Cafcass stands for Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service.
Cafcass featured in the news this week after it was announced that they are to join the Ministry of Justice. After this change takes place Cafcass will remain separate to social services, the education and the health authorities.
What do they do?
Cafcass operates within the laws set by Parliament and under the rules and directions of the family courts. Their role is to:
- safeguard and promote the welfare of children
- give advice to the family courts
- make provision for children to be represented
- provide information, advice and support to children and their families
Cafcass are responsible for giving children a voice in court proceedings. They act to ensure a child’s welfare is put first when a decision is being made by the court.
When the court asks Cafcass to get involved in a case, the organisation provides experienced practitioners who will give the judge advice, information and recommendations so that they can go on to make a safe and informed decision about a child’s future.
Cafcass’ role is to be an independent advocate for the child, as such, they do not take sides. The most important part of their job includes working with children to find out about their wishes and feelings, and reporting these findings back to the court.
When do they get involved?
Cafcass’ professionally qualified social work staff, called Family Court Advisers (FCAs), work exclusively in the family courts. Examples of matters that may be decided by family courts are:
- When children are subject to an application for care or supervision proceedings by social services (public law)
- An adoption application (public law)
- When parents who are separating or divorcing can’t agree on arrangements for their children (private law)