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Improving Child and Family Arrangements (ICFA) is the service designed by Cafcass and provided on behalf of the Ministry of Justice to help families who find it difficult to agree lasting arrangements to meet their child’s needs.

Who can be supported and who is it for:  

The ICFA service is court ordered for families in private law proceedings.

The service aims to:

  1. Reduce barriers and resistance to agreeing arrangements while safeguarding the welfare of the child.
  2. Promote positive communication within families.
  3. Ensure children’s wishes and feelings are heard and considered.
  4. Help families agree a Parenting Plan to avoid future issues arising.

The work will be tailored to meet the needs and outcomes of each individual family. ICFA work takes place over four to eight weeks and may include, but is not limited to:

  • meeting the parents together and/or individually to help resolve issues and prepare them for spending time with their child ;
  • working with the child to prepare them for spending time with the adult; and
  • observing the adult spending time with the child in a contact centre, the home, the community, or any other suitable settings.

Before recommending to the court a referral to the ICFA service, a Family Court Adviser (FCA) will first undertake an assessment using Cafcass’ Child Impact Assessment Framework to determine any risks and whether conflict between parties is preventing safe and beneficial arrangements being achieved. The FCA may also recommend that parties complete the Planning Together for Children programme. When the ICFA work is completed the FCA will use the information from the provider’s final report to inform their assessments and further reports back to court.

Read the Improving Child and Family Arrangements (ICFA) factsheet

Use of Child Contact Services

Where a Cafcass practitioner considers the use of an external organisation to provide child contact services either as part of planned work, signposting parents to an organisation or when making a recommendation to court, the organisation providing a service will need to be accredited with the National Association of Child Contact Centres (NACCC). This applies to supported or supervised child contact services being delivered in community settings or centre based. 

For more information about child contact centres please visit the NACCC webpages.