CAF (child and family) is a 4 step process whereby practitioners can identify a child's or young person's needs early, assess those needs holistically, deliver coordinated services and review progress.
The CAF is designed to be used when:
- a practitioner is worried about how well a child or young person is progressing, e.g. concerns about their health, development, welfare, behaviour, progress in learning or any other aspect of their wellbeing
- a child or young person, or their parent/carer, raises a concern with a practitioner
- a child's or young person's needs are unclear, or broader than the practitioner's service can address.
The process is entirely voluntary and informed consent is mandatory, so families do not have to engage - if they do, they can choose what information they want to share. Children and families should not feel stigmatised by the CAF; they can ask for a CAF to be initiated.
The CAF should be offered to children who have additional needs to those being met by universal services. Unless a child is presenting a need, it is unlikely the CAF will be offered. The practitioner assesses needs using the CAF. The CAF is not a risk assessment.
If a child or young person reveals they are at risk, the practitioner should follow the local safeguarding process immediately.