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CAFCASS publishes operating priorities until March 2010

Measures designed to reduce backlog and balance the budget

The new operating priorities for CAFCASS, reported previously on Family Law Week, have now been published in full on the CAFCASS website.

The document sets out the reasoning behind the new priorities and the detail on how they will be implemented. Many of the measures are attempts to reduce the backlog of cases including

A core part of the priorities is that all cases will undergo a "safeguarding analysis" though the definition remains of safeguarding remains "a broad one, in line with our National Standards and Safeguarding Framework."

The document also contains the President's Interim Guidance, finalised in July this year, setting out how the courts will work with these new priorities, which makes clear that,

"The aim of the Guidance is to put in place measures which will address the current backlog of work while preventing backlogs arising in respect of new work (i.e. mounting delays in reporting and in the allocation of Children’s Guardians consequent upon the increase in Children Act applications) in a planned and time limited way. It is a temporary solution to help in an emergency situation. It is intended that this Guidance will cease to have effect on the 31st March 2010 at which point it is expected that the backlog will have been substantially reduced.

Although some measures reflect developing good practice (e.g. issue specific section 7 reports and welfare reports in care proceedings, the timetable for the child and national expectation timeframes for the delivery of each type of report), others are expedient solutions which are not intended to endure in the longer term."

The full priorities and guidance are available on the CAFCASS website here.