Family Justice Board action plan published

The Family Justice Board has published an Action Plan to Improve the Performance of the Family Justice System. The Plan "sets out the actions the Board and its partners will take to achieve the Government's vision of a family justice system [i.e., following the Family Justice Review] that supports the delivery of the best possible outcomes for all children who come into contact with it." The Plan runs until 2015 and will be reviewed and updated annually.

By March 2013 the Board plans to have:
  • Developed and disseminated a safeguarding toolkit for use by agencies that provide dispute resolution and other supporting services to separating parents outside of the court process.
  • Consulted on new quality standards for expert evidence and how these can be enforced.
  • Identified the main areas of practice where performance most needs to improve and formulated a programme of performance improvement actions in response.
  • Identified the local areas where there are the greatest challenges overall (particularly delays in public law), and taken forward targeted action to support those areas.
  • Established a Knowledge Hub to aid the dissemination of research on key aspects of family justice to stakeholders and professionals across the system.
  • Ensured Local Family Justice Boards are set up, have in place Chairs, are meeting regularly and have in place robust monitoring arrangements by October 2012.
  • Successfully piloted the new HMCTS Care Monitoring System, for care cases issued after 1st April 2012, which provides an effective tracking tool for each case and hard data on any drivers of delay within each care centre area.

By March 2014 the Board plans to have:
  • Agreed and disseminated new quality standards for expert evidence (subject to consultation).
  • Rolled out a Programme of early support for Local Authorities, targeting key areas of court-related skills and pre-proceedings practice and providing models for quality assurance processes.
  • Made fully operational the updated Operating Framework across all Cafcass areas to help Cafcass staff ensure proportionate use of their time.
  • Developed referrals and approaches so that parents can take up Parenting Information Programmes to support the resolution of disputes out-of-court.
  • Developed and introduced a system for private law children cases to enable less complex cases to be resolved more quickly and to provide better support to self-represented parties.
  • Developed and published processes to assist courts, other parties and self-represented litigants to support self represented litigants through private law court proceedings, while maintaining fairness to all the parties involved.
  • Developed a new system so that where a court order is breached within the first 12 months the case can be returned to court within a matter of weeks with the aim of resolving the issue at that hearing, or if the issue cannot be resolved, setting a clear timetable for moving the matter forward.

By March 2015 the Board plans to have:
  • Delivered a full communications strategy to publicise effectively the Board’s priorities and programme of work for reforming the system throughout the first three years of its operation.
  • Developed, monitored and reviewed a framework of the outcomes experienced by children who come into contact with the family justice system.

The Plan is contained in an eleven-page table which sets out the actions, the 'key performance measures', 'key deliverables', the delivery date and details of the lead organisation and main supporting partners for each action.

The Plan can be found here.