Guardians wary of use of agency staff

The Children and Family Court Advisory and
Support Service has been forced to employ agency staff to tackle
the chronic shortage of children’s guardians in legal cases.

Waiting lists for care order
cases are increasing across the country, with many areas previously
unaffected now reporting waits, some of up to six months. In London
alone, the waiting list is around 180 cases, caused by a 20 per
cent rise in the number of cases and a shortage of social

As a
short-term fix, Cafcass plans to employ 15 agency guardians. Eight
started work this week, and it is understood that each one will
deal with up to 12 cases at a time.

move is part of a wider range of measures to tackle the problem,
such as a recruitment drive for employed and self-employed
guardians, improving support to practitioners and allocating cases
to regions with spare capacity.

the decision to use agency staff has been attacked by Nagalro, the
professional association for family court advisers and independent
social work practitioners and consultants. It argues that using
agency staff who are paid more could further erode the relationship
between Cafcass and children’s guardians.

Self-employed guardians are paid
£22.50 an hour in the South East, with agency staff reportedly
receiving between £25 to 30 an hour.

Nagalro is meeting Cafcass this
week to discuss employment quotas, a pay review for employees and
the reintroduction of travel expenses payments.

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