The Common Assessment Framework (CAF) is so child-centred that it prevents social workers from gaining a holistic view of the child, according to new research.
Systems such as the CAF and the Integrated Children’s System (ICS) “make it very difficult to locate children in their familial, social and relational contexts, and work has become increasingly fragmented as a result”, according to the research paper published in the latest issue of the Journal of Social Policy.
The paper’s authors, which include Professor Sue White of Birmingham University and panel member of the Munro Review and Christopher Hall from Durham University, say the CAF structure is inflexible. Practitioners are unable to report any kind of narrative to clarify a child’s situation and end up “splitting the story into bits of information without an integrating structure”. Complex situations are also reduced to a list of ticked and unticked boxes.
“There is nowhere to write about relations with siblings or friends, except in negative terms under ‘family functioning’, where ‘the young person’s impairment/behaviour has a negative impact on siblings’,” the paper stated.
Government policy has steered this child-centred approach, according to the authors, who point to guidance such as the Children Act 1989 as focusing on the need to see and talk to children separately from parents.