Cafcass Cymru says it could improve the monitoring of care plans of looked-after children if it could enlist local authorities’ independent reviewing officers.
The proposal is included in Cafcass Cymru’s strategic plan for 2008-11, which noted “widespread concerns” that the independence of the officers was being undermined by the fact that they were employed by councils.
The report also expressed disappointment at the number of referrals to Cafcass Cymru made by the officers, who were failing to challenge potentially inappropriate decisions.
For the first time, the organisation will employ psychologists to try to speed the progress of cases that need expert witnesses. The report said the current system, under which psychologists are appointed externally, could be time-consuming and expensive.
Cafcass Cymru was performing well on key indicators, with a projected 99.1% success rate for 2007-8 in allocating cases to guardians within two days of receiving court referrals. The target is 70% each year.
To develop its safeguarding role, Cafcass Cymru plans to lobby for mandatory status as partners on local safeguarding children boards in Wales, bringing the arrangements into line with Cafcass in England. At present, Cafcass Cymru can only be invited to join the boards as members.
Other plans include maximising the involvement of children and adults involved in cases in the development of the service.
Cafcass sets out to improve handling of private law cases