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Cafcass publishes Annual Report and Accounts for 2022-23


Cafcass has published its annual report and accounts for 2022-23, which is now available at: Cafcass Annual Report and Accounts 2022-23.

The report to Parliament presents an overview of Cafcass’ annual performance and accounts for the financial year 2022–23. It reflects upon the work Cafcass undertook during the year to support children, young people, families and carers through their time in family court proceedings.

The report additionally provides a review of progress against strategic objectives, practice and improvement priorities set for the reporting year which ended on 31 March 2023. It also outlines Cafcass’ transition to its 2023-2026 strategic plan, Ambitious for Children.

The report describes continued recovery from the previous hard years of Covid-19, more stable demand trends and therefore improved stability in social work caseloads. The reducing uncertainty associated with the pandemic enabled Cafcass to make an explicit commitment at the start of the reporting year to set higher practice and management quality standards, prioritise regional consistency and to make more demanding tests in respect of children’s safety and welfare in proceedings. The report explains the importance of strengthened management oversight and supervision as part of improving practice and opportunities for reflection in complex family work. The intention to balance the independence of court appointed family court advisers and children’s guardians with Cafcass’ accountability for the safety and welfare of children in proceedings is described alongside the priority afforded to the wellbeing of people, the rewards offered and employment benefits available for those working in the organisation.

Tributes and thanks are set out to all Cafcass colleagues and family justice partners for their continued commitment and dedication to children in what remain challenging times.

Other contextual headlines from the report include:

  • Cafcass worked with a total of 143,469 children and young people in the 2022-23 reporting year. Approximately one-third of these children were involved in public law proceedings and two-thirds in private law proceedings.
  • The average length of public law care and supervision proceedings in the final quarter of the reporting year (January to March 2023) was 46 weeks and, for private law, 61 weeks, which are 10 and 22 weeks longer respectively than reported for the same period in 2020. These delays continue to have a negative impact on children in respect of the continued stress and uncertainty about the outcome of their proceedings. Cafcass has again prioritised reducing delay and pledged to continue to work closely with family justice partners to retain a spotlight on the shared solutions.
  • Ofsted completed a ‘focused visit’ in January 2023. The report notes the sustained and improved focus on children's safety and welfare despite high pressure and demand. The inspection found evidence of strong social work practice, effective management oversight, and positive partnerships. It also found that challenges related to delays and staff retention were addressed proactively by Cafcass senior leaders.
  • The important sponsorship of and partnership with the Family Justice Young People’s Board (FJYPB) and their shared work programme with Cafcass is set out , as is the impact of that shared work, described as enabling an improved focus on the experiences children have in family court proceedings, what matters to them in the process and what they want and need Cafcass to do to consistently improve their effectiveness in all operational service areas.
  • The domestic abuse improvement programme, the achievements of the internal learning and improvement board and the encouraging early learning from the pathfinder courts are described alongside the organisational commitment to further internal changes that build on the pathfinder principles of earlier support to children in proceedings and more efficient work with families to resolve the arrangements for them and their children more quickly and effectively.

A version of the Annual Report and Accounts for children and young people will soon be available on the Cafcass website. Cafcass would like to thank members of the Family Justice Young People’s Board (FJYPB) for their help designing and developing content for this report, and for their partnership with Cafcass and support of its organisational and practice improvement priorities throughout the year.

Quote from Jacky Tiotto, Cafcass Chief Executive and Sally Cheshire, Chair of the Cafcass Board:

‘As ever, we are both proud and grateful to everyone at Cafcass for their work, their expertise and their support which really are the story of this annual report. These last few years have been challenging and there are no simple fixes to the enduring difficulties and impact of longer case durations, demand variations across the country and recruitment and retention concerns in many places. In spite of our context as part of a family justice system that remains pressurised, we are ambitious and excited to be so. Our board members, our colleagues, our partners and the very many children and families who take the time to give us feedback, have helped give us the confidence to commit to a set of ambitions and intentions over the next few years that will further improve and strengthen the work that we are able to do. Thank you for taking the time to read our report. We wish everyone a wonderful festive break.’