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Cafcass ‘close to paralysis’

The Children and Family Court Advisory and
Support System is close to meltdown just six months after it came into being,
according to staff working within the child protection system.

Following a High Court judgement that it had
acted “unlawfully” in withdrawing self-employed contracts from children’s
guardians (News, page 4, 20 September), the departure of two key members of its
senior management team has been confirmed.

Senior family judge Nigel Fricker  has resigned from the Cafcass board, and
director of operations Joe Kuipers is to leave.

In addition, over a third of the service’s
public law managers – formerly managers of the 57 local authority guardian
panels which transferred to Cafcass – have left.

In an open letter to the Cafcass chairperson
Anthony Hewson, the latest to leave, Cumbria manager Geoffrey Applegarth, has
expressed regret over his decision.

“In Cumbria at least, Cafcass has
failed on almost every count to  improve
the level and quality of service to children and the courts,” says Applegarth.
“And nationally Cafcass is dangerously close to paralysis.”

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