Cafcass has made "outstanding" progress in providing a timely service to children and families in Cheshire and Merseyside, according to a new Ofsted report.
Inspectors praised the team for its "outstanding" progress in ensuring that vulnerable children get the help they need, with all cases "allocated promptly". They cited the "highly effective steps" Cafcass has taken to improve including the introduction of an early intervention team to provide "timely risk assessed safeguarding information about children and families to courts." Inspectors also praised the use of proportionate working which, "ensures that cases are allocated resources efficiently in relation to the assessed safeguarding needs of each case." Ofsted concluded that, "The improvements achieved ensure that service delivery is efficient and effective and the safeguarding needs of children and young people are assessed at the earliest opportunity." Overall, the progress in the area was rated as "good", the third such rating Cafcass has recently received, following inspections in Tyneside and Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.
Colette Dutton, the Head of Service for the area said, "Each year Cafcass provides a vital service to nearly 8,000 children in family court cases in Merseyside and Cheshire each year and the progress we have made in recent months means that each one of these children is getting the help they need, and getting it quickly. We've developed new ways of working which have allowed us to help nearly 20% more children involved in care cases than this time last year. Despite the increases we've seen in both public law care and private law cases over the past 2 years, each and every child's case is currently allocated and is receiving expert input from one of our practitioners. As Ofsted also found, all private law reports are filed with the court on time and we've made good progress in our joint work with partners."
The unannounced inspection was carried out on 23rd and 24th March. Inspectors considered a range of evidence including case records, observation of our staff undertaking direct work with children and information from the local judiciary and Local Authority Children's Services department.