An improved common assessment framework (CAF) would fill the gap left by the government’s scrapping of ContactPoint, according to the authors of a study of frontline practitioners and experts.
The study, commissioned by the Children’s Workforce Development Council (CWDC) and submitted before the election, examined the interface between the CAF and specialist services and used, amongst other resources, feedback from a series of workshops and interviews.
They showed that the CAF and the Team Around the Child (TAC) were models that ensured information was shared and the progress of vulnerable children monitored, author Tanya Samuels from Social Information Systems told Community Care.
“Clarification of how CAF/TAC should operate is likely to be particularly important since the Coalition Government’s decision to remove the ContactPoint database and Children’s Services Directors have identified a need to maintain a focus on information sharing and monitoring,” she added.
One of the other authors, Henri Gillier, said these approaches had the potential to create “local communication hubs” because it forced agencies to get together and share information.
However, before that could happen the CAF needed to be improved to ensure there was a more seamless transition with specialist services, they said.
Gillier said the Eileen Munro review needed to set clear guidance on how the CAF should be used and establish a common language, because terms such as “harm”, “risk” and “need” were used differently among agencies.
The study found that the CAF was currently being used in three ways: in parallel with specialist services and either before a child reached child protection thresholds (step-up) or after specialist intervention (step-down). Parallel working was used the least but Gillier said it had the most potential for improved working as where CAF teams worked closely with child protection teams information was shared more effectively, thresholds were better understood and there were more appropriate referrals to children’s social care.
The study found there was also a need for social workers to provide advice and support to those practitioners involved in setting up a CAF and recommended the CAF be used automatically for children in a family where one child had already reached statutory thresholds. This would mean better co-ordination between statutory and preventative work.
A spokeswoman for the CWDC said they were not prepared to comment on whether CAF could be used to replace ContactPoint.