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Posted by on in Children and Child Custody
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Single inspection for Cafcass

Like many other organisations operating within the family justice system in England and Wales, the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) is in the process of change. It’s role looks likely to evolve and this means the way in which Cafcass is regulated now needs to be re-considered.

To this end, the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) has launched a consultation on proposed changes to the inspection of Cafcass, to drive improvement for children involved in the family courts proceedings.

What is Cafcass?

Cafcass is a non-departmental public body, and represents children in family court cases of all types, including adoption cases, care orders, emergency protection orders and in cases dealing with residency or contact, after divorce or separation.

Cafcass makes sure that the voices of children are heard and that the decisions that are made about them are in their best interests. Safeguarding is a top priority for Cafcass, as are the wishes and feelings of the children involved.

About Ofsted

Cafcass is inspected by Ofsted, as part of the Government agency’s role in upholding standards of care for children and young people, and standards in education and skills for learners of all ages. 

Inspection changes

Over the last four years, Ofsted has carried out inspections in each of Cafcass’ individual services areas. From 2013, Ofsted instead proposes to conduct an annual unannounced inspection of Cafcass as a national organisation, supported by a detailed examination of practice in up to six local service areas.

In this way it hopes to assess Cafcass at both a national and local level, focusing in particular on the quality of work displayed by the body in making recommendations and providing advice to the family courts on how best to safeguard and promote the welfare of children subject to proceedings.

Each inspection will take two weeks, says Ofstead.

Measuring effectiveness

According to the consultation, Ofstead will base its judgements on the overall effectiveness of Cafcass’ performance; the effectiveness with which Cafcass safeguards and promotes the welfare of children; the quality of practice, and leadership and governance of the organisation.

“We want inspection to make sure that the best possible outcomes are achieved for children who are subject to family court proceedings, often at a very difficult point in their young lives,” said John Goldup.” We welcome the widest possible range of responses to this consultation from anyone who has an interest in or expertise relating to the Cafcass role in the family court, including critically of course parents, children and young people.”