Cafcass rejects Ofsted verdict on its performance

Family courts body Cafcass has disputed Ofsted's conclusion it is a "poorly performing organisation" claiming it is based on inspection reports that do not reflect the current situation.

Family courts body Cafcass has disputed Ofsted’s conclusion it is a “poorly performing organisation” claiming it is based on inspection reports that do not reflect the current situation.

Ofsted’s annual report, published yesterday, criticised the Children and Family Court Advisery and Support Service (Cafcass) for a “continuing failure to improve outcomes”.

Although the watchdog judged Cafcass to be performing satisfactorily this year in case planning, recording and assessment, they said new weaknesses had emerged including performance management, evaluation, equality and diversity and the responsiveness of services.

But Cafcass’ chief executive Anthony Douglas pointed out the report was based on inspections completed before April 2010. He claims the body, which struggled to manage soaring referrals in the wake of the Baby Peter case, has made significant improvements to services this year.

“In real time we are doing much better so we expect future Ofsted reports to be much more positive. We have genuinely improved and we are confident that inspectors will see that,” Douglas said.

A Cafcass spokesperson added: “Since April 2010 there has been a 93% reduction in unallocated care cases which now stand at 39 out of a total of 12,854 care cases and our use of duty allocations in care cases has also fallen by more than 60% between April and November 2010.”

The inspection criteria on which Ofsted inspects Cafcass has also changed since the inspections referenced in Ofsted’s annual report. Community Care is awaiting confirmation from Ofsted on the changes.

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