Cafcass (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) provides a variety of staff members who undertake different roles within the family court system. Cafcass officers broadly comprise of:
Family Court Advisors, who are trained social workers and work exclusively within the courts system, protecting and advocating the interests of children.
Children’s Guardians, who represent the child’s interests and help the court in adoption cases or in cases in which the court intends to make an order to protect the child from harm.
Family Support Workers, who support contact between children and their families, and who work alongside and provide assistance to Family Court Advisers.
Reforming the System
There are well-documented problems with Cafcass and the organisation has been subjected to many complaints in recent years. Although there is a multi-level complaints system in place, it is recognised that the system needs improvement and concerns of those who deal with Cafcass need to be dealt with more quickly and efficiently.
One common complaint with Cafcass, and particular Cafcass Family Law Advisors, has been that they are typically female and often from middle-class backgrounds. These two factors are often of concern to separated dads, who do not feel that their interests are adequately represented or indeed understood by female officers.
Cafcass Reports can be subjective, and very focused on the officer’s perception of the parties involved. For example, if a father has not seen his child for a year and a half, and is frustrated, angry and hurt by this, the Cafcass officer may perceive this as the father having an aggressive nature normally, which could end up having a detrimental effect on the report. Other officers may become hardened to the job, and may have developed a cynical attitude when dealing with certain types of cases.
Social work as a whole has been through a recruitment crisis in recent times, especially since high profile tragedies such as that of Baby P have acted as a deterrent for those who previously considered entering the profession. Another problem relates to accountability. While Cafcass determines that ‘all cases must be treated on their own merits’ this means that there can be a huge variation in practices both geographically and between officers.
While every individual has freedom of choice over their career, government initiatives have previously been shown to work in terms of improving a broader demographic in certain professions. In order to do this successfully within social work and in particular Cafcass, it is important to make the career more attractive to potential applicants. Reform of the system, better staff training, an implementation of firmer policies and an increase in understanding of cultural differences may all contribute towards a fairer system.
The Current Complaints System
Unless and until the system in its present state is reformed, those who come into contact with Cafcass must use the complaints system. Broadly this is as follows: in the first instance, you should make a complaint in writing to the Regional Complaints Manager in your area. If your complaint is considered to have merit, it will be ‘registered’. You will be given reasons if it is not registered. If this happens, you can ask for a review by a Regional Director (but you must do this within 10 working days). Again, if you are not happy, you can go to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, but you must do this through your Member of Parliament.
Since I have come in to contact with caf cass I have not be happy with the cas worker at all as she has behaved in a biased towards me, they do not do thier job properly, they did not take in to account my childs whishes and ask my child about ther realationship downs and ups with the other parties involved, it was like they made thier desion and stuck to it without beliveing me or the 2nd partie or interview the child properly?am not happy and have made a formal complaint agaist the case worker, they make thier own accusations agaist you and belive what they want to belive and act one sided. not happy at all.if my daughter is a risk with me which I assure she is not then I welcome social service in my life everyday just to have my daughter by my side and not to bought up in someone elses hands. they supposed to help and advise familys NOT victimise and act basised and treat us like a criminal, and all my case was about was the father who has a temper and to do with domestic voilence?i am the childs mother and I am no risk to my child havent been with the father for 3yrs and because the other partie is lying about me to get my daughter they have sided with them? I have looked after my daughter for 11yrs and wish to continue to do so, disputing the case.
ess - 10-Feb-13 @ 1:57 PM
I think that you should have a much more balanced approach on your website. I know how difficult it is going through a seperation and how hard it is dealing with an aggressive, demanding and selfish partner. These are in the form of both mothers and fathers. CAFCASS have to have a level of qualification and experience to do their job. I guess if the decision had gone the other way it would be the other party who would be aggrieved.If CAFCASS were really that bad at making decisions they wouldn't be doing the job they are doing. Judges are no fools. Many of the Judges who sit in these cases have practiced as Barristers for both mothers and fathers so therefore cannot be hoodwinked by CAFCASS or parents. These Judges will have, on many occassions, challenged CAFCASS decisions on behalf of their client, mother or father. Having practiced in this way means that they know the process and can empathise with parents. Theirs and CAFCASS ultimate role is to make decisions on behalf of children. To see through the battle field and see the child and decide what is best for that child. There are always two sides to every story and parents as much as they love their children loose sight of them. They convince themselves that their exes are out to get them, out to control the way the children spend their time and out to punish the other by winning. CAFCASS and Judges see straight through this as they see the child not the parent. Contact is a right of the child not the parent. Reacting aggressively to criticism confirms that it is a battle ground. If you put your children first and stop arguing with your exes you will get alot further and your children will be happier.
PYCF - 4-Oct-12 @ 3:21 PM
HiI am not getting it? why are people waging war over who sould have the kids. The primary responsibility of a parent is to provide for their kids a peaceful, stable, secure and safe environment. Sometimes, what is required to make that happen is letting go. If your Ex believes that she can provide a better environment and future for them, let her have them. God is our parents and guardians, all of us. We can't even look after ourselves, let alone another person; we are just trying our best.I am taking my kids mother to Court for joint residency. But, I am not attached to the outcome. Whatever the decision will be, I will be at peace with it. What matters is that I will be at peace with myself, my conscience and my God.Looking after children is a heavy responsibility.Think about those who have no kids. They are not any unhappier than anyone else. In fact, they have more time and money to enjoy.Get yourself a life instead of this unnecessary fight. By all means, if the kids are at risk, you can say so through the Court and accept whaever the decision is. Always remember that, sooner or later, justice will prevail. Enjoy
Why? - 7-Sep-12 @ 7:33 PM
In my region CAFCASS work to a script based on assumptions. Are biased against the father and write reports to a single template. Their refusal to acknowledge the risks in my particular situation contributed to the murder of two of my children and the suicide of my ex. CAFCASS are powerful, incompetent and dangerous. Three years after I told them of the risks they have only just started to look into this. The deaths happened 18 months ago, I am starting to cope again, tho my life will never be the same. If anybody requires help or support or just to chat please contact me
nixter - 20-Jun-12 @ 1:25 PM
Cafcass were the biggest liars and were on par with my Ex, at first she was very good and listened to me, but that was all she did. This did not make its way into the reports and she was totally biased towards my Ex Cafcass took ages to respond to any emails or phone calls, when I phoned asking to talk to a sepcific senior manager I was tranferred to everyone and anyone but the Person who I had asked for. I was assigned a Service manager who was acting upto this position, and once I complained she tried to turn it back on me, I have since logged a formal complaint against that member of staff I raised concerns about the safety of my Son, but this was overlooked Do note, that in future years My son shall be advised and encouraged that he can Sue the Cafcass for what they have done
AR - 14-Jun-12 @ 5:25 PM
Where do you start,and how much do you write.My ex left me with four lovely children.Her and her partner (a woman) and all the family members told her you cant leave your children with him.her partner wants to take on the role of a dad,after stating many times when asked I WOULD NEVER HAVE CHILDREN OF MY OWN BECAUSE OF MY SEXUALITY, BECAUSE OF THE EMBARRESMENT AND STIGMA IT WOULD CAUSE FOR MY CHILDREN. She has no problem doing it to my children.After a heated conversation with my elders daughter in june 2010.explaining to her that her mother has chosen her new partner over her (this was the 6 times her mother had done this)My daughter taped me and it ended up (10 DAYS LATER) With a health visitor who made a urgent referal to the social services (TOOK 10 DAYS TO GET THERE) The health visitors account is all lies.when my ex was away, my two youngest daughters asked if they could phone thier mother to see when they could go with her.Thier mother said to me, dont get the girls to phone me and ask to come with me on the days i dont have them, stop trying to mess up my new relationship.The girls where taken off me and given to thier mother on the advice of the cafcass officer and he said i must have suppervised visits.he came to this decision with out any contact with me.and was told in a strategy discussion on the16/07/2010 that the children where not at risk with me.(july 2010)In sep 2010 (wed 1 sep) me my ex and my youngest went out for the day and we had a very nice day.on the day me and my partner talked about the way things where and we agreed on many things.She said before you have to see the children in a contact centre i will come with you.When she got home she phoned me and said they are all in my house giving me grieave because iv been with you. Her mother then phoned cafcass and he got me back in court on fri 3rd of sep for breaking a court order.(FOR THE RECORD MY EX DID NOT SAY THE TRUTH IN COURT ABOUT OUR DAY OUT)and has done so on many occasions( when i asked him about it he said (imatirial if the court order is right or wrong its a court order) his two bosses (WHICH WHERE WOMEN) said it does not matter about the court order you and your ex going out for the day with one of the children has to be a way foward.If the cafcass officer had looked at the situation logicly and asked all involed me my partner and the children(NO THIRD PARTY INVOLEMENT AS THE JUDGE SAID ON MORE THAN ONE OCCASION) Which he did not do. My partner and i would have made our own arragements about our children.Now 18 months later no contact (when i do i have to pay £40 per hr to see my own children) and to rub my nose in it. Her lesbian partner has more rights to be with my children than me.At least 12 court appearancesmore than 6 caffcass reports. the last report wrote by the cafcass officer.on 12/01/2012 he says in it qoute (i firmly beileve that cafcass and,indeed the court has no further role to play at this time)and such contact as can be agreed betwee
no justice - 25-Jan-12 @ 3:19 PM
I'm still waiting to complete my initial phone interview prior to directions hearing. Officer told me she had to go to another meeting and didn't have time. She suggested we reconvene and finish the following week.Never heard anything and when I tried calling (3 or 4 times) I ended up getting an angry call from service manager telling me that the officer's involvement had ended!! Next thing I know is Cafcass writing to court asking for a prohibited steps order as ex had called them and made false allegations. Judge went against cafcass proposals for all contact to stop, so I guess I was lucky!!??
Charlie - 27-Oct-11 @ 6:27 PM
I had my 1st court date on the 4th of October after waiting a shocking 8 months to get it there, I was happy with the date though as it was 6 days before my lads 1st birthday on the 10/10 & thought now its in court at least I would get to see him on his birthday ~ well thats until the caffcass woman got involved who has said I can have 0 contact until she has got her finger out and finished her reports.
higgins - 9-Oct-11 @ 1:10 PM
My daughters ex partner who is a drug addict and dealer approached cafcass to obtain visits to see my two grandaughters age 4 and 2, the fIrst visit was supervised by a cafcass member in a room with toys, my 4 year old grandaughter went in the room as she remembers her dad but two year old wouldnt as he left home when she was 3 months old, on the second visit the cafcass member basically stood in front of me and ushered both the children into a room full of toys and shut the door in my face telling me to wait in another room for half an hour, my youngest grandaughter played with toys for almost half an hour then came out of the room. I told the cafcass person she was out of order and unproffessional to which she commented not the time or place, she has sided with my daughters ex all along whatever he has done and with evidence, I as a grandmother am concerned for the safety of my grandchildren if he ever gets unsupervised access, what can I do to prevent this, concerned grandmother.
lou - 10-Sep-11 @ 2:29 PM
Cafcass should be shut down or re-form. The way the system works, they do NOT reconise the childs best interests at all when it comes to good fathers trying to jump though every hoop he's told, and still only gets to see thier child limited time, once a fornight is not goood enough, what about the dads side of the family who the child has a right to know? My cafcass worker has had 18 days leave the day after the last court hearing and im still left in the dark about what the next steps are. Goverment should listen this is not working.
ravinbaby - 29-Jun-11 @ 1:51 PM
I have attended court today and the cafcass officer (the 3rd I've seen) didn't seem to be bothered about anything. I told him of the problems I'd had, reported to him about breaches of the order and the fact that my ex will not budge from what SHE wants. Nothing was reported to the court. I have found them a complete waste of time in all of my dealings with them.
Rich - 20-Jun-11 @ 9:02 PM
I found CAFCASS to be woefully under-resourced. There is a better organisation called NYAS - think of them as a privatised version of CAFCASS.Their whole approach starts from the principle of why should the child NOT be spending time with Dad. This makes a huge difference to the process.I also found that they were more willing to be pushy in court.
Ed - 6-Jun-11 @ 2:02 PM
I am going through the process at the moment with Caffcass. Despite never breaking the law, being arrested or have any history of violence, every time I speak to Caffcass, my officer makes me feel like I am the worst dad in the world, and everything she say's make me feel that she was and is always on the ex-wifes side. I have waited and tried to negoitate with my ex-wife for unsupervised contact with my 5 year old son, for the last 4 years, but being a male I have 'NO VOICE'. The system penalises dads who want to be dads and appears to be heavily weighted in the mothers favour, despite what lies are told and what evidence is produced, they just do not want to know!
JP - 4-Apr-11 @ 4:13 PM
The cafcass official who interviewed my brother turned up late, was very short and sharp, and a well used line was "why on earth would your ex partner lie". The interveiw was cut short so she could make her next appointment.