‘Children and Families Court Advisory and Support Service’ gives us the acronym ‘Cafcass’.
The function of Cafcass is to advise the court about what is in the best interests of the child whom it represents in family proceedings.
The principal functions of the Service are set out in section 12(1) of the Criminal Justice and Courts Services Act 2000.
(1) In respect of family proceedings in which the welfare of children is or may be in question, it is a function of the Service to—
(a) safeguard and promote the welfare of the children,
(b) give advice to any court about any application made to it in such proceedings,
(c) make provision for the children to be represented in such proceedings,
(d) provide information, advice and other support for the children and their families.
Cafcass provides guardians to represent children in care proceedings. Under rule 16.3 of the Family Procedure Rules, the court must appoint a guardian where the child is subject to ‘specified proceedings’, unless the court is satisfied it is not necessary to safeguard the interests of the child.
‘Specified proceedings’ is defined by section 41(6) of the Children Act 1989 and includes any application for a care or supervision order.
See also the Family Procedure Rules 2010 Part 12 and Part 16 and Practice Directions 12A and 16A.
Visit the official Cafcass website. Ofsted published its first national report about how well Cafcass was doing in 2014, concluding that there had been very significant improvements since 2009 and it was now an effective organisation. The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) has published a number of Good Practice guides for Cafcass.