New Chair of Cafcass appointed

Baroness Tyler
The Department for Education has today confirmed the appointment of Baroness Tyler of Enfield as the new Chair of the Cafcass Board. The appointment takes effect today, and will last for three years.

Baroness Tyler has been Chief Executive Officer of Relate since 2007, and is a working Liberal Democrat Peer in the House of Lords. She previously held a number of senior positions within the government, most recently Director of the Vulnerable Children’s Group at the Department for Education and Skills. She was raised to the peerage in January 2011.

I thought I would take this opportunity to briefly explain what Cafcass is, for the benefit of the uninitiated. Cafcass (the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service, to give it its full name) was set up on 1st April 2001 under the provisions of the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000. It brought together the Family Court Welfare Service (which was a subdivision of the probation service), the 57 panels of the Guardian ad Litem Service and the Children’s Division of the Official Solicitor’s Office. Cafcass is a body corporate, governed by the Board and managed by a Corporate Management Team, with Anthony Douglas as Chief Executive.

Its principal functions are to:
  • safeguard and promote the welfare of the children,
  • give advice to any court about any application made to it in such proceedings,
  • make provision for the children to be represented in such proceedings,
  • provide information, advice and other support for the children and their families.
Describing its work, Cafcass says that it "champions the interests of children involved in family proceedings, advising the family courts in England [Wales is covered by Cafcass Cymru] on what it considers to be in the best interests of individual children". The matters in connection with which Cafcass's trained Family Court Advisers advise courts include care proceedings, adoptions and private law proceedings, such as residence and contact disputes.


  1. Mrs...Ms....or Miss Tyler(I can't be bothered with this Baroness rubbish) will need to be on her mettle. The cafcass executive are very skilled at spin...and other black arts....see the 2 current stories in the social work press...the first about the work of the cafcass national business centre in Coventry following an inspection by Ofsted. This story mirrors all the others put out by Cafcass....numbers numbers numbers...that's all this executive are concerned the KPI's which look at the quality of Cafcass'work are notoriously quantity...quantity and more quantity.

    Cafcass did the same at their recent, "open" meeting in Oxford by singularly concentrating on numbers and statistics...and when asked a pertinent question by an audience member about the impact of changes in FCA practitioners on children they work with, was told that the managers present didn't have those facts to hand....only positive facts and numbers...that show Cafcass in a positive light.

    I have heard whipers that some of the Cafcass Family Support Workers are to be made redundant at the end of March 2012...and as these workers are the only staff in Cafcass charged with regular direct work with children....despite what Mr Douglas et al told the Jusice Select Committee...then Cafcass will continue to fall behind the approach promoted by Professor Munro.

    Ms Tyler really does have her work cut out if she believes that Cafcass should be a child centred organisation...not the top down organisational mess she has inherited....good luck to her...and I hope she has access to a life jacket when the ship starts to sink.


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