Child Impact Assessment Framework (CIAF)
The Cafcass Child Impact Assessment Framework (CIAF) sets out how children may experience parental separation and how this can be understood and acted on in Cafcass. The framework brings together existing guidance and tools, along with a small number of new tools, into four guides which Cafcass private law practitioners can use to assess different case factors, including:
- Domestic abuse where children have been harmed directly or indirectly, for example from the impact of coercive control.
- Conflict which is harmful to the child such as a long-running court case or mutual hostility between parents which can become intolerable for the child.
- Child refusal or resistance to spending time with one of their parents or carers which may be due to a range of justified reasons or could be an indicator of the harm caused when a child has been alienated by one parent against the other for no good reason.
- Other forms of harmful parenting due to factors like substance misuse or parental mental health difficulties where these are assessed as harmful to the child.
The framework emphasises that safeguarding principles and child impact are at the heart of our assessment process, with assessments starting and ending with the question ‘What is happening for this child?’ Each private law assessment is undertaken in accordance with the underlying principles of Cafcass private law assessments.
Assessment and change for the child
The assessment process starts when Cafcass receives the case from the court. It asks the open question: ‘What is happening for this child?’ As the Family Court Adviser (FCA) gathers information, they may make use of tools or guidance to help understand the child’s experience. The FCA will also be open to new information as this emerges. The process ends as it started: the FCA considers what all of the information gathered means for the individual child. This informs the child impact analysis and leads to recommendations to the court and parents about what arrangements and interventions are in the child’s best interests.
As you gather information select one or more of the relevant case factors and use the tools and guidance to deepen your understanding of the child’s experience.
Apply safeguarding principles
Consider the impact on the child
Indicators of domestic abuse such as coercive control
Indicators of conflict which is harmful to the child
Indicators of child refusal/resistance to spending time with a parent such as alienating behaviours
Indicators of other forms of parenting where these are assessed as harmful to the child
Tools and guidance
Resources for assessing child refusal/resistance
Resources for direct work with children