The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service may
not have enough money to meet the aspirations behind its creation,
according to an influential children and family law policy body,
writes Jonathan Pearce.
The Advisory Board on Family Law – set up in 1997 to provide
independent advice to the Lord Chancellor’s department on the
Children Act and family law – has criticised the department over
the way Cafcass was set up and the money available to it to deliver
the benefits of a unified court support service for vulnerable
children in care and adoption proceedings.
“We are left with an overriding concern that the aspirations for
the service which we expressed in our previous report may have been
lost in the rush to ensure that the service is in place by the
given date, and the funding required to meet the aspirations we
have for Cafcass may not be available,” says the advisory board’s
The report criticises Cafcass’s “extremely tight timetable”, and
says it is “imperative that Cafcass is properly funded”.
In its previous report, the board had welcomed Cafcass and the
opportunity “to create a coherent and integrated service”. It had
hoped the new service – officially launched in April – would
provide children and their parents with information and advice, as
well as facilitating access to other relevant services such as
contact centres, mediation, domestic violence and abuse
An spokesperson for the Lord Chancellor’s department denied
allegations of insufficient funding for Cafcass, and described its
first year as “one for consolidation”.
“(The board) has previously expressed a desire for Cafcass to
take on new and additional roles and responsibilities, and its
point about funding refers to those,” he said. “Many different
parties have different hopes and ambitions for Cafcass in the
future and all of these will be considered.”