I started working for Cafcass in 2004 as a Service Manager. Prior to this I’d had Local Authority experience as a team and service manager in the Local Authority. The work is very different. You still have the satisfaction of providing the very best outcomes for some of the most vulnerable children in our society, but you work within a very clear, time limited court structure which suited me down to the ground.
I’ve enjoyed the diverse range of work in Cafcass, my previous experience was in public law but the other half of our work is in Private law and one of the key learning experiences for me is how we support the often hidden swathe of children affected by parental separation and conflict.
Cafcass is keen to support the career aspirations of its staff and my career in Cafcass has provided me with numerous promotion opportunities: from Enhanced Service Manager to Senior Service Manager. At the beginning of this year I accepted the post of Head Practice. This gave me the opportunity to lead in a number of Service Areas and be part of the Operational Management Team and to influence developments nationally. As a manager In Cafcass there is a real sense of being able to influence best practice, lead innovation and be close to the key decision makers in Government.
Cafcass looks after its staff. The last few years have seen the implementation of an effective Health and Wellbeing service that has supported staff and enabled managers to draw on a variety of resources to develop personal resilience. It’s not just words, it works. Cafcass has some of the lowest sickness rates in the social work sector.
It’s both an exciting and challenging time for Family Justice, budgets are tight and the need to innovate and represent the interests for vulnerable children subject to family proceedings has never been greater.
I have worked for Cafcass since 2004, initially as a Family Court Advisor and had previously worked as a Local Authority Social Worker in frontline child protection teams.
I became a Service Manager in 2009 and Senior Service Manager in 2014 and, more recently, have been appointed as Head of Practice. My responsibilities now include supporting my Assistant Director in ensuring high quality service delivery across a wide geographical area in the North West and also in supporting the development of our Practice Supervisors in these areas with the aim of creating a context for excellent practice. As Head of Practice I take a lead on improvement and deliver on our ‘Getting to Good’ and ‘Getting to Outstanding’ programmes.
Whilst the role of Head of Practice is challenging, it enables me to play a significant part in shaping and improving the agency’s front line service to children and families; through creating the context for excellent practice in which high standards are expected and celebrated and in which we develop the best practitioners. This makes for an immensely satisfying job at both a personal and professional level and I have been supported by managers at all levels in continuing to develop in my roles.