Subject Access Requests and My Cafcass Journey

This page has information on Subject Access Requests for children and young people during or after family court proceedings.

A Subject Access Request gives you the right to obtain copies of your personal information and can help you to understand how and why we used your data, and to check we used it, and are using it, lawfully. If you make a Subject Access Request, we will support you to help you understand how Cafcass was involved in your life.

If you are currently involved in family court proceedings and have questions, please speak to your Family Court Adviser or guardian who may be able to help you.

If you would like to know more about your Cafcass journey during or after your family court proceedings have ended or if they happened a long time ago, you may consider making a Subject Access Request.

Lots of young people decide that they want to find out more information about their family court proceedings when they are older. You can approach Cafcass either during or after court proceedings, but please be aware that in most cases we keep hold of your information until the youngest child involved in your family’s court proceedings reaches 25 years old.

  • About Subject Access Requests and My Cafcass Journey

    A Subject Access Request (SAR) is a person’s right to find out:

    • what personal information an organisation holds about them;
    • how they are using it;
    • who they are sharing it with; and
    • where they got the information from.

    These are your rights under the UK General Data Protection Regulation and Data Protection Act 2018.

    We would usually provide information following a SAR directly to you if we think that you are old enough to understand the information. We will ask the Family Court Adviser what they think about this before replying to you.

    My Cafcass Journey is our support to ensure you understand the information we share with you when you make a SAR. The process has been developed with help from the Family Justice Young People’s Board (FJYPB), a group of young people who have been through family court proceedings. The FJYPB has given us feedback on how we better support young people when responding to a SAR. As a result, you will, if possible:

    • be given a choice for how you want to receive information, for example, to have it sent by email or posted to your home or another address;
    • decide on how much support you might need to make sense of it;
    • receive a response which is easy to understand; and
    • receive a clear explanation when we are unable to provide the information you wanted, and;
    • be provided with links to other sources of help.
  • Making a Subject Access Request

    If you are still in family court proceedings or they have only just finished, it is best to speak to your Family Court Adviser or guardian who can give advice about making a request.

    If your family court proceedings have concluded, please:

    • complete our website form, making it clear that you want to request a SAR; or
    • email us at [email protected]; or
    • call our Hear to Listen line for free on 0808 175 3333; or
    • write to us at: Cafcass Feedback, Cafcass Post, PO BOX 5076, Slough, SL1 0RX.

    You can contact us on social media to request a SAR, but it is best to use one of the direct methods listed above.

  • After you have made your request
    • We will acknowledge your request and confirm when you should expect to receive your response, which is usually one month from your request.
    • Once we have allocated someone to work on your request, they will write to you to introduce themselves and provide you with further information.
    • The person responding to your request will also ask how you would like to receive your SAR.
    • You can contact this person whilst they are working on your response if you have any questions.
    • Once they have responded, they will offer you the chance to have a call with them at a time that suits you.
    • You can ask questions about what you have received which they will try and answer for you. They may need more time to answer all your questions or may need to put you in touch with someone else who can help.
    • We will also ask you for your feedback on how we dealt with your request. This will help us to learn so that we can improve the service we provide to other children and young people who may be going through a similar experience to you.
    • If you prefer, you can receive support or provide your feedback in writing by your chosen method if you do not want to speak to anyone on the phone. You do not need to provide any feedback if you do not want to.
  • When to expect your information

    We have one calendar month to complete your SAR. If we need more time, we will let you know as soon as possible and keep you updated on our progress.

  • Information provided in response to a Subject Access Request

    The information which we are allowed to share with you depends on whether you were formally or directly involved in the family court proceedings. This is known as being a ‘party’ to the proceedings. Sometimes, children are formally involved in family court proceedings but sometimes they are not, even though whatever is decided in the court can and does have a big impact on what happens to them.

    • If you were formally involved in the court proceedings and were therefore recognised as a party to them, you will receive copies of the types of information shown below which we hold about you.

    Pictured are graphics of a computer screen and documents. Text reads: There are many documents and forms that Cafcass will keep about you and your family. Some will have been completed by Cafcass and others will have been sent to Cafcass so we can help you and your family. If you ask Cafcass to see them, you might be a bit confused about some of them, such as who filled them and why we needed them.
We have picked some of the most common documents that you might see and explained them as best we can. Starting with the application to court (C100, C1A, C2): Your parent, carer or local council has asked the court to help with making the right decision about you by filling in an application. This decision might be about who you should live with or how much time you can spend with each parent.
Court hearings, directions and orders: The court looks at the application and decides whether a judge or magistrate (a trained member of the community who also works in the family court) is best to help. The court will decide a date for a meeting at court, called a hearing. Any decisions the judge makes will be written up into a court order or court direction which sets out the rules.

    Pictured are graphics of hands holding documents: Text reads: Safeguarding checks: A Cafcass worker will contact the person that made the application (applicant) and the other person/people (respondents) to talk about the issues they are having. They will also talk to the police and local authority to see whether they have any information about your family. This will often be by letter, email or phone call.
Reports (safeguarding letter, section 7): If the courts need more information, they will ask Cafcass to complete reports. These reports will include more information from your parents and other people, like your school or even from you and your other family members. In most cases the Cafcass worker will also talk to you about your wishes and feelings. 
The Cafcass worker may ask you if you would like to write a letter or draw a picture to the judge. You might also complete worksheets or if you were too young to tell Cafcass your wishes and feelings, you might have drawn pictures. You might also get a later life letter explaining what happened at court and why Cafcass no longer need to help your family.

    • If you were not formally involved in the proceedings, you will receive a description of the information we hold about you (because we are not allowed to share it with you). The list we provide you with will explain why we have the information, where the information has come from and if we have shared it with anyone else. An example of this is shown below:

    Picture are graphics of a computer screen, a family court proceeding, and a document. Text reads: There are many documents and forms that Cafcass will keep about you and your family. Some will have been completed by Cafcass and others will have been sent to Cafcass so we can help you and your family. If you ask Cafcass to see them but you were not made a party to proceedings, you might be told that you can’t see the full documents without the permission of the court.
If you were not made a party to proceedings, we are limited in the information that we can share with you because the court does not allow the sharing of information with non-parties. This is because of some rules called the Family Procedure Rules. 
When we are looking through your information, if we find that you were not made a party to proceedings, we will write to you as soon as possible to let you know your options. If you cant to continue with your SAR, we will keep you updated as much as we can. We will give you the court name and reference number so that you can contact the court who should be able to help you find out more information.

    Pictured are graphics of documents. Text reads: We will then write to you and share with you within 1 month any information that we can share with you. We will most likely send the information to you in the post or using a secure email, whichever you would prefer. Let us know if you want the information in a different way and we will try and support your with this. The information you receive will look something like this… and this… as mentioned earlier, if you were not a party to the proceedings we are very limited in what we can tell you but will get a summary of what we can tell you. This will hopefully help you in your search for information. 
If the Cafcass worker asked you to write a letter to the judge or complete a wishes and feeling workbook this may be  included in your SAR. Any pictures you may have drawn will also be included. Cafcass may also have written you a later life letter to explain what happened and why. This may also be included in your SAR.

    • The reason there is a difference in what you will receive is because we are not allowed to share information from proceedings with people who were not formally recognised as a party. This is because it would be against the Family Procedure Rules.
    • The Family Procedure Rules set out the procedures used in family courts in England and Wales.
  • How to find out if you were formally recognised as a party to the family court proceedings
    • If you are not sure whether you were formally recognised as a party to the proceedings, the easiest and quickest way to find out is to just contact us via one of the methods listed above. You can still make a SAR without knowing this information and a member of our team can help explain what the difference is in more detail.
    • If you were involved in a Public Law court case brought by a local authority to protect you and to ensure you received the care you needed, you would automatically have been formally recognised as a party to the family court proceedings.
    • If you were involved in a Private Law court case, you would most likely have not been formally recognised as a party to the proceedings. Private Law cases are generally where parents need help from the court in making arrangements for a child. There are exceptions to this though such as under rule 16.4 of the Family Procedure Rules 2010 where the courts may make a child party to proceedings if it considers it is in the best interests of the child to do so.
  • Providing feedback to us on how we dealt with your SAR
    • We welcome any feedback you might have about how we dealt with your Subject Access Request. We aim to speak to everyone who makes a request to understand how the process felt for them and how we might be able to improve.
    • If you are unhappy with your SAR response, you are welcome to ask us for a review. This will be undertaken by a member of our team who was not involved in your original response.
    • We have 20 working days to respond to a review, but we might be in contact with you before then to understand why you are not happy.
    • You can also contact our Data Protection Officer at [email protected].

    If you are still not happy after we have reviewed our response to your request, you can contact the Information Commissioner’s Office: The ICO is the UK’s independent body which makes sure we are upholding your rights.

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