Putting children and young people first in the family courts


About Cafcass


Cafcass was set up on 1st April 2001 under the provisions of the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act, which brought together the family court services previously provided by the Family Court Welfare Service, the Guardian ad Litem Service and the Children’s Division of the Official Solicitor’s Office.

We are a non-departmental public body accountable to the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).  We work within the strategic objectives agreed by our sponsor department and contribute to wider government objectives relating to children.

Cafcass stands for Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service.

We are the largest employer of social workers in England.

Cafcass is independent of the courts, social services, education and health authorities and all similar agencies.

In February 2014 Cafcass was inspected by Ofsted.  This was the first time that Cafcass had been inspected as a single national organisation.

Ofsted found that the quality and effectiveness of Cafcass work with children and families in both private law (arrangements for children) and public law (care and adoption) was good.  Learn more about the results of Ofsted's inspection of Cafcass.

What we do


Every year Cafcass helps over 140,000 children and young people who are going through care or adoption proceedings, or whose parents have separated and are unable to agree about future arrangements for their children. Cafcass is the voice of children in the family courts and helps to ensure that children’s welfare is put first during proceedings.

Cafcass is asked by the court to become involved in cases once an application has been made to the court. Our experienced practitioners provide judges with the advice, information and recommendations they need to make a safe decision about each child’s future. This includes working with children to find out their wishes and feelings, and reporting these findings back to the court. We listen: we do not take sides between parents and always remain independent advocates for the children involved in these cases.

  • Our remit

    We operate within the law set by Parliament and under the rules and directions of the family courts. Our role is to:

    • safeguard and promote the welfare of children
    • give advice to the family courts
    • make provision for children to be represented
    • provide information, advice and support to children and their families. 


  • The cases we handle

    Cafcass’ professionally qualified social work staff, called Family Court Advisers (FCAs), work exclusively in the family courts. Examples of matters that may be decided by family courts are:

    • When children are subject to an application for care or supervision proceedings by social services (public law)
    • An adoption application (public law)
    • When parents who are separating or divorcing can’t agree on arrangements for their children (private law)

  • What young people have to say

    Find out how Cafcass helped Michael when he moved to a foster home and what we did to support Ellie when her mum and dad separated.

Additional information

Click here to sign up to our monthly newsletter to stay up-to-date with what Cafcass is doing.

We have lots of information available for families going through the family court process:

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