Court Reporters - CAFCASS - CAFCASS corporate plan
Children and Family Court Advisory and
Support Service CAFCASS Corporate
Putting children and young people first Children and Family
and Support Service (CAFCASS) Corporate Plan 2003/06
Putting Children and Young People First 2
PUTTING CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE FIRST CORPORATE PLAN 2003/06
Foreword by the Chairman
Section A Our purpose, aims and ambitions 7
Our purpose 7
Our role 7
Our approach 8
Developing the service 8
Our style 10
Supporting our people 11
Delivering value 12
Our ambitions 12
Section B About CAFCASS 14
CAFCASS and Government priorities 14
CAFCASS and the wider family justice system 14
CAFCASS’ roles and responsibilities 15
CAFCASS’ accountability framework 15
CAFCASS’ strategic objectives 16
Section C The starting point for this plan 17
The scale of our service 17
Progress made 18
Consultation on the CAFCASS interim Corporate Plan 19
Section D Future challenges 21
Section E CAFCASS’ resources 22
Section F Delivery strategy 24
Delivering key results 24
Our wider delivery strategy 25
Completing set-up and recovery 26
Improving our performance 27
Using our resources effectively 28
Developing our remit 29
Section G Risks to the delivery strategy 31
A Workload and resources 33
B Board, Executive Team, Regional Managers and other Senior
C Glossary 38
I am very pleased that CAFCASS is now able to publish its
first full Corporate Plan. It builds on the interim Corporate
Plan published in February 2002 and reflects the very real
progress we have made during 2002/03, as well as the outcome
of the consultation exercise we held in May 2002 with our
staff and our key stakeholders.
A key theme from the consultation exercise was the need for
us to get the core service working effectively first. We have
made progress on this over the last year but we accept that
we still have much more to do here. So this will remain a
This Plan is also informed by the outcomes of the Spending
Review 2002 – in terms of the overall priorities set
by the Government, and the resources allocated to us by the
Lord Chancellor’s Department.
We have, over the last year, been able to make progress on
a number of key issues:
We have announced new harmonised terms and conditions for
our employed staff, an essential step in creating a unified
national organisation that is able to respond flexibly to
the demands it faces, and in recruiting in an increasingly
competitive employment market.
We implemented, from April 2002, new contracts for our self-employed
practitioners and implemented new rates from January 2003.
We have piloted an induction training course for new staff
and made further
progress in identifying our requirements for other professional
We have introduced a new website which is much more accessible
and easy to use, particularly for the children and young people
who use our services.
We have consulted on, and now published, our Service Principles
and Standards and our Comments, Compliments and Complaints
These measures are all part of the platform on which we can
now build, to make further progress in improving the service
we provide. However, if we are to move on and play a broader
role within the family justice system, then we need to look
at different ways of working. This will mean reviewing our
own internal ways of working but also working constructively
with our stakeholders, particularly the courts.
We also have to accept that there are limitations on what
we can do. We have to live within the funding we are provided
with by the Lord Chancellor’s Department and there.
are limits on our internal capacity to develop and implement
changes but it is important that we make as much progress
as possible. We will use our funding in the most appropriate
way so that we can make efficiencies and can invest more in
our priority areas at the earliest possible opportunity.
The strategy set out in this Corporate Plan covers both getting
our service right and some proposals for the further development
of our service. This will be a challenging agenda. It takes
more than two years to set up a national organisation from
scratch, given the different structures and traditions we
inherited, and more work is needed to ensure we have the right
infrastructure to support such an organisation. However, we
are also now in a position to capitalise on some of the progress
made and to work collaboratively with
our stakeholders towards ensuring that children and families
get the outcomes they deserve.
There will inevitably be some issues that arise that we have
not been fully able to anticipate. A key issue here will be
the Government’s response to the report of the Victoria
Climbié Inquiry. All of us here in CAFCASS share the
horror that this case has rightly generated. We are studying
carefully the recommendations of the report, to identify those
that have an indirect impact on CAFCASS, and will work closely
with other agencies in the child protection field. We will
also work closely with the Lord Chancellor’s Department
on the Government’s consultation paper on children at
Anthony Hewson, OBE
Chairman of the CAFCASS Board
CAFCASS exists to ensure children and young people are put
first in family proceedings;
that their voices are properly heard; that the decisions made
about them by courts are in their best interests; and that
they and their families are supported throughout the process.
The interests of the child are always at the forefront of
our work. In delivering our remit we want to be active in
promoting children’s welfare. We operate within the
law set by Parliament, and the strategic objectives set by
the Lord Chancellor, and under the rules and directions of
the family courts. Our role in respect of family proceedings
in which the welfare of children is or may be in question,
Safeguard and promote the welfare of the children;
Give advice to the family courts about matters before it;
Make provision for children to be represented; and
Provide information, advice and support for children and their
We can act only within the legal functions given to us. In
all our work we will respect the rights of those we deal with
in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights,
as enforceable in England and Wales through the Human Rights
Act 1998. We will also seek to promote the rights of children
set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of
In delivering our remit we aim to:
Engage with children and families so what we do is determined
by their needs.
Seek the best we can for all the children and families we
serve within the resources available to us.
Measure and account for what we do so that our performance
is open to scrutiny.
We recognise that our measures only imperfectly capture what
is the real test of
success for all involved in the family justice system –
improving the outcomes and life chances for the children.
Develop national standards and procedures, which apply across
England and Wales, so that we are delivering a consistent
Welcome feedback on our work and provide a transparent procedure
for complaints to be assessed and answered.
Base our practice on research and evaluation, equipping our
practitioners with the knowledge they need to do their work.
Continuously improve the service, using our broad spread of
work and practice to
evaluate and promote best practice and test new ways of working.
Respect that, while our advice should be authoritative, it
is the independent courts that are entrusted by Parliament
to make the decision in individual cases.
The core of our service is advising the courts in family proceedings
so that they reach the best decisions for the children. Our
credibility rests on our success and professionalism in doing
The ambitions set for us by Parliament go beyond that. We
Make an active input to broader policy development across
our knowledge and independent perspective to contribute to
policies to improve
services for children; and
Develop the broader support and advice role that those who
argued for a national body aspired to and Parliament entrusted
In private law we promote the welfare of children in cases
where the parents remain responsible for their children. Generally
in these cases we are the sole representative of the child’s
interests and source of independent professional advice to
the courts. We:
Recognise that the best outcomes for children will usually
be where parents
themselves reach agreement, as the great majority do without
recourse to the
courts. State intervention in family life where agreement
cannot be reached may be needed but is generally likely to
be second best.
Become involved where parents cannot agree, where there may
be hurt and
emotion that create conflict, and where delays and adversarial
harden that conflict.
Aim to test more active engagement with families at the point
they approach the
court, providing advice and support to broker agreements where
that has a realistic prospect of success. We would aim to
shift more resources to this area if they can be released
from elsewhere in the system.
Recognise that, where there is no prospect of agreement, the
interests of the child may best be achieved by formal decisions
as soon as possible, and that in a defined minority of cases
separate representation of the child may be needed.
Fully support the aim of maintaining contact between the child
and both parents
where that is in the child’s best interests.
Recognise that further research is required about the circumstances
contact with a non-resident parent is in a child’s best
interests, particularly in cases of high conflict.
Recognise that arrangements reached between parents through
the courts may be fragile. Children’s needs and views
change over time, and successful contact takes hard work,
is aided by goodwill, and current sanctions against non-compliance
may be judged disproportionate.
Wish to work with and provide support for others, particularly
those in the voluntary sector, engaged in advising families
and supporting contact. We believe we have a distinctive role
in facilitating contact arrangements which may, over time,
improve the family relationship.
In public law we safeguard and promote the welfare of the
children, ensuring the voice of the child is heard, in cases
where the parental responsibility for the child is under challenge.
We become involved following intervention by other front-line
child protection agencies so our role is affected by the quality
and effectiveness of their work. We:
Safeguard the child, who will be a party to the proceedings,
working with a solicitor appointed to represent the child.
Work with local authority social services departments who
have the direct
responsibility to protect and support children in need and
provide services for their families; the solicitors who provide
legal representation of the interests and rights of the other
parties; other professionals and the courts that make the
Make investigations, assure what others do, aim for clarity
of roles and partnership so that we add professional value,
where possible develop a common approach on what is best for
the child, and advise clearly where our opinion differs.
Commit to work with others in the child protection system
so that children at risk
are safeguarded and to reduce the level of delay in the family
justice system, which is currently too long to the detriment
of the children. We will work with others through our practitioners
to ensure that we focus on providing the best advice in the
shortest time we can achieve.
We welcome the reform of adoption law heralded by the Adoption
and Children Act 2002 and in particular that, when it comes
into force, the child’s welfare, throughout his life,
will be the paramount consideration of the court and adoption
Generally we work with others: first, and most important,
the children themselves whose voices may be lost in the formal
proceedings, together with their families; our partners in
the family justice and child protection systems; and our stakeholders.
Will seek children and families’ views and measure their
satisfaction with what
Will consult those with an interest where we look to change
and develop our
services and publish the outcome of that consultation.
Want to be open and accountable so that what we do is explained
in leaflets and
other means, transparent, and well communicated.
Will be honest about what we can achieve, aspiring to do more
but not promising
more than is deliverable.
Will work with our partners in the social services, courts,
legal and voluntary
providers of service to provide a common approach and effective
Will ensure the efficient overall management of our resources.
Expect the courts to share responsibility for best use of
our resources, in each
particular case and more generally.
We know that we deliver service only through the skills and
commitment of all our people, the professional practitioners
and those who support their work. We:
Value and respect the professionalism of all our practitioners,
whether they have
joined CAFCASS from the Family Court Welfare Service, the
Guardian ad Litem
Service, the Children’s Division of the Official Solicitor,
or from outside these three organisations.
Know that much of the knowledge of what CAFCASS does rests
largely with the
people who provide the service. We will build on that in deciding
policies and plans.
Need to respect practitioners’ professional judgement
in advising on individual
cases, operating within a clear accountability and performance
framework for what they do.
Will take the opportunity of a national service to develop
our staff’s knowledge and skills across the public and
private law boundaries that divided the work before CAFCASS,
extending their expertise to provide a more flexible and effective
Believe learning between public and private law practice is
a two way process. Each of the three main traditions brought
together into CAFCASS has strengths to offer to develop a
better whole and increased professionalism.
Know we need to develop a more diverse work force; we will
support our people in equipping them to deliver services across
the range of communities we serve.
Commit to work in line with the Partnership Agreement with
the unions who
represent our staff.
We operate within the resources – people, money and
systems – available to us. We:
Commit to increase the quality and productivity of what we
do, through developing
Will use performance management and measurement of what we
do to seek
continuous improvement in the efficiency and effectiveness
of our service.
Move as fast as we can to allocate available resources equitably
in relation to
workload rather than the historical inheritance, and encourage
ownership for their use by those delivering the service.
Will aim to use our buildings to provide the right environment
for families and our
staff, and use technology to improve the access of the public
to our services and the efficiency of our management of cases.
Measure and compare performance so that people know what is
expected of them, can assess their performance against that
of others, are accountable for their service delivery, and
are encouraged and challenged to improve.
We will measure our success over the period of the Corporate
Plan by the extent to which we have:
Effectively engaged with children and families so that our
service reflects their
needs and views.
Remedied current service shortfalls, providing a consistent
level of service across
the country and in both public and private law.
Delivered evidence-based practice, informed by knowledge,
research and evaluation of what best meets the needs and interests
Managed our performance so that what we do is measurable and
recognising that the performance levels in this plan are those
we can commit to, not those we aspire to longer-term.
Become recognised by our partners for providing a high quality
service and working together with them to improve services.
Worked with others to reduce delays in the family justice
system and to increase
child welfare and protection.
Refocused some of our resources to provide more support for
children and families at the early stage of proceedings to
reduce adversarial conflict and promote better outcomes for
children and families.
Become influential in the policy debate, using our independence
and knowledge to be an active voice for children in developing
Created a national organisation, with a common culture, standards
and terms and conditions for our people so that we are organised
for success, and are on course for recognition as an Investor
Engaged our people and released their creativity, so that
we build on their
knowledge and develop their skills and expertise to improve
Become an organisation that people want to join and take pride
in working for.
Matched our resources to demands placed on us so that our
service is efficient and effective for all those we serve.
In short, CAFCASS must truly make a difference for the children
and families we exist to serve.
CAFCASS is a national Non Departmental Public Body (NDPB)
for England and Wales, set up in April 2001, providing services
that support children in family proceedings. We have an important
role in protecting children – a key part of delivering
the government’s objectives in relation to tackling
child poverty and combating social exclusion.
We contribute to the Lord Chancellor’s aims and objectives
for family justice. The relevant strategic objective, set
out in the Public Service Agreement published as part of Spending
Review 2002, is:
“Reduce social exclusion, protect the vulnerable and
children, including maintaining contact between children and
the non-resident parent after a family breakdown, where appropriate.”
CAFCASS does not operate in isolation. What we do needs to
be considered within the context of the wider family justice
system. In order to deliver our remit, and ensure children
receive the best outcome possible, we need to work effectively
with other parts of the family justice system and other stakeholders.
On establishing joint protocols and working practices to reduce
delays and improve the quality of service to children. Government
departments in promoting the national agenda for children
and families, shaping and implementing related
legislation and policy. Voluntary organisations providing
services to children
and families, particularly partners providing contact centres,
mediation services and advocacy and support services.
Local Authorities particularly Social Services Departments
and Area Child
Protection Committees (ACPCs) on sharing professional development
and joint strategies for promoting and safeguarding the welfare
of children. Other professionals and professional organisations
who are engaged with the
family justice system including child psychiatrists, psychologists,
health visitors and the police.
Legal Services Commission which provides funding for children
and parents to be legally represented in nearly all public
law cases, for parents to be legally represented in many private
law cases, and for children to be legally represented
in some private law cases.
Our primary duties (as shown in section A above) are set out
in the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000. Specifically
we provide a service to the courts in family proceedings under
Children Act 1989
Adoption Act 1976
Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990
In these different proceedings, CAFCASS officers are appointed
by the court to provide a report and to fulfil the respective
functions of Children & Family Reporter, Children’s
Guardian, Reporting Officer, Guardian ad Litem, Parental Order
Reporter and Litigation Friend.
The Adoption and Children Act 2002 will create new challenges
(see Section D). In addition, we currently provide over £1million
per year to around 160 different projects provided by our
partners in the voluntary sector, in support of Contact Centres
and Mediation Services.
The relationship between CAFCASS and the Lord Chancellor’s
Department is set out in an agreed Framework Document, comprising
a Management Statement and Financial Memorandum. This specifies:
The rules and guidelines we must operate within.
The conditions under which public funds are paid to us.
How we are to account for our performance.
The relationship between us and the Lord Chancellor and his
We are accountable, through our Chairman and the Board, to
the Lord Chancellor for ensuring that our policies are compatible
with those of the Lord Chancellor and for probity in the conduct
of our affairs. The Lord Chancellor is accountable to Parliament
for our activities and performance.
When CAFCASS was created in April 2001 the Lord Chancellor
set us six key objectives, and these remain in place for the
period covered by this Corporate Plan:
Represent, safeguard and promote the welfare of children involved
family court proceedings. It will aim to deliver demonstrable
in the outcomes of the child’s experience of the CAFCASS
develop, in consultation with the department, effective measures
monitor and demonstrate this.
Improve the services offered to the family courts. There should
demonstrable improvements in the timeliness and quality of
and support given to courts. CAFCASS should develop and agree
the department ways for this to be monitored and assessed,
a proxy of quality.
To improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the services
through increased value for money. Any resources thus freed
used to improve quality, extend services or fund additional
of core services.
To improve the services offered to families and other key
There should be demonstrable and measurable improvements in
services offered, for example, through improved access to
Again, effective measures of performance should be developed
consultation with the department.
To develop the skills of staff. CAFCASS should develop and
personnel policies and training/development strategies that
are fair and
allow all officers and staff to fulfil their potential, individually
collectively, to contribute most effectively to the aims of
CAFCASS should play a full role in delivering the wider Government
agenda of improvements in service. It should have in place
mechanisms to deliver key Government objectives such as
Chartermark, Investors in People, modernising Government etc.
The starting point for this plan Background CAFCASS is still
a young organisation, only two years old. We brought together
three broad areas of service, and staff from 117 previous
employing authorities. Creating a cohesive, national organisation
in those circumstances was always going to be a significant
challenge. Our Annual Report for the year 2001/02 (available
on our website
sets out our progress in our first year.
We are organised into nine English regions, and Wales. These
are supported by a small headquarters team and by CAFCASS
9 English Regions and Wales Board Chief Executive HQ Operations
Finance Secretariat Communications Human Resources Legal Services
We directly employ 1904 staff, including 1233 practitioners,
and we also use the service of 390 self-employed practitioners
under contractual arrangements introduced in 2002.
Over the course of the 2002/03 year we expect to deal with
over 35,000 private law cases and nearly 14,000 public law
cases. In total we expect to help some 75,500 children. This
is in the context of some 160,000 divorces and family breakdowns
in a year, and some 5,000 adoptions.
Further information is given in Annex A.
Progress made During the last year we have been able to progress
a number of key initiatives, crucial in our programme of action
to create a unified national organisation and improve the
quality of our service delivery. In particular we have:
Announced, effective from July 2003, harmonised pay and conditions
for new and
existing staff. This is designed to help us recruit and retain,
within a very competitive employment market sector, the staff
we need. Without it, we will not be able to develop a single
organisation and deploy our staff effectively.
As part of harmonisation, we have developed CAFCASS job profiles
to support the development of our organisation. These will
enable us to have clear roles and career structure for our
staff. Practitioners will be encouraged and supported, where
appropriate, to extend their skills across public and private
law, managers will have a broader responsibility to manage
the service in the locality, and administrators will support
both public and private law practitioners. This will enable
us to provide a more flexible service, capable of responding
more effectively to new demands.
Run major recruitment campaigns to increase the number of
our practitioners. Since April 2002 we have recruited over
200 new practitioners.
Implemented, from April 2002, a new contract for our self-employed
guardians with reviewed and improved terms with effect from
January 2003. As with our employed staff this will enable
us to offer fees that are more competitive within the market.
It also renews the basis for the operation of a mixed economy
in our service delivery.
Developed, following a consultation exercise, new Service
Principles and Standards for implementation from April 2003.
These will enable us to offer common standards across the
England and Wales and improve the overall standard of our
Begun the rollout of a new induction programme and, in conjunction
with the Royal Holloway College, London University, are developing
a modular programme of subject specific topics. This links
to our commitment to ensuring our staff have the training
and skills they need to do their jobs effectively and professionally.
Completed a tender exercise to replace our current finance
information technology contract. New arrangements become effective
from April 2003, and are aimed at giving us a more robust
system, more suited to our needs, and giving much more detailed
management information. In addition, we have put in place
new arrangements for external legal advice. Both of these
new contractual provisions show our commitment to demonstrating
better value in the use of our resources.
Made significant improvements in our communications, with
the introduction of a
revised website, new leaflets on our core services, and by
being more proactive and engaged with the press and other
All these measures will give us a sound platform on which
to make further progress over the coming three years. Nonetheless,
we accept that there is still much to do. We have undertaken
a significant programme of recruitment over the year (resulting
in the appointment of 210 new practitioners) and we are also
implementing service review plans. These actions are beginning
to show results, but there still remains service shortfalls
in both public and private law in some parts of England and
Wales. The additional resources available in 2003/04 will
enable a substantial increase in capacity and our ability
to deliver and improve our overall core service delivery.
Our key challenge, in partnership with the courts, is to reduce
substantially delays and provide an equitable and consistent
high quality service nationally. We are now putting in place
the people, systems and structures to create a single, cohesive
In our interim Corporate Plan, published in February 2002,
we undertook to consult with our staff and stakeholders, in
order to inform this revised Plan. The results of that exercise
have been published in a summary report (available on our
website at www.cafcass.gov.uk).
The key themes that emerged from that exercise were:
Getting the core service working effectively first.
Taking stock on the meaning of ‘convergence’ in
public and private law practice.
Valuing the workforce including issues of pay and conditions,
training, qualifications, and their involvement in developing
Establishing an information base including management information,
indicators, targets and research capacity.
Identity including leadership, managing the ‘brand’,
The breadth of remit including partnerships, influence, and
the other ‘S’ (Support) in CAFCASS’ name.
As noted above, we have already been able to make some significant
progress in a number of these areas, for example in addressing
our service delivery problems,
harmonising our pay and conditions, beginning the roll-out
of our training programme, improving our communications and
improving our management information. These themes have also
informed the development of our delivery programme, set out
in Section F.
Future challenges In developing this Corporate Plan we have
taken into account, as far as we are able to, changes arising
from those external developments we know will affect the service
However, there are a number of issues on the horizon where
the effects of any changes are less clear-cut at this stage.
We will continue to work with, in particular, the Lord Chancellor’s
Department, other central Government Departments and Local
Authorities, to assess what they might mean for our service,
and to ensure that any changes are implemented effectively.
As this plan cannot take full account of these issues, we
will be reviewing it regularly so that any significant changes
can be reflected.
The main issues likely to have some impact for us are:
The Victoria Climbié Inquiry – like all organisations
working with children we are
looking carefully at the recommendations in Lord Laming’s
report and reviewing our internal procedures and liaison arrangements
with other agencies.
The Children at Risk Consultation Paper – we will be
working closely with the
Lord Chancellor’s Department and other relevant organisations
to ensure issues
affecting our work are identified and that, where appropriate,
we contribute to the delivery of any changes to current arrangements
for dealing with children at risk implemented as a result
of this consultation.
Domestic violence and risk to children – in partnership
with the Lord Chancellor’s
Department, the National Association of Child Contact Centres
and others we will
continue to contribute to multi-agency initiatives, informed
by recent research, aimed at improving risk assessment and
increasing safe contact between children and their non-resident
The Adoption and Children Act 2002 – this is likely
to have an impact on our
workload and will require training on the new provisions and
procedures for our
staff. We are currently working with the Lord Chancellor’s
Department and the
Department of Health on the detailed implementation issues.
Separate Representation – The Adoption and Children
Act 2002 also signals that
more children should be made a party in private law cases,
than has been the case to date. We will be working with the
Lord Chancellor’s Department and with the Legal Services
Commission to consider what changes might arise from this
provision and what the impact for us will be.
Our resource funding for 2003/04 is £95 million. This
compares to our budget of £84.5 million in 2002/03.
This compares to a recurring costs budget of £72 million
(with an additional £8 million for specific set up costs)
The bulk of our funding – 80% – will be spent
on staff costs (including our employed staff, self-employed
practitioners and contract and agency staff). The following
chart shows how our spending is broken down.
Our operating structures have a significant impact on the
proportion of our spending on overhead costs, such as accommodation
and computers. For example, we operate from some 170 different
locations across England and Wales but we also have a significant
number (some 250) home-workers who are provided with the same
computer facilities as office workers, to enable them to carry
out their duties effectively. In addition we need to reimburse
our employed practitioners for the significant amount of travel
they have to undertake in the course of completing their cases.
Self Employed 6%
The increases in our funding since we were set up are welcome.
Nonetheless, there are significant unavoidable costs and pressures
that have to be met from that funding, before we can consider
extending our services. These include:
Potential increases in private and public law workloads. The
judicial statistics showed a significant increase in the number
of cases (in both private and public law) in 2001 from the
numbers in 2000. There is also a growing expectation about
what a CAFCASS officer should do in each case. Delay in public
law proceedings has increased the average number of hours
spent by a CAFCASS officer in each case.
The ongoing costs of the harmonisation of pay and conditions
and the revised selfemployed guardians fees. It is essential
that we invest in our practitioners if we are to attract and
retain sufficient numbers of staff and contractors.
Increased accommodation costs, as a result of leaseholds coming
to an end and the need to ensure staff are housed in fit-for-purpose
Costs not fully identified when CAFCASS was established, for
costs and Value Added Tax. Our Value Added Tax costs are some
£3 million a year, costs which our predecessor organisations
did not have to meet.
Further information about how this funding breaks down is
given in Annex A.
In support of the Lord Chancellor’s six key objectives,
we have agreed a range of key performance indicators (KPIs)
for 2003/04 against which the overall delivery of our core
service can be judged. Performance against these KPIs will
inform those to be set for subsequent years. We will be aiming
to improve our performance year on year.
These objectives relate to delivering the core service of
CAFCASS. The performance indicators supporting these objectives
In public law no less than 80% of cases should be allocated
within 7 days.
In private law cases at least 95% of requests in the month
should be allocated 10 weeks before the filing date.
Carry out during 2003/04 a customer satisfaction survey to
inform the development of a service improvement action plan.
Represent, safeguard and promote the welfare of children
KEY OBJECTIVE 1
KEY OBJECTIVE 2
KEY OBJECTIVE 4
Improve the services offered to the family courts
To improve the services offered to families and other key
Key objectives 3, 5 and 6
These objectives relate to providing the appropriate financial,
staffing and other resources structure to enable delivery
of the core service set out in key objectives 1, 2 and 4.
The performance indicators supporting these objectives are:
All new recruits to have received induction training within
16 weeks of joining.
Sickness absence rate of no higher than 5% (equivalent to
12 days per person
Manage our funding to live within, subject to a 1% tolerance
limit, our resource
allocation of £95 million.
During 2003/04 develop a demonstrably robust methodology for
costs and assess the baseline position, to inform specific
indicators from 2004/05.
Our wider delivery strategy
Our focus over the coming three years centres on:
completing our set-up and recovery programmes
improving our performance
managing our resources effectively and efficiently
developing our remit
To improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the services
KEY OBJECTIVE 3
KEY OBJECTIVE 5
KEY OBJECTIVE 6
CAFCASS should play a full role in delivering the wider Government
agenda of improvements in service
We have made very good progress over the last year, for example
harmonisation package, recruitment exercises, recovery plans,
and new contracts for our IT and external legal support. In
order to consolidate this, and make further progress, we need
to ensure that our staff are equipped to do their jobs with
the right infrastucture support and the right training.
We also need to recognise that much of our work is demand
led. Increases in volumes could seriously undermine our ability
to make progress.
To address these points, over the period of this Plan we will:
Implement Service Reviews (Key Objective 1). During the current
year we have
completed a programme of reviews in each of our English Regions
and in Wales. The purpose of these reviews has been to look
at the resources currently available, to identify steps needed
to clear backlogs of work or delayed timescales for report,
and to review resource requirements.
In 2003/04 each region will agree and implement an action
plan covering issues such as recruitment, training, structured
use of overtime, management of long term sickness.
Complete the harmonisation of our terms and conditions (Key
During the current year we announced, following extensive
consultation with our
Trade Union partners, revised terms and conditions for our
In 2003/04 our aim is that most of our staff should transfer
to these new terms.
Continue to enhance our internal and external communications
Objective 4). Our staff and our stakeholders need up to date
what progress we are making and what more still needs to be
In 2003/04 we will be issuing new leaflets about our service,
aimed specifically at
Develop a more integrated and flexible service through the
practitioner workloads and management (Key Objectives 1 and
5). This will be
supported by a modular programme of practice training and
development, covering the full range of the statutory functions
of our practitioners.
In 2003/04 we will ensure all service managers receive training
to manage their
teams successfully post-harmonisation.
Improving our performance The Service Principles and Standards,
which come into effect across the whole of CAFCASS from April
2003, will be a key element of our strategy to improve our
performance. The introduction of key performance indicators
across a range of our work will also enable us to assess our
In addition, ensuring our staff are trained and developed
is important. We have already begun to rollout our induction
and training programme.
Over the period of this Plan we will:
Set up effective joint working arrangements with the judiciary
Objective 2). We already have very productive discussions
with the President of
the Family Division, with local courts, and with the Courts
Service. We now need to build on these, to ensure that the
referral of cases and court listings are managed effectively,
and to help reduce the delays in cases.
In 2003/04 we will work with the Lord Chancellor’s Department,
the Court Service and the judiciary on developing and implementing
a protocol for the case
management of public law proceedings. We also believe there
will be further value in developing a similar protocol for
private law proceedings.
Implement a programme to evaluate and disseminate best practice
Objective 1). We will be reviewing our legacy to look at what
works best and to
develop a more consistent approach across all of our service.
In 2003/04 we will undertake, with our Regional Managers,
an audit of good practice examples.
Complete a review of what is needed for professional and practice
development, and implement the recommendations (Key Objectives
1 and 5).
This will include ensuring appropriate operational procedures
and practice guidance are in place, reviewing training requirements,
and ensuring that we implement effective systems for communicating
relevant publications and legal decisions, and set up effective
In 2003/04 we will roll-out nationally induction training
for new recruits, aiming to
ensure they receive the training within three months of joining.
We will also work
with the Royal Holloway College, London University to finalise
a modular training
framework for our practitioners, with the aim of introducing
this training from the
? Develop new case management systems supported by technology
Objective 3). Our current systems are mainly manual and we
have no national
database of all our cases. We plan to develop new systems
to enable us to have a better understanding of our overall
caseload and will facilitate more effective
In 2003/04 we will take forward the development of better
Engage further with families and children (Key Objective 4).
promoting the welfare of children is central to our work.
We will be developing a
customer satisfaction survey in order that we can understand
how the families and children for whom we work see our services.
We will then use the results to
develop action plans to deliver improvements in the future.
We will also be looking at how we can best engage with children
more widely, to understand their experiences of CAFCASS.
In 2003/04 we will complete the customer satisfaction survey
and develop action
plans for implementation in later years.
Our staff are our key resource in our efforts to improve our
service. We are committed to ensuring that they all receive
appropriate training and development, are enabled to reach
their full potential, and are appropriately and fairly rewarded
for the work they undertake.
Our human resources policies and strategies to support this
will be developed with our staff, and working in partnership
with our trade union partners.
Over the period of this Plan we will:
Aim to achieve the standards for Investors in People accreditation
Objective 5). We will be looking to develop our practice in
accordance with the
standards set by the Investors In People award. In 2003/04
we will undertake a workforce survey as part of our initial
Ensure our staff are equipped to work with all the communities
we serve (Key
Objective 5). We will ensure that staff are enabled to work
with children and
families from the diverse communities requiring our services.
We will also ensure
that our recruitment practices encourage applications from
communities, particularly those that are under-represented.
In 2003/04 we will be finalising our staff and user diversity
We will continue to use our resources efficiently and effectively
to ensure the best value for money. Our new contracts for
IT services and external legal advice will enable us to realise
efficiencies in respect of the costs of those services. In
addition, over the period of this plan, we will:
Introduce a fairer financial resource allocation system (Key
Because of our inadequate data systems resources have mainly
throughout our organisation on the basis of historical expenditure.
However, our new
finance IT system will ensure we have a much better range
of data available to us.
This will enable us to develop methods of allocation that
are more equitably related to demand and workloads, and to
track expenditure throughout the year.
In 2003/04 we will continue the process of refining our budget
allocation methods and progressively introduce the new system
for 2004/05 and 2005/06.
Keep our organisational structures under review (Key Objective
3). Over the
coming years we will be facing new demands and consider that
some changes to
our current structures will be needed. We are now concluding
a review of our future requirements.
In 2003/04 we will ensure that new structures are implemented
where appropriate and that in all parts of our organisation
we recruit up to agreed staffing levels.
Manage our change and development programme effectively (Key
We have a significant number of measures to implement over
the period (including new IT systems, new policies and procedures,
training programmes). We will be introducing a work programme,
managed at a strategic level by a Programme Board, and with
clearer roles and responsibilities for all those involved.
This will help to ensure that any emerging problems are identified
at an early stage and appropriate remedial action taken.
Over the period of this plan the Programme Board will meet
regularly to assure
We help and support children who are involved in court proceedings,
and we are working with other stakeholders to reduce delays
in the overall handling of cases. But in some instances, particularly
in private law cases, children’s best interests might
be best served if issues can be resolved without the need
for the courts to get involved. CAFCASS will look to test
where alternatives to court proceedings might assist resolution
(for example by more use of conciliation). We believe we will
be well placed to play a key role here given our wealth of
experience and professional knowledge. It will also be in
the best interests of children to ensure that best use is
made of finite practitioner resources.
Over the period of this plan we will be reviewing these issues
Continue our joint working and dialogue with our stakeholders
Objective 6). CAFCASS’ role in supporting children cannot
be looked at in isolation
– it needs to be considered within the whole spectrum
of the family justice system.
So we need to work effectively with central Government, other
public bodies and
the voluntary sector to ensure that the system overall works
most effectively for children.
In 2003/04 we will finalise with the National Association
of Child Contact Centres a protocol to underpin our partnership
arrangements with contact centres. This will enable us to
adopt a clearer and more consistent practice with the centres.
Pilot new ways of working (Key Objective 6). We believe that
the best interests
of children may be better served, in private law cases, by
taking more action to avoid cases coming to adversarial and
expensive court hearings – by targeting cases earlier
in the court process. However, there is little evidence available
about the comparative outcomes for different ways of working.
To address this, we propose to work jointly with our stakeholders
on piloting actions at different stages in the process: outside
the family justice system (eg at the Solicitor stage), early
mediation and advice, and active CAFCASS case management at
the Court application stage.
Implement new arrangements with our voluntary sector partners
Objective 1). During the current year we have completed a
consultation exercise on how to make the most effective use
of the funding we provide to support contact centres and mediation
services. We will be implementing the changes announced as
a result of that exercise.
In 2003/04 we will work closely with our partners on the transfer
to new contractual arrangements. We will develop and issue
new guidance for staff, undertake training, and will review
and implement new contracts with partners from September 2003.
The Adoption and Children Act 2002 (Key Objective 1). We are
working with the
Lord Chancellor’s Department and Department of Health
on the development of the regulations and the implementation
of this new legislation.
In 2003/04 we will develop our internal guidance and procedures
on the effects of the new legislation.
We are committed to deliver the strategies and proposals set
out in this Plan. However, as an organisation whose work is
demand led, which is still facing a number of problems in
relation to the allocation of work, which has still not recruited
to full strength, and which still has gaps in its infrastructure
support, we face a number of risks.
Our internal planning and management processes build in risk
management. Key to this is our risk register. The register
currently identifies our top ten risks as:
Failure to establish ourselves as an effective organisation,
plan for the future and develop our intended remit Operations
Failing or inadequate service delivery
Ineffective management as a result of poor management systems
and Information Human Resources
Inability to recruit, develop and motivate high calibre staff
Lack of management capacity
Current and future budget does not meet increasing demands
or is ineffectively
Key systems or premises are unavailable for significant periods
Lack of confidence and support from external stakeholders
prevents us operating effectively
We are in breach of our legal and regulatory obligations
Our governance arrangements leave us operating ineffectively
and in breach of our Framework Document.
We will review the risk register regularly to ensure that
any changes to the risks we face are assessed and that our
plans for managing the risks are updated and amended as necessary.
This work is directed by the Audit Committee.
In addition, the Programme Board will be meeting regularly
to assure the progress of the overall work programme. The
programme includes the measures set out in this Corporate
Plan, and the Programme Board will be monitoring projects
to ensure they are on track to deliver and that risks to delivery
are being managed effectively.
Anticipated workloads in the period 2003/06
Note: 2003/04 to 2005/06 based on current trends. Our workload
is determined by the number of applications to the family
courts and is not within our direct control.
Annual income and expenditure forecast for 2003/06
Type of work 2002/03 2003/04 2004/05 2005/06 forecast projections
Private Law Reports 35,100 35,500 35,900 36,300
Public Law Cases (incl. Adoptions)
13,700 13,900 14,100 14,300
Family Assistance Orders 570 650 750 850
Privileged Mediations 4,445 4,500 4,600 4,700
Income 2003/04 Anticipated expenditure 2003/04
Resource budget 95,000 Employed staff 70,111
Legal Services 50 Self-employed contractors 6000
Running costs 7790
(depreciation/capital charges) 2500
TOTAL 95,050 TOTAL 95,050
Note: Some self-employed guardians are used in more than one
region. The total number used is 390.
Note: position at 28 February 2003
Region Self-employed Employed staff (headcount) In Post In
(headcount) (Whole Time Equivalent)
Eastern 50 125 102
East Midlands 23 138 120
Headquarters 54 54
Legal Services 14 14
London 130 200 173
North East 13 117 106
North West 29 298 263
South East 97 190 146
South West 35 168 140
Wales 16 147 129
West Midlands 38 206 179
Yorkshire & Humberside 13 247 211
TOTALS 444 1904 1637
Total number of starters 427 Total number of leavers 140 Projected
annual turnover 6.86%
Staff Group (employed) In Post (headcount)
Family Court Advisors 579
Children and Family Reporter 634
Private Law Managers 62
Public Law Managers 51
Directors (inc. Chief Executive) 5
Senior Managers 34
Administrative Staff 410
Ancilliary Staff 26
Notes: Senior Managers – Assistant Directors, Regional
Managers and Business Managers
Specialists – Lawyers and HR Advisors
Administrative Staff – Regional and Headquarters support
Building on our initial infrastructure, networked services
have been extended by 300 PCs to cater for the expansion in
staff in offices and working from home. A new contract has
been let for the supply of IT services after a full competitive
process. This will run for three years with the possibility
of an extension for a further two.
The infrastructure is fully equipped to deliver the new financial
and payroll systems which are due to come on-line in March
2003, and further developments in the delivery of centralised
services such as management reporting and knowledge information
are planned for the coming year.
We have spent approx £3.4 million on running, expanding
and enhancing the IT services during the last year; and plan
£3.2 million next year.
We now have a total of 148 properties on our estate. Of these
95 are planned for longterm occupation, 20 planned for disposal
in 2003/04 and 20 planned for disposal in 2004/05. In addition
13 of the properties are interview facilities only.
We have spent some £1.2 million in 2002/03 acquiring
and upgrading our property estate.
Details of Board, Executive Team, Regional and other Senior
Managers Board Members
Anthony Hewson OBE Chair
Angela Killick Deputy Chair
Anne Morgan OBE JP
Jonathan Tross Chief Executive
Sarah Carrington Director of Human Resources
Anne Chan MBE Director of Operations
Jonathan Kalemera Director of Finance
Charles Prest Director of Legal Services
Mara Broome Head of Secretariat and Corporate Planning
Cathy Byrne Head of Communications
Sheena Adam (North West)
Elizabeth Coe (East Midlands)
Alan Critchley (Eastern*)
Suzie Goodman (London)
Andrew Guymer (West Midlands*)
Elizabeth Hall (North East)
Dafydd Ifans (Director CAFCASS (Cymru))
Jo Lock (South East)
Barbara Melville (Yorkshire and Humberside)
Lamorna Wooderson (South West)
(* Acting Regional Manager)
Simon Bartrum Interim Assistant Director of Operations
Ola Fajobi Assistant Director of Human Resources
Mike Hinchliffe Senior Lawyer, Legal Services and Special
Sharon Reed Assistant Director of Finance
Denise Rickards Assistant Director of Human Resources
Lennox Simpson Assistant Director of Finance
Lamorna Wooderson Interim Assistant Director of Operations
Glossary of Terms
Children and Family Reporter - CAFCASS officer appointed in
private law proceedings to report to the court on matters
relating to the welfare of the child.
Children’s Guardian - CAFCASS’ officer appointed
in public law and adoption proceedings to safeguard the interests
of the child.
Contact Centre - A neutral venue where children in separated
families can enjoy contact with one (or both) parents and
sometimes other family members, in a comfortable and safe
environment when there is no viable alternative.
Family Courts - There is no single ‘family court’
in England and Wales. Family proceedings are dealt with in
courts at all levels by specially designated and trained members
of the judiciary and magistrates.
Family Court Advisor - This non-statutory term refers to CAFCASS
officers contracted to fulfil all the different roles a CAFCASS
case officer can be asked to perform.
The Family Court Welfare Service - The Family Court Welfare
part of the remit of the probation service. The primary objective
of all family court welfare work undertaken by the probation
services was to help the courts
in their task of serving the needs of children whose parents
are involved in
disputes in private law.
Financial Memorandum - The Financial Memorandum sets out in
greater detail certain aspects of the financial provisions
which CAFCASS is
required to observe.
Framework Document - The Framework Document comprises a Management
Statement and Financial Memorandum. Drawn up by the Lord Chancellor,
it was agreed with CAFCASS, the Cabinet Office and HM Treasury.
It took effect from 1 April 2001. The arrangements set out
in the Framework Document are to be reviewed formally at least
every fifth year but it will be reviewed and updated before
then if needed.
Guardian ad Litem - This term is now limited to a role for
the separate representation of a child that usually only arises
in particularly difficult
private law proceedings. Where it arises it will usually (but
not always) be an
officer of CAFCASS who is appointed.
Guardian ad Litem and Reporting - Officer Service Provided
children’s guardians (formerly called Guardians ad litem)
and reporting officers prior to the establishment of CAFCASS.
Key Objectives - Objectives set by the Lord Chancellor to
be met in establishing, developing and maintaining CAFCASS.
Key Performance Indicator - Key performance targets and indicators
relate to the key objectives agreed by the Lord Chancellor
and set out in CAFCASS’ Corporate and Business Plans.
They are selected to measure movement towards or away from
a pre-defined target.
Litigation Friend - In family proceedings brought under the
inherent jurisdiction of the High Court, a role which can
be fulfilled by a CAFCASS officer.
Mediation - The aim of mediation is to help find a solution
that meets the needs of all of the parties and, especially
those of their children, and that both parties feel is fair.
At the end of mediation, parties should feel that there has
been no ‘winner’ or ‘loser’ but that
together they have arrived at sensible, workable arrangements.
Official Solicitor (Children’s Division) - The Official
Solicitor provided welfare
advice and legal representation to children in some family
often in cases that were particularly unusual or complex.
This role transferred
to CAFCASS Legal in April 2001.
Parental Order Reporter - CAFCASS officer appointed in cases
brought under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990.
Private Law - Private law Children Act 1989 cases (i.e. applications
for parental responsibility, residence, contact etc. when
these matters are in dispute between the child’s parents.)
Public Law - Public law Children Act 1989 applications for
local authority care or supervision orders and other care
Public Service Agreement (PSA) - The delivery targets which
agrees for each Government department in return for the funds
Reporting Officer - The Reporting Officer is under a duty
to witness the parent’s agreement to proposed adoption
and to ascertain that any such agreement is given freely and
with full understanding.
Service Principles and Standards - Service Principles and
intended to promote the delivery of consistent, timely, high
They set standards for court work with children and families.
Her Majesty’s Magistrates’ Courts Service Inspectorate
(MCSI) will monitor them.
Stakeholder - Someone, other than children and families, with
an interest or concern in CAFCASS. This includes Government
departments, the courts, local authorities, and other organisations
in the public and voluntary sector supporting children and
If you wish to contact us please write
LONDON N19 5HQ
We can also be contacted by telephone on 020 7210 4400.
Further information is also available on our website www.cafcass.gov.uk;
which includes contact details for our regional offices and
PUTTING CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE FIRST CORPORATE PLAN 2003/06