NQSW programme

Cafcass’ Newly Qualified Social Workers (NQSW) training programme offers the highest standard of social work training. Our three-year training programme will give you an excellent grounding in children’s social work, plus the foundation for a hugely fulfilling career.

As the largest employer of social workers in England, we represent more than 130,000 vulnerable children across England each year, it is our role to make sure the child’s voice is heard and decisions are made in their best interest in family court.

We recognise our responsibility to the family justice system to offer a training programme that offers a solid foundation for a career in social work wherever that may take you within the profession.

Our programme

Through our three-year training programme, you’ll get a respected qualification and a fantastic start to your career. Combining in-house experience and a local authority placement, it will give you a rounded perspective alongside hands-on work. You’ll also get opportunities to grow your skills and knowledge, through a wide range of learning and development. The programme consists of:

Year one ASYE (Assessed & Supported Year in Employment) with Cafcass
Year two Include 3-12 months placement with a local authority
Year three Further academic development opportunities

Am I eligible?

You must either be graduating with a recognised Social Work qualification in the next few months or have gained one recently (e.g. in the last 12 months) but have not registered for another ASYE programme or have been in a social work role since qualifying.

Either way, you must be able to register with Social Work England by August 2020 and be ready to start in September.

You should also have the dedication and resilience to work in a challenging field, plus the communication skills to explain and influence. Above all, you’ll share our commitment to protecting young lives and be keen to work with children. Any relevant experience may be an advantage, whether you’ve been a Youth Worker, Foster Carer or SEN Support Assistant.

Working at Cafcass

As with any social work setting, life at Cafcass can be busy and emotional. To make sure you thrive and give your best, we’ve put in place a range of support. This includes flexible working, a health and wellbeing programme and opportunities to get involved in wider learning and development within the family court system. We want you to have the confidence to learn, support others and speak out for the children and families we work with.

Applying for the programme

Interested in applying? Before you go ahead, we recommend doing a little research, making sure the programme is right for you and double-checking that you meet the eligibility criteria laid out above.

If you don’t already have a thorough insight Cafcass, you can find out more about us on the website and review the range of resources and information available whether it is to parents/carers, children and young people, or people like you that are thinking of joining us.

We have also developed some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to answer any questions you may have.

We will also be offering applicants the opportunity to join a webinar where you will be able to find out more about the programme and ask any other questions that the FAQs don’t answer. If you complete our short application process, we will then contact you separately to provide the webinar details. Should you subsequently decide to not to proceed, you will be able to quickly and easily withdraw your application by logging into your candidate account.

We also strongly recommend you view the Job Description/Person Specification for the role and the Overview of the Programme.

Where are we recruiting?

If you are confident that you meet the key criteria we have outlined, we are recruiting for NQSWs in the following ten locations:

Bloomsbury (Central London) Brighton Chatham Coventry Croydon
Manchester Middlesbrough Nottingham Plymouth Stevenage

Please note, please only apply for your first choice location. However, as part of that application you will be invited to indicate if you have a second choice.


“I felt this would be an incredible opportunity to start my career with a reputable organisation. I’ve loved every minute so far and would really encourage people to apply.”

– Jess, NQSW completing year one

“Cafcass training not only includes the ASYE year, but also 6-12 months in a Local Authority and a further year developing research and skills in public law.”

– Erica, Family Court Adviser

“The opportunities, space and time you have to hone your assessment and analytical writing skills in Cafcass cannot be underestimated. The respect and support I get from my peers and colleagues, the court and external agencies make me a better social worker.”

– Louise, Service Manager

Frequently asked questions

  • Is it possible to speak to someone before I apply to help me decide if this is the right role for me?

    First of all, we encourage you to take the time to read all of the information provided no only in these FAQs but the rest of the content dedicated to the NQSW programme as we think this will give you a real insight.

    However, we will be holding a couple of webinars prior to official closing date for this year’s programme when you will have the opportunity to find out more and ask any questions not answered. We recommend that you complete out short application process and then we will separately send you information about the webinar and how and when to access it.

    In the unlikely event you subsequently decide not to progress your interest, you will be able to withdraw your application by visiting the candidate account you will create.

  • Can I apply if I have started the ASYE programme somewhere else?

    We can only accept applications that have not registered with any other ASYE programme.

  • Can I apply if I qualified 12 months ago?

    As long as you have not registered with an ASYE programme or been in a social work role during the 12 months.

  • What will be the selection process?

    Your application is the first stage of the selection process. Make sure your CV is up to date and fully showcases not only your experience and qualifications but also gives us some insight into your values and strengths.

    While the application form isn’t too detailed, there are some specific questions we’re asking you to respond to. And we are asking them for a reason.

    If we do progress your application, given the current restrictions we will complete all the steps remotely and most likely via video calls using either MS Teams or Skype.

    If you have any reasonable adjustments, as part of your application you will be able to indicate if you have a disability. If so, we will contact you separately to invite you to provide us with further information if you wish to.

    Overall, our aim is to have a selection approach that is fair and inclusive, is a two-way process that allows us to decide if you are right for Cafcass, and whether Cafcass is right for you. We also hope that while it will be challenging – which you of course expect – it will also be enjoyable and whether you are successful or not, you will gain some insight and experience from the process.

  • If successful, when can I reasonably expect to start?

    We are aiming for all of our NQSWs to commence with us mid-September onwards. We’ll agree a start date to suit each individual and the team they are joining.

  • What information will I get before I start with Cafcass?

    We will send through a range of information about joining Cafcass that will help get things set-up. Once you have a start date confirmed you’ll be invited to join our Onboarding platform which provides some useful information about working for Cafcass before you get here.

  • What support and learning will I get when I start?

    We have a comprehensive national induction programme which helps people settle into Cafcass. Your manager will also have organised a local induction designed to help you meet your team and understand your role.

  • What learning will I get on the programme?

    You will follow the ASYE programme supported by your mentor and Service Manager. You will link and have monthly sessions with other NQSW’s placed across the country.

  • What kind of work will I be doing?

    In your first year, you will work primarily on private law cases.

    In your second year, you will spend sometime in the LA to shadow practitioners in the LA undertaking Child Protection enquires.

    In your third year, you will be consolidating your learning and strengthening your skills in private law and begin to shadow public law cases.

  • Will I automatically become a Family Court Adviser when I finish?

    There is a final assessment by your Service manager assessed against the Social Work Standards and should you successfully pass the final assessment you will move into the FCA role.

  • What will I be paid?

    The starting salary for a NQSW is £29,159.

    If you are based in either our Bloomsbury or Croydon offices this will be supplemented by a ‘London weighting’ allowance, currently £4,492 per annum.

    Once you have been in post 18 months you can expect to move up to the ‘target’ salary point, which is currently £33,644.

    Salaries and allowances are reviewed annually.

  • What will be the other benefits I will be entitled to?
    Cafcass ensures it’s staff have access to a comprehensive benefits package.
    So whether this is an excellent annual leave entitlement (28 days per year + Bank Holidays) or Local Government Pension Scheme with employer contributions of 19.4% of annual salary, we offer an excellent overall benefits package.
    You can find out more about all of our benefits here.
  • Do I need to be registered with Social Work England before I commence?

    Yes, you will need to be registered with Social Work England before you can commence your employment with us.

  • Will my Social Work England registration fees be paid for my Cafcass? And when?

    Yes. Registration is on an annual cycle and so if you join part-way through a year, you will be reimbursed on a pro-rata basis.

    Please note we only reimburse for full calendar months; for example, if you registered in August and then commenced your employment with Cafcass part way through September, you will reimbursed for October onwards.

    Fees will normally be reimbursed in addition to your monthly salary in the first month that Cafcass is paying your registration fee; so in the example above, this would be in October.

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