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Unhearing Cafcass

February 22, 2010

I don’t actually like posting about Cafcass, seems a bit like kicking an injured puppy, but as the largest employer of social workers in England it is rather unavoidable and it is impossible not to hear the cacophany of criticism of Cafcass from respected quarters. However Cafcass itself appears to be unable to hear and resorts to issuing strings of angry denials and hollow justifications. No, not an injured puppy – just a pit-bull with a hearing problem.

File On  Four is broadcasting an item about Cafcass tomorropw (23 Feb 20:00 – repeat 28 Feb 17:00).

In Comment is Free Nick Cohen, under the heading “Welcome to the office, the new Stasi state”, makes the following comment about Cafcass.

This week BBC’s File on 4 will broadcast a documentary about the disaster in the family courts. Not only did the Cafcass workers its journalists interviewed refuse to allow the BBC to use their real names, they insisted it distort their voices too. It is as if they were terrified dissidents in a totalitarian regime rather than free citizens in a modern democracy.

In the Comment Factory (an interesting site I had not come across before) Karen Woodall writes very perceptively about Cafcass’s role with separating parents.:-

Instead of this empathic approach however what we get from many CAFCASS officers is an attitude that their diagnosis of the problem is correct and what parents feel about that is simply down to their level of dysfunction.  This high handed and often distant approach to such sensitive work is at best a poor intervention and at worst a disastrous approach that ruins lives forever.  In my most recent encounter with CAFCASS, I observed a manager patronising a mother who had lost contact with her children due to the ineptitude of one of her members of staff.  … The final straw came when this manager attempted to say that hundreds of people had undertaken the CAFCASS commissioned Parenting Information Project delivered as part of its increased support to parents.  …  When confronted with the fact that by June 2009 only 21 parents had undertaken the project and offered the link to the Hansard Citation that proves this to be true, the manager dismissed this with a wave of the hand and the words ‘I would be very surprised if that was the case.’


What has become of Cafcass? What has become of social work? When and why did empathy, suppportivenes, non-judgementalism get exchanged for censoriousness, condemnation and intrusivness?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 20, 2010 11:01 am

    Canada’s social service systems seem to operate the same way. The destruction of children is -mind boggling- and yet- the social service systems are supposedly there to- “help” – a very sick joke-.Mothers here -at least in my province- mothers who have been left to cope on their own- with children- will do anything to avoid contacting a social service. It is virtually automatic that theyu will lose their children.

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