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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

14 AUG 2008

Cafcass defends itself after third damning Ofsted report

Following the latest Ofsted report last week on a Cafcass area, Anthony Douglass, Chief Executive of Cafcass, has responded to the latest criticism.

Mr Douglass highlighted that the report predated Government grants that will be put towards staff training and the effects of a new national practice and performance assessment system. Under the new system Cafcass practitioners will be graded according to standards currently being agreed with Ofsted. Speaking to the social care website, Community Care, he said that "at the very least" all future inspections of private law would be graded as "adequate".

The report on the South Yorkshire area highlights several areas of weakness with concerns.

Ofsted found that case records often did not show how Cafcass had come to its conclusions about children and there was no evidence of a consistent assessment model used by staff.

They also found that there were delays in servicing private law cases, they were not prioritized systematically and there was no risk analysis of delayed cases.

Cafcass was found to have badly handled initial responses to complaints and service users reported that complaining was felt to be a waste of time.

Commenting on the report, Christine Gilbert, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector, said: "Some of the services provided by Cafcass in South Yorkshire are adequate. However, some failings are serious and improvements are clearly necessary. Overall the region has a number of inadequacies, particularly in the handling of private law cases, where children may be left at risk from domestic violence due to delay in allocation of work, inadequate risk assessment and poor reports to the courts. Ofsted will continue to work with Cafcass in South Yorkshire to ensure that services deliver better outcomes for children, young people and families."

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