Merton CASA Quality Assurance (QA) Framework builds on that of the QA Framework commissioned by Pan London Integrated Working Network (PLIWN) in 2009 as an element of the Pan London CAF Protocol 2009 to which all London boroughs signed up with the aim of improving consistency of Common Assessment  implementation across London.

The CASA QA Framework aims to support monitoring of the quality of Early Help Common Assessment process across borders as well as across agencies and, through this, help to improve outcomes for all children and young people across London, regardless of address

Background and Objective of the Pan London Quality Assurance Framework for Common Assessment

The use of the Common Assessment developed well across London with a number of examples of good practice emerging. However, at the same time a number of issues were identified that hindered the development of a single primary multi-agency early help assessment tool for children and young people’s services

The Pan London CAF Quality Assurance Framework aimed to lead on consistency of standards in improving outcomes for children and young people across London, as well as increasing participation in, and ownership of the Common Assessment process.

There are a number of benefits to the implementation of a consistent Quality Assurance Framework for Common Assessment across London. Constancy in its implementation aims to:

  • Promote more effective and earlier identification of additional needs, particularly in universal services, at MWBM Green Level (London Continuum Levels 2)
  • Provide a simpler and consistent process across London for a holistic assessment of a child or young person’s needs and strengths, taking account of the role of parents or carers, as well as the effects of environmental factors on their development
  • Practitioners will be better placed to agree, with the child and family, about what support is appropriate - within and across borders
  • Help to improve integrated working by promoting co-ordinated service provision across agencies and across borders
  • Improve information about the quality of Common Assessments to support reflective supervision practices.

A further aim of a Pan London QA Framework was to provide opportunities for the aggregation of data demonstrating the impact of Common Assessment across London as well as at local authority level, looking at different age and need groups. The future opportunities to aggregate Early Help data could support the identification of trends in strengths and weakness in the holistic development of children and young people, enabling the better targeting of resources and practitioner training across borders where feasible.

Merton’s CASA Quality Assurance Framework (as an development of the Pan London Quality Assurance Framework).

Click here to see overarching Merton CASA QA Framework

Merton CASA Quality Assurance Framework has six elements:

  1. Monitoring and Audit of the Common Assessment process
  2. Feedback from the Child, Young Person, Parent or Carer
  3. Evaluation
    • of the Common Assessment process, and
    • of the impact of the Common Assessment on improved Outcomes  
  4. Feedback and Workforce Development Recommendations
  5. Improvement to the Common Assessment Process
  6. Improved OUTCOMES for children and young people

 

Key roles within the Merton CASA Quality Assurance Framework

Nominated Auditor

Each multi-agency service that uses the CASA nominates a minimum of one CASA Auditor depending on the size of the service.  Nominated Auditors need to be operational mangers or team leaders from within that service area.

Evaluation Team

Members of the Evaluation team need to be senior operational managers and CASA managers.  This team needs to have representation from all agencies using the CASA, thus ensuring that lessons learnt are built into workforce development and service improvement.

Guidance on Merton CASA Quality Assurance Elements

Elements 1 and 2: Monitoring and Audit of the CASA Process, including Feedback from child/young person and/or parent/carer

(The Audit must not be carried out by anyone with involvement in the particular assessment being audited.)

Ongoing monitoring of Merton CASA implementation is routinely recorded in CASA Quarterly reports, downloadable from casa-news tab within the CASA suite of webpages.

The objective of the audit process is to explore in depth how far each stage of the CASA process has been carried out effectively.  The paperwork the Auditors should review in undertaking this function are: the originating CASA Form; all subsequent CASA Review forms, Action Plans, and Merton Web of Changes forms which were completed during the CASA process through to closure; any supporting documentation; and any feedback forms returned by the family.

The Audit process should record:

  1. The quality of the CASA as process - as reflected in extent of what’s completed within CASA records - this section is scored directly as report from CASA central database (which also informs CASA Quarterly Reports above)
  2. In-depth drill down on quality of content and analysis from those case(s) identified by CASA Audit Team in the first step above: at least one with low (less than 50% score), one with mid score, and one with greater than 75% recording score – and across an appropriate range of agencies.

An Audit Template is provided to guide analysis on the following six themes:

  • Information gathered to evidence context of presenting concern(s)
  • Analysis of this information to draw Conclusions, identify Targets for Change, establish Goals
  • Effectiveness in targeting areas of concern, and planning appropriate support and Review towards improving outcomes
  • Evidence reflecting perspective and engagement of the child and family
  • Evidence of the effectiveness of multi-agency working
  • Effectiveness of actions and support in achieving improvement of identified outcomes for the child, young person or family

Element 3: The Evaluation of the Monitoring and Audit Results

The evaluation process is conducted by a multi-agency Evaluation Team, which includes CASA Auditors and the CASA Central Manager. This is a function of the Merton CASA Champions Group, ultimately reporting to the Quality Assurance Subgroup of the Merton Safeguarding Children Board (MSCB).

Included within MSCB Action Plan, and supported by both the MSCB QA and MSCB Training Sub-Groups, as well as the CASA Champions Group, regular evaluation meetings take place to ensure that the lessons learnt are built into workforce development and service improvement.

To complement and contextualise these audit results, Line Managers and practitioners from all children’s services are encouraged to feed their views/concerns into these forums (for example . difficulties engaging a service; a service not existing to meet identified needs and suggested improvements for training) via their own agency MSCB representatives, or via the CASA Champions.  

Additionally the central CASA Team provide any statistics (e.g. agencies undertaking CASAs; who trained; who taking on the Lead Coordinator role), or coordinates findings on any relevant surveys for early help.

Element 4: Feedback and Workforce Development Recommendations

The Evaluation Team initially feed back the results of this evaluation process as a CASA QA Report to CASA Champions Group, as well as to Merton Safeguarding Children Board (MWBM) via the Quality Assurance Sub-Group – with recommendations on practice ultimately to operational managers and workforce development leads/relevant training managers, and on service engagement/provision to commissioning services. Actions arising from the CASA QA Report are included within the wider MSCB Action Plan for monitoring.