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Plans to extend President’s Interim Guidance in respect of Cafcass criticised

ALC and Nagalro oppose proposal to extend Guidance until September

Community Care reports that Sir Mark Potter, President of the Family Division, has written to organisations to inform them that the interim guidance issued in July 2009 in respect of Cafcass’s functions is likely to be extended for another six months.

The guidance, issued in July 2009, permitted Cafcass to allocate cases to teams of duty guardians, rather than to one named practitioner. The guidance was said to set out ‘short term measures’.

The aim of the guidance was to put in place measures which would address the backlog in the allocation and reporting of children’s guardians while preventing backlogs arising in respect of new work in a planned and time limited way. It was intended to be a temporary solution to help in an emergency situation. The guidance was to cease to have effect on the 31st March 2010 at which point it was expected that the backlog would have been substantially reduced.

Barbara Hopkin, commenting on behalf of the Association of Lawyers for Children is quoted as saying that the "severe limitations" of the duty system made it "worse than useless". Alan Bean, co-chair of the ALC, called it "completely unsatisfactory".

The Community Care story can be found on its website.