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Ofsted publishes letter of findings following focused visit to Cafcass in January


Ofsted has today published its letter of findings following a focused visit to Cafcass in January. During the visit, Ofsted sought to understand how Cafcass is discharging its statutory functions for children in the context of continuing significant demand for its services - at the time of this visit, there were approximately 6,600 (14%) more children open to Cafcass than before the pandemic.

The focused visit was carried out in accordance with Ofsted’s framework for the inspection of Cafcass. Inspectors considered a range of evidence, including case discussions with social workers and managers, and observations of practice. They also reviewed Cafcass data, performance and quality assurance arrangements, case records and spoke with partner agencies, senior judges and lead officials in the family justice system.

Headline findings from the Ofsted visit include:

  • Despite the significant impact of the high demand, Cafcass has sustained and improved the focus on children’s safety and welfare. Senior leaders have led and developed creative and highly effective strategies in collaboration with key national and regional partners to continue to deliver high-quality services to children, families and the family courts.
  • Despite unprecedented demand, Cafcass continues to meet its statutory responsibilities for children.
  • Since the previous Ofsted focused visit in April 2021, the quality of social work practice remains strong and, overall, continues to improve.
  • Cafcass’ national and regional improvement plans demonstrate that leaders know where the consistency of practice and management oversight need to improve, and which new policies and frameworks require further embedding.
  • There is a clear focus on improving children’s experiences and lives.

Cafcass Chief Executive Jacky Tiotto said:

“We are pleased that Ofsted has recognised both the quantity and quality of work we are undertaking with children and families to fulfil our statutory duties, which include safeguarding and promoting their best interests in family law proceedings.

“We know that alongside our partners, there is more we must do and will do to reduce the delay that children experience at a time in their lives which is already uncertain and frightening. Our improvement priorities – also set out in our revised strategic plan due for publication in May, are clear about our ambition for children. Ofsted has enabled us to further consolidate and focus on what really matters to children and our intention is that all children tell us that they have an exceptional experience with us, everywhere and all of the time.

“As always, I pay tribute to our family court advisers and managers, business and corporate services colleagues who have been and remain so committed to the many children whose lives we touch every year. The inspection visit findings are the evidence of their care and efforts every day.

“The last two years have been challenging for us all, but especially for the children in this country for whom the pandemic took its greatest toll and there remains so much more to do to put that right. All of my colleagues regardless of their role or function are prioritising what matters to children and focusing on how we can improve their experiences and futures. I extend my thanks also to members of the Family Justice Young People’s Board (FJYPB) - who took part in the focused visit by giving feedback to the inspection team and who are always so powerful and kind in their reminders to us about what must take priority

“I feel privileged every day to be part of the leadership team of Cafcass and this inspection reminded me of how lucky I am to be around partners and colleagues always talking about and reaching high for children.”