Figures released today by Cafcass show that care applications remain at record levels.
There were 832 care applications in March 2010, the highest care demand figure ever recorded for a single month since Cafcass began collecting this data. Comparing the whole of 2009-10 to last year's figures, care demand was up by 34% (2188 cases). Concurrently, Cafcass saw a 16% increase in private law cases when compared to 2008-09.
Commenting on the latest figures, Anthony Douglas, Cafcass Chief Executive said: "I fully support the actions that local authorities are taking to protect these children, most of whom have complex long-term needs and for whom there are no easy options or solutions, either at home or in the care system."
He went on to say: "There is no doubt though that the sustained increase in care cases has placed all of us working in the care system under pressure. However, where agencies are working together collaboratively, as outlined in the renewed President's Interim Guidance, we have found that backlogs in cases have fallen and we are providing a more timely service to vulnerable children."
Just before he retired at the end of March, the former President of the Family Division, Sir Mark Potter, announced he was extending the Interim Guidance intended to assist Cafcass for a further six months.
He said that he had accepted that there had been insufficient time to formulate a long-term solution to the difficulties faced by Cafcass and the family justice system. Instead he has handed the baton over to the Government to solve the ongoing crisis.
The aim of the original Interim Guidance was to put in place measures to address the backlog in preparing court reports and in the allocation of Children's Guardians.