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04 AUG 2010

Cafcass chief responds to IAC's position statement

CafcassAnthony Douglas, chief executive of Cafcass, has written to the Interdisciplinary Alliance for Children to respond to their joint position statement with NAGALRO and the Association of Lawyers for Children.

In his letter, Mr Douglas reiterated the progress that Cafcass has made in reducing the number of unallocated cases despite continuing unprecedented demand. Last month Cafcass had 2,746 more care cases fully allocated to practitioners compared to July 2009 (11,493, up from 8,747).

Cafcass has been operating an emergency triaging system to meet its basic minimum legal duty of providing children in care cases with a guardian. The minimum service provided to more children is at the expense of a full service previously provided.

Mr Douglas goes on to say that Cafcass has made extensive use of the services of self-employed contractors. As at 30 July, 1,740 care cases were fully allocated to self-employed contractors.

In his letter Mr Douglas highlights the Revised Private Law Programme guidance published in June by HHJ Altman, the Designated Family Judge for London. Mr Douglas said: "This guidance is supported by a standard template letter, for use in individual cases in accordance with the terms of the local guidance. As [HHJ Altman] has recently pointed out in his correspondence with the ALC, the ALC were active members of and participants in the Advisory Group who helped him to put this guidance together.

"Whilst Cafcass has also been an active partner in discussions about how best to handle increased demand in London (and elsewhere in the rest of England), it is essential to recognise that the arrangements established under the terms of the President’s Interim Guidance operate only with the agreement of the judiciary. This is true in all parts of the country."

Mr Douglas said he would be pleased to accept the invitation issued by the IAC, NAGALRO and the ALC to meet to discuss the issues raised.

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