Cafcass publishes new Domestic Abuse Learning and Improvement Plan
- Cafcass’ Domestic Abuse Learning and Improvement Plan has been developed in response to the serious findings of the Ministry of Justice’s Expert Panel on Harm in the Family Courts.
- It provides key priorities to strengthen our practice with children and families who have experienced domestic abuse, being clearer about how we explain our decisions to them and improving the effectiveness of our management oversight.
- The plan draws on learning from children and families and informs a new mandatory learning and development programme for all Cafcass practitioners, developed in partnership with domestic abuse charities and survivors of domestic abuse.
- Children and families will have more opportunity to give feedback about how they have experienced Cafcass and we will use this learning to keep improving the quality of our work.
Cafcass has published its Domestic Abuse Learning and Improvement Plan. The plan has been developed by Cafcass’ Learning and Improvement Board which was established in September 2020 to improve Cafcass’ work with children and families who have experienced domestic abuse.
Responding to the final report from the Ministry of Justice’s Expert Panel on Harm in the family courts, our Domestic Abuse Learning and Improvement Plan has drawn on the extensive knowledge of our Learning and Improvement Board which is independently chaired and includes members with lived experience alongside other agencies and professionals in the family justice system.
The new domestic abuse learning and development programme is based on the updated Cafcass Domestic Abuse Practice Pathway and guidance, which supports Family Court Advisers in working with children and families affected by domestic abuse. Both have been designed with feedback from partners including Women’s Aid Federation England and SafeLives. Parents and young people with lived experience of domestic abuse have contributed to training workshops by recording their experiences and these will be shared directly with Family Court Advisers. The programme also draws on a baseline practice audit of 200 cases moderated by members of the Learning and Improvement Board.
The success and impact of the Cafcass Domestic Abuse Learning and Improvement Plan will be monitored and evaluated by Cafcass’ Learning and Improvement Board to understand the improvements and difference that is being made for children and families.
Commenting on the Domestic Abuse Learning and Improvement Plan, joint Independent Chairs Cathy Ashley and Angela Frazer-Wicks said:
“Children and families who have experienced domestic abuse and are involved in private family law proceedings need to feel confident that they are understood, respected and listened to. Cafcass is instrumental in ensuring this happens, and this improvement plan will help Cafcass to better achieve this.
“The Domestic Abuse Learning and Improvement Plan has been developed with our Learning and Improvement Board members, including parents and young people with lived experience. The Board will now oversee the implementation of this plan and will regularly review the progress that is being made.”
Members of the Family Justice Young People’s Board said:
“It has been a great opportunity for the Family Justice Young People’s Board (FJYPB) to be able to contribute to the work of the Cafcass’ Learning and Development Board both as members of this board and through sharing our own experiences.
“Through their plan we see that Cafcass is striving to take positive steps forward to improve the service for children and young people who have been, or who are, experiencing domestic abuse and are in the family courts. As the children and young people’s board we will continue to contribute to improvements being made to better the system for children, young people and families experiencing domestic abuse.”
Cafcass Chief Executive Jacky Tiotto said:
“We are committed, alongside other agencies in the family justice system, to improving all of our work with children and families who have experienced domestic abuse. It’s been so important to build on what we heard from the Ministry of Justice’s Expert Panel on Harm, and our own subsequent work to review and understand the quality of our practice and improvements that we need and want to make. We hope that the learning from our listening over the last year is explicit in our improvement plan and our wider learning and development programme. Children and families who experience our support and help deserve the very best from us and we want to offer advice to the family court that promotes the best interests of children and secures their safety.”