The child and family assessment (CAF) is a 4 step process whereby practitioners can identify a child or young person's needs early, assess those needs holistically, deliver coordinated services and then 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 by calling CADS (Children's Advice and Duty Service) on 01254 666400

You can complete one form for a family (including parents) rather than having to complete one form per child. You need to ensure that each child's needs are considered and they need to remain the focus of the assessment.

Register a CAF, check if a CAF exists or find out who the lead professional is