News Brief: Yes, there IS some news...

As we head into the summer vacation, serious family law news is likely to get a bit scarce, but there is still some of it about...

Both Family Law Week and Family Law report upon the recent successes of the Child Support Agency, as a result of which a record number of children are apparently benefiting from child support/maintenance payments. All of which sounds very impressive, but clearly not impressive enough to distract the government from its intention to reform the child maintenance system, as Work and Pensions Minister Maria Miller makes clear. A case of too little, too late?

On Wednesday Community Care reported that: "Ofsted inspections of local authority children's services could in future consist of a two-week, on-site, unannounced visit that will include direct observation of interactions with children and families." The proposal is contained in a consultation on changes to the inspection of local authority children's services. Thankfully, I have no direct experience of being inspected by Ofsted, but I do know how stressful it can be. Whether unannounced inspections will decrease or increase that stress, I can only guess...

Also on Wednesday, the Telegraph reported that the number of children being adopted in England and Wales has fallen to its lowest level on record (i.e. since 1997), according to official figures. Anne Marie Carrie, chief executive of Barnardo’s, is quoted as saying that social workers must be “braver” and should “act fast” to place children with a new permanent family if their birth parents clearly cannot cope. Hmm, I can already hear the howls of protest from the 'Stalinist state tears families apart' brigade (led, coincidentally, by the Telegraph's very own Christopher Booker).

Finally, Family Law Week reports that the Families Need Fathers’ telephone helpline logged a record number of calls in 2010/11. I suspect that that record will be easily broken in the first year after the government's legal aid cuts come into effect...

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