UK – WALES – Inquiry into the Children and Family Court Advisory & Support Service (CAFCASS) Cymru

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Comments and Credits below


July 2009



Committee Members

Chair’s Foreword

Main Report Page

Section 1 – Background 1

Section 2 – The Inquiry 2

Section 3 – Findings 4

Section 4 – Conclusions & Summary of Recommendations 19

Section 5 – Monitoring 23


A. Organisations and individuals who gave evidence in person 24

B. Schedule of Published Committee Papers and Transcripts 25

C. Responses to Call for Evidence 26

D. Welsh Government’s Seven Core Aims for Children and Young People 27


Committee Membership

Darren Millar


Welsh Conservative Party

Clwyd West


Lorraine Barrett


Cardiff South and Penarth


Andrew R T Davies

Welsh Conservative Party

South Wales Central


Peter Black

Welsh Liberal Democrats

South Wales West


Ann Jones


Vale of Clwyd


Helen Mary Jones

Plaid Cymru



Irene James




Val Lloyd


Swansea East


Dai Lloyd

Plaid Cymru

South Wales West


Chair’s Foreword

The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service in Wales (CAFCASS Cymru) has an important and influential role to play in the family justice and children’s services arena. CAFCASS has a statutory duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children who may be the subject of family court proceedings and it provides expert advice to the family courts, On behalf of the Members of the Committee, I would like to pay tribute to the many CAFCASS practitioners who work hard and professionally to help resolve some of the most difficult and intractable cases that come before the family courts.

As a Committee, we recognise the progress that CAFCASS has made since the service was devolved in 2005. However, as a matter of urgency, we believe that CAFCASS needs to make significant further progress if the Welsh Government’s vision for children and young people, set out in its Seven Core Aims, is to be realised in the context of CAFCASS. We have heard evidence from several organisations that the experience of Welsh children in family court proceedings is not as positive and child-centred as they would wish given the commitment in Wales to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The Committee is of the strong view that as a statutory function of the Welsh Government, CAFCASS’s work should be an exemplar in this area.

There is certainly a view that things could be better. I have particular concerns about the real dilemma for CAFCASS in separating their professional assessment of what is in a child’s best interests and the whole area of wishes and feelings, which is critical to a children’s rights approach. We also have serious concerns about the increasing amount of work and responsibility which volunteers are having to undertake in supported child contact centres, and the ad hoc way in which child contact centres in Wales are funded and supported.

This Inquiry has highlighted the complex interrelationship between the devolved and non-devolved elements of the family justice system, which need to be urgently resolved, in order to deliver improved outcomes for children involved in family court proceedings.

On behalf of the Committee, I should like to express my gratitude to all those who have contributed to this inquiry. This report contains a number of recommendations that we believe will help CAFCASS to deliver improvements to its services in line with the Welsh Government’s priorities set out in its Seven Core Aims. I commend it to the Deputy Minister for Social Services and to the Assembly.

Darren Millar AM

Chair, Health, Wellbeing and Local Government Committee

July 2009


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