Family Court Practice, The
Order the 2021 edition due out in May
Court of Protection Practice 2021
'Court of Protection Practice goes from strength to strength, having...
Jackson's Matrimonial Finance Tenth Edition
Jackson's Matrimonial Finance is an authoritative specialist text...
Latest articles
Family Law Awards adds a Wellbeing Award - enter now
This past year has been different for everyone, but family law professionals working on the front line of family justice have faced a more challenging, stressful and demanding time than most. To...
Perspectives on civil partnerships and marriages in England and Wales: aspects, attitudes and assessments
IntroductionThis article considers the developments since the turn of the century in the provision of new options for same sex and opposite sex couples to formalise their unions with full legal...
Family Law journal - take the survey and you could win £50 worth of vouchers
Do you subscribe to Family Law journal?Our aim is to provide all subscribers of Family Law with compelling, insightful and helpful content that you enjoy reading and find useful in your...
Commencement date of 6 April 2022 announced for the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020
The Ministry of Justice has announced that the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 (DDSA 2020), which received Royal Assent on 25 June 2020, will now have a commencement date of 6 April 2022....
HMCTS blog highlights the use of video hearing due to COVID-19
HM Courts & Tribunals Service has published a blog detailing the impacts of coronavirus (COVID-19) on hearings. Pre-pandemic, HMCTS states that the use of video technology for live participation...
View all articles

Cafcass model of ‘Evidence Informed Practice’

Sep 29, 2018, 21:57 PM
Cafcass, standardised assessment tools, child arrangement programme, private law family court proceedings
A bespoke matrix of standardised assessment tools is being used by Cafcass to produce reports which aim to facilitate early and conclusive decision making in private law family court proceedings.
Slug : cafcass-model-of-evidence-informed-practice
Meta Title : Cafcass model of ‘Evidence Informed Practice’
Meta Keywords : Cafcass, standardised assessment tools, child arrangement programme, private law family court proceedings
Canonical URL :
Trending Article : No
Prioritise In Trending Articles : No
Date : Jul 4, 2014, 03:27 AM
Article ID : 106271
Family Law
SARAH PARSONS, Assistant Director at  Cafcass

A bespoke matrix of standardised assessment tools is being used by Cafcass to produce reports which aim to facilitate early and conclusive decision making in private law family court proceedings.

There is no doubt that producing high quality analytical assessments and transparent, evidence based recommendations in situations which are constantly changing and are highly contested, is a challenging area of practice. The failure of some reports to rise to this challenge can be linked to delay, over reliance on experts and on fact finding hearings and a higher likelihood of contested final hearings.

The assessment task is to gather information from a range of sources and to develop a succinct narrative or ‘story’ which brings to life the child’s experience. It involves thinking about how the different pieces of information relate to each other, to the present circumstances and to the future needs of the child. Reflecting on what the information means for each individual child is vital in understanding the potentially differential impact of similar circumstances on different children, even those in the same family. The report needs to contain recommendations, which are well founded and clearly rooted in the ‘evidence’ gathered, research, knowledge of child development and the impact on children of domestic violence, exposure to parental substance misuse and mental health issues and to high levels of parental conflict.

The use of standardised assessment tools to elicit detailed relevant information and to analyse this within a contextualised framework allows the investigation to be specific and precisely targeted, to be transparent for the court and for the subjects of it and to avoid addendums and protracted proceedings. It also lends confidence to the practitioner and can save time by avoiding lengthy and meandering interviews and reports, both of these becoming more structured and succinct.

This approach to Evidence Informed practice is firmly in line with the objectives and principles of the Child Arrangements Programme and the transparency of the process will help to de-mystify one aspect of the system for self-representing parties.

The Cafcass assessment tools have been selected following a review of tools used by local authorities, the voluntary sector, CAFCASS Cymru and internationally. They have been selected on the basis of their usefulness in the Cafcass context. Some of the tools, for example the Safe Contact Indicator [1] and the Impact of Parental Conflict Indicator, have been created within Cafcass and as such are not formally validated. Others, such as the tool for assessing drug abuse [2] are validated social work assessment tools.

There are five sections to the matrix covering basic information gathering, parenting capacity, child development needs, wishes and feelings and resilience and vulnerability . The matrix provides a guide to which tool should be selected in which circumstance and for what purpose.

It relates to the welfare checklist (Children Act 1989, s (3)). The wishes and feelings of the child concerned can be ascertained using tools in section C of the menu; the age, sex, background and any characteristics can be ascertained using tools in section D; any harm which he has suffered or is at risk of suffering and capability of parents can be ascertained using tools from section B.

A training programme has been designed and delivered and is supplemented by an e-learning programme to reinforce and refresh this.

[1] C Sturge and D Glaser, 'Contact and Domestic Violence – The Experts’ Court Report' [2000] Family Law 615

[2] Adapted from J Fowler (2003) A Practitioner’s Tool for Child Protection and the Assessment of Parents (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2003)  

The full version of this article will appear in the September 2014 issue of Family Law.

Categories :
  • Articles
Tags :
Provider :
Product Bucket :
Recommend These Products
Related Articles
Load more comments
Comment by from