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 Michael Gove, MP, the Secretary of State for Education in the Department for Education (DfE). 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.
Cafcass is independent of the courts, social services, education and health authorities and all similar agencies.
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.
What we do
Cafcass champions the interests of children involved in family proceedings, advising the family courts in England on what it considers to be in the best interests of individual children.
We are the largest employer of social workers in England and our practitioners are some of the most qualified and experienced social workers in the country.
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).