The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service has claimed success in diverting more families from damaging family court battles.
The service’s annual report shows a 33% increase in family court advisor time spent on private law dispute resolution work in 2006-7 with 60% of interventions achieving full or partial agreement between parents on residence or contact arrangements for children.
The number of court reports into the welfare of children whose parents are divorcing or separating also fell by 8% over the year. Cafcass chief executive Anthony Douglas said this demonstrated that dispute resolution as an early intervention measure was becoming more successful. The service plans to roll out further dispute resolution programmes, including a family group conferencing scheme, over the coming year.
But the annual report also showed that Cafcass had failed to meet performance indicators on allocating cases speedily, diversity monitoring and staff appraisals in 2006-7 although all showed improvement on the previous year.
Although 55% of section 31 care and supervision cases were allocated within two days, up from 50% the year before, the 70% performance target agreed last year by the former Department for Education and Skills was not achieved.
Similarly, the number of diversity monitoring forms returned for service users increased from 47% to 61% but did not reach the 100% target set last year. And the 60% of staff appraisals completed was an improvement on last year but did not meet the 100% target.
Targets on workload, dispute resolution and sickness absence rates were all partially or fully met, however.
Contact centres – restoring family relationships