Inter-agency or inter-disciplinary assessment requires an additional set of knowledge and skills to that required for working within a single agency or independently. It requires that all practitioners understand and appreciate the roles and responsibilities of staff working in contexts different to their own.

Multi-agency meetings (Team Around the Child Meeting (TAC), Team Around the Family Meeting (TAF), Child in Need (CIN) meeting, SEN Support Review, Pastoral Support Programme (PSP) Meeting, Integrated Care Pathways meeting) are tools to support practitioners in all agencies who have a genuine desire to work openly and together with families.

A TAC or TAF Meeting can be called by any agency that has concerns about a child or young person with additional needs that they feel may require a response from more than one agency but without requiring statutory intervention. The convening agency is responsible for coordinating the meeting arrangements i.e. invitations, venue, chairing and recording the meeting. However, this does not all have to be undertaken solely by the convening practitioner, but may be delegated in agreement with other workers in attendance – e.g. one practitioner may chair, another may take notes – though the convening agency/practitioner remains responsible for ensuring these roles are undertaken.

In arranging the lead for the business of the meeting, the convening agency should normally have had some prior communication with those agencies invited to attend, with relevant information recorded on the Common Assessment Form, and this then already shared with all agencies involved prior to the meeting.

During the meeting, the additional information which emerges is recorded (see Recording sub-Section below) on a Merton CASA Review form, with accompanying CASA Action Plan completed or updated as appropriate.   Further review meetings will ensure the CASA Action Plan is routinely updated, with supporting narrative recorded on further versions of the CASA Review form. By also completing the Merton Web of Changes form, this provides a graphic illustration of progress to encourage further discussion from both family and practitioner perspective on progress to date and way forward.

Each meeting should end with an agreed Action Plan (or updated Action Plan where appropriate) outlining who will do what? by when? to address the needs and concerns that have been raised and agreed as important. The meeting will also agree date of next meeting to discuss progress on desired outcomes

Criteria for convening a TAC or TAF multi-agency meeting

A multi-agency meeting will be called in any of the following circumstances:

  • the family/child/young person’s needs cannot be met from within the agency’s own resources and the need or concern remains
  • the completion of a Common Assessment has identified needs which require a multi-agency response
  • following consultation with other agencies when it is found that they may be able to offer assistance, or they may direct towards other services to either meet the need or help to reduce the level of concerns
  • telephone sharing of information is not enough
  • the parents agree to the multi-agency meeting taking place.

Meetings with the child/family should be kept to a minimum and have a clear purpose.

Chairing the TAC or TAF multi-agency meeting

The convening agency will have arranged from among those attending who should chair the multi-agency meeting. This should be someone who is used to chairing meetings of a similar type, and must ensure that the meeting focuses on the needs of the child or young person. The Chair should have knowledge of  Child Protection procedures. The convening agency also undertakes to steer the business of the meeting and should normally have presented their concerns and their involvement so far by having shared a copy of the Common Assessment record, prior to the meeting, with all those invited to attend.

Administration and Recording

The CASA Episode record comprises the original Merton CASA form, supported by all subsequent Merton CASA Review forms, and the CASA Action Plan and Web of Changes form which get updated through all the review stages. This complete Common Assessment record must be shared with all those that were invited to attend the meeting, regardless of whether or not they attended.  

Also, a copy is sent to the Central CASA Team for central log.  By having a central record of all CASAs undertaken, this is what makes it possible for practitioners to check whether a Common Assessment already exists when they first pick up a concern about a child.

The following format for the TAC or TAF multi-agency meeting is suggested:

  1. Date, time and venue
  2. Introduction
  3. Attendance / Apologies
  4. Aim of meeting
  5. Needs and Strengths identified by convening agency prior to meeting
  6. Additional or new information shared at meeting
  7. Other Needs and Strengths identified during the meeting
  8. How to address these needs? What has already been tried?
  9. Action Plan to support family, identifying clearly who is responsible for which actions, for which child, with timescales clearly defined
  10. Has a Family Group Conference been considered?
  11. Agree who is to continue as Lead Practitioner, if change deemed appropriate
  12. Date of next review

Attendance

Good practice suggests that parents should be involved in the negotiation as to who should attend the meeting and, wherever possible, agree who should be most appropriate to attend. However, there are times when this is not possible, e.g. the young person (if Gillick competent) objects to parental/ family involvement. The meeting needs to bring together all those who can provide relevant information about the child/young person and family. If the child/young person/family fail to attend for any reason – (a pre-school or primary school child would not normally be involved) – the meeting should go ahead and a member of the meeting should be appointed to inform the child and family of the outcome, which will be recorded.

[Where those working with the child/young person/family feel it is necessary to convene a meeting to discuss concerns without inviting and/ or notifying the child/young person or family, this should be recorded and this meeting will be called a Professionals Meeting.]

Venue

The venue should be the most convenient and comfortable place to meet for a confidential discussion. It could be the family home, but the school, clinic, surgery, hospital, social services department, may provide a more suitable meeting room.

The meeting should involve:

  • those with a direct and relevant involvement with the child/young person and family (workers and other family members; close friends)
  • those who may be able to offer support or services to the family
  • those who have relevant information to share in the meeting
  • where ongoing consultation has been provided, it may be appropriate for the consultant to attend.

Permissions / Family Involvement / Confidentiality

Team Around the Child/Family (TAC/TAF) meetings are held with the full agreement of parents and, where appropriate, children or young people involved. Without that permission the meeting should not go ahead. If permission is refused, consideration should be given to whether concerns are sufficient to require a different approach. The family should be involved in all stages of the process, unless they choose not to be. Children/ young people should be involved where both they and parents think it is appropriate. A record of the meeting (Common Assessment form, including any Merton CASA Review Forms, Action Plans, Web of Changes forms) will be sent to all parents and children/young people that were invited to attend the meeting, regardless of whether or not they attended. Consideration should be given by agencies to the child’s age for the most appropriate method of feedback. Normal rules of confidentiality apply. Parents should be made aware when information is being exchanged.

Those invited will share relevant information and agree an Action Plan to address the specific needs identified.

Implementation

The meeting should consider how the Action Plan agreed for the child/young person and family is to be coordinated and reviewed, agree who is to take on the lead coordination role, and set dates by which actions should be undertaken, and for when next Review/TAC/TAF will take place to consider progress on all outcomes to date. When no further Review/TAC/TAF is deemed necessary, then the CASA process will be recorded as closed.

If it is considered necessary to hold a further TAC/TAF meeting, the Action Plan for meeting a child or young person’s needs should be reviewed every three months as a minimum. Reviews should be held on the same basis as the initial meeting.

The Lead Practitioner (LP) (previous LP if change agreed at meeting) will provide a record of the meeting, which will include the updated multi-agency CASA Action Plan, with supporting narrative recorded on the CASA Review Form,  and this, supported by the full preceding Common Assessment record and any Web of Changes forms, will be shared with all in attendance, as well as those who were invited and did not attend.

If the Action Plan is not actioned, or fails to meet the needs or address the concerns, the Lead Practitioner will consult and decide whether to re-convene another Review/TAC/TAF meeting before the agreed review date.

Quality Assurance In addition to a record of the meeting being sent to those invited to attend, a further copy of the full CASA, including CASA Review Form(s), updated Action Plan, and Web of Changes forms, is sent to the Central CASA Team. In addition to updating central log of CASAs undertaken, these records will be anonymised when used for periodic quality assurance checks, or when used for Management Information purposes (e.g. service gaps informing Commissioning requirements).