete professional judgement. However, I have shown above that the demands of the form cause information to be ordered in preferred ways, which can be unintelligible. I have talked about the fact that CAF constrains professional practice in particular ways, it is indeed designed to exert its own rigid demands, which can feel harsh to the one person completing the form. CAF in particular relies on the assumption that it can foster uniform professional application and an ordinary (White, Hall and Peckover, 2009). Laming (2009) still recommended that we need to involve more agencies to make the workload easier and effective and said
“the use of Common Assessment Framework CAF needs to be further promoted with Agencies”.
To achieve the reason it was introduced practitioners and everyone involved in using CAF must be fully aware of what it’s all about and must be fully trained to know the pros and cons of what CAF wants to achieve, other Agencies working in line with CAF must also keep their systems and information updated to suit the needs of the children and young people who might need this service to also live the lives they deserve. Parents and the general public must be fully aware of what CAF is hoping to achieve in that way they don’t feel pressured if they are called upon to give their approval before an assessment is carried out for their children.
www.everychildmatters.gov.uk (assessed 13/01/2010)
www.ecm.gov.uk/contactpoint. (assessed 12/02/2010)
www.ecm.gov.uk/caf (assessed 12/01/201)
www.ecm.gov.uk/ics (assessed 12/01/2010)
Brandon, M., Howe, A., Daglry, V., Salter, C., Warren, C. and Black, J. (2006) Evaluating the Common Assessment Framework and Lead Professional Guidance and Implementation, Research Report No 740, Nottingham: DfES
Department for education opportunity, releasing potential, achieving excellence(Ref DfES 2004)
The political Quarterly Publishing Co, Ltd. 2005