Ofsted publishes letter of findings following focused visit to Cafcass against new inspection framework

Today Ofsted has published its letter of findings following a focused visit to Cafcass in April. During the visit, Ofsted sought to understand how we have maintained the quality of our practice and the impact of our decision-making on children’s lives in the context of Covid-19. The visit was undertaken in accordance with the new inspection framework for Cafcass published in March 2021.

We would like to thank the children, young people and families who took part in the visit and gave their time to share their experiences of Cafcass.

We would also like to thank our own staff and all children’s social care professionals who have worked tirelessly during the pandemic to protect children and to promote their welfare. The work that is undertaken by the many hundreds of social workers, judges, teachers, GPs, legal professionals, court staff and others is complex and challenging at the best of times. The efforts that have been made during the Covid-19 crisis to sustain a system seeking to offer care and protection to vulnerable children and families has been both remarkable and impressive.

The Ofsted letter of findings outlines the areas where we are considered to be performing well and the areas where we still need to improve. We have incorporated all areas for improvement into our national plan. Our strategic priorities for 2021/22 also include our improvement intentions.

Cafcass Chief Executive Jacky Tiotto said:

“We are grateful to all of the children, young people and families who made time to speak to Ofsted about our practice and their experiences of our work together. We would also like to thank our partners who took part in the focused visit giving feedback to the inspection team.

“The letter of findings is a tribute to every single person working at Cafcass, each of whom through the pressures of the pandemic has helped us to sustain and improve our track record of placing children, their welfare and safety at the centre of our work.

“We are proud, that through the most challenging period of our history, inspectors found an organisation holding on to, and able to evidence, a passionate culture centred around doing the right thing for children.

“We are committed to continuous improvement in our practice and processes so that all children and their families needing our support, receive the best possible service we are able to deliver. We are determined that we will do more and better but for now, thank you to all our colleagues both within and outside of Cafcass for working through this difficult time with children’s best interests at the heart of all the decisions we make and the aspirations we have.”

Sally Cheshire, Cafcass Chair, welcomed the positive findings from the focused visit:

“The Board members are delighted that Ofsted have recognised the many strengths in our social work practice and our dedication to putting children and young people’s best interests at the centre of our work with them. The pandemic has brought unparalleled challenges for us all, for our staff and the children and families we serve. It is testament to the hard work and professionalism of all Cafcass colleagues that Ofsted are able to highlight such positives in our practice and understand our desire for further improvement, so that every unique child receives an excellent service.”

“On behalf of the Board I would like to thank everyone at Cafcass, the young people and their families who had the courage to feed back their experience of working with us at a difficult time in their lives and our partners across the family justice system who will continue to work with us on reform and improvement. The Board remains wholeheartedly committed to supporting and challenging the quality of our work with children through the Cafcass National Improvement Plan.”

Professor Eileen Munro, Deputy Chair, welcomed Ofsted’s comments on the quality of our social work practice:

“The Ofsted letter of findings shows how staff in Cafcass are not just trying to maintain services during the pandemic but have developed detailed plans for improving further and monitoring the quality of practice.  The FJYPB representatives on the Board provide clear and persuasive challenge so that the well-being of children and young people are the central focus of everyone’s efforts.”

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