Common Assessment Framework (CAF) information for professionals

Information, guidance and resources to support practitioners working with children, young people and families in the CAF process.

The CAF is used by practitioners in a wide range of settings and circumstances.  It helps to identify early intervention services which will focus on improving life outcomes for the child or young person.

It provides agencies with the same standard baseline assessment from which more specialist assessments can be developed. For guidance about how the CAF framework and policy works go to the Local Safeguarding Children Board website.

From Monday 12 November 2018, the CAF referral form must be completed and submitted using the new secure Suffolk Children and Young People’s Portal. Please access the portal using the green button below.

The first time you complete a form you will be prompted to create a new portal account. Registering for an account is quick and easy, and you only need to do it once. To ensure the information you submit is secure, you will be required to log into your account every time you access the portal. 

Further support including a portal user guide and walk through videos are available on the portal overview page.

Log into the CYP Portal

When to use the CAF

You should use the assessment part of the CAF to help identify needs at an early stage. It is designed for use when:

  • you are worried about how well a child or young person is progressing
  • a child or young person or their parent/carer raises a concern with you
  • the child or young person’s needs are unclear
  • it is likely that the child or young person's needs can only be met by two or more agencies working together.
  • the assessor is seeking to have a conversation that could lead to the identification of how to help the family by providing further information, advice, and guidance without the need for referral to Suffolk County Council's Early Help Service.

Request for service from Early Help

When a CAFs is submitted, the needs of each child and family are reviewed, and the support offer is created in discussion and agreement with the family. 

  • For many families face to face interventions will continue.
  • For some families a blend of virtual and face to face work will be offered, and some families virtual only support will be provided.


Children and Young People Services (CYP) privacy notice

This privacy notice tells you what information Children and Young People Services (CYP) collects and uses, and your rights regarding your information.

Suffolk County Council has a wide range of responsibilities in respect of children and young people. We work with third parties, including, but not limited to, education providers, the NHS and the voluntary sector. We also hold information on children and their families to whom we provide a service in order to help us support you and your family.

The legal basis for holding and processing this information is either because it relates to a public task or a statutory (legal) function. Where a legal basis does not apply we will ask for your consent to collect your information.

On the Children and Young People Services (CYP) privacy notice page, you can download a print-friendly version of the CYP privacy notice. It provides a explanation about the information on children and their families that we collect, use, store and share.

What to do next

It is important that you provide a copy of this privacy notice at the first point of contact - either in hard copy, or by providing a link to the privacy notice on the SCC website. A privacy notice must be issued to each member named in the CAF over the age of 13 years old. The privacy notice provides an explanation about the information on children and their families that we collect, use, store and share.

If you require further information, please see the Children and Young People Services (CYP) privacy notice page.

Guidance and support for professionals

The transfer of cases 'step-up step-down' policy (PDF, 189KB) details:

  • how a child or young person supported through the CAF process will continue to receive support as needs escalate to require children's social care intervention
  • the role of practitioners who are part of the family's network meeting as children's social care takes on the lead role with a child or young person
  • how a the family's network meeting model can be engaged by children's social care when they are bringing their support to an end.

CAF advice line

A CAF advice service is now available to help you decide if CAF is the most appropriate form of support for a family, based on their needs. When you telephone the Early Help service, you will be put in touch with a duty manager in your local area, who will aim to provide a response that day.

To discuss submitting a CAF please contact your local team where the Assessment Coordinators will redirect you to the appropriate local Early Help team – please state that you are wanting to talk about completing a CAF Assessment. Team contact details are as follows:

Bury St Edmunds; 07702 517340 / 07793 658748

Forest Heath: 01284 758194


Central: 01449 745155

South Suffolk:

Ipswich South:

Ipswich West: 07872 424442

Ipswich North East:

Coastal South:

Coastal North:

Lowestoft and Waveney: 01502 674636

NB: The numbers above are for use when you are considering whether a CAF is needed and are not for use for reporting or discussing Safeguarding concerns, as you will continue to use the MASH Consultation line (03456 061 499) and Customer First (0808 800 4005) as usual.