Gilligan, Philip and Manby, Martin (2008) The Common Assessment Framework: does the reality match the rhetoric? Child & Family Social Work, 13 (2). pp. 177-187. ISSN 1356-7500

The Common Assessment Framework (CAF) is an important part of the procedures envisaged in the government's Every Child Matters: Change for Children (ECM: CFC) programme. Implementation of CAF, in particular, raises many important questions, not least those arising from the inconsistencies apparent between government rhetoric around the development of multi-agency services provided to all children with ‘additional’ needs and the actual experiences of children, young people, parents/carers and practitioners in ‘real world’ situations. This paper explores the extent to which the actions of practitioners and the experiences of service users with regard to CAF mirror or differ from those which would be expected in view of the content of government guidance and policy documents. The data used is taken from an evaluation of CAF processes in two locations in northern England over a period of 6 months. It concludes that very small numbers of children and young people actually received the service; that, despite genuine enthusiasm from practitioners for them to be so, the processes observed could not yet be described as fully ‘child centred’; that fathers were insufficiently involved; and that CAF was, in reality, another service ‘rationed’ according to resources available and according to agencies' priorities.

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