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Care cases diverted from court in Cafcass pilot

Skilled joint social work between Cafcass and local authorities can prevent the need for care proceedings, according to a recently published report.

In particular, the report found that a model of collaborative working promotes positive child-centred solutions, particularly a higher rate of placement with a child’s extended family.

The report outlines the success of the Cafcass Pre-proceedings Pilot, called Cafcass PLUS, which sought to test the added value of Family Court Advisers (FCAs) in pre-proceedings practice. The pilot is now complete in Coventry and Warwickshire.

As well as diverting many cases from court, those cases which did need to proceed to court applications did so with more coherent assessments and plans, enabling the cases to be completed more quickly in court. This made a contribution to reducing delay for children.

The number of cases that were diverted away from public law proceedings and settled outside of court increased within the pilot. In Coventry and Warwickshire, cases that were part of the Cafcass pilot had a diversion rate of 40% (higher than the national average of 25%). Diversion in the pilot was largely achieved through positive work with extended family networks to establish kinship care arrangements, without recourse to care proceedings.

Commenting on the success of the pilot, Anthony Douglas, Chief Executive of Cafcass, said it could be a precursor of a wider early intervention service in public family law.

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