The role of Cafcass – the role of the Children’s Guardian
The role of Cafcass
The role of Cafcass is to employ and provide the courts with sufficient numbers of experienced, well-trained and professionally supported Children’s Guardians. While Children’s Guardians have professional independence and judgment in individual proceedings, Cafcass sets the standards and holds Children’s Guardians professionally accountable for meeting those standards consistently.
Children’s Guardians are registered social workers and, as an employer of registered social workers, Cafcass is accountable to Social Work England for monitoring compliance with the professional standards for social workers and for reporting any failure to meet those standards. We speak up for children and make sure the court hears about their experiences, wishes and feelings.
The role of your child’s Guardian
Children’s Guardians are qualified social workers, trained and experienced in working with children and families. They are appointed as experts by the court to represent the rights and interests of the child and to provide the court with independent advice about the child’s best interests. They are not part of local authority children’s social care services or the courts. They appoint their own solicitor to represent the child in court. They do not always agree with the local authority application or their plan for the child.
Children’s Guardians are experts appointed by the court to help the judge make the best possible decision for the child. They do this by:
appointing a solicitor for the child who specialises in working with children and families;
liaising with the child’s social worker and independent reviewing officer to understand the family history, why they are applying for this order and why now;
scrutinising the local authority’s application and papers submitted to the court, including their assessments and proposed plan for the child;
advising the court on what needs to happen before the court makes a final decision;
seeing and engaging with the child and their parents;
seeking the views of other family members and professionals who know the child and/or know the parents;
sometimes recommending an additional expert to advise the court, like a psychiatrist/psychologist or paediatrician; and
writing a report for the court giving their independent view about what would be best for the child. Their report will include the wishes and feelings of the child.