CAFCASS – What to do?

Thank Goodness for that – the new(ish) President of the Family Division has decided not to renew the guidance and may scrap the duty guardian scheme. See this article extracting an interview reported fully in Family Affairs.

On another note, a proposal to scrap CAFCASS and to reallocate it’s responsibilities to local authorities. Clearly something pretty radical needs to be done, but I’m no fan of that as a solution – whatever arrangements are made it is crucial that arrangements for the provision of Guardians, and to a lesser extent for reporting in children matters to be independent of local authorities.

7 thoughts on “CAFCASS – What to do?

  1. Julie Haines MF

    CAFCASS need to go. If one considers the the LA is supposed to have the child’s needs as paramount, then what use is CAFCASS ?

    I have cases where the child’s needs are not represented by CAFCASS officers accurately. They seem to have their own agenda . “I want to stay with my Mum ” is interpreted as lets go for long term Foster Care by agreeing the LA plan.

    I am currently involved in a case where the child is Gillick competent and wants to be released from CAFCASS representation. She is applying to discharge her own Care order with my help.

    CAFCASS officers do not explain the child’s legal rights to the child they seek to represent. This is fundamentally wrong.

  2. On the other hand, £131 million a year to employ just over 2,000 Guardians doesn’t seem like great value for money.

    Pre CAFCASS, the Guardians used to be employed by the Independent Inspection Unit of the Local Authority, and I don’t remember there being issues of them not being independent then. In fact, that system seemed to deliver Guardians on cases and Guardians who were able to investigate, report and challenge the LA when they felt the child’s needs required it.

    I have a lot of respect for the individual Children’s Guardians, but the organisation less so.

    The role of the IRO being expanded to include reporting to Court and representing children’s views, is my best guess for the future. I’d rather have Guardians, but no CAFCASS, but I doubt that’s on the table. (They could be employed through the Ministry of Justice or the Court as an alternative to CAFCASS, which would greatly cut admin costs down)

  3. CAFCASS side with the local authorities and I for one second what Julie says. This “abuse” has to end once and for all. How children are represented or mis-represented is a national disgrace. Is it any wonder why scores of children are running away from their foster homes. Thus putting them more at risk, putting them with complete strangers.

    As a responsible parent , it is our duty to make sure our children are safe. By putting them amoung people who are is NOT always responsible as they make out, as anything could happen to these precious children. I’m not saying ALL foster contract carers are bad. But trust me if you are offering fianancial rewards out……

    Possibly “worse” than they were at there real parents. I know as when I was in care I obviously still was at risk. From all the very kind abuse I had suffered previously. At risk from sexual exploitation whilst in care. It is in my records from Social Services. But never removed fromy carers. My fellow care dwellers I got to know ,some became drug addicted prostitutes. Others committing serious crimes. Only TWO i KNOW ACTUALLY ARE OK. One is now an actress. The rest………….

  4. Exactly how independant have you seen the average IRO being to date? There has been some discussion of the IRO’s moving to CAFCASS to increase their independance.

    MOJ or old style boards would remove the middle man slightly, (or at least improve the odds that our reports reach court files), resolve the ongoing `who is my master’ debate (5 areas/checklist, law v policy ) and perhaps if the IRO’s joined us their role may be strengthened and more arms length from the melee in their LA offices.

  5. It depends if you want the IRO’s to actually be, or even become, independent- note a total absence of their reporting the LA’s in which they are employed, set within, and recruited from to date.

    On the other hand, private law matters could well benefit from being part of the LA as they are increasingly being drawn into tit for tat allegations that reach their thresholds and CAFCASS spend increasing amounts of their time reading & interpreting their records. But the LA would welcome this like leprosy.

    Guardians could, in my view, work well without CAFCASS and could fit either into MOJ, or LA reporting/appointed by and other part of the LA than their legal/CYPS department.

    Dare I say, (as one), we may even work more efficiently, as without CAFCASS, it may ease the time consuming dissonance between the very different expectations of the court and cafcass eg. 5 areas/checklist in our reporting…

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