Well, it had to happen sooner or later. I’m only surprised it wasn’t sooner – mutterings about this petered out some months ago on the issue of the President’s interim Guidance on managing the CAFCASS crisis.
But now a firm of solicitors acting for a child involved in proceedings have secured public funding to launch a Judicial Review of CAFCASS and the Department for Children Schools & Families which funds it. The Official Solicitor will be taking responsibility for the case, which is now in preparation. As part of that preparation solicitors in the case are gathering evidence from professionals up and down the country in respect of CAFCASS delays and the impact upon children caught up in proceedings.
The solicitors handling this case are at pains to stress that such a challenge is not one aimed at running down the hard working CAFCASS Officers who are overwhelmed by impossible caseloads, but at the funding and management of the organisation as a whole which has led to the wholescale collapse of service provision for children within timescales appropriate to them.
No doubt a JR will be difficult to pull off, but let us hope that it is sufficiently embarrassing to produce an injection of funding and a rethink on the part of those who manage the purse strings and the organisation.
Watch this space…
UPDATE Evening of Mon 16 Nov: I have had a number of enquiries today about the source of this information. It has come from the solicitors firm involved, who have confirmed they are happy for this basic information to be published. As I understand it this application is at a pre-issue stage and the solicitors are seeking factual information from legal professionals only – I would guess primarily in respect of care cases (or other cases involving a child’s guardian) rather than any case involving CAFCASS. Many of you share your opinions about CAFCASS on this blog, but I believe the exercise at present is one of gathering specific and measurable data rather than opinion or narrative.
As and when more information becomes available I will post it, but for the meantime I’m going to let the solicitors involved get on with their preparation.