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1.2.1 Common Assessment Framework


  1. Rationale
    1. The Assessment
  2. Assessment Guidance Notes
    1. Guidance for Section 1: Child and Young Persons Needs
    2. Guidance for Section 2: Parenting Capacity
    3. Guidance for Section 3: Family and Environment
  3. Team Around the Child / Family - Support Plan and Review
  4. Information Sharing and Consent
  5. Suggested Supporting Documents

1. Rationale

This document is to provide guidance to practitioners from any service for completing a Common Assessment (known as CAF) when they identify potential additional needs or concerns for a child.

Trafford Children's Trust is committed to supporting practitioners to identify needs earlier and provide appropriate early intervention for families. The Early Family Support Pathway has been created in order to increase awareness and provide a robust way of supporting families earlier, where their needs are not met by universal services.

The success of the Early Family Support Pathway relies on high quality assessments that provide relevant information about the needs of children and families, at the earliest opportunity. To support practitioners to do this the CAF has been developed, based on feedback to include a more detailed assessment of family and environmental needs - this will be referred to as section three.

Identifying needs at an early stage using the Common Assessment Framework gives agencies working with children, young people and their families a common language to understand the needs of the child or young person and their family. It is only once the full needs are identified that the appropriate support can then be put in place.

To help practitioners know when the completion of section three and early family support might be appropriate there is a Threshold Guidance eligibility document for early family support and against each of the assessment areas it provides illustrative examples of what might be observed and trigger the need for completing section three of the CAF.

The CAF is not to be used when there are significant or immediate child protection concerns. For any safeguarding concerns follow the Trafford Safeguarding procedure, please contact MARAT on 0161 912 5125.

a. The Assessment

The CAF assessment is made up of three sections:

  1. Developmental needs of the baby, child or young person:
    • General health;
    • Physical development;
    • Speech, language and communication;
    • Education and learning;
    • Emotional and social development;
    • Behavioural development;
    • Identity, self esteem, self image and social presentation;
    • Self care skills and independence;
    • Family and social relations from the child, young person's perspective;
    • Aspirations.
  2. Parenting capacity:
    • Basic care and ensuring safety and protection;
    • Emotional warmth and stability;
    • Guidance, boundaries and stimulation;
  3. Adult and environmental:
    • Education, employment and training;
    • Housing;
    • Anti social behaviour and offending;
    • Financial considerations;
    • Physical Health;
    • Mental Health;
    • Alcohol misuse;
    • Substance misuse;
    • Family structure, routines and relationships;
    • Caring responsibilities.

When a CAF is carried out to gather information around more than one unmet need for a child or young person sections 1 and 2 are compulsory.

Practitioners should use their professional judgement in conjunction with how the family RAG (Red, Amber, Green) rate their areas for support to decide if there are any unmet needs for the wider family and their environment. This is where the RAG rating section can be used to decide if assessment under section three is appropriate. If it is unknown if there are any wider needs the section three checklist is a useful tool.

Under this section the ten areas are listed with a choice for the family to select:

  • Green - no support needs;
  • Amber - some support needs;
  • Red - immediate support needs.

If a family state they have red or amber needs against any area from section three the practitioner should use the relevant guidance notes to facilitate discussion with the family and use the free text section underneath the RAG rating to record information.

Practitioners should use their own professional judgement and discussion with the family to decide which parts of section three are relevant to the family's needs.

Within the assessment there is a section titled 'protective factors' and it is important to complete this section to highlight the strengths and resource within the family. This section can be a useful focus when agreeing the family support plan and helping other agencies to understand the protective factors and how they can facilitate change. The more protective factors present, the lower the risk will be and as support progresses it would be expected that risk factors decrease and protective factors increase.

It is not expected that practitioners will be experts in all or any of the areas under section three and the purpose of the section in the assessment is to briefly reveal any wider support needs in order to bring the relevant agencies to the team around the family meeting. At that point they will be able to provide their own specialist assessment and support to contribute towards the family support plan.

The later part of this document provides guidance on each of the areas made up of suggested discussion points to help reveal any potential needs.

2. Assessment Guidance Notes

This section aims to provide practitioners with some discussion points to facilitate the conversation with families about their needs in section 2 and 3. It is not intended as a script but as a guide to approaching wider issues. The protective factors are listed for each area to help practitioners pay equal focus on strengths and manage the risk of support needs escalating.

When approaching families around these issues, continue to be open and relaxed with your questions. Advise that this process is about supporting the family to make changes in their lives and that the more information you gain, the more tailored the support can be to suit their needs.

The first part of the CAF gathers basic information about the child and family, it includes the following two areas of information.

  • Identifying details: Name, age, ethnicity etc;
  • Assessment information: reason for assessment, people present, parents information, assessor's details, current home environment and services already working with family etc.

Gathering this information is crucial to ensure that Trafford is doing all it can to serve the families who are most in need of early family support and to identify any patterns of need which may be addressed through developing our services. This information makes it quicker to locate assessments and for other agencies to search information which may be help on their own recording systems which may be useful for the Team Around the Child/Family meeting.

a. Guidance for Section 1: Child and Young Persons Needs

Section 1 has not changed. Practitioners are reminded that other professionals can contribute to this assessment so where more relevant professionals are involved with the family it might be requested that they complete particular parts of the assessment or they may utilise the expertise within multi agency teams by asking for support and guidance on sections of the CAF which are not their 'usual' area of work.  Outlined below are the sub headings from the original CAF assessment to support practitioners to fully understand the types of information which might be discussed under each of the headings. Additional guidance is available in the Threshold Guidance document.

General health:
Conditions and impairments; access to and use of dentist, GP, optician; immunisations, developmental checks, hospital admissions, accidents, health advice and information.

Physical development:
Nourishment; activity; relaxation; vision and hearing; fine motor skills (drawing etc); gross motor skills (mobility, playing games and sport etc).

Speech, language and communication:
Preferred communication, language, conversation, expression, questioning; games; stories and songs; listening; responding; understanding.

Emotional and social development:
Feeling special; early attachments; risking/actual self-harm; phobias; psychological difficulties; coping with stress; motivation, positive attitudes; confidence; relationships with peers; feeling isolated and solitary; fears; often unhappy.

Behavioural development:
Lifestyle, self-control, reckless or impulsive activity; behaviour with peers; substance misuse; anti-social behaviour; sexual behaviour; offending; violence and aggression; restless and overactive; easily distracted, attention span/concentration.

Identity, self-esteem, self-image and social presentation:
Perceptions of self; knowledge of personal/family history; sense of belonging; experiences of discrimination due to race, religion, age, gender, sexuality and disability.

Family and social relationships:
Building stable relationships with family, peers and wider community; helping others; friendships; levels of association for negative relationships.

Self-care skills and independence:
Becoming independent; boundaries, rules, asking for help, decision-making; changes to body; washing, dressing, feeding; positive separation from family.

Understanding, reasoning and problem solving:
Organising, making connections; being creative, exploring, experimenting; imaginative play and interaction.

Participation in learning, education and employment:
Access and engagement; attendance, participation; adult support; access to appropriate resources.

Progress and achievement in learning:
Progress in basic and key skills; available opportunities; support with disruption to education; level of adult interest.

Ambition; pupil's confidence and view of progress; motivation, perseverance

b. Guidance for Section 2: Parenting Capacity

Parenting Section 1: Basic care, ensuring safety and protection:

Suggested discussion points;

  • Are basic needs provided for e.g. own bed, clothes, and regular mealtimes?
  • Is everyone in the family registered with a GP, Dentist and optician?
  • Are they aware of local services in your area? If not do they know how to find out?
  • Are they aware of the dangers of storing medicines and cleaning substances where children can access them? And what happens in the home to make sure these products are stored safely?
  • Is the home fitted with socket covers/smoke alarms/window and door locks?
  • Who is responsible for picking up and dropping off your child at school on time?
  • Who is the emergency contact? Do the children/young people know who to contact in an emergency?
  • How do they prevent children/young people accessing adult materials? For example on the internet; social networking websites, video games, films and other media;
  • Do they feel safe in their community?
  • Are they concerned that their child displays violent/aggressive behaviour?

Examples of protective factors:

  • Basic needs met including appropriate attendance at relevant health checks;
  • Adequate safety measures in the home;
  • Appropriate supervision and parental controls regarding adult materials/content;
  • Family aware of local support services, how to access them and a willingness to engage with services as appropriate;
  • Family is clear on who to contact and plan of action in the event of an emergency.

Parenting Section 2: Warmth and stability:

Suggested discussion points;

  • Has the child had to change school/daycare for any reason?
  • Has the family circumstances changed recently e.g. bereavement or break up /new partner or child?
  • Have they experienced any difficulties during pregnancy with child 1 child 2 etc?
  • Do they do regular family activities e.g. sport/park trips/visit relatives?
  • What was their experience of being parented?
  • How do they encourage their child's positive behaviour e.g. praise/rewards?
  • Do they find their child is rather solitary, tends to play alone?
  • Do they find their child has many worries, often seems worried?
  • Do they feel their child is often downhearted or tearful?
  • Have they observed their child to be nervous or clingy in new situations?
  • Do they have any speech, language or communication needs?

Examples of protective factors;

  • Child has a stable school/day care placement;
  • Family has regular and planned activities together;
  • Parents and carers have positive experience of being parented;
  • Positive behaviour is encouraged;
  • Child is comfortable in social interactions; playing and in new situations.

Parenting Section 3: Guidance, boundaries and stimulation:

Suggested discussion points:

  • Do they feel their child displays undesirable behaviour?
  • Do they have agreed consistent household rules and boundaries with appropriate consequences and rewards?
  • Do they give their child age appropriate responsibilities?
  • Do they praise and encourage process rather than end result?
  • How do they deal with issues/concerns raised about their child? For example problems at school?
  • Do they put age appropriate boundaries in place for your child?
  • Do they feel confident discussing subjects like sex/drugs and relationships at an age appropriate level with your child?
  • Do they have adult conversation in front of their child?
  • Do they encourage their children to read and participate in age appropriate creative activities?
  • Do they feel their child has a balance between education and social activities?

Examples of protective factors:

  • They respond immediately and with concern to issues raised about their child(ren);
  • Child's behaviour is appropriate and praised accordingly;
  • They are aware of what is age appropriate for their child(ren);
  • They are confident discussing any issues with their child(ren);
  • Ensures child has good balance between education and social activities.

c. Guidance for Section 3: Family and Environment

1. Education, employment and training:

Suggested discussion points;

  • Are they or their partner in regular paid employment?
  • Are there any issues relating to work which may impact on family life? e.g. Work shifts and patterns;
  • Do they have a good level of general confidence and how is their confidence in relation to their reading, writing and numeracy skills?
  • Is there anything that stops them from taking part education, training or getting a job? E.g. health issues, caring responsibilities, transport;
  • If they don't work, would they like to? If so have they seen a Jobcentre Plus Personal Adviser and agreed steps to help you get back to work?
  • Do they want any information on the services offered by Jobcentre Plus, other local Training Providers and or the National Apprentice Service?
  • What do they think are reasonable steps to move this area forward?

Examples of protective factors:

  • Identified aspirations;
  • Other members of family in employment, training and education;
  • Basic numeracy and literacy skills;
  • Transport to access employment, training and education;
  • Motivation to access employment, training and education.

2. Housing:

Suggested discussion points:

  • Is the property owned, rented from a private landlord or rented from a housing association?
  • How long has the family lived at this address?
  • Is their home suitable for the family's needs?
  • Is the home adequately furnished and heated?
  • Does everyone have their own bedroom? If not, who shares?
  • Do they like living there? Do they get on with the neighbours?
  • Are they in arrears for rent or mortgage payments? If so do they need help to manage this?
  • Are there any maintenance issues? E.g. ensuring essential repairs are reported/carried out?
  • Are there any concerns over safety and/or hygiene? E.g. is there an up to date gas safety certificate?
  • Is there any risk to the tenancy agreement?

Examples of protective factors:

  • Willingness to engage in meetings and respond to contact (letters/phone calls/visits);
  • Motivation to improve living conditions;
  • Support of wider family to improve living conditions;
  • Identified goals to improve living conditions;
  • Paying the rent and other priority debts/bills maintaining any agreement to pay off arrears (if applicable).

3. Anti-social behaviour and offending:

Suggested discussion points:

  • Have they or anyone in the family been involved in or accused of being involved in any form of crime and/or anti social behaviour?
  • If yes, who in the family?
  • What was this for and what was the outcome?
  • Are there any ongoing issues relating to anti social behaviour, that any member of the family is responsible for?
  • Is any member of the family the victim of anti social behaviour or crime in the area?
  • Has any family member even been convicted of a criminal offence? If yes, what disposal did they receive by the court? And how long ago was this?
  • Are there any current police proceedings ongoing with any family member?

Examples of protective factors:

  • Close relationship with a positive role model within the family;
  • Accessing a range of extra-curricular activities;
  • Services are already in place tackling welfare issues which will have an impact on the risk of offending behaviour, just needs time;
  • Close relationship with a mentor/teacher in school who could speak with young person about behaviour;
  • Young person works closely with Youth worker in local community and is willing to access their provision;
  • Young person demonstrates ambition and has future plans;
  • If the young person has just gained a police disposal, this may be enough to deter them from re-offending.

4. Financial considerations:

Suggested discussion points:

  • How well do they think they manage their money?
  • Would they like any help in relation to budgeting?
  • If in debt, have they sought independent advice on their options and are they keeping up with any agreed plan of action?
  • Are they worried about the amount of debt they are in?
  • Would they like support regarding their debt?
  • What income does the family have?
  • What is the source of income?
  • Are they claiming benefits? Do these benefits put any restrictions on the activities that they would like to engage in? E.g. engagement in work, education?
  • Does the family manage on the income they have?

Examples of protective factors:

  • There is an acknowledgement of the impact of debt;
  • There is a desire to manage debts;
  • Source of income is consistent;
  • A plan is in place to reduce impact of debt on family life;
  • Family knowledgeable of any benefit entitlement;
  • Money is managed well and debt has no impact on family life.

5. Physical Health:

Suggested discussion points:

  • Do they have any long standing illness or disability?
  • Do they access and use health services?
  • Is any family member required to have regular treatment, medication or care routines?
  • Do they have adequate access to health information and advice?
  • Is there any history of hospitalization?
  • If relevant, what is the Impact of physical health condition on parenting and day to day functioning?
  • Does anyone in the family have a diagnosis for any of the conditions in the drop down box?

Please note: The online eCAF system will provide a drop down box to illustrate the issues which might be covered in this section which includes; Arthritis, Back complaints, Blood disorders, Diabetes, Diet, Digestive complaints (ulcers, hernia, bowel complaints), Dentistry concerns, Ear/hearing complaints, Epilepsy fits, Eyesight complaints, Genito-Urinary complaints (incontinence, enuresis), Heart attack/Angina, Men's health issues, Women's health issues, Migraines/headaches, Nervous system complaints (MS, ME), Pregnancy, Respiratory complaints (Bronchitis, Asthma)=, TB), Sexual health (HIV, AIDS), Skin complaints (eczema, Acne), Stroke, Smoking, Weight issues (over//under weight) and Other.

Examples of protective factors:

  • Family has access to and use health services and information appropriately;
  • Impact of ill physical health is none/minimal on parenting capacity;
  • Family members are physically healthy;
  • They are registered with a GP and a Dentist.

6. Mental Health:

Suggested discussion points:

  • Do they have any concerns about their own or another family members emotional well being?
  • Do they feel stressed, depressed or suffer from low mood?
  • Have they or any other family member been supported for a mental health related issue in the past? E.g. talking to someone or treatment via a GP or other professional agency;
  • Is there a history of hospitalization due to mental ill health?
  • If relevant, what is the impact on parenting and day to day functioning?

Please note: The online eCAF system will provide a drop down box to illustrate the issues which might be covered in this section which includes; Anxiety/Panic attacks/ Nervous trouble, Dementia, Depression, Eating disorder, Hyperactivity, Personality disorder, Phobia, Postnatal depression, Psychosis (Schizophrenia), Self Harm (cutting, behaviour etc) and Suicidal thoughts/attempts (ever).

Examples of protective factors:

  • There is no concern for any family members emotional well being;
  • Having things in their life that a source of happiness;
  • There is no family history of mental health related issues;
  • Any mental health issue has little or no impact on parenting capacity.

7. Alcohol use:

Suggested discussion points:

  • Do they think they are drinking too much generally or in a short period of time?
  • Do they sometimes think that life would be better without the use of alcohol?
  • Have they got concerns for their own alcohol use? Either now or in the past?
  • Are they aware of the recommended daily allowance of alcohol units?
  • Has any family member ever received alcohol misuse advice or treatment?
  • Do they have alcohol misuse concerns for any other member of the family?
  • Are there any health issues relating to a family members alcohol misuse?
  • What impact does their misuse have on parenting and day to day functioning?

Examples of protective factors:

  • If alcohol misuse is present, an acknowledgement that it is causing a problem or harm to themselves or their immediate family and friends;
  • Alcohol consumption within the family is a cause for concern for them;
  • If alcohol misuse is present, a willingness to engage with treatment services;
  • A motivation for lifestyle changes;
  • Support of family members (not essential as many people live alone);
  • A GP or prepared to sign up with a GP;
  • They understand the trigger points to their substance misuse and how to minimize their exposure to them.

Please note that if assessment suggests that alcohol misuse is an issue, it is not necessary to ask for in-depth information. Identifying the issue calls for inviting a specialist/treatment/advice agency to support further assessment and the action plan.

8. Substance use:

Suggested discussion points:

  • Do they have any concerns for any substance misuse within the family, including the use of prescribed drugs?
  • How long have they had concerns?
  • Has any member of the family ever had advice or treatment relating to substance misuse?
  • Are there any concerns about the health (physical or mental) of them or close family members relating to substance misuse?
  • If relevant, what is the impact of substance misuse on parenting and day to day functioning?

Examples of protective factors:

  • Motivation to reduce or manage substance misuse;
  • Support of wider family to support them through treatment;
  • Young children with whom they wish to re-engage;
  • A GP or prepared to sign up with a GP;
  • They understand the effects and dangers of substance misuse;
  • If substance misuse is an issue, they are willing to engage with a GP or prepared to sign up with a GP or other relevant treatment services;
  • They understand the trigger points to their substance misuse and how to minimize their exposure to them.

Please note that if assessment suggests that substance misuse is an issue, it is not necessary to ask for in-depth information. Identifying the issue calls for inviting a specialist/treatment/advice agency to support further assessment and the action plan.

9. Family structure, routines and relationships:

Suggested discussion points:


  • What role do the different family members play?
  • How are decisions made in the family?
  • What strengths and strategies have been used by the family to manage any difficulties in the past?
  • How are conflicts resolved?
  • How would the family know if a crisis was escalating?

Examples of protective factors:

  • Family members have clearly defined roles;
  • Family have a range of positive strategies to use in times of difficulty;
  • Conflicts are resolved in a consistent and fair way;
  • Family communicate any concerns for each other well with concern.


  • Does the family have a regular morning/evening routine?
  • Who gets the child(ren) ready for school in the morning?
  • Are appropriate childcare arrangements in place should they be unable to care for your child?
  • Is there any family member who is temporarily away form home: employment, prison, hospital?

Examples of protective factors:

  • The family have a good sense of routine;
  • Measures are in place to ensure stability for the child(ren) in the event of an emergency/significant event.


  • How does the family communicate?
  • Please give details of significant family events?
  • Do you have friends and family close by that you can contact for support?
  • Does the family feel socially included? E.g. access to and use of transport links, leisure facilities, social networks, cultural support, connections with a place of worship.
  • Are there any particular alliances and how does this affect the other family members?
  • If relevant, what is the relationship with any non resident parent/carers?
  • Have there been any incidents of domestic violence in the home/within the family?

Examples of protective factors:

  • Family members communicate well with each other;
  • Family are willing to share information about significant events impacting on family life;
  • There is a close support network of friends and family;
  • Relationship with any non resident parent/carer is consistent, clear and positive.

10. Caring responsibilities:

Suggested discussion points:

  • Who helps to care for the person at home?
  • What effect do the health conditions and personal care needs have on the family?
  • Is there a child or young person helping to provide care?
  • How does this affect the child?
  • What additional support or signposting is needed to obtain more services for the person needing care?
  • Is any direct support needed to meet the child's own physical or emotional health?

Examples of protective factors:

  • Family have been provided with information and access to support services;
  • Any present caring needs are age appropriate, well balanced and has little or no affect on family life;
  • Willingness to accept need for referral and engage in meetings and respond to contact (letters/phone calls/visits);
  • Support of wider family to help in reduction of caring roles by providing help to the cared for and support for the young person, perhaps respite or being available to talk to and listen;
  • Identified goals/practical plan to achieve this.

11. Other

The final section entitled 'other' is a space for the family or practitioner to note any other information which they feel is relevant to the family's support needs if other sections have not provided the opportunity to explore a particular need.

The next section of this guidance provides information about completing the conclusions, solutions and actions and how the assessment leads into the Team Around the Child/Family support process.

3. Team Around the Child / Family - Support Plan and Review

The final section of the Family CAF outlines the support plan for the family which should be agreed with the family. This is based on the conclusions of the assessment. Once the assessment and conclusions/solutions/actions have been completed the family should be asked to sign the document and they should also be provided with their own copy. When signing the document they can also add any comments in relation to information they may disagree with or particular agencies they do not wish to share their information with. See the section below and the  Case Co-ordinator Guidance (Early Family Support) document for more information on information sharing and consent.

Once the sections described above have been completed the practitioner who has completed the assessment must ensure all information is recorded on the eCAF system. This will ensure that other appropriate professionals will be able to access the assessment.

If the person completing the CAF does not work with the child, the eCAF should be logged on the eCAF system, and a request made to the Area Family Support Team for the area in which the family lives, for support to progress a Team around the Child (TAC) meeting.

For professionals involved with the child, when they have identified the needs via a CAF, they should co-ordinate the initial TAC meeting and support is available from the AFST or MAFST to advise about how to do this.

The next step is therefore to plan for the Team around the Child/Family meeting. This includes booking a venue, confirming a date and time and ensuring all professionals have copies of the assessment.

Good practice includes inviting all family members to attend the team around the family meeting where appropriate. For example if it is age appropriate to attend, if they would like to contribute and of course where necessary to be aware where it is not suitable to invite particular family members to support meetings. If unsure about invitations, practitioners should speak to their Line Manager or consult MARAT or the AFST.

The Team Around the Child or Family provides an opportunity for all relevant agencies to attend a meeting to discuss and contribute towards a family support plan. The final section of the CAF provides a template for the Case Co-ordinator, the family and all other agencies to create an action plan including:

  • Agreed actions;
  • Desired outcomes;
  • Who is responsible for each action;
  • The timescale for completing actions;
  • An agreed review date.

Good practice suggests the initial meeting should happen within 4 weeks and then be reviewed after no more than 3 months. Meetings should be arranged according to the needs identified. At review the Case Co-ordinator will revisit the original assessment and RAG rating and a latest version of the RAG rating carried out prior to the meeting by the Case Co-ordinator. This should be completed with the family within two weeks prior of the review meeting and copies provided to the family and relevant agencies.

Below is an overview of the stages of the CAF and the timescales for which they should be completed.

Caption: timescales
Action Timescale
1. Complete assessment section 1, 2 and section 3 if and where appropriate Within 5 working days
2. Completion of conclusions, solutions and actions – provide family with their own copy Within 10 working days
3. Upload information to eCAF system including scanning consent form Within 12 working days
4. Share information with family Within 12 working days
5. Set time, date and venue of Team Around the Child/Family meeting including sending all documentation and including relevant admin staff Within 15 working days
6. TAC/F to take place and actions delivered thereafter Within 20 working days

4. Information Sharing and Consent

It is essential to complete this section of the form otherwise the information in the assessment can not be shared with other agencies at the team around the child/family meeting. Please note that for the family sections, consent must be gained from each member of the family whose information is contained in the assessment. If one family member does not consent – their information can not be shared. It is still possible for support to be provided by the practitioner the information was revealed to but they are unable to share any information without consent unless it falls under the safeguarding procedures where consent is overridden. If a practitioner is unsure about information sharing and consent they should speak to their line manager and for further information managers can contact the CYPS Information Officer, Michelle Peel on 0161.912 1240.

5. Suggested Supporting Documents