The Cafcass Library

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Cafcass often reference their inhouse Library in responses to research questions so whenever you read this in a response it’s interesting to understand the context in which the Library operates, is staffed and managed, and how it is used by FCAs.

We’ll use Cafcass’ own words:

“The Library is here to help Cafcass’ practitioners get to grips with subject matters important in their work and to help them feel prepared in court, so that if they’re asked about a subject, or need or want to learn more, they have all the resources at their fingertips. We’re here to make their lives easier.”

The Librarian is Jo Wood. Working alongside Jo are Library Assistants Shauna Harris and Alice Fodor, who deal with specific item requests, cataloguing and helping Jo with horizon scanning.

This involves keeping an eye on 250 Government and charity websites and 80 journals – downloading new and insightful publications that they believe will be of interest to Cafcass’ practitioners. “We’re always trying to pre-empt the subjects our practitioners might want to read about and the kinds of issues they could be dealing with on the ground. We buy the most relevant articles so that when a request comes in we’ve got a copy and can send it straight to them

Jo Wood has this to say:

“Since managing the Cafcass Library I’ve absorbed so much and sometimes, out of nowhere, I answer questions I didn’t realise I knew the answer to! Child protection is not actually my background – I did an undergraduate degree and Masters in history and qualified as a Librarian in 2006,” Jo explains. “I’m currently very interested in sports psychology and I’ve taken up a Masters part-time.”

Jo Wood, Cafcass Librarian

UPDATE: October 2017

A researcher asked Cafcass the following questions: you can view Cafcass responses in line below:

1. Please provide your policy and guidance documents issued to your Library Team that guide how, what, and when they can add items to your library collections.

Cafcass responded: The library staff add to the resources available in the library on a regular basis and conduct frequent horizon scanning to discover new publications. The Library team monitor c.300 websites, publishers and journals to find items that are suitable for the library. Emphasis is placed on cataloguing journal articles from peer-reviewed publications and on acquiring books from reputable publishers.

2. Please provide your policy and guidance documents issued to your Library Team that guide how they can solicit and/or accept suggestions for new items from your own employees

Cafcass responded: There is guidance on the Library intranet pages which outlines how staff can make suggestions for new items. This guidance is below: If you are looking for a specific item, contact the Library and we’ll see if we can order it in. This applies to ‘reasonable requests’ only, within the subject remit.

3. Please provide your policy and guidance documents issued to your Library Team that guide how they can solicit and/or accept suggestions for new items from service users

Cafcass responded: The Library is a service that is only available to Cafcass staff and requests for new items to be added to the library can only be made by Cafcass staff.

4. Please provide your policy and guidance documents issued to your Library Team that guide how they can solicit and/or accept suggestions for new items from the general public

Cafcass responded: Please see the answer to question 3.

5. Please provide your policy and guidance documents issued to your Library Team that guide how they can solicit and/or accept suggestions for new items from research institutions

Cafcass responded: Please see the answer to question 3.

6. Please provide your policy and guidance documents issued to your Library Team that guide how they can solicit and/or accept suggestions for new items from other organisations and institutions

Cafcass responded: Please see the answer to question 3.

 

Are the Cafcass Librarians qualified to do the necessary research and to publish items that they class as training materials? We’re not convinced.

Dealing single-handedly with over 1,000 subject requests a year, our in-house Librarian Jo Wood is kept busy researching a huge variety of topics relating to child protection for Cafcass’ curious practitioners.

The most popular subjects Jo is asked to collate research on include reunification, radicalisation, sibling contact and parental alienation.

There are currently around 1,400 FCAs employed by Cafcass. From this pool of FCAs the Library receives “over 1,000 subject requests a year”… that’s less than one per FCA…

And lastly here’s at least 2 of their Knowledge Bites that the Cafcass Library/Librarians have authored or co-authored:

 

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