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CAFCASS Annual Report

Date:29 AUG 2006

The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) annual report for 2005 - 2006 A Voice for Children was published in July 2006. It achieved or 'partially achieved' all eight of the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the year set by the Department for Education and Skills. All regions almost met the target of having no more than 3% of public law workload unallocated at the end of a month (2.7% overall). CAFCASS appointed a national Children's Rights Director and a network of children's rights champions in each region as it works towards full implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989. An interactive computer programme, Viewpoint, gathers feedback from children and young people on CAFCASS services. CAFCASS teams are developing resolution schemes in line with the President's Private Law Programme. That work does not yet feature in its performance indicators, but a new KPI in 2006-2007 will measure what percentage of the work results in agreement. CAFCASS also contributed to 185 partnerships with the voluntary sector and joined a range of organisations including Local Safeguarding Children Boards, Local Family Justice Councils, child contact centres and the National Youth Advocacy Service.

CAFCASS was involved with 61,239 children in legal proceedings in 2005-2006. If children involved in dispute resolution work are included the figure is nearer 100,000. The overall number of court applications involving CAFCASS is reducing but the number of public law (care) cases is increasing up 4.7%. The reduction in private law cases is a welcome consequence of new approaches to dispute resolution down 7.2%. However, CAFCASS practitioner capacity is fully absorbed by the demands of the complexity of public law and complex private law cases involving the separate representation of young people.