The welfare of children will be brought closer to the family court system as key safeguarding organisation Cafcass joins the Ministry of Justice, Family Justice Minister Simon Hughes has announced.
Cafcass looks after the interests of children involved in family court cases and helps over 145,000 children and young people who are involved in divorce or separation and care or adoption cases every year. Cafcass makes sure children’s welfare is put first during court proceedings.
Family Justice Minister Simon Hughes said:
Today the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) becomes part of the Ministry of Justice.
We are reforming the family justice system to make sure welfare of children is at its heart and I am delighted to welcome Cafcass as the newest full member of our Ministry of Justice family.
The work CAFCASS does in supporting vulnerable children and making sure their voice is heard in court proceedings is essential. With Cafcass from now on at the heart of government work on family and children issues in the Ministry of Justice, I believe we can and will improve the work done by our courts to give children and all responsible for them the best possible service.
Today’s transfer follows the Family Justice Review’s recommendation in 2011 that Cafcass join the Ministry of Justice to ‘bring court social work functions closer to the court process’.
Chief Executive of Cafcass Anthony Douglas CBE said:
We have worked closely with MoJ and DfE colleagues ahead of this transfer to ensure continuity of service and to maximise the opportunities it presents. The move is an opportunity to strengthen the perspectives of children in wider MoJ policy. I am pleased with the positive response we have had to our initial ideas about how we might do this together.
We will maintain the strongest possible links, both on the ground and at a strategic level, with DfE and with local authorities after the transfer.
On our front line it will be business as usual. Our move to the MOJ will not signify any changes to the way we work and they will be strong supporters of what we do and the way in which we are working with all of our partners to improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable children in the country.
On 22 April the largest family justice reforms for a generation will come into effect and will see the new single Family Court become a reality and many of the family justice provisions in the Children and Families Act 2014 will also be implemented.
Cafcass was previously sponsored by the Department for Education. CAFCASS Cymru will remain under Welsh Government.