Further to this post, I today received a copy of a letter from the local CAFCASS office to the court, regarding a report that was ordered on the 7th May. They state that they are not in a position to allocate the report to a CAFCASS officer at the present time, and that the case is currently at number 46 of the list of unallocated cases. They hope to allocate it within 12 weeks, and it will then take a further 12 weeks for the report to be completed. I make that a total of about 28 weeks from the date the report was ordered, or some seven months, all of which confirms Ofsted's findings of the "serious failings" of CAFCASS. So much for the 'delay is likely to prejudice the welfare of the child' principle in section 1 of the Children Act.
Interestingly, the letter goes on to state that CAFCASS has "now started taking measures in order to alleviate the backlog", including "outsourcing some reports to an outside organisation". Really? Who exactly are this organisation, and what are their qualifications to deal with such matters? Are they charging for this service? If so, how much? If they are charging, then would it not be better to use that money to recruit more CAFCASS officers, to resolve the problem on a more permanent basis?
Update: Many thanks to Fiona of Divorce Survivor for pointing out that Cafcass South East entered into a partnership with children’s charity Coram at the beginning of April. For details, see this press release.