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CAFCASS - Please share your experiences!

(35 Posts)
SarahMac30 Sun 29-Mar-09 21:32:31

I am awaiting a CAFCASS appointment for my 5 year old dd. I have read so many posts on here that are not too positive about how CAFCASS deal with situations. It would be really helpful to hear some more experiences. Has anyone had a good experience with them or are they really just awful and don't listen to the child. Please post with your own stories.
Thanks all.

N1 Mon 30-Mar-09 00:59:45

I personally have had one good and one bad experience with CAFCASS.

The first reporter was a wolf in a sheep skin. All friendly to me, acting like she listened to everything I said, took notes....etc. I had read about how bad CAFCASS actually were and I left their offices feeling like I had actually got through to someone. Her report arrived and I so mad and angry, I didn't know what to do. Even worse, I was told by the solicitor to simply write a response, which I did.

CAFCASS had a tidy 9 odd pages of spaced out report. I had over 20 pages of corrections and attempts to rectify and explain misunderstandings.

On the day in court, CAFCASS and the Judge sat drinking coffee and the woman changed her recommendations (again) and reinterpreted seemingly obvious things so vastly differently that I felt like becoming a criminal. Ex smirking in court knowing that she was getting her way didn't help.

I was against CAFCASS from that day because they accept lies as truth, present lise as fact. Claim to listen to children but don't. Misinterpret what children say and present something totally different.

The second experience, ex was mouthing various accusations about me to the Judge. To the point of probably spooking the Judge. Probably because she thought I was in for her version of round 2.

I got a CAFCASS reporter with over 30 years children experience. The person was dead straight and practical. He was very open with his information gathering and fully transparent. The man had a "shadow" who took notes (I was recording the conversation).

I went to the meeting ready to argue and the man listened to everything I said. Listened to all the reasons I used. He recognized the case law that I wanted to apply and explained where the case law helped my son in my legal argument - without actually giving me any legal advice. I left the meetings thinking that I had been listened to and couldn't help but remember the first experience.

The report arrived and I was generally accepting of most of it. I asked for a few amendments but the reporter explained his reasons for choosing the wording he did (before going to court) and I could see his reasoning for writing what he did. While I didn't agree, I understood and that (to me) made all the diffrence.

The second reporter was very clear about what his role was and what the Judges role was.

During cross examination, he gave accurate and correct information.

I was impressed with the second person's reporting ability.

The first reporter well and truly fucked my son's life direction up and thanks to her, my son's future is going to be very different - to the point of me not being able to do anything without messing more (younger) lives up to rescue my son.

I have since heard that the second reporter I had has a reputation as I described in most of the cases he works with. Reporters like him are almost the exception.

I have been involved with several court cases where CAFCASS have been involved. One case with NYAS. Me having more understanding about how CAFCASS reporters work help me to help others. I think that I am a major headache for CAFCASS.

I wouldn't trust many of them and if you are prepared to take the chance, record every meeting and phone call. No point asking for permission, the answer is almost always "no".
Your intention is to never reveal that you are recording the conversations and you keep the recording to yourself, so you can remind yourself about what was actually said.

After each meeting, write to the reporter, thank them for the meeting and give them a summary of what you remember being said in the meeting. List the points that you felt were most important and why, then ask the reporter to correct any misunderstandings you might have in your summary.

Try to keep the summary short but clear and correct.

If you get a list of corrections and it conflicts with the recording, move to taking notes in future meetings....etc. Thats the general advice I read, and it worked for me.

kidsgoape Sun 25-Apr-10 08:26:09

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I was divorced 4 years after our daughter was born. Cafcass was involved and I had no complaints as they acted very fair.
My did not agree with the divorce judge's decision so she appealed. Cafcass was involved again and again very fair. We were granted shared custody 50/50.
When we left court second time my X swore to destroy me.
Six years later April 2008 I became unemployed.
My X took this opportunity to completely stop our daughter from visiting me. I had two solicitors letters sent to her which she ignored. Next thing I knew were in court with many accusations against me. The number one at this time was she accused me of having a photo of our daughter on my site. "I did not"
When we appeared in court six months later, there were more accusations, accusations of violence which supposed to have taken place before our divorce.
On the third and last court, two years later, my X produced a false document in court which states my violence against her. I suggested to Judge Barry Cole that this document was false. And he laughed at me for thinking such a thing. This paper is made up of Cow & Gate note paper, there is no Doctors heading or address, there is no name or signature. THE Cafcass officer involved, John Collins, was bios against me from the very start. And because of them, my daughter has not been able to contact me, or me her.
Please visit my site to see Cow Gate letter, and more about Cafcass, and leave me some support. My daughter is 10 years old and I know she misses me. http://bit.ly/bTW4LN

gillybean2 Mon 26-Apr-10 09:47:52

CAFCASS are rubbish. Late, biased, incompetant. You have to be incredibly lucky (or know what you're doing and fight like hell and make all kinds of fuss) to get a decent CAFCASS officer. (And making a fuss can get you labeled as difficult and put your current officer against, labeling you as difficult, you while you try and get them replaced...)

Lots of young, inexperienced people making decisions about your children's future with little to go on and not following their own procedure or guidelines.

And after they make their decision they never get to hear how it pans out, so they don't see how many lives they screw up with their incompetance.

My neighbour's experience resulted in her losing her kids. Officer took a shine to dad and was quite happy to listen to his lies, ignore his violence to mum and threats to the kids (including to behave infront of CAFCASS officer or get what for later), and had her visit with dad on a trip to the zoo while mum's was with two tired children one evening, never saw dad's 'home' but said it would be better for kids to be in 'stable' situation with dad's new gf and kids as they would be getting married (they still didn't get married 8 yrs later and she's chucked him out more than once for his behaviour/violence).

Some 8 years later the kids are seriously screwed up, son has been excluded from school and threatened teachers and pupils alike. Daughter often doesn't bother going to school at all. The kids are telling everyone they want to be back home with their mum. So now my neighbour is subject to more CAFCASS incompetetance while they do a 'wishing and feelings report'. For example CAFCASS officer arranged to come and see the accomodation the children would be in if they come back to her, even though she had just handed in her notice on current property and would be moving in 4 weeks and had told them it would be better to see new place surely... But then CAFCASS officer cancelled saying she was getting ahead of herself and should speak to the children first before coming out to see mum... Duh! Seeing as its the children who prompted the whole thing that would seem obvious!

My last partner (while not really helping himself and did lots of things wrong) came up against the usual late reporting, not giving you time to reply, excuses as to why can't visit at home or with child there at the time. He didn't want to rock the boat for fear of getting CAFCASS offside, but actually he should of put his foot down and insisted they follow their own procedure and guidelines.

You get the usual happy mum = happy child when in fact the whole thing should be about the child and not mum (or dad).

OFSTEAD report on CAFCASS so if you really want to get a picture of your area look at the OFSTEAD reports. For example this is an extract from page 7 of the OFSTEAD report for CAFCASS in my region
http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/Ofsted-home/Publications-and-research/Browse-all-by/Documents-by-ty pe/Cafcass/Cafcass-South-East/(language)/eng-GB

"This inspection looked at front line practice and management to assess how well Cafcass provides a service to children and families in the south east region. In general,the region provides a satisfactory and sometimes good service to children involved in public law proceedings.
This is not the case for children involved in private law proceedings. In many key areas the region fails to meet the minimum standards required. This includes an unacceptable level of delay in undertaking private law, weak recording, poor reports to court, inconsistent assessment and little effective management oversight of the work.
The inadequate practice in domestic violence cases is unacceptable.
Children and families deserve a much better service that is fair, transparent and consistent. It is essential that Cafcass
remains focused on the welfare of children during periods of great stress in family lives. This means attention to good practice in tackling delay, in clarity about user expectations and in carrying out assessments. An improvement in these areas is essential to raising the quality of service delivery in private law."

Would you want an organisation that is said to proved "satisfactory and sometimes good service to children" making decisions on your children's future?!

Read up as much as you can, find out about their procedures so you know when they are not following their own guidelines, do not accept what they suggest if it is not in line with their guidelines, and do NOT be afraid to question them on everything!

Not trying to frighten you, just want you to know what you are dealing with and to prepare yourself accordingly.

Best of luck

GypsyMoth Mon 26-Apr-10 09:54:22

well for the record i had a very lovely cafcass officer....she was fair,and gave the ex many chances to comply with the legal system etc etc....2 years on she helped me rid him from our lives with a section 91(14).....which was the best result for my children

Primroselady Mon 26-Apr-10 19:06:34

Have had mixed experiences, just had a report done and I am nervously waiting results, she seemed really helpful and understanding but I scared to get my hopes up in case the report does not reflect this.

candylady Sat 01-May-10 14:59:52

Caff cass are disgusting they are another form of social services, be very careful what you say how you say it what you do how you do it.

MadelineJones22 Thu 13-Oct-11 15:14:23

Message deleted by Mumsnet.

planetpotty Thu 13-Oct-11 15:55:00

My experience of them was they were very fair however very busy I have heard there is not enough officers to go around. I was expecting someone much more progressional and some of the things she came out with I was a little hmm but overall fair to both sides and completely child focussed. Also she didn't suffer the solicitor lightly and put him in his place when needs be.

planetpotty Thu 13-Oct-11 15:55:50

Professional!

doinmummy Fri 14-Oct-11 00:35:28

Awful. Turned up late, talked about other cases,showed me pics of his family,talked about his medical problems,told me about his bus collection, I had to ask him to leave at 11.30pm. He didn't make one single note and determined that my daughter would be safe to stay overnight with her drug taking drunk father.

I complained and found out that he had several other complaints against him...he is still working! Disgusting

Sorry not very encouraging

incognitwooohooo Fri 14-Oct-11 00:39:38

Message withdrawn

LetSamSeeHisDad Sat 22-Oct-11 23:43:14

CAFCASS... Are Wolves in Sheeps CLothing... ALL For women/ladies, in my experience... UNLESS you are a real NUTTER/DRUGGY... Women get away with blue murder...

gizmoharvey Sat 29-Oct-11 13:12:42

I have had one good caffcass experince and currently going through a really bad caffcass experience. I am currently writing a response to an experts report and I am astonished that the caffcass officer has indicated to the expert that my son is borderline neglected. The officer has not even spoke to me. Of course my son may have said something not good but mountains have been made into moles hills. I have been castigateed against throughout the report and im stuck as to how i should answer it. My son has sufferd with hives he has been under so much stress having his dad making the second application n two years..... i cant stop crying and im am deeply upset that my son is showing physical and mental stress respnses .... any advice ?

tabbythecat Sat 29-Oct-11 17:04:16

good experience. My husband got the outcome he wanted plus a court order, think the judge could see how vindictive his ex had been in stopping contact for no good reason.

bembridge Wed 02-Nov-11 09:35:49

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Riseaboveit Fri 18-Nov-11 17:44:20

hello

I am currently going through the courts with my 2 children aged 12 and 8. Dad has had every opportunity to see the kids and I have never stopped him. He has let the children down on many occasions by not turning up, has not financially supported them and to top it off the children want nothing to do with him. The kids will now have to be questioned by the CAFCASS people before the next court hearing in December. I am very upset when you've done all you can but then still been made to look like your stopping dad from seeing his kids. In the meantime they have to see him every other Sunday for 6 hours and they don't even want to do this. Awful thing is, is that I've always encouraged them to go even when they are crying and it hurts to see them so upset. sad He is only following this process as a revenge for me leaving him. I just wish they could have a normal relationship with him but he doesn't believe that and blames their not wanting to see him on me. I am now worried about the outcome for my children, can anyone give me some advice or share their experience's and/or outcomes.

Thanks

Riseaboveit Fri 18-Nov-11 17:46:53

Oh and can I just say for all the really really good dad's out there I feel sorry that some women give us a bad name!

niceguy2 Fri 18-Nov-11 18:15:50

At 12 the courts (and CAFCASS) should put some weight on what your eldest says. So if he/she doesn't want to see them then I doubt court will force them to.

The 8 year old is a bit more difficult as they are deemed a bit too young to just do what they want.

Fingers crossed for you.

MissyAttitude Sun 20-Nov-11 01:28:04

CAFCASS South East Region Omg They have there own Law System/Rule Book, They Make It Up As They Go Along, N Why??? Because They Can They're being Allowed 2 ABUSE us by The Government.. Cafcass seem 2 hold more Powers n Say than Social Services, yet only have the same if not less Social Work Training n Qualification.. In Ny recent Case report from Social Services deems they ave never been involved with my 3 Kids, eldest 13, n that they state that they are 100% Happy with my Parenting & Protection for my Children Past n Present... YET CAFCASS deemed me as a Risk 2 my 5 year old daughter, if she was returned 2 me from her father who stole her last year n Lied n said he had concerns that i would hand her over 2 the person who abised me as a child 2 b looked after wen knowing full well my eldest has never been placed in that situation. I Lost Residence of my 5 yr old Daughter due 2 the Lying Corrupt Fast of an Cafcass Officer..
Do Cafcass have the power or ability 2 check a persons background/History if at any time they have lived in another Country for any amount of time n later returned 2 UK 2 live.?? e.g born in UK, 1980 was here for 9 years, then moved 2 Netherlands 16 years, returned 2 UK 2 Live, became involved with Cafcass, No Checks made for the period 16 years lived in another Country As soon as he came bk gaoned a caution from Police Cocaine I have a clean record dispite Cafcass and Social Services Falsely reporting Otherwise n yet be was given Sole Residence due to Cafcass n change of Judge on final hearing, it would of been a different but fair outcome if the Judge that took previous 3 hearings had Sat the final hearing.. I raised so many concerns that cafcass wouldnt uphold n Social Services wont get involved if your dealing with cafcass, (which is not out of any choice may i add) they just rediredt you back 2 cafcass.. Its Like Social Services are Scared of them as they wont comment on Cafcass Situation.. It Wouldn't b allowed in a Criminal Court So Why is it Allowed in Family Court????????
( The ones that work without Justification )

miniwedge Sun 20-Nov-11 10:08:12

That's not strictly true niceguy.

We are in family court system at the moment, dsd's mum has stopped all contact stating dsd aged 11 doesn't want any contact and has made lots of awful allegations.

All allegations have been thrown out and dsd's mum was told in court that they will absolutely not be making any order withdrawing contact even if dsd states in her wishes and feelings report that she wants no contact as it is so utterly apparent that it is dsd's mum driving the current situation.

In fact, her mum was told by the judge that she needs to appreciate what emotional impact it will have on dsd in ten years time if all contact were stopped with us.

So in essence, although a Childs views are most definitely listened to and even more so from 10/11 onwards, they will always look at the individual and surrounding circumstances to determine why a child might say they don't want contact.

Riseaboveit Sun 20-Nov-11 11:48:13

Thanks for your views. I just want the best for my kids and as a mother I feel everything they feel, happy or sad. Just so peed off that all these people have now got involved because of him when there was really no need in the first place, it makes it seem like I've done something wrong when I've only ever done the right thing. I'm so angry!

Andrew37 Sun 25-Dec-11 10:37:16

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Andrew37 Mon 28-May-12 19:53:20

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

OliviaLMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 28-May-12 21:03:30

Hi Andrew
We will shortly be deleting your post, as while we absolutely are all for the freedom of speech, we don't think that Mumsnet is necessarily the place for this.
Thanks MNHQ

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