The welfare of children and families will be brought to the heart of the court system when a key safeguarding organisation moves to the Ministry of Justice, Family Justice Minister Lord McNally has announced.
The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) will transfer to the Ministry of Justice in April 2014.
Cafcass looks after the interests of children involved in family court cases and helps over 145,000 children and young people who are involved in divorce or separation and care or adoption cases every year. Cafcass is the voice of the children in family courts and helps ensure that children’s welfare is put first during proceedings. It is currently sponsored by the Department for Education.
Family Justice Minister Lord McNally said: ‘I am determined to improve the family justice system so that it offers the best possible service for those families – and particularly those children – that come into contact with it.
‘The work Cafcass does in supporting vulnerable children and ensuring their voice is heard in court proceedings is essential. Bringing Cafcass into the Ministry of Justice will be of great benefit to the family justice system.
The transfer follows a recommendation in the Family Justice Review.
Chief Executive of Cafcass Anthony Douglas CBE said: ‘Our move to the MOJ will help to accelerate the pace of family justice reform, as all court-based agencies will be in the same team. It will be a chance for us to be the voice of vulnerable children inside MOJ and will help to promote better justice for these children.
‘Cafcass will make maximum use of this opportunity to bring about the vision set out in the Family Justice Review – to develop a high quality service to all children and families using the family courts, making best use of the resources we have in the system overall.’