Guardians only offered employed status

Self-employed children’s guardians will become a thing of
the past, under new proposals from Cafcass – the Children and
Family Court Advisory and Support Service, writes
Jonathan Pearce

Following protracted negotiations since the service’s
launch in April over fixed-fee proposals for the 750 self-employed
guardians, Cafcass has sent out new contracts of employment to the
guardians, but offering them no option to remain self-employed.

Previously paid on hourly rates by the local authorities, the
self-employed guardians refused to take on new cases under the
fixed fee proposals when Cafcass took over the service in April.
The guardians’ representative body Nagalro – the
National Association of Guardians Ad Litem and Reporting Officers
– claimed the proposals threatened their independence and
professional ability to scrutinise effectively local authority care
plans for the courts.

Since then there has been a suspension of the proposals while
the guardians and Cafcass have consulted over possible contracts,
although this failed to stop Nagalro getting the go-ahead for a
judicial review application challenging the proposals – a
date for the hearing has yet to be set.

“The best way to give high-quality services to children,
families and the courts and to give the guardians a fair deal is to
create an employed service, managed by Cafcass,” said Hewson.

A “bank” of part-time employees to support the guardians and
provide flexibility in meeting demands would also be developed, he

The guardians have been given a deadline of 27 July to decide to
join Cafcass.







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