Local authority social workers have been praised in new research by Cafcass.
The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service conducts annual research into care applications. The Service surveyed 300 children’s guardians over a three week period, polling their views on care applications filed by local authority social workers, under section 31 of the Children Act 1989.
This states that local authorities may apply for care and supervision orders if “the child concerned is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm”.
In a significant 84 per cent of cases, the guardians believed a care or supervision application was the only decision open to local authorities in the circumstances. The same percentage believed that the applications either entirely or partially met the necessary legal requirements.
More than half (54 per cent) of cases were filed at the correct time, the respondents believed.
Child neglect, meanwhile, was cited as the main trigger for care and supervision order applications.
The percentage of applications which the guardians thought had been filed later than ideal had also risen, by no less than 13 per cent, to 39 per cent of all cases. Different reasons for this rise were suggested, including the possibility that some local authorities were working with families who have multiple problems and so struggled to make progress.
Cafcass Chief Executive Anthony Douglas said:
“It is fantastic news that Guardians consider that, in general, local authorities are bringing the right cases to court, in a timely way and with the cases being well prepared, but it does not come as a surprise…We have to go on improving as one child poorly served by the family justice system is one child too many.”
Cafcass works to provides support services children caught up in family court proceedings.
Read the full research here.
Earlier this month, Cafcass revealed that it had received eight per cent more care applications during August than it had in the same month last year.
Photo by Daniel Horacio Agostini via Flickr