NAPO continues to meet with CAFCASS on a weekly basis. We would like to share some important information with our members from our meeting with them on the 11.05.20.
Following the Prime Minister’s address on Sunday 10.05.20, CAFCASS confirmed that the present working arrangements have not changed. CAFCASS explained that recovery planning is underway however they reassured us that there will be consultation with employees and the Unions and that if and when changes are proposed it will be in a planned way.
CAFCASS reiterated their position that Family Court Advisors are not expected to attend face to face Court hearings presently. If the Court makes a request for a Family Court Advisor to attend they must discuss this with their manager ahead of any proposed hearing.
CAFCASS’ disruption fund for reimbursement of equipment purchased is still available and we urge our members to use it.
Napo is concerned about the significant temporary changes enshrined in the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 that came into force on the 24.04.20 which are not due to expire until the 25.09.20 (at the earliest) which changes protections given in law to some of the most vulnerable children in the country. Please see the Statement by the Children’s Commissioner for England (www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk) who voices her concerns about these regulations. We agree with her view that increased protections would be more appropriate at a time of lockdown and crisis rather than a reduction.
In 2016, NAPO passed an emergency motion at Napo National AGM with regard to changes the Government wanted to make at that time to reduce safeguards for children which were largely the same as the changes that have not been put into place by these regulations. Napo joined the Article 39 campaign against these changes in 2016 which at that time was successful. Napo has indicated our support again to the Article 39 campaign to reinstate these protections and has raised our concerns with CAFCASS. We would encourage members to let us know of any specific concerns they have in relation to these new regulations and the children and families they work with.
Nicola Taylor-Ebong, National Vice Chair Cafcass