Ofsted has praised Cafcass is a good organisation with outstanding leadership in its first national-level inspection of the family court support agency.
The inspectorate rated Cafcass as good on the quality of its public and private law practice and on the management of its local services. It said the organisation’s national leadership and governance as outstanding.
The Ofsted report notes that Cafcass had changed drastically in the past five years.
Cafcass, it says, has “significantly improved the organisation that Ofsted found to be consistently inadequate in 2009/10 to one that is now consistently good”.
It also found there was a “supportive management culture” and “very low” levels of sickness within Cafcass, which says its sickness costs has fallen from £3.3m in 2009/10 to a estimated £1.8m in 2013/14.
However Ofsted said the service needs to ensure that children’s guardians are liaising with independent reviewing officers in a consistent way and needs to reduce the number of data protection breaches caused by human error.
Ofsted also recommended that Cafcass issue guardians with guidance on applications for secure accommodation orders as in some cases the evaluations that were carried out were not as effective as they needed to be.
Cafcass chief executive Anthony Douglas welcomed Ofsted’s findings.
“This result is the culmination of five years of grit and determination from our organisation, with a continued focus on driving forward improvements for the 140,000 children we work with every year,” he said.
“We have been relentless in pursuing a strong performance management framework – there is now no hiding place for poor practice in Cafcass.”