Cafcass has been granted an extra £7.9m in government funding for this financial year, with the aim of tackling a record number of outstanding cases, along with staffing issues.
The extra funding from the Ministry of Justice has boosted Cafcass’ total resource budget to £135.7m, which is a 6.2% increase on its budget for the previous financial year.
The family court advisory body said that it plans to use the additional resource to recruit more social workers, after already increasing full-time practitioner numbers by 11% from March 2020 to March 2021.
Cafcass said that even prior to the pandemic it was under stress due to “unprecedented demand”, along with the rest of the family justice system.
Open family court cases reached a record high of 44,753 at the end of April 2021, up from 33,640 in April of last year.
A spokesperson for Cafcass said: “As well as higher demand, the cases held by family court advisers are staying open for longer. The result is that caseloads have been building up to levels that are not sustainable.
“This temporary increase in funding will help Cafcass to recruit additional social workers to meet this demand and alleviate some of the pressure on our staff and on the children and families we serve.”
Nagalro, the professional body for social workers who represent children in court proceedings, said it welcomed the extra funding:
“We trust that the money will be targeted to enable the practitioners to provide and appropriately expand the necessary depth of exploration and understanding of the needs of the vulnerable children, in order to fully appraise and advise the family courts at that critical point in the children’s young lives, when so much is at stake for their futures.”
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