What is a CAF (sometimes also known as an Early Help Assessment)?
A CAF is a nationally recognized framework for holistically assessing children with additional needs, at an early stage before their needs increase.
It is viewed as the main tool for assessing and coordinating multi-agency support to children with additional needs (and their families), below the threshold of statutory services (such as Children’s Social Care or the Youth Offending Service).
In addition, it is used locally as the only means of accessing a range of targeted Early Help services, including those provided by the Youth and Family Support Service as well as the Early years vulnerable family scheme.
The CAF is a consensual process, and the young person, parent or carer has to give their consent for a CAF to be undertaken and agree with whom the CAF can be shared. For more information about consent and information sharing go to the information sharing web page.
How does the CAF process work
Details about how the CAF process operates including information about the lead professional,team around the child and the review process are set out in this document.
How to initiate a CAF in Barnet and use e-CAF
There are three ways routes leading to the initiation of a CAF.
- If a practitioner has concerns about a childs welfare or safety and are unsure where on the threshold the case sits, then they should refer directly to the MASH, using the e-MASH referral form. The MASH will then decide if a child’s needs a social work assessment, a CAF, or just signposting to universal services.
- If a child appears to have additional needs, but the needs are clearly at a lower level, and it is evident that a CAF will help coordinate support for a child, then the practitioner will complete the request to start a CAF e-form. This form will briefly pass through the MASH. The MASH will just check that the child isn’t already open to Children’s Social Care and will set up a new record for the child on the e-CAF system (to avoid duplicate records being created).
- The third route for a CAF to be requested, is if a case is being ‘stepped-down’ from Children’s Social Care for a CAF. This is when the social work intervention has been completed, but there is still a need for coordinated multi-agency support. The CAF Team will work with the social worker to identify a relevant Lead Professional and help to get the CAF up and started.
The e-CAF system
From March 2015, all CAFs need to be initiated using Barnet’s Early Help Module (EHM), which is Barnet’s secure, web-based e-CAF system.
In order to log on to e-CAF for the first time, a practitioners need to register to be set up with a password, be provided with access to an e-learning course, and to have signed a information-sharing agreement. This form is here.
These forms need to be returned to the EHM Support Team, and any technical queries about the use the e-CAF system, need to be directed to this Team by calling 0208 359 4989.
Support available to CAF practitioners in Barnet
There are a range of free CAF related training courses for any practitioner working with children in Barnet which include:
- 1 day CAF Training
- ½ day CAF refresher Training
- ½ day Lead Professional Training
- ½ CAF/Children’s Social Care Thresholds and MASH Workshop
- Me-Learning online e-CAF training
- e- CAF drop-in surgeries.
e- CAF drop-in surgeries
Barnet’s Family Services Systems and Data Team are offering a series of half day drop-in surgeries to help familiarise practitioners in using Barnet’s new e-CAF system (also known as EHM- Early Help Module) and to answer any queries you may have in using the system. Please note that attendance at these surgeries is first come, first served, and that practitioners first need to have completed the mandatory EHM Me-Learning Course and have been issued with a password.
Training dates: TBC
For further information on the e-CAF training, please contact FSSystemsandData@Barnet.gov.uk.
The CAF Practitioners group
These meetings are arranged by the CAF Team and take place every two months. They are rotated to be held across the different cluster areas. They provide the opportunity for cross-sector peer support and to share best practice around the use of the CAF and multi-agency working. In addition, speakers are brought in to speak on particular topics or areas of practice.
Terms of reference
CAF Team and CAF Support Panel
The role of the CAF Team has altered slightly and details on how the team work and support practitioners can be found here. This document also includes details on the CAF Support Panel, which deals with stuck CAFs.
Best practice materials and additional assessment screening tools
Voice of the Child - It is essential that the child or young person is fully involved in the CAF process (both the assessment and reviews) and that their voice is heard and their views taken into account.
Contact Tricia Lloyd in the CAF Team for examples of materials to encourage the child’s voice to be heard in the CAF process and for practice resources around direct work with children and young people.
There are some specialist assessment screening tools to assist practitioners when assessing specific client groups. For example:
- Barnet’s Child Sexual Exploitation Screening tool
- The Barnardo’s Domestic Violence Thresholds Matrix, when assessing children affected by domestic violence.
- The Pan London tool for assessing children at risk of teen-pregnancy
- The Pan London tool for assessing children at risk of substance misuse
- The Pan London tool for assessing children at risk of offending
- Gangs Risk Matrix
The Pan London Working Across Borough Boundaries guidance, is useful in supporting best practice when working with families across boroughs.
Local best practice examples of CAFs, Action Plan and Reviews
Available from the CAF Team on request.
National CAF Guidance
This guidance has now all been archived by The Department for Education and was developed some years ago, when the CAF was first developed. However they still provide some relevant and helpful information to practitioners.