Skip to main content

Care Cases

Volume 449: debated on Wednesday 19 July 2006

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what steps her Department is taking to increase the proportion of care cases being completed in the courts within 40 weeks by 10 per cent. by 2009-10. (85456)

DCA is working with DfES, the Welsh Assembly, the judiciary, local authorities and other delivery agencies to increase the proportion of cases completed in 40 weeks by implementing the recommendations of the “Review of the Child Care Proceedings System in England and Wales” (published May 2006). This work seeks to reduce delay by focusing on seven key areas:

Ensuring families and children understand proceedings

Exploration of safe and appropriate alternatives to court proceedings

Improved consistency and quality of s 31 (care proceedings) applications to court

Improved case management

Inter-agency working/communications

Judicial allocation/use of court facilities

Experts

Revised statutory guidance for local authorities and new practice directions/protocols for courts will underpin case management processes.

Actions in the past year which are expected to affect the proportion of cases completed in 40 weeks include;

installation of video conferencing equipment in care centres enabling experts to give evidence remotely,

establishment of local family justice councils who have held conferences to identify how local agencies can best work together to reduce delay

piloting of family courts centres (co-located county court and family proceedings courts) allowing for the more efficient management and allocation of court business at local level

piloting the use of case progression officers in family courts

allowing nominated recorders and district judges (county courts) to hear care cases.