Taking learning forward at Cafcass
Cafcass has been running a programme of internal quality assurance and thematic audits to build on best practice and continue to improve the quality of our work. Internal audits during 2016-17 focused on thematic areas of practice including:
- liaison with independent reviewing officers in public law;
- the quality of our safeguarding practice in the early stages of private law proceedings;
- the impact of the voice of the child in all our casework.
These audits have identified our resilience, by maintaining practice quality in the context of rising demand. They are also helping us identify where we can strengthen practice, so learning can be fed back to our practitioners.
How we’re implementing learning
An example is our latest thematic audit on the voice of the child. It found evidence of improved practice in relation to the quality of capturing children’s views in assessment, in particular relating to the use of child engagement tools. This included children’s letters to the judge, examples of play and scaling questions. It also found that use of direct quotes from children within our reports, or embedding a piece of direct work such as a drawing, was compelling and strengthened the report.
Following a recommendation from the audit, Cafcass’ learning and development plan for 2017-18 was updated to include ‘master classes’ with practitioners on direct work with children. These include using contemporary techniques, for example our children’s apps, and the importance of incorporating children’s own words, to help further improve practice around promoting the child’s voice.
Alexander Kemp, Head of Practice for our National Improvement Service, says, “Thematic auditing enables us to assess practice quality across the country with a closer focus on specific practice areas. It identifies strengths in practice that can be shared nationally and also where systems, tools or policies might need to change to support practitioners to do the very best they can for children.”
Cafcass will continue this internal audit and quality assurance programme throughout 2017-18 to help improve the quality of the service we provide to children and families.