Cafcass' services in North and South of Tyne have been rated 'good' by a new Ofsted inspection report, published today.
In the latest report, Ofsted inspectors found that practitioners strongly focused on the needs of the child and young person in each case and that in the majority of cases their safeguarding work was satisfactory or better. In particular, they highlighted the way in which Cafcass reports on the wishes and feelings of children which allows their concerns to be heard and is key in helping the courts to reach a decision in their best interests.
The positive inspection report is a relief for Cafcass who are keen to show that their service is improving following a Commons Public Accounts Committee report last month that claimed the family court service was "not fit for purpose". Last month the advisory service was also criticized for performing poorly in Ofsted's Annual Report 2009/10. However, the latest inspection supports Cafcass's claims that the Annual Report was based on inspections which were, in some cases, over a year old and did not capture some of the improvements it had made.
Commenting on the report's findings, Anthony Douglas, Chief Executive said, "At a time when there is no let up in demand for our services it is especially pleasing that our success in reducing waiting lists and providing a quality and timely service to all children has been recognised.
"There were 810 care applications nationally in November, the highest ever recorded in that month. However, what this report shows is that despite demand and through the sheer hard work of our staff, we've maintained our ability to provide a service to every child in need, in care or at risk who is referred to us."
The unannounced inspection was carried out between 17 and 18 November. Inspectors considered a range of evidence including case records, observation of staff undertaking direct work with children and information from other agencies with whom Cafcass work.