Cafcass to be brought into the wider family justice system.
Responsibility for the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) will transfer from the Department for Education (DfE) to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) the government has announced.
In its response to the Family Justice Review, the government states that statutory responsibility for Cafcass will move to the Ministry of Justice to “bring court social work functions closer to the court process” by 2015, the end of the spending review period.
The response said progress made by Cafcass in productivity, despite increasing demand for care applications over the past three years, could be built upon by bringing Cafcass into the wider family justice system.
The response states: “Cafcass will retain a close working relationship with the DfE once it has transferred. This will ensure effective links to the wider children’s services agenda are maintained, and will keep Cafcass’ involvement in developing best practice in children’s social work.”
Cafcass chief executive Anthony Douglas said the organisation will continue to work closely with local authorities and directors of children’s services to ensure strong joint working.
“We are very happy at DfE, which has always been very supportive of us but would be equally happy with MoJ,” he said.
“In its response the government makes clear that we operate within an interlocking, multi-disciplinary system, which includes local authorities, and that in order to improve it we all need to develop closer and more effective joint working.
“As an example of this, I have recently spent time with directors of children’s services and our links with them are stronger than ever, just as they always have been with designated family judges, and we’ll continue to work closely with both.”
In Wales, statutory responsibility for the provision of court social work advice under Cafcass Cymru will remain with Welsh ministers.
More to follow.