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Cafcass praised for outstanding leadership by Ofsted

Service ‘delivers consistently good service for children in the family courts’

Ofsted has found that outstanding leadership in Cafcass has led to a wholesale transformation in organisational culture, radically improving the services children and families receive, and has steered the organisation to receiving an overall grading of good in its first national inspection by Ofsted.

In its report released today, Ofsted found that over the past five years Cafcass has significantly improved, developing itself from an inadequate base in 2009 and one which  the Public Accounts Committee said was 'not fit for purpose' in 2010, to one that is now consistently good. Ofsted found that Cafcass' social workers consistently work well with families to ensure children are safe and that the court makes decisions that are in children's best interests.

Ofsted's inspectors also found the following: 

Cafcass Chief Executive Anthony Douglas CBE, said:

"This result is the culmination of five years of grit and determination from our organisation, with a continued focus on driving forward improvements for the 140,000 children we work with every year.

"We have been relentless in pursuing a strong performance management framework – there is now no hiding place for poor practice in Cafcass. Equally, we have massively strengthened our learning and development support for hard pressed staff, to give them the skills and tools they need to carry out difficult work.

"We have responded to challenges such as high demand and reduced funding by changing the way we work, demonstrating a culture of innovation which shows the public sector can be as innovative as the private sector."

Cafcass Chair, Baroness Tyler of Enfield, said:

"This is a very good result for Cafcass and validates the Cafcass Board's focus and priority on improving outcomes for children. 

"I am particularly pleased that Ofsted has recognised the effectiveness of the links Cafcass has made with judges and other sector leaders in making things better for children across the family justice system. For example, Cafcass has played a key part in the implementation of the revised Public Law Outline (PLO) which has reduced delays for children. I also welcome Ofsted's support for how a Board can add value to service delivery, quality improvement and good change management."

Ofsted found that improvements in Cafcass have also brought about considerable savings, with the cost of sickness reducing from £3.3m in 2009/10 to a projected £1.8m for the 2013/14 financial year, and noted that developments in IT, such as smartphones for practitioners and electronic records have improved social work practice.

The Ofsted report is here.