3 Contents Overview 1. Common Assessment Framework 1.1 Introduction 1.2 The Doncaster CAF Paperwork 1.3 How we have introduced the CAF in Doncaster 1.4 An overview of the CAF 1.5 Using the CAF in Doncaster: Principles 1.6 Using the CAF in Doncaster: CAF Process Summary 1.7 What do we mean by Early Intervention? 1.8 How does the CAF support Early Intervention? 1.9a How does the Integrated Family Support Service (IFSS) support Early Intervention work? 1.9b Doncaster procedures for registering CAF work 1.9c Support for practitioners using the CAF 2. The Lead Professional 2.1 Rationale for the Lead Professional 2.2 Vision and Core Functions for the Lead Professional 2.3 The role of the Lead Professional 2.4 Useful Skills for the Lead Professional 2.5 Myth Buster The Lead Professional Role 2.6 Team Around the Child (TAC) Multi-agency Meeting 2.7 Management, Supervision, Training and Development 3. Frequently asked questions about CAF and Lead Professional 3.1 List of Frequently asked Questions 3.2 Frequently Asked Questions and Answers 4. Information Sharing within Integrated Early Intervention Work in Doncaster 4.1 Purpose of this section 4.2 Doncaster advice on information sharing about individual children and young people within integrated locality working 4.3 Context: Summary of National Guidance and Advice on Information Sharing 4.4 Information Sharing and Confidentiality 4.5 Severn Golden Rules for Information Sharing 4.6 Seven Key Questions for Information Sharing 5. Doncaster Quality Assurance Framework for the CAF 5.1 Doncaster Quality Assurance Framework for the CAF 6. Appendices Appendix A Using Common Assessment Framework - Procedure Appendix B The Common Assessment Form Appendix C The Pre-Assessment Checklist Appendix D Team Around the Child Meeting Template Appendix E CAF Leaflet
4 Overview The Common Assessment Framework Together with the Pathway to Provision Handbook, the Common Assessment Framework (CAF) Handbook provides a comprehensive tool kit for practitioners working with children, young people and families, especially at the early intervention stage. These separate resources aim to provide concise and clear guidance to the children s workforce ensuring that there is a consistency of practice across Doncaster with regard to the Integrated Family Support Service, Common Assessment Framework Process, Children s Social Care and access to services for children, young people and their families. Section 1 this section provides an overview of the Common Assessment Framework process in Doncaster and when to use it. The Common Assessment Framework aims to assist practitioners working with children, young people and their families to assess their strengths and needs and support effective integrated working between professionals. Section 2 this section details the key functions of a Lead Professional, the rationale for the role, along with useful skills when engaging with children, young people and their families and working with others as part of a Team around the Child. Section 3 this section aims to answer frequently asked questions relating to the Common Assessment Framework process which include queries relating to parental responsibility, gaining consent, completing the assessment and next steps. Section 4 this section provides clear direction for sharing information with other Professionals based on the national guidance for Information Sharing and links with Doncaster Safeguarding Children Board information sharing policy. Section 5 this section outlines the Doncaster Quality Assurance Framework for the Common Assessment Framework which consists of six stages: self assessment and quality supervision, feedback from children/young people and/or parents/carers, audit of the CAF process, evaluation of the audit results, with feedback and recommendations as a result of the evaluation leading to the final stage, improvements to the CAF Process. The Quality Assurance Framework will provide examples of best practice which will be shared with the wider workforce and used to improve training and supervision. Section 6 this section includes all the appendices referred to in this document which will support practitioners when using the Common Assessment Framework process. Acknowledgement This document has been produced with the appreciation and thanks to the Nottinghamshire Children s Trust
5 Section 1 The Common Assessment Framework An Introduction This section provides an overview of the Common Assessment Framework process in Doncaster and when to use it. The Common Assessment Framework aims to assist practitioners working with children, young people and their families to assess their strengths and needs and support effective integrated working between professionals.
6 1.1 Introduction The Common Assessment Framework (CAF) is a standard assessment that can be used by all services working with children and young people. It is particularly suitable for use in integrated early intervention work, where we work with families as soon as we realise that a child or young person is experiencing difficulties. The CAF helps practitioners to identify a child or young person s strengths, needs and goals. It can be shared between services and used as a starting point for planning coordinated multiagency action. This handbook provides essential information to support you in using the CAF as part of your work with children, young people and their families in Doncaster. It is split into three main themes which are: Common Assessment Framework, lead professional and Quality Assurance for the Common Assessment Framework. 1.2 The Doncaster CAF Paperwork The Doncaster CAF form was reviewed in December 2010, following feedback from practitioners. Appendix A will provide guidance to practitioners completing an assessment on areas to explore with children, young people and their families and a copy of the CAF form can be found in Appendix B. 1.3 How we have introduced the CAF in Doncaster In Doncaster, we have introduced the CAF gradually since 2006 this has enabled practitioners to build confidence in the use of CAF and its improved outcomes for Children and Young People. In 2011 CAF will become an integral part to the roll-out of the Integrated Family Support Service (IFSS). IFSS are at the centre of integrated locality working. They are based in four localities across Doncaster. The CAF is a key tool to support integrated locality working across services and agencies. When practitioners start using CAF, they need support from their line managers and access to a local structure for multi-agency working. Integrated locality working provides this support and structure. Training is available free of charge to all practitioners using CAF and working to Thresholds. You can book onto training by accessing the CAF website
7 1.4 An Overview of the CAF What is the CAF? - An assessment process used across all services working with children, young people and families - A common form for recording this assessment - A holistic assessment that summarises a child or young person s strengths, needs and goals after considering all aspects of his/her development, including health, social development and learning - Designed to be shared between services and used as a starting point for planning coordinated multi-agency action - A consent-based process we need the agreement of a parent/carer or of a competent young person/older child before using the CAF. Who might have a CAF assessment? A CAF can be carried out with any child or young person from pre-birth up to age19 (up to the age of 24 if the young person has a learning difficulty or disability), where: you are worried about how well the child or young person is progressing towards the Every Child matters priority outcomes. You might be worried about their health, development, welfare, behaviour, progress in learning or any other aspect of their well being a child or young person or their parent/carer raises concerns with you the child or young person s needs are unclear, or not being met by their current service provision. Which practitioners might use the CAF? any practitioner in any service that works with children, young people and families might use the CAF. This includes practitioners who work in services for adults, as many adults accessing those services are also parents/carers and may need a Common Assessment for their child the CAF is a tool for early intervention work to support children or young people, so it is most likely to be used by practitioners in universal services or by practitioners providing targeted early intervention support the first practitioner who identifies that a CAF is needed is responsible for ensuring that a CAF is completed. This person either completes the CAF or arranges for an appropriate person to do so.
8 How does the CAF relate to other assessments? - the CAF is the assessment tool for integrated early intervention work to support children who are not making the progress we would expect for their age, and are at risk of poor outcomes - some children who have a CAF assessment may have other assessments for specific purposes; for example, health assessments such as a speech and language assessment, or school assessments relating to educational attainment. A summary of these assessments may be included within the CAF, with the family s permission - the CAF does not replace statutory or specialist assessments for children with complex needs. This includes children with disabilities, looked after children, children who are young offenders, and children at risk of harm - if a child requires specialist services, she or he may have previously been supported by practitioners in universal or targeted services who have completed a CAF assessment. A practitioner in a specialist support service who undertakes a statutory assessment should use any existing CAF as a source of information. 1.5 Using the CAF in Doncaster: Principles The CAF process should fully involve children, young people, parents and carers. The following principles support this way of working: 1) Use a strengths based approach respect children, young people and parents listen to and value what they tell you focus on strengths as well as needs ensure that the child, young person or carer is fully involved in decision making and planning. 2) Seek consent to work with a family and to share information about them Whether to do a CAF is a decision that you should make jointly with the child or young person and/or their parent(s)/carer(s). To complete a CAF, you need the consent of either a parent/carer or of a child or young person who is competent to give consent. If a family chooses not to use the CAF, you should continue to work with them in other ways that they find helpful. In most circumstances, you must seek consent before sharing information. If you are concerned that a child may be at risk of significant harm, you may need to share information without consent. You must ensure that you follow Doncaster Safeguarding Children Board procedures, available online at 3) Use your professional knowledge and experience to decide how to complete the CAF The CAF provides you with a structured way of recording information about a child or young person and his/her family. You should use your professional judgement to decide what strengths and needs to record in each section of the assessment. In the document listed below, you will find some ideas about when to complete a CAF and what you might record in each section. These are not checklists and are not a substitute for professional judgement you and the family are the people who are best placed to decide when to use the CAF and what you need to record within the CAF.
9 1.6 Using the CAF in Doncaster: CAF Process Summary The first practitioner who identifies that a CAF is needed is responsible for ensuring that a CAF is completed. This person either completes the CAF or arranges for someone else to do so. The standard CAF process assumes that the family prefers to talk with one practitioner. This practitioner will act on behalf of the family to contact other practitioners and seek their views. She or he will then discuss this information with the family and complete the CAF assessment. You may find that you need to vary this process sometimes to meet the unique needs of a family. You may complete the CAF in any way and in any place that suits you and the family provided you ensure that you always: work in a strength-based way work with the family at all stages and seek consent where appropriate inform the Integrated Services Team about all work that you do. You need to make your own professional judgement on how best to work with a family to ensure that they are enabled to contribute fully. You must be satisfied that both the child/young person and parents/carers have been able to fully express their views*. You may need to talk to parents/carers and the child/young person together or separately. You will need to work at a pace which suits the family and may need to complete the CAF over several meetings. The flowchart below illustrates the Doncaster CAF process in detail. * Except where a competent young person has given consent for a CAF to be completed and has also chosen not to involve parents/carers. Young people should be encouraged to involve parents/carers, but have the right to choose not to do so.
10 COMMON ASSESSMENT CHECKS / QUERIES TEL:
11 1.7 What do we mean by Early Intervention? IFSS and CAF Level 1 Children In need of Universal Services Level 2 Children in Need of Early Intervention Level 3 Children in Need of Targeted Services Level 4 Children in Need of Specialist Services This model is used to illustrate the different levels of need of children and young people in Doncaster rather than numbers of children and young people at each level. It recognises that children, young people and their families will have different levels of needs, and that a family s needs may change over time. Early intervention means providing support to children and young people as soon as we realise they are experiencing difficulties. It means intervening early before situations reach crisis level, and making sure that we work in a coordinated way as soon as we realise that a child has additional needs. Using the Pathway to Provision indicators of need can help to identify if a child has additional needs. If a child is not making the progress we would expect for his/her age, then early intervention and targeted support services may need to provide additional services. If a child has needs that relate to several services, then those services need to work together effectively. Early intervention work can be with children of any age. Intervention in the early years of children s lives can be very effective as we support families as soon as they encounter problems. However, children of all ages may experience difficulties and need additional support. For most early intervention work we need the consent of the young person or family. We are offering our help, but families choose if they want to accept it. For children with more complex needs, we are likely to be already providing multiagency support. We need to continue to support these children, but early intervention means reaching more children at an earlier stage and working together to help families resolve their problems as soon as possible.
12 1.8 How does the CAF support Early Intervention? The CAF is the assessment tool for early intervention work. It summarises a child s strengths, needs and goals and can be shared between services as a starting point for planning coordinated action. Usually, one practitioner works with the family to produce a CAF assessment, consulting with other practitioners (with the family s consent). When to use a CAF When to use a CAF is a matter for professional judgement. Consider using a CAF on any occasion when you think it might help you to better understand a child or young person s strengths, needs and goals. The key question to ask is: Would the CAF provide useful additional information or bring together existing information in one place? If yes, then consider a CAF. Further guidance is available in the Doncaster Pathway to Provision Multi-Agency Thresholds Guidance. A CAF might be useful in any of these situations: if there are concerns about a child s progress towards the Every Child Matters outcomes without additional services f the child s strengths, needs and goals are unclear A CAF need not be done when: a child s progress is good a child s needs are identified by an existing assessment and are being met If at any stage when you are working with a family, you think that a child is suffering harm or abuse or likely to suffer harm or abuse, then you must immediately follow DSCB child protection procedures. If you are unsure if a Common Assessment is required, the Pre-Assessment Checklist procedure may help you decide (Appendix C & D).
13 1.9a How does the Integrated Family Support Service (IFSS) support Early Intervention work? Examples of support the IFSS might provide to a practitioner 1. A practitioner is unsure if a CAF assessment is needed 2. A practitioner has completed a CAF but is unsure which support services to involve 3. A multi-agency group has met, but was unable to agree a lead professional 4. A multi-agency group has been meeting regularly to support a child, but has not been able to make progress IFSS can provide advice on whether to use CAF or an alternative approach IFSS can make recommendations on which services to invite to a multiagency meeting IFSS can agree which service has a practitioner able to act as lead professional. This practitioner will then contact the family to offer to become lead professional IFSS uses combined expertise to identify alternative approaches or alternative services to involve 1.9b Doncaster procedures for registering CAF work Every time you use the CAF, you must register this by telephoning Andrea Tattersall Telephone number: This section explains why it is important for you to register the work that you do with the CAF Co-ordinator. It also tells you when you need to contact them and what information you need to provide. Why we need to know if you use the CAF We need to keep a central record of CAF s completed so that: we make sure that a child or young person has only one person working with them to complete a CAF. we use information to evaluate how effectively we are using the CAF. The CAF implementation team needs to undertake quality audits. They may use the database to identify an individual child or young person and contact the lead person to find out more about work done. Also, CAF management information reports are produced, with no individuals identified. How we keep information secure Doncaster holds CAF information on behalf of DSCB. Information is held on a secure database. This holds the minimum information needed to identify a child or young person and the lead person working with them. It has no details about work done with families. Only the CAF Team can directly access this database. Practitioners telephone the CAF Team to update or request information. Doncaster employees follow security procedures to confirm a practitioner s identity before giving out information about individuals.
14 When to phone the CAF Team to find out if there is already a CAF or a Lead Professional for a child or young person You can phone any time you think that someone else may be working with the family. If you are listed as having attended CAF training, the administrator will phone you back with information. If not, the administrator may need to first contact your manager to check why you need this information. When to contact the CAF Team regarding work that you are doing with a child or young person When you first decide to use the CAF As soon as you have decided to use the CAF, phone the CAF Team. The administrator will tell you if has CAF has been started. If not, you will be recorded as the temporary lead person. When you have completed a CAF assessment A copy of the Common Assessment should be sent to the CAF Team for recording purposes. This information is also available as a leaflet that you can carry with you as a reminder (Appendix E). 1.9c Support for practitioners using the CAF Before you start to use the CAF for the first time, you should make sure that you have discussed this with your line manager. Your line manager should confirm with you how to store a completed CAF within your service records and agree with you how you will be supported within your service. If you have any questions or concerns about CAF, you should always first discuss them with your line manager. You may then agree, together with your line manager, to seek the advice of your local IFSS team. IFSS teams can discuss individual children with the consent of the family and recommend action. This could be at any stage in working with a child or young person; you might want to seek advice about whether the CAF would be a useful approach, or having completed a CAF, you might want to seek advice on how to meet the child s support needs.
15 Section 2 The Lead Professional This section details the key functions of a Lead Professional, the rationale for the role, along with useful skills when engaging with children, young people and their families and working with others as part of a Team around the Child.
16 2.1 Rationale for the Lead Professional The lead professional contributes to the delivery of early intervention to children, young people and families by taking the lead in coordinating provision and acting as the single point of contact when a range of services are involved in providing integrated support to a child or young person and their family following a Common Assessment. This is outlined in the Statutory Guidance Supporting Section 10 (Inter-Agency Cooperation) and Section 11 (Safeguarding and Promoting the Welfare of Children) of Children Act All local authorities and relevant partners have to take account of this guidance. If they decide to depart from it, they must have clear reasons for doing so. 2.2 Vision and Core Functions for the Lead Professional
17 2.3 The role of the Lead Professional The lead professional contributes to the delivery of early intervention to children, young people and families by taking the lead in coordinating provision, and acting as the single point of contact when a range of services is involved in providing integrated support to a child or young person and their family following a Common Assessment. The lead professional could be any practitioner from across the children and young people s workforce, who is working with a child as part of his/her work. The group of practitioners working with a child agree together with the family who would be best placed to be the lead professional. This is usually the practitioner working most closely with the family,or whose service has the main responsibility for meeting the child s needs. The lead professional is responsible for coordinating a joint multi-agency action plan. She or he arranges regular joint meetings with the family and practitioners working with them to review and update this action plan. Many children who have a CAF assessment will need coordinated multi-agency support. A practitioner who completes a CAF does not automatically become lead professional, but is responsible for organising the first multi-agency meeting where the lead professional is identified. 2.4 Useful skills for the Lead Professional
18 2.5 Myth Buster The Lead Professional Role does not need any particular qualifications, although a level of professional competence is required. does not have to be an expert in everything is not automatically the person who carried out the CAF, although that person is responsible for convening the initial Team around the Child (TAC) meeting at which the lead professional is agreed is not responsible or accountable for the actions of the other practitioners or services within the TAC. When you are the lead professional, you are accountable to your home agency for delivering the lead professional functions and the service provision from your home agency as agreed in the review/action plan will have support mechanisms in place to resolve any issues; for example, other services failing to deliver on agreed actions. 2.6 Team Around the Child (TAC)/Multi-agency Meeting The Team around the Child (TAC) is a model of multi-agency service provision. The TAC brings together a range of different practitioners from across the children and young people s workforce to support an individual child or young person and their family. members of the TAC are jointly responsible for developing and delivering a package of solution-focused support to meet the needs of the child or young person identified through the Common Assessment each member of the TAC is responsible for delivering the activities they agreed to carry out as part of the action plan each member of the TAC is responsible for keeping the other members of the team informed about progress in their area of responsibility TAC members should support the lead professional by keeping them informed, providing reports promptly when requested and attending meetings all TAC members should contribute to taking minutes and chairing meetings and take on other tasks as necessary TAC members should support the lead professional by providing information, offering guidance and advice TAC members should contribute actively and positively to solving problems or resolving difficulties. Team around the child meeting template can be used as a record of actions, timescales etc. (Appendix D) 2.7 Management, Supervision, Training and Development Good management and supervision arrangements will help you work more effectively as a lead professional. Supervision can have different meanings in different agencies. In the context of the lead professional, line management supervision ensures practitioners are encouraged and supports to work effectively and efficiently to deliver the functions of the lead professional role.
19 Section 3 Frequently Asked Questions about CAF and Lead Professional This section aims to answer frequently asked questions relating to the Common Assessment Framework process which include queries relating to parental responsibility, gaining consent, completing the assessment and next steps.
20 3.1 List of Frequently Asked Questions Using the CAF 1. Why is a CAF for one child, instead of a whole family approach? 2. Who can give consent to a CAF being completed? 3. What if a family does not want a CAF? 4. What if a family disagree and one person gives consent and another refuses? 5. Who needs to be involved in CAF completion? 6. How long does a CAF take to complete? 7. What if I complete a CAF and identify support needs but I don t know which support services should be involved to meet those needs? 8. Is the same form used across all areas? 9. Is the form available in other languages? 10. How do we deal with family members who are unable to communicate in spoken English, either because English is not their first language or because of disabilities? 11. How do we manage form completion for parents/carers who have difficulties in reading or writing? 12. Where do I store a completed CAF and how long do I keep it? 13. How do we know if anyone else has completed a CAF for a child/young person? 14. Do we record families who refuse a CAF? 15. How do we find out if someone in another local authority area has completed a CAF for a child/young person? 16. What is Parental Responsibility and who has Parental Responsibility? 17. If a young person consents to a CAF and doesn t wish their parent s to be involved, do their parents (with parental responsibility) have a right to see the information on the CAF without the young person s consent? Multi-Agency Family Support Meetings and Lead Professional Working 18. Must we always complete a CAF before we start a multi-agency action plan? 19. Can we have one multi-agency action plan for a family covering several children? 20. If more than one child in a family has a CAF, can one person be lead professional for the whole family? 21. If a multi-agency action plan is for a whole family, must every child in the family have a CAF assessment? 22. What venues can we use for meetings with the family? 23. Is a multi-agency meeting intimidating for parents/carers or children/young people? 24. Does a practitioner need any particular qualifications to be a lead professional? 25. How will becoming lead professional affect practitioners work load? 26. How is the work of lead professionals monitored? 27. What if we can t agree on a lead professional?
21 3.2 Frequently Asked Questions and Answers Using the CAF 1. Why is a CAF for one child, instead of a whole family approach? Every child or young person is different and has unique strengths, needs and goals. The CAF process considers the whole family but focuses on how this affects one child or young person. Sometimes more than one child or young person in a family may have a CAF assessment. Following on from this, it may be sensible to produce a combined action plan for work with the whole family, but this will be based on an assessment of what support each individual child or young person needs. 2. Who can give consent to a CAF being completed? Whether to do a CAF is a decision that you should make jointly with the child or young person and/or their parent(s)/carer(s). To complete a CAF, you need the consent of either a parent/carer or of a child or young person who is competent to give consent. National guidance states that a young person aged 16 or over, or a child under 16 who has the capacity to understand and make his/her own decisions, may give (or refuse) consent for the assessment to take place and may decide how much to involve his/her parents. In all situations, children and young people should be encouraged to involve their parents or carers as appropriate. 3. What if a family does not want a CAF? The family s views are an essential part of the CAF assessment and national guidance states that you cannot do a CAF unless the child or young person and/or a parent/ carer agree. The CAF is entirely voluntary. If a family do not want a CAF, then you must find other ways to work with them and support them. They may agree to a CAF at a later stage, after you have done more work with them. If a CAF is refused and you are concerned about the safety or welfare of a child you should follow DSCB child protection procedures. 4. What if a family disagree and one person gives consent and another refuses? The best way to resolve this is to work with the family to seek the agreement of all involved. It is possible to do a CAF with the consent of only one parent/carer, or of a competent child/young person as detailed in question two above. 5. Who needs to be involved in CAF completion? The child or young person must be involved, unless the CAF is for an unborn child. In most circumstances a parent/carer must be involved. The practitioner leading on completing the CAF must meet with the family to complete the assessment. Other practitioners may take part in meetings with the family or may be asked to contribute information to the assessment (with family consent to information sharing). A parent/ carer or a child/young person may choose to involve a friend, supporter or advocate in the CAF assessment.
22 6. How long does a CAF take to complete? This will vary, depending on the needs and preferences of the family and the resources available. The CAF can be completed at one meeting, or over a series of meetings with the family. 7. Is the same form used across all areas? All local children and young people s partnerships in England are implementing the same national guidance, which includes a form for recording CAF assessments. Many areas, including Doncaster, have decided to amend the appearance or the content of the form slightly to meet local needs, but forms for all areas are similar. In 2011 it is intended that Doncaster will introduce the E-Caf, however training will be offered around completion of this elective form. 8. How do we manage form completion for parents/carers who have difficulties in reading or writing? You may need to think about providing information in other formats if parents are unable to deal with written language. This might mean making information available as voice recordings using electronic media. 9. Where do I store a completed CAF and how long do I keep it? You store the original of the CAF in your records for a child or young person. You must give a copy to the family member who gave consent for CAF completion and may give a copy to anyone else who the family member agrees should have a copy. You follow your service guidance on storing information and on how long you keep information within records, but you must keep the original of the CAF in your records for at least six years. 10. How do we know if anyone else has completed a CAF for a child/young person? The CAF Team for Doncaster, have access to a secure database recording all children in Doncaster who have a CAF or a lead professional. Before starting to complete a CAF, contact the CAF Team to check if anyone else is already working with the family 11. Do we record families who refuse a CAF? As soon as you agree with the parent, child or young person to start a CAF, you contact the Doncaster CAF Team to check if another practitioner is already working with the family. If the family withdraw consent after this initial enquiry, then this will be recorded. 12. What is Parental Responsibility? While the law does not define in detail what parental responsibility is, the following list sets out the key roles: providing a home for the child having contact with and living with the child protecting and maintaining the child disciplining the child choosing and providing for the child s education determining the religion of the child agreeing to the child s medical treatment naming the child and agreeing to any change of the child s name accompanying the child outside the UK and agreeing to the child s emigration, should the issue arise being responsible for the child s property appointing a guardian for the child, if necessary allowing confidential information about the child to be disclosed.
23 13. Who has Parental Responsibility? In England and Wales, if the parents of a child are married to each other at the time of the birth, or if they have jointly adopted a child, then they both have parental responsibility. Parents do not lose parental responsibility if they divorce, and this applies to both the resident and the non-resident parent. This is not automatically the case for unmarried parents. According to current law, a mother always has parental responsibility for her child. A father, however, has this responsibility only if he is married to the mother when the child is born or has acquired legal responsibility for his child through one of these three routes: (from 1 December 2003) by jointly registering the birth of the child with the mother by a parental responsibility agreement with the mother by a parental responsibility order, made by a court Living with the mother, even for a long time, does not give a father parental responsibility and if the parents are not married, parental responsibility does not always pass to the natural father if the mother dies. All parents (including adoptive parents) have a legal duty to financially support their child, whether they have parental responsibility or not. 14. If a young person consents to a CAF and doesn t wish their parents to be involved, do their parents (with parental responsibility) have a right to see the information on the CAF without the young person s consent? The parents do not have the automatic right to see the information held on a child/young person (even if they do have parental responsibility). Even if the child is under the age of 12 and it is a parent with parental responsibility, the request should still be vetted to ensure that the release of the information does not put a child or adult at risk. A person only has the rights under the Data Protection Act to access their own records unless they have written signed authorisation from the person to whom the records belong. Obviously when records are released there is also an analysis of whether the release of such documents would put a child at risk or could facilitate a crime (we can choose to hold back a record if we think this is the case). Multi-Agency Family Support Meetings and Lead Professional Working 15. Must we always complete a CAF before we start a multi-agency action plan? Action planning should be based on a thorough assessment of a child or young person s strengths, needs and goals, which can be shared with the family and all practitioners who are working with them. If there is already a suitable assessment in place, this can be used. If not, complete a CAF assessment.
24 16. Can we have one multi-agency action plan for a family covering several children? Yes, if this meets the needs of all children and young people in the family and the family agrees to this approach. The CAF assessment is for an individual child or young person, so that we understand their unique strengths, needs and goals. If more than one child or young person in a family has a CAF, an action plan that follows on from the CAF can be for the whole family. 17. If more than one child in a family has a CAF, can one person be lead professional for the whole family? Yes, if this meets the needs of all children and young people in the family and the family agrees to this approach. It is important to check that one lead professional can meet the needs of all children and young people, especially if there is a large age difference between them. If there is more than one lead professional working with a family, they will need to work closely together and share information (with consent where appropriate). 18. If a multi-agency action plan is for a whole family, must every child in the family have a CAF assessment? If an action plan covers a whole family, then some or all of the children may have a CAF assessment. If any child or young person in the family needs additional support, a CAF assessment should be considered. There may be other children or young people in a family who do not require additional support, or who already have another assessment completed. These other children or young people would not need a CAF assessment, but might still be included in the action plan as part of the family. Use professional judgement to decide who needs a CAF assessment, discussing this with the family, and with other practitioners (with the family s consent). Record any decisions made, and the reasons for making them, in your records for the child or young person. 19. Is a multi-agency meeting intimidating for parents/carers or children/young people? Meetings should be set up to welcome parents/carers and children/young people and ensure they feel comfortable. This includes: choosing a suitable venue, explaining the purpose of the meeting and who will be there, and at all times using plain English and avoiding jargon. It is our responsibility to work in ways which welcome family involvement. The multi-agency family support meeting is not about us judging parents, but for parents and children/young people to work with us to decide what support we can offer them. 20. Does a practitioner need any particular qualifications to be a lead professional? No, more important than any specific qualification is the ability to engage with children/young people and with parents/carers and to empower them to take an active role in planning support to meet their needs. A lead professional must also understand information sharing and confidentiality. If you act as a lead professional you need access to regular supervision arrangements, where you can discuss the work that you do to support individual children, young people or families. Supervision could be with your manager or with another colleague in children s services. If you are unsure whether you could take on the role of lead professional, discuss this with your manager.
25 21. How will becoming lead professional affect practitioners work load? Experience from other areas is that sometimes being the lead professional is more work in the short-term, but that it is worth it as the family is better supported. The function of the lead professional is to liaise with families and support them through the process as well as to be a point of contact for other practitioners working with the family. It is a joint responsibility for the Team around the Child to develop and deliver the agreed actions and to contribute to taking minutes and chairing meetings. If all practitioners are working in a more coordinated way because of the lead professional role then this reduces time spent finding out what others are doing or in duplicating work. If you have any concerns about your personal workload, then discuss these with your manager. 22. How is the work of lead professionals monitored? Lead professionals are accountable to their own service for the quality of their work. Local administration arrangements record who is acting as lead professional and how often multi-agency meetings happen, but does not detail case information about individual children, young people and families. 23. What if we can t agree on a lead professional? The experience of those who have used CAF is that, in many situations, they can agree who would be best placed to be lead professional, by considering: who is working most closely with the family the predominate needs of the child/young person the preference of the parents/carers or child/young person. If it is not possible to decide who will be lead professional, then discuss the situation with your line manager, and agree what to do next.
26 Section 4 Information Sharing within Integrated Early Intervention Work in Doncaster This section provides clear direction for sharing information with other professionals based on the national guidance for Information Sharing.
27 4.1 Purpose of this section This document provides advice on information sharing for practitioners engaged in early intervention work and for their managers. Within Doncaster all partners have signed up to the Information Sharing document which can be found on Doncaster s Safeguarding Children website under policy and procedures. You can access this via the following link Partners include practitioners using the Common Assessment Framework or acting as lead professionals. This document should be read together with information produced by the Doncaster Safeguarding Children Board. 4.2 Doncaster advice on information sharing about individual children and young people within integrated locality working The decision to share or not to share information about an individual child or young person should always be based on professional judgement, supported by the cross- Government Information Sharing: Practitioners Guide (updated in October 2008) and informed by training. The safety and welfare of a child or young person should always be considered paramount. The DSCB has produced further local information sharing guidance for front-line practitioners. 4.3 Context: Summary of National Guidance and Advice on Information Sharing Cross-Government national guidance for practitioners on information sharing is contained within the document Information Sharing: Practitioners Guide (DCFS October 2008), and the associated documents: Information Sharing: Further Guidance on Legal Issues (DCFS, 2008) and Information Sharing: Case Examples (DCFS, 2008). The guidance has been endorsed by the following national bodies: The Information Commissioner Association of Chief Police Officers Association of Directors of Social Services, (Children & Families Committee) Barnardo s Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service General Medical Council Local Government Association Nursing and Midwifery Council Royal College of General Practitioners Royal College of Midwives Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. Information sharing is key to the Government s goal of delivering better, more efficient public services that are coordinated around the needs of the individual. It is essential to enable early intervention and preventative work, for safeguarding and promoting welfare and for wider public protection. It is important that practitioners understand when, why and how they should share information so that they can do so confidently and appropriately as part of their day-to-day practice.
28 For all non statutory agencies it is important to note that the lack of an Information Sharing Agreement (ISA) between agencies should never be a reason for not sharing information that could help a practitioner deliver services to a child. This approach is supported by the Information Commissioner s Office: All organisations can accomplish information sharing lawfully by adhering to governing legislation and the principles of the Data Protection Act whether an Information Sharing Protocol is in place or not. An Information Sharing Protocol is a useful tool in some circumstances. It is not a legal requirement. An Information Sharing Protocol is a useful tool with which to manage large scale, regular information sharing. It creates a routine for what will be shared, when and with whom and provides a framework in which this regular sharing can take place with little or no intervention by practitioners. It is not a useful tool for managing the ad hoc information sharing which all practitioners find necessary. Most importantly it is not intended to be a substitute for the professional judgment which an experienced practitioner will use in those cases and should not be used to replace that judgment. Information Commissioner s Office, Statement on Information Sharing Agreements and Protocols (DCFS, August 2008)
29 4.4 Information Sharing and Confidentiality The diagram below provides a helpful illustration of what practitioners should consider when thinking about sharing information. What to consider when sharing information You are asked to or wish to share information Is there a clear and legitimate purpose for sharing information? No Yes NO Does the information enable a living person to be identified? No Yes Is the information confidential? Not Sure seek Advice Yes Yes Do you have consent? You Can Share Yes No Is there sufficient public interest to share? No Share Information Identify how much information so share Distinguish fact from opinion Ensure you are giving the right information to the right person Ensure you are sharing the information securely Inform the person that the information has been shared if they were not aware of this and would not create or increase risk of harm. Do not share Record the information sharing decision and your reasons.
30 4.5 Seven Golden Rules for Information Sharing 1. Remember that the Data Protection Act (DPA) is not a barrier to sharing information. 2. Be open and honest with the person or family. 3. Seek advice if you are in any doubt. 4. Share with consent where appropriate. 5. Consider safety and well-being. 6. Necessary, proportionate, relevant, accurate, timely and secure. 7. Keep a record of your decision and reasons. 4.6 Seven Key Questions for Information Sharing 1. Is there a clear and legitimate purpose for sharing information? 2. Does the information enable a living person to be identified? 3. Is the information confidential? 4. Do you have consent? 5. Is there sufficient public interest? 6. Are you sharing appropriately and securely? 7. Have you properly recorded your decision? * From: Information Sharing Guidance for Practitioners (DCFS 2008) As per DSCB Information and Confidentiality policy
31 5.1 Doncaster Quality Assurance Framework for the CAF Introduction All local authorities, working with their other partners in the Children s Trust and DSCB, are responsible for introducing arrangements to ensure that the CAF process is being conducted in a high quality way across all children s services. Doncaster has chosen to adopt the London Audit tools and the CAF would be audited at every stage of the process. The results of these audits will enable improvements to the CAF process and highlight any good practice and effective use of the CAF. The diagram below shows how this process should work Quality Framework process Leading to quality/service improvement Practitioner Self assessment Seek Guidance Quality Supervision Improvements to the CAF process Coaching and Feedback Feedback from Child/Young Person and or Parent / Carer Feedback and Workforce development Recommendations Evaluation Process Audit Process 31
32 Section 6 Appendices This section includes all the appendices referred to in this document which will support practitioners when using the Common Assessment Framework process. Appendix A Using Common Assessment Framework - Procedure Appendix B The Common Assessment Form Appendix C The Pre-Assessment Checklist Appendix D Team Around the Child Meeting Template Appendix E CAF Leaflet Acknowledgement This document has been produced with the appreciation and thanks to the Nottinghamshire Children s Trust 32
33 Appendix A Common Assessment Guidance Common Assessment Framework Using Common Assessment in Doncaster There is a commitment in Doncaster to placing the emphasis on early intervention and preventative involvement through the successful embedding of the Common Assessment process across all children s services in Doncaster. The Common Assessment Framework (CAF) provides a common method of assessment across all children's services (it does not replace specialist assessments). It will: lead to co-ordinated provision of services promote information sharing to avoid the duplication of assessments reduce the need for children and their families to re tell their story to different practitioners The Framework includes the common assessment process, development of the action plan, identification of the Lead Practitioner, establishing the Team around the Child (when required), reviewing progress through the action plan and closure of the CAF. The Common Assessment is a voluntary process and can be done only with the consent and co-operation of parent(s)/carer(s) and the child/young person. This document aims to give advice to practitioners involved in the CAF process and outlines the procedures for using common assessment in Doncaster. This document should be used along with the documents shown below titled Early Identification, assessment of needs and intervention The Common Assessment Framework for children & young people A guide for practitioners and A guide for managers. These are available at
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