Plans to increase collaboration between court guardians and social workers have been dropped following concerns that they may encourage collusion.
The scheme was outlined in February by the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) and Cafcass, with the suggestion that it might speed up care proceedings and cut unnecessary court appearances, amidst concerns about rising demand and resulting delay.
But the plans drew criticism from Nagalro, which represents children’s guardians, as well as the National Association of Independent Reviewing Officers. These represent children’s interests during the care process.
Nagalro said the plans, if implemented, would undermine the statutory independence of children’s guardians.
They claimed greater collaboration could lead to collusion, a lack of oversight and even the inappropriate removals of children into care. In response, the plans, referred to as a ‘protocol’, were dropped.
In a joint statement the ADCS and Cafcass declared:
“The agreement … about how local authorities and Cafcass can work effectively in a set of care proceedings and pre-proceedings was developed with the intention of improving the standard of social work and tackling delays in the family court. The document was never intended to undermine the independence of children’s guardians, nor was it intended to shut out parents or their representatives from due process within proceedings.”
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