President issues Interim Guidance to assist Cafcass
TUES 11/08/2009 – The President of the Family Division, Sir Mark Potter, has issued Interim Guidance setting out short-term measures intended to create a framework to assist Cafcass to deliver their services to children, families and the courts.
The aim of the Guidance is to put in place measures which will address the current backlog of work while preventing backlogs arising in respect of new work such as mounting delays in reporting and in the allocation of Children’s Guardians consequent upon the increase in Children Act applications.
Sir Mark says that the Guidance is a temporary solution to help in an emergency situation. It is intended that the Guidance will cease to have effect on the 31 March 2010 at which point it is hoped that the backlog will have been substantially reduced.
The Guidance proposes measures that may involve children’s solicitors taking on case management tasks which have hitherto been regarded as functions of Cafcass. The Guidance also outlines a framework for cooperation between Designated Family Judges and local Cafcass service managers.
Sir Mark announced his intention to issue the new measures last month in response to “unacceptable” delays by Cafcass in the appointment of guardians and the rendering of reports.
The President emphasised that “In agreeing what is in effect a reduced service from Cafcass as a pragmatic solution to immediate problems, I have made clear that such solution be recognised for the interim scheme that it is, and the form of the document being drafted makes this clear. It must not simply become or be adopted as the benchmark for the future”.