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New figures released from Cafcass show that the court advisory body saw a 33% increase in the number of public law care cases they received during 2009-10.
Cafcass worked with over 12,100 public law cases in 2009-10, 8,684 of these were care cases, in addition to the 44,700 private law cases which rose by over 15% compared to 2008-09. There were 10,430 public law cases and 38,501 private law cases in 2008-09.
Cafcass chief executive, Anthony Douglas, commented: "The big increase in care cases we've seen is a direct result of the rising numbers of child protection referrals to local authorities and sharp increases in the numbers of children who are now the subject of child protection plans.
"Whilst this has put everyone working in child protection and the family courts under pressure, the research we carried out during the year showed that local authorities are taking appropriate actions to keep these children safe. It is positive that so many more children are getting the help and protection they deserve."
Cafcass also had difficulties with its staff during the 2009-10 period. In December Mr Douglas narrowly avoided his staff going on strike when Napo, the family court union, reached an agreement with management following complaints from frontline staff of soaring caseloads and low morale.
Staff complaints of increased stress are supported in the annual report by the average number of sick days Cafcass employees incurred which increased from 9.7 days in 2008-09 to 11.6 during 2009-10. In addition overall use across the workforce of the Cafcass funded independent counselling rose from 9.4% in 2008 to 11% in 2009.
In an effort to improve the working environment, Cafcass are now looking at recruiting around 50 newly qualified social workers in 2010-11. Cafcass are also planning to encourage professional development by devolving training budgets in 2010-11 to local Cafcass managers.
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