About Cafcass

If you are a young person, please see the ‘About Cafcass for young people’ page.

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

Cafcass represents children in family court cases in England. We put children’s needs, wishes and feelings first, making sure that children’s voices are heard at the heart of the family court setting, and that decisions are made in their best interests. Operating within the law set by Parliament (Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000) and under the rules and directions of the family courts, we are independent of the courts, social services, education and health authorities and all similar agencies.

Our duty is to safeguard and promote the welfare of children going through the family justice system. Our experienced Family Court Advisers may be asked by the court to work with families and then advise the court on what we consider to be the best interests of the children involved in three main areas:

  • divorce and separation, sometimes called ‘private law’, where parents or carers can’t agree on arrangements for their children
  • care proceedings, sometimes called ‘public law’, where social services have serious concerns about the safety or welfare of a child
  • adoption, which can be either public or private law.

Please see the Cafcass Operating Framework for more information on how we work.

 

History

 

The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) was formed on 1st April 2001 as part of the Government’s commitment to supporting families and children.

It brought together the services previously provided by the Family Court Welfare Service, the Guardian ad Litem Services and the Children’s divisions of the Official Solicitor’s Office.

Cafcass is sponsored by the Ministry of Justice and is a non-departmental public body.

 

Key facts

 

Budget

In 2016-17, Cafcass was awarded grant funding of £113.5m from Central Government, plus £0.406m for depreciation.

We also drew down from the sponsor separate additional funding of £1.546m for contact services.

Employees

Cafcass has around 1,900 staff (including Board members or Self-employed Contractors).

Infographic showing 2016-17 split of Cafcass staff

Geographical reach

Cafcass is a national organisation, delivering services to children, families and the courts from 34 offices across England.

Map from 2016-17 showing how many children we worked with in each service area

Service outputs

In 2016-17 we worked with 125,230 children and young people across England.

Total number of children we worked with during 2016-17

Of these, 90,423 (72%) were new cases.

Number of new cases in 2016-17 vs old cases

Additionally, we support many more children and families through the work we commission from contact centres around the country.

Research and data

Research   Cafcass is committed to evidence-informed practice based on, among other things, good-quality research. We aim to use our unique position and insight to […]

Frequently asked questions

Find answers to some of our most frequently asked questions.  

Our management

Learn more about Cafcass’ Directors and Board members.  

Policies

Our policies and procedures set out what should or must be done within different parts of our service to meet the needs of staff and […]

Reports and strategies

Reports   Annual reports and accounts Our annual reports and accounts are laid before Parliament and show how we performed each year and how we […]

Transparency information

We publish as much information as possible to ensure it is readily available to the public to show who we are, what we do, and […]

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