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ALC publishes response to Cafcass / ADCS agreement

Agreement ‘does not respect the independent role of the Children’s Guardian’

The Association of Lawyers for Children has expressed deep concern at the collaboration agreement recently launched by Cafcass and the Association of Directors of Children's Services. The agreement referred to a 'culture of urgency' for children and young people. It acknowledged the pressure on the care system and set out how local authorities and Cafcass would aim to work together to secure swift outcomes for children, young people and their families.

The ALC says in a response published today that it considers that by entering into the agreement, Cafcass is losing sight of the importance of the independent role of the Children's Guardian in public law proceedings. 

The Association notes that the agreement was produced without, so far as the ALC can tell, any consultation with young people, parents, family members, judges and lawyers, and that the lack of consultation is evident in the way in which "the proposals pay no meaningful attention to the positions of the parents and other parties".

More generally, the Association says that the document appears to be based on a number of "erroneous beliefs" which its response sets out.

The ALC concludes that it "is concerned that, in entering into this agreement, Cafcass, which was originally created by Parliament to support the independent role of guardians in supporting the work of the court, does not respect their independence and professional autonomy, or the fact that they owe their primary duty to the children they represent and to the court, rather than to Cafcass. That independence is their core value – to children, their families and to a democratic society."

To read the response, click here. To read the agreement, click here.