The Common Assessment Framework (CAF) needs to be scrapped according to a director of children’s services.
Dave Hill, DCS at Essex Council and also a member on the Social Work Reform Board, told Community Care the CAF was not working in terms of increasing the amount of early help families received. He added the time was right to scrap the CAF following publication of the Munro Review which recommended freeing up local authorities from statutory duties around assessment.
“Some parts of the CAF are fine but my major criticism of it is that it is not very friendly to the family. It asks quite negative questions and it takes the practitioner down a certain path. Any kind of early intervention assessment should be based on a conversation with the family about their needs and what they would like to get out of their involvement with agencies.
“It’s also not done early enough to count as early intervention. It gets completed when families are “in-need” and experiencing complex problems but it needs to be completed as soon as something slightly worrying comes up. Some areas are simply using it as a referral tool to children’s social care which misses the point a bit.”
He said he personally was in favour of a single, locally devised, assessment that could then be built on at various stages, right up to child protection.
Hill added that he was concerned at Ofsted’s current emphasis on the number of CAF’s being completed in areas. Inspections should instead be focused on what services were provided and what outcomes they achieved rather than how many assessments were completed, he said.
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