New Year's resolutions at Cafcass
By Cafcass Chief Executive Anthony Douglas
Every January, discussion of New Year’s resolutions is inescapable.
For my list, as a member of the Family Justice Board, I can do no better than echo the words of our Young People’s Board, who, along with the Family Justice Council, give us good advice. The young people have stated they want these five changes in 2013:
1) Cases don’t drag on and are always focused on our needs.
2) There is more support when we just need to talk to someone.
3) We find a way to keep the court informed about our cases, such as when big decisions are going to be made about our lives.
4) Help is available when things get tough and everyone’s arguments stress us out.
5) We have a way to tell the people involved in our case about the good and bad bits and know they’d listen.
The young people are presenting a national conference next summer, based around young people’s stories of the family justice system: the short-term and long-term outcomes for them, and what we need to do to give young people a chance. I think it will be an exciting day with some important work being launched at the conference, such as standards for child-friendly family justice.
This is one example of the work I’m doing along with others on the Family Justice Board. We are determined we will make a real difference to the way the system works in 2013 – ultimately so that it’s better for the children and young people who will go through it. At Cafcass, we have started the New Year with a pilot project to gain feedback more systematically from those who use our service. Responses are being sought on a voluntary basis. This will help us build up valuable knowledge about our impact, which we can apply so we can continuously improve our service. The project is taking place in Essex and we are aiming to roll out it out nationwide from April or May.
I hope you have a terrific 2013 and that we are all able, at the end of the year, to say we managed to overcome, positively and constructively, the threats and meet the challenges we faced.