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Cafcass updates guidance on advisers seeing children and families during lockdown

Cafcass has published updated guidance on arrangements for Family Court advisers to see children and families, work in Cafcass offices and attend court under lockdown restrictions.

It said advisers should see children and families in-person if this was the only way to assess and understand a case adequately.

This is a change from earlier guidance, which said advisers should see children in person at least once during proceedings.

If an ‘in person’ meeting is needed, an adviser must assess how this can be undertaken safely and record how the decision was arrived at.

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Cafcass said all its offices were Covid-secure and open for in-person visits and other work purposes.

Open courts are also Covid-secure, and advisers and courts should discuss the most effective ways to participate.

Cafcass said there was significant use of hybrid hearings where parents attended in person with advocates, while advisers, social workers and other experts participated remotely.

Chief executive Jacky Tiotto said: “The decision as to whether to undertake in-person work at this time of national crisis is one that requires our frontline social workers and managers to weigh and balance the needs of children and families alongside their own safety and welfare.

“These are not easy decisions and we hope that our latest guidance helps to direct and influence these complex judgements in a way that makes them understandable to children, families and the family courts.”

Mark Smulian

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