Cafcass chief rushes to defence of board members attacked in report

The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service has
defended its board members as pressure mounts for them to resign
after last week’s damning parliamentary report into the service.

In a statement e-mailed to staff immediately after the release of
the report by the select committee of the Department for
Constitutional Affairs, formerly the Lord Chancellor’s Department,
Cafcass chief executive Jonathan Tross said he “personally
regretted” the way the board had been criticised.

“As the report highlights, [they] were given a difficult remit and
have steered Cafcass through a difficult period, demonstrating
dedication and commitment to the interests of children and the
service,” he said.

But organisations from the legal and children’s guardians fields
are calling for some board members to be replaced. Alison Paddle,
chairperson of guardians’ organisation Nagalro, said it would be
“extremely worrying” if there were no changes.

“We want to see some high profile appointments of people who know
the family court business inside out,” she said.

One of the report’s central recommendations is for board membership
to be reviewed after the committee found it had not been
scrutinising the work of management effectively (news, page 6, 24

The Association of Lawyers for Children welcomed the recommendation
to reconstitute the board.

Committee chairperson Alan Beith described the board’s lack of
relevant experience as “striking”. Only one member has previously
represented children in care proceedings.

Tross’s comments will anger the select committee, which referred in
its report to the chairperson and other board members being
“determined to bury their heads in the sand and pretend there is
nothing wrong”.

Beith said changes to the board might help to win back confidence
in the organisation and called for the Department for
Constitutional Affairs and ministers to clarify the relationship
between the board and the department.

The government will respond to the report in the autumn.

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.