Partnership working in services for children: Use of the common assessment framework
AbstractTransformation in the structure and delivery of services for children and young people in the UK Children Act (Department for Education & Skills, 2004. The Children Act . London: HMSO) initiated new alliances between statutory, public and voluntary agencies. Traditional relationships and notions of partnership have been extended, necessitating an innovative approach to dialogue and multiple perspectives. Hudson's assertion that although the “rhetoric on partnering remains strong, the real policy thrust is now about choice and contestability” (2006, Journal of Integrated Care , 14 (1), 13–21) exemplifies the dynamic policy context around notions of partnership and the rationale for collaborative advantage. This paper explores the experiences of practitioners working in a relatively new multi-agency context – the common assessment framework (CAF). Envisaged as a standardized approach to the assessment of need and as a tool to facilitate integrated working, the CAF is utilized by practitioners in the UK to improve outcomes for children and young people. We present data from a study that employed an interpretative phenomenological analysis approach and gathered semi-structured interviews with 20 practitioners. Interviews drew upon their experiences of interprofessional working in which diversity, partnership working, and competing aims and objectives emerged as significant themes. The insights that were gained are discussed in terms of their potential impact on service delivery in the UK and their contribution toward responsive practice across dynamic professional boundaries.