Children placed at risk by family court staff

Children involved in private law proceedings are regularly being placed at “unacceptable risk” by family court workers who fail to adequately assess cases, a damning inspection report warned yesterday.

The report on the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service’s work in private law, by the chief inspector of court administration, Eddie Bloomfield, said front-line services were in need of “urgent” change.

Recent reforms to the service were not being implemented by family court advisers, who were not provided with sufficient guidelines to work effectively, the report found.
Family court advisers “often had deficits in basic interviewing skills” and were disorganised in their work, wasting “scarce resources” on reports for children with no significant welfare issues.

But it said the introduction of new policies, procedures and training by Cafcass chief executive Anthony Douglas were of “a high quality” and would “substantially” improve services if implemented effectively.

Management of front-line practitioners was “unacceptably weak”, however, and there was little evidence of the sharing of best practice.

Douglas said that the since the inspection concluded in March this year, Cafcass had made improvements to its services in line with inspectors’ recommendations, and pointed out that it was already consulting on new guidelines.





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