Social work practitioners “should not collude” with dangerous child contact arrangements, a senior manager at the Children and Family Courts Advisory and Support service said at a Community Care conference on domestic violence on Friday.
Jane Booth, corporate director and lead on domestic violence at Cafcass, said contact arrangements can be made under pressure, which may lead to children becoming unsafe. She referred to 2004 Women’s Aid research on children killed by their fathers during contact visits.
Getting children’s voices heard in court “is not easy,” said Booth. Courts are not child-friendly and finding ways of involving young people “must be done very carefully”.
Regarding local authority reorganisation, Booth said new directors of children’s services and lead councillors on children will improve accountability and help make children safer.
But one worry is that children’s safeguarding boards will be “excluded” from local domestic violence planning, which “tends to be police focused,” she added.