DfE questions future of eCAF assessment

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The National eCAF system which allows practitioners to electronically create, store and share a child's details under the Common Assessment Framework, could be scrapped if local councils do not respond positively to a letter from the DfE questioning its effectiveness.

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CAF is a standardised approach to conducting an assessment of a child’s additional needs and National eCAF was introduced last year to help it work efficiently.

While not mandatory, many practitioners have now been trained to use eCAF. The system is designed to assist the team around the child and reduce the need for children and their families to repeat their story for different services.

Children with additional needs often require support from more than one agency and one local authority area, and eCAF is intended to support  this cross-border, multi-agency approach.

While eCAF provides what is described as an ‘over-arching’ layer to support practitioners working in different services and locations to deliver a co-ordinated service, it may run counter to the recommendations in Eileen Munro’s Review of Child Protection. She endorses an approach to early intervention which is achieved locally through ‘responsible innovation and improved professional judgement’ by local partners, without nationally prescribed systems.

A report carried out by the NFER recently testified to the benefits of the overall CAF system (News, 11 May).  Its findings show that in most cases CAF process costs are usually under £3,000 and up to £8,000 for the most complex cases requiring multi-agency intervention, which was low compared with potential savings of £100,000. The report concluded that CAF enhances the capacity for early intervention and is not a costly bureaucratic overhead.

Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists CEO Kamini Gadhok said, ‘The RCSLT would be interested to see the Government’s rationale behind the proposed abolition of eCAF and the evidence that it doesn’t add value. We would be concerned if eCAF’s abolition went ahead without a robust evaluation and an impact analysis of its removal following an evaluation.’

 

 

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