Ofsteds Study into CAFCASS
Inspectors for the child protection arena are always careful to never blame anyone for bad work.. Ofsted though deserves around of applaus for showing just how badly CAFCASS do their work.
An inspection of service provision by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass)
to children and families in the East Midlands.
The key findings:
inspectors found serious and significant deficits in the service it delivers to children, young people and families
involved in family proceedings, particularly in private law.
Inspectors found an unacceptable number of instances where they could not be assured that a child’s safety or welfare was being safeguarded. Some cases were of such concern that inspectors had to ask Cafcass to take immediate action to satisfy itself that children were indeed safe.
an unacceptable number of case files and case plans to be of an inadequate standard. Many case files did not provide evidence that planning and intervention were proportionate to the child’s needs. Inspectors concluded that too great a number of practitioners concentrate on writing down what has happened rather than concentrating on the very important task of analysing and evaluating information.
Overall, public law reports were of a better standard than private law reports.Key faults in inadequate reports included: lack of clarity over criteria used in assessment; failure to make statements relevant to the conclusions; insufficient evidence to support statements; lack of focus on the wishes and feelings of children; and failure to evaluate the options available to the court, particuarly the implementation of the ‘no order principle’.
The national organisation has developed and the region put into operation systems to quality assure practice. Although this is a positive development, these systems are not yet effective in challenging inadequate practice and delivering improvement. Supervision and appraisal systems concentrate insufficiently on monitoring the performance of practice and providing constructive criticism.
Ofsted makes 10 recommendations to help Cafcass improve practice and service outcomes for children.
Cafcass should take steps to ensure a good quality of case planning and case recording and that accountability is demonstrable through effective management oversight.
Cafcass should develop practice guidance on the assessment of drug using parents in relation to contact.
Cafcass should update its guidance for practitioners about the application of the ‘no order principle’ and ensure that this is underpinned by necessary training.
In order to make sure that all Cafcass child protection and safeguarding practices are of an adequate standard, a thorough audit should be undertaken of the work across all teams to ensure that this work is subject to rigorous quality assurance and compliant with guidance
In order to strengthen the quality assurance of reports to court and to raise overall reporting standards, Cafcass should review its use of peer participation and introduce more robust arrangements including an increased role for senior managers.
In order to improve management of performance and quality of practice, Cafcass should review and strengthen its guidance, particularly around the role and responsibilities of managers, in support of the supervision policy.
Cafcass needs to ensure that information about complaints procedures reaches the significant minority of service users who report that they do not know how to make a complaint.
In the context of organisational change, Cafcass should ensure that service managers understand and implement stated priorities on the improvement agenda.
Cafcass should explore further opportunities for collaborative work with those partners it has a contract with or grant aids.
Cafcass should develop systems to measure the impact and outcome of staff training, to capture these and to ensure that learning is embedded in practice
The full report can be found here
Only time will tell if those recomendations are met. but for once protection has been taken from them and placed where it belongs.