The Common Assessment Framework (CAF) can save councils more than £150,000 in some cases, research has found.
An analysis of 80 case studies at 21 councils by the Local Authority Research Consortium (LARC) found that early intervention using the CAF resulted in savings for each case of between £5,000 and £150,000 or more.
The costs of completing the CAF were less than £3,000 on average, and no more than £8,000.
A multi-agency approach providing early support focused on issues such as behaviour and parenting and brought positive outcomes for young people and their families. These included improvements in home life and better engagement in education.
“The CAF process is an enhancement to capacity for early intervention and not a costly bureaucratic overhead,” the report covering 2010 stated.
Claire Easton, of the National Foundation for Educational Research which collated the findings, said: “LARC research shows that CAF is becoming increasingly embedded in authorities to support children and families before their needs reach crisis point.”
She said the research showed that the CAF can be a “cost-effective tool in supporting better outcomes for individual children and young people but also their wider family members”.
However, she said more research was needed to test the findings around individual CAF episodes but the work “provides a useful starting point to inform service planning”.
The CAF process cannot deliver improved outcomes alone, the report stated, but should underpin specific early intervention and prevention programmes.
John Harris, director of children, schools and families at Hertfordshire Council and chair of the LARC steering committee, added: “At a time when there is increasing interest in promoting sector-led models of service improvement, the LARC model, in which local authorities and national agencies undertake collaborative research, has potential as one of the improvement tools available to local authorities and government.”
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