AN ORGANISATION which has represented 3,000 vulnerable Cheshire children in family courts over the last year has taken outstanding steps to improve from an inadequate rating by watchdogs.
Based in Warrington, the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) was marked down by Ofsted in March 2010 when inspectors listed 11 areas for improvement.
Their key concerns were that safeguarding children and young people on waiting lists was inconsistent and crucially there were significant delays in allocating cases.
The organisation has made outstanding progress in dealing with these concerns, says Ofsted and overall it now provides a “good” service. Highly effective steps have been taken to tackle a “significant” backlog of cases.
Head of service Colette Dutton, said:“In the last year Cafcass has provided a vital service to nearly 3,000 children in Cheshire and the progress we’ve made means that each of the children we’re working with is getting the help they need and getting it quickly”.
Staff have ensured “children really are put first in family court cases and the often life-changing decisions that are made about them by the courts are in their best interests”.
In the last two years there has been an increase of 36% in the number of children subject to local authority care applications and 11% more children “caught up in the cross fire of their parents’ divorce or separation”.
The service says it has successfully adopted new ways of working to help these children.
It has also also ensured that all reports to court in divorce and separation cases are filed with the court on time so that decisions on the children’s futures can be made without delay.