There are challenges ahead but there are no longer "weaknesses" in CAFCASS Cymru according to Amanda Lewis, Head of Children's Services, Powys on 22 November 2012.
She was giving evidence on behalf of the Association of Directors of Social Services Cymru to the Children and Young People Committee, who is undertaking a short inquiry into the work of the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service in Wales (CAFCASS Cymru).
CAFCASS Cymru advises the courts on how to deal with individual children in their best interest.
The committee is considering:
- progress made in implementing the recommendations of the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) inspection of November 2010 and the subsequent organisational restructure of CAFCASS Cymru;
- how effectively CAFCASS Cymru is delivering its services in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) for example user engagement, decision-making in the best interests of the child;
- how effectively CAFCASS Cymru is delivering its role in the provision of child contact centres;
- the implications of the Family Justice Review and its effect on the work of CAFCASS Cymru.
All the matters were raised by the committee members.
Ms Lewis said that the relationship between CAFCASS Cymru and other stakeholders was very important.
"It's about collective responsibility and agreeing the frameworks around that," she explained.
Targets such as ensuring court proceedings are completed within 26 weeks were going to be difficult she said but "we all feel the ingredients are there to meet those challenges collectively".
Ms Lewis emphasised the ADSS' written evidence, which says that the structural changes made by CAFCASS Cymru have improved consistency in the delivery of services across Wales.
It also says that their engagement at a strategic level with CAFCASS Cymru and critically the CEO has improved significantly and it is evident that this has had an extremely positive impact upon the quality and consistency of services delivered to children and their families.
Gillian Baranski, Chief Executive, CAFCASS Cymru also gave evidence, alongside the Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services, Gwenda Thomas.
Mrs Thomas sang Ms Baranski's praises.
"The organised restructure has had immediate improvement.
"It was carried out very quickly.
"It has been a very positive move for CAFCASS Cymru."