Children services assessment: Common assessment framework (CAF)

What is the common assessment framework?

If a child needs extra support, over and above what can be offered through school, nursery, care provider or through health services (these are also known as universal services), it is best for people who work with this child to get together with the child’s carer to find a way forward. The common assessment framework (or CAF) offers a way to look at what’s working, and what’s not working and to come up with a smart plan to make things better. The CAF involves listening to both carer and their child and to establish what extra support maybe needed.

How will the CAF help my family?

The CAF exists to help the carer support their child. It can lead to a quick solution or help to identify extra support if needed. The CAF will ensure that everyone involved with your child works together to support your child. The CAF will help your child receive the right support at an early stage before their needs increase. As the CAF is a shared assessment, you and your child will not have to repeat the same story to different workers.

How does it work?

If both carer and child agree, a worker will ask some questions to find out what extra help and support might be needed. This information is recorded on a simple form. Carers and their child will agree what is put on the form, and will be given a copy.

Older children may feel able to discuss their situation on their own with the worker. A young person’s wish to keep information confidential from parents may be respected by the worker, where this is in the young person’s best interests and welfare.

What happens next?

Based on the information provided, all those who can help your child will work together to support your child’s extra needs. Only workers who have to know about your child will share your child’s information.

Who is a lead professional?

If a number of people are supporting a child, one of these people may be appointed as a ‘lead professional’. This person will keep the carer and their child informed, listen to views and offer support. The named worker will also co-ordinate all the services supporting this child. Both carer and child will have a say in who should be the lead professional.


As a rule the information which either carer or child provide will only be shared with their consent. However there may be certain times when the people working on with the child need to share information. For example:

  • when they need to find out urgently if a child is at risk of harm
  • to help a child who is at risk of harm
  • when an adult is at risk of harm
  • to help prevent or detect a serious crime

What you can expect from us

  • if you are eligible for a care assessment, we will carry it out within 28 days
  • once your assessment is complete, we will put your care package in place within 28 days unless further assessment is needed
  • we will provide you with a statement of need and a care plan, which is an agreement of how we will help you
  • your service provision and statement of need will be reviewed each year to ensure it continues to meet your needs

What is an assessment?

A child and family assessment is when we assess whether a family would benefit from some additional help and support. This happens when a referral is received raising worries about the welfare of a child/children:

The Listening Together project

Assessments can be a stressful experience for families. They can be felt as a burden, take up family time, and intrude into private matters. Families are often referred to children’s social care because they are parenting in difficult conditions or because of a crisis – something that could happen to any of us.

Unfortunately, families have shared that when they need this help, they have had to jump through hoops, experienced delays in accessing help, or have felt they are being investigated.

We want to do something about this.

We want to reduce the burden families feel when social care are called on for support. We want to try to make sure that if families do need some additional help, they get access to the right help – and quickly. This is where the Listening Together meeting comes in:

For more information

For further information please email or telephone 020 8820 7057.

Page updated on: 13 February 2023

Children and Young People’s Access and Assessment Social Work Service


Hackney Service Centre
1 Hillman Street
E8 1DY


If you want to talk to us about a child who is being privately fostered, call 020 8356 5500, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm or email