Response to Cafcass re their new Operating Framework

Dear Cafcass
RE: Cafcass Operating Framework – version for comment published July 2017

Thank you for publishing your proposed Operating Framework online and for inviting
comments and feedback from stakeholders and interested parties.

As a recent service user of yours, and one who was not very happy about the service I and
my family received, I am delighted that you have taken steps to start updating your
framework.

My feedback broadly falls into the following 4 categories:

1. Children as Witnesses
I am delighted that you are at last recognising the crucial issue that children should not be
interviewed in the home and/or presence of a parent. This would never happen in a criminal
case and yet it has been standard operating procedure for your organisation for years.
Likewise with the preparation of the child assessment tools, including your Letter to the
Judge. It’s shameful, unethical, and deeply unprofessional that this has been going on and I
am glad you are finally addressing this.

2. Parental Alienation
In light of your CEO Anthony Douglas’ comments and recognition of Parental Alienation
earlier this year I am relieved, finally, to see you include it formally within your framework. I
do hope that you will now provide formal training on Parental Alienation, authored
independently by experienced and professional experts in Parental Alienation, and reflect
the requirement for your employees to undertake this training within your Operating
Framework when it is published.

3. Impact of Parental Hostility tool
I was surprised to see the continued mention of this tool within your proposed Operating
Framework under the section on Parental Alienation. This tool is a laughing stock within the
industry, and much derided by professionals, by social workers, and by service users alike.
Only this week a full analysis and rebuttal of the suitability of this tool has been published by experts in the analysis of Hostility by Parents and Parental Alienation. This cannot have
come as news for you as I am aware of many many complaints and FOI requests that have
highlighted the ineffectiveness of this tool to your organisation.

I would like to see you remove this tool and replace it, not only with a tool that is fit for
purpose, but also with formal pathways as you’ve recently started to do for Domestic Abuse and Violence, albeit in collaboration with Women’s Aid and their flawed and discredited report “Nineteen child homicides”

4. Training
Please oh please can you add Training to your Operating Framework. Your FCA’s need to
be trained properly, and understand that they must complete this training, in order to best
deliver better outcomes for the children and families that you are responsible for. This should
of course include an updating of your entire training catalogue, the removal of your reliance
on your Librarian Jo Wood (who incidentally is completely untrained in child mental and
emotional health and wellbeing) to produce new materials and, dare I suggest it, a wholesale
culture change in how you approach the Welfare of the Child and ascertaining the true
wishes and feelings.

In Conclusion
I hope you have found this feedback helpful. Please do get in touch if you would like any
further suggestions or for me to expand on those that I have provided.

I would also appreciate it if you would keep me updated on the status of your proposed
changes to your Framework and let me know when the next draft version or final version is
ready for publication

In a Family Law system designed for combative parents there is no real allowance for the views of children and any understanding of how Family Law ultimately impacts on children most of all.

We speak for the children in Family Law so that, finally, the children have a voice.

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