Social workers have been given simpler guidance to help them evidence decisions in court.
The Social Work Evidence Template (SWET) has been updated by Cafcass and the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) to be easier for practitioners to use.
The revised version reflects Re B-S case law and recent concerns around special guardianship assessments. It also includes a full version of welfare checklists related to the Children Act 1989 and the Adoption and Children Act 2002.
Community Care Inform subscribers can read our guide to the balance sheet approach and Re B-S compliant evidence. Written by a family law barrister, it provides case study examples of how to present the factors in favour of and against each realistic placement option.
The SWET was launched in 2014 and is used in more than two-thirds of local authorities.
Andrew Webb, the ADCS lead for family justice, said: “It has helped social workers to focus on the analysis as opposed to telling a long and complicated story. It forces social workers to ask the question, very precisely, what’s needed to change in parenting before this child can be safely looked after within their family?
“It discourages putting in too much detail that is not relevant…Because everyone is committed to the principles of short, sharp and analytical reports. That’s helped drive up the quality of the analysis because everyone is trying to work to the same set of expectations.”
The template is endorsed by Sir James Munby, president of The Family Division.
Anthony Douglas, chief executive of Cafcass, said the template had already helped raise the standards of social work analysis, adding: “This is a vital area of social work practice which can and should make a positive difference to the lives of the most vulnerable children in England and Wales”.