There must be considerable relief that the latest figures from the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) show a decline in the number of applications being made for care orders on children in England.
After years of sustained increases, such a respite reduces the seemingly relentless building of pressure within the system, which threatened to compromise the quality of services. Those at the front line will breathe a sigh of relief.
I would not, however be as sanguine Alison O’Sullivan, Vice President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, who is quoted in Children and Young People Now as saying: “By changing the way we work and further improving the quality of our assessments, we have shifted the burdens of the process away from the courts and back into the care planning process which is the right thing to do for children and families.”
I see no clear evidence that changed working practices or better quality assessments are the causes of the fall in numbers. They might be but I think we need to see a proper investigation of why the figures have fallen, before anybody starts taking the credit.