Kenn Griffiths.

When it comes to 'ducking and diving' Anthony Douglas as CAFCASS's Chief Executive Officer is an absolute master. For a man with a career in social care I find it hard to believe that he can really believe his organisation is 'fit for purpose'. Continually using the fallout from the Baby P case as an excuse for his failing service is now well past the sell buy date.

It is true that May 2011 saw the highest-ever number of care order applications. Family courts received 816 section 31 care applications, more than double the number in May 2008. The recent increase comes in the wake of a 38% increase is section 31 applications rising to 9,165 in the year from April 2010 to March 2011.

Douglas said there were three main links between the Bay P case and the continuing high level of referrals: “ the increasing tendency to use care proceedings where parents do not co-operate at all or only superficially; the heightened fear of making a professional mistake; and a greater awareness of more children in the community needing better long-term care”.

This is a Chief Exec’ that employs more social workers than any other organisation. He’s absolutely right about the increase. This is due to Local Authorities having the ‘fear of God’ put into them after Baby P because they failed to protect vulnerable children prior to this, putting finances before care.

What Anthony Douglas has not included in his three points is the fourth. He would have more than enough staff to cope with demand if the CAFCASS officers dealt with the growing numbers of private law cases that return to the courts time after time because the issues were not dealt with professionally at the first hearing. This I hasten to add is not the fault of the well qualified staff it is about the restrictions and pressures they are put under by a failing service that puts ‘hot-desking’ before team building, has no proper facilities to underpin the valuable supervised/observed contact and lacks confident, constructive social work leadership.

(Sub-editor’s note: Kenn Griffiths’ comments are his own and do not necessarily reflect the’s position. We would gladly publish any counter argument or thoughts).


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