Ofsted to introduce new, more effective Cafcass inspections

Ofsted has recently published its consultation outcome confirming new proposals for inspecting Cafcass (Children & Family Court Advisory Support Services). It will bring Cafcass assessments in line with Ofsted’s other inspections of children’s social care.

Cafcass represents children in family court cases in England. It independently advises the family courts about what is safe for children, and what is in their best interests.

Effective from 1st April 2021, the new approach will see the introduction of a three-yearly Ofsted inspection which will judge the quality and effectiveness of Cafcass’ private law and public law practice, as well as the impact leaders have on practice with children and families.

If Cafcass is judged to be inadequate, Ofsted will then carry out further monitoring visits to ensure that improvements are made.

As part of a phased return to routine social care inspection, Ofsted will begin with a focused visit of Cafcass. This visit will provide assurance about the quality and impact of Cafcass’ work with families, while taking into account all current Covid-19 restrictions. Ofsted also plans to review the effectiveness of this new approach during the early stages of the rollout.

Ofsted received over 300 responses to the consultation from those working with children and families in the family courts, parents and other family members. The majority largely agreed with the new proposals.

Ofsted’s National Director for Regulation and Social Care, Yvette Stanley said: “Children involved in the family justice system deserve the highest standard of care and support during what is often a distressing time. Our new approach to inspecting Cafcass is proportionate yet rigorous, providing more frequent scrutiny of its work with families and a greater focus on children’s experiences. My thanks to everyone who have us their views.”

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