Concluding Care Proceedings Within 26 Weeks:Report of the evaluation of the Tri-borough care proceedings pilot

Beckett, Chris, Dickens, Jonathan and Bailey, Sue (2013) Concluding Care Proceedings Within 26 Weeks:Report of the evaluation of the Tri-borough care proceedings pilot. Centre for Research on Children and Families, UEA.

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For many years policy-makers and practitioners have wrestled with the problem of lengthy court proceedings involving children. The Family Justice Review of 2010-11 proposed that there should be a statutory time limit of 26 weeks, and the Tri-borough Care Proceedings Pilot, which ran from April 2012 to March 2013, was an initiative to conclude care cases within this timescale. It was developed by the three London boroughs of Hammersmith & Fulham, Westminster, and Kensington & Chelsea, along with the court service and Cafcass. It introduced a range of practice changes in the local authorities and the courts, and a framework of monitoring mechanisms. The aim was to provide a model that could be rolled out to other areas. The Tri-borough authorities invited tenders for an independent evaluation, and a team from the CRCF, with consultants Dr Sara Connolly of the Norwich Business School and Professor Judith Masson of Bristol University, were successful. We used a mixture of statistical analysis, and interviews and focus groups with social workers, lawyers, judges, children's guardians, and young people. We delivered our report to the Tri-borough authorities at the beginning of August 2013, and a it is available here with an introduction and conclusion to highlight the wider policy context and implications. The pilot succeeded in reducing the median duration of care proceedings to 26 weeks (based on cases starting between April and December 2012, and excluding cases that went into the Family Drug and Alcohol Court, FDAC). This is a significant change from the year before, thanks to a concerted effort by all the agencies and professionals involved. The project and our evaluation are likely to have direct impacts on the current policy agenda for speeding up care proceedings and adoption. The Children and Families Bill currently before Parliament will introduce the 26 week time limit, for all but a small number of ‘exceptional cases'. It is expected to come into force in April 2014, and already the courts are starting to work to the new deadline. The Tri-borough pilot shows that it will be a great challenge to hit this deadline for nearly all cases, but encouragingly it also shows that it is possible to bear down on unnecessary delay without compromising fairness or thoroughness

Item Type: Book
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Social Work
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Groups > Child Protection & Family Support
Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Centres > Centre for Research on Children and Families
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Depositing User: Pure Connector
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2013 14:28
Last Modified: 26 Jul 2023 09:33

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