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Ofsted has is proposing to change the way it inspects Cafcass to one national inspection every year.
Currently Ofsted inspects practice in one of 17 areas at a time and after each inspection an individual report is published. In a consultation launched this week, Ofsted proposes to change this to an annual inspection of Cafcass as a national organisation, supported by a detailed examination of practice in up to six local service areas.
Ofsted say that by carrying out an annual single inspection, it will capture evidence both at local level and across nationally delivered functions. The changes proposed reflect Cafcass' restructure from 21 to 17 service areas with an increased centralisation of national functions, and is based on Cafcass' improved performance. The inspection will be unannounced and will take place over two weeks.
Ofsted's Deputy Chief Inspector, John Goldup said: "Over the last four years Ofsted has reported in detail on Cafcass' performance across the country, and it is encouraging that service delivery has improved significantly over that time. Our new, more streamlined inspection framework will focus on ensuring that improvement is sustained at the national strategic level and on the ground.
"We want inspection to make sure that the best possible outcomes are achieved for children who are subject to family court proceedings, often at a very difficult point in their young lives. We welcome the widest possible range of responses to this consultation from anyone who has an interest in or expertise relating to the Cafcass role in the family court, including critically of course parents, children and young people."
The consultation is open until 12 March with new inspection arrangements coming into effect in September 2013.