The Modernisation Programme


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The Modernisation Programme in Plymouth Torbay and West Devon

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The Modernisation Programme

  1. 1. Adoption Conference 2013Plymouth University
  2. 2. The ModernisationProgramme in PlymouthTorbay and West DevonbyHer Honour Judge RobertshawDesignated Family Judge for PlymouthTorbay and West Devon
  3. 3. What I will cover Public law (mostly). Private law – separate power point : not fortoday – some matters of practice and procedurecover both
  4. 4. The past Family Justice review – 3.11.2011. Government response – 6.2.2012. Ryder proposals – 31.7.2012.
  5. 5. The Law Society – what it said‘The family justice system is failing families.Notwithstanding the expertise and dedication of thoseworking within it, the system is flawed’.
  6. 6. The Family Bar – what it saidWe accept that the delays in resolving disputes concerningchildren in the courts are ‘shocking’ and are pleased thatthe Panel has not pulled its punches in describing thefailure of the ‘system’ as ‘little short of scandalous’. Onlythrough facing up to the problems in this way willattention be paid to the problems’.
  7. 7. The Family Justice ReviewWe found a family justice system facing immense stresses anddifficulties. Some apply only in public law or private law and areconsidered in those sections. Other issues are wider and highlightdifficulty in the way the system operates more generally. …At thetime of publication of the interim report in March, the averagecare and supervision case took 53 weeks: 57 weeks in care centresand 46 weeks in the Family Proceedings Courts. This has sinceincreased to 56 weeks on average: 61 weeks in the care centresand 48 weeks in the Family Proceedings Courts. To take onaverage more than a year to deal with these cases is unacceptable.
  8. 8. The Government Response The Government’s response to the Family Justice Review-A System with children and families at its heart’. Paragraph three of that report states: ‗We are verypleased to be able to accept the overwhelming majority ofthe recommendations which the Panel made. Annex 1sets out the response to each individual recommendation,our rationale for doing so, and the detailed changes wewill make’.
  9. 9. Ryder LJ‘ It is not the judiciary’s purpose to undertake a reform programme forGovernment. My proposals for change are the judiciary’s and areindependent of Government. In coming to my conclusions, however, it hasneither been possible nor sensible to ignore the Government’s legislativeprogramme and I acknowledge the cross party consensus for change insupport of the Family Justice Review’s conclusions. The judicialmodernisation programme is a plan which is designed to ensure that there isa robust framework in place to give effect to both the judiciary’s proposalsand legislative change. To that end, there have been extensive and carefuldiscussions between the judiciary and Government departments and agenciesduring the development of the programme which reflect the distinct roles of theExecutive and the judiciary. The process itself, together with the essentialchecks and balances which have been developed, is worthy of note’
  10. 10. Volume – by reference to Cafcassnational figures. Cafcass received 908 applications in April 2013.That is 20% more than in April 2012. Between April 2012 and March 2013 Cafcassreceived a total of 11,064 applications. That is8% higher than in 2011-2012. The figure for 2011-12 was itself 11% higherthan the previous year (2010-2011).
  11. 11. The future The creation of a Family Court. A new PLO – from Rules introduced under Part36 of The Family Procedure Rules 2010. Implementation of the statutory changes tosubstantive and procedural law by reason of TheChildren and Families Bill.
  12. 12. We must make it work Should courts remain involved? Yes – but we have to demonstrate that we canimplement the requirements of themodernisation plan. Those requirements are the law – created bystatute, statutory instrument and President‘sguidance.
  13. 13. The present Do it now. In particular, operate as though care and supervisionorder proceedings should be resolved in 26 weeks,unless there are good reasons to the contrary. Many of the practices referred to later in relation to thenew PLO are already in place – they can and must befollowed.
  14. 14. 26 weeks – The President’s view ‘A comparatively small number of exceptional cases apart, we canand must meet the 26 week limit. We can, because various pilotsand initiatives are not merely showing us that it can be done but,even more important, showing us how it can be done. We must,because if we do not, government and society will finally losepatience with us. I believe it can be done and I am determined todo everything in my power to make sure that it is. My message isclear and uncompromising: this deadline can be met, it must bemet, it will be met. And remember, 26 weeks is a deadline, not atarget; it is a maximum, not an average or a mean. So manycases will need to be finished in less than 26 weeks’.
  15. 15. The President’s view (cont) I have focussed on two key reforms: the 26 week limit and thenew approach to expert evidence. Let me absolutely clear: I donot accept that either of these reforms, in my view essentialreforms, will prejudice the quality of justice or the interests ofthose who appear before us. For those of you who are sceptical, remember that the architectsof the Children Act 1989, and they were not fools ordreamers, thought that care cases would – should – take nolonger than 12 weeks.
  16. 16. The future – The Family Court [1] The new family court will be set up by TheCrime and Courts [Bill]. It will come into being on 1st April 2014. The President has said that all areas shouldoperate as though the court was in existence bythe end of December 2013, at the latest.
  17. 17. The Family Court [2]. Statutorycreation. Clause 17(3) of the Bill proposes an amendment to theMatrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984 in thefollowing terms: ―Part 4A - The family court31A Establishment of the family court There is to be a court in England and Wales, called the familycourt, for the purpose of exercising the jurisdiction andpowers conferred on it—by or under this or any other Act, orby or under any Act, or Measure, of the NationalAssembly for Wales. The family court is to be a court of record and have a seal.‖
  18. 18. Family court [3] -Core features Single unified court. The FPC will be abolished and familymagistrates will sit in the Family Court. First instance judges of all levels will also sit init. The High Court will have some reservedjurisdiction, which will continue in the HighCourt and not the Family Court (some inherentjurisdiction cases).
  19. 19. Family Court [4] Regions are divided by DFJ areas. Each area will have one DFC – DesignatedFamily Centre. The DFJ has overall leadership responsibility The FDLJ, Baker J, has circuit responsibility andThe President, Sir James Munby, is in overallcharge.
  20. 20. The Family Court in PlymouthTorbay and West Devon area It is intended that there should be unifiedadministration based on the DFC – Plymouth Allocation and listing DFJs must set out proposals for structure ofFamily Court in their area by beginning of June2013
  21. 21. The new PLO To be introduced under Part 36. Based on resolution of care and supervisioncases within 26 weeks. To be published this month (May). In force on 1st July. We should not delay its implementation – butdo not be unduly critical of Local Authorities iftheir paperwork does not comply immediately.
  22. 22. Key components of new PLO Similar documentation has to be filed on issue. Includes, ‗on day 1‘, Local Authority chronology,threshold document, care plan, genogram, currentassessments and statement. Chronology – onerous. Two years information usuallysufficient? Succinct. Threshold – succinct (e.g. the father is a man of violentdisposition who regularly assaults the mother in thepresence of the children‘). Statement – analytical ratherthan reams of information.
  23. 23. PLO (cont) Procedure is more front loaded and streamlined. For Plymouth, Torbay and West Devon - preproceedings protocol Covers whole of County of Devon. Based onagreement between Local Authorities(Plymouth, Torbay and Devon) and court. Itimposes expectations on both. In particular nounnecessary duplication of pre proceedingswork.
  24. 24. View from the President [2] Current thinking is that the FCMH should be onday 12. Local Authority compliance with its obligations isessential: ‗The key principle is very simple: the localauthority must deliver its material – the right kind ofmaterial – on Day 1. If that does not happen, the entiretimetable will be thrown out’.
  25. 25. View from the President [2] On Day 2 the local authority must serve on the otherparties (but must not file with the court unless expresslydirected to do so) the ‗checklist documents‘. These are: Evidential and other documents which already exist onthe local authority‘s files (for example, previous courtorders and judgments / reasons, any relevantassessments, including section 7 or section 37 reports,and single, joint or inter-agency reports, such as health,education, Home Office, UKBA and ImmigrationTribunal documents). These documents are to beserved with the application form.
  26. 26. View from the President [2] A list of decision making records (for example, recordsof key discussions with the family, key local authorityminutes and records, pre-existing care plans and lettersbefore proceedings). These documents are to beindentified by list, not served, but must be disclosed onrequest by any party. It is important to note that documents need not beserved or listed if they are older than two years beforeissue of the proceedings unless reliance is placed onthem in the local authority‘s evidence.
  27. 27. View from the President [2] We must get away from existing practice. All too often, andpartly as a result of previous initiatives, local authorities are filingenormously voluminous materials, which – and this is not theirfault – are not merely far too long; too often they are narrativeand historical, rather than analytical. I repeat what I havepreviously said. I want to send out a clear message: local authoritymaterials can be much shorter than hitherto, and they should bemore focused on analysis than on history and narrative. In short, the local authority materials must be succinct andanalytical. But they must also of course be evidence based.
  28. 28. View from the President [2] One of the problems is that in recent years too many social workershave come to feel undervalued, disempowered and de-skilled. In part atleast this is an unhappy consequence of the way in which careproceedings have come to be dealt with by the courts. If the revisedPLO is properly implemented one of its outcomes will, I hope, be to re-position social workers as trusted professionals playing the central rolein care proceedings which too often of late has been overshadowed byour unnecessary use of and reliance upon other experts. Social workers may not be experts for the purposes of Part 25 of theFamily Procedure Rules 2010, but that does not mean that they arenot experts in every other sense of the word. They are, and we mustrecognise them and treat them as such.
  29. 29. Allocation Correct allocation from the start is vital. Members of allocation team based at Plymouth willmeet at least weekly and will communicate daily. For Plymouth, DFC allocation team will be DJRichards and Tony Barry (legal adviser) assisted asnecessary by DJ Taylor. DFJ has oversight and will beavailable to advise and assist as necessary. The team as a whole (including DFJ) will meetmonthly. Appeals to DFJ but hardly likely to arise.
  30. 30. Allocation criteria These have been produced in draft and will beissued soon. Intention is that the magistrates will play a ‗keyrole‘ in private law and public law. No national percentage for amount of publiclaw magistrates will do – but they will do asignificant amount of the work. They must be supported and helped by lawyersand judges.
  31. 31. View from the President [1] I do not accept, I have never accepted, that Magistrates are unsuited forfamily work or, in particular, for public law cases. Quite the contrary. SoMagistrates will play a vitally important part as judges in the Family Court.And I must make clear that there is no agenda that Magistrates should infuture concentrate only on private law cases. Given the great discrepancies atpresent in the balance of public and private law work being done by differentFamily Proceedings Courts, there is likely over time to be a rebalancing insome places between the two kinds of cases. But Magistrates are going tocontinue doing significant amounts of public law work’. The legal advisers (justices’ clerks) will have a pivotal role to play asmembers of the ‘gate-keeping and allocation team’ in the Family Court.’
  32. 32. PLO (cont) Strong emphasis on First Case Management Hearing -‗FCMH‘ (currently first directions appointment). Deal then with directions but especially: Experts, applying Part 25 rigorously. Applies now. Setting the timetable, including the dates for the finalhearing and IRH/Final hearing. Applies now. All directions should be given with a view to achievingthat resolution of the case within 26 weeks, save inexceptional cases. Applies now.
  33. 33. 26 weeks Not optional. The result of much debate. That debate is nowover. 26 weeks is a must and a maximum. We must treat it as an operational requirementthat is already in force.
  34. 34. DFJ view It is in the interests of children that publiclaw cases be resolved in no more than 26weeks, in all but truly exceptionalcircumstances. There is now a very strongbody of research about the consequences ofdelay on the emotional and psychologicaldevelopment of children (and also on thephysiological development of the brain).Efficiency and the welfare of children arelinked, not opposed, concepts.
  35. 35. CMS That is an acronym for The Care MonitoringSystem. Has been amended as from the beginning of April. Monitors how each public law case is progressingthrough the courts. It also monitors how eachindividual judge and magistrates‘ court isfunctioning and how DFJ areas are functioning.
  36. 36. CMS The results that it reveals are scrutinised and distributed. The court through the judiciary is responsible for the data that isto be recorded on that system. Although the loading ofinformation on to the system is actually done by court staff, it isfor judges, magistrates and legal advisers to make sure that theinformation is correct (in particular, that the right reasons arerecorded for any delay). All judges need to make sure that the right information isrecorded on it.
  37. 37. Getting dates from the court office This is the responsibility of the court. It should not be left to theparties unless unavoidable. If left to the parties – one solicitor / barrister nominated tomake collective enquiry. Dates must be fixed before parties leave the court. The court office will reject calls from solicitors / clerks made toarrange or alter listing, unless the judge / court has authorisedthis. Applies now.
  38. 38. Self reporting As from now. ‗In the event that any party shall fail to take anystep by the time specified in this order, the legalrepresentative of that party (or, whereapplicable, the litigant in person concerned)must notify the court by email forthwith uponthat default occurring and the default will bebrought to the attention of the judge / court‘.
  39. 39. E-Filing of orders (applies now) Unless otherwise ordered, orders must be e-filedwith 48 hours of the hearing. If more time is needed, it should be requestedeither at the hearing or within the 48 hourperiod. If default is made, the party in default will becalled to court to give an explanation.
  40. 40. Rules about experts New rules in force since 31st January 2013. Introduced by The Family Procedure (Amendment) (No. 5)Rules 2012 (SI 2012/3061). Over-riding objective in Part 1 amended to include ‗controllingthe use of expert evidence‘. Part 25 amended. Main change – expert evidence to be limited tothat which is ‗necessary‘. Court of Appeal due to issue guidance.
  41. 41. TG (A Child) [2013] EWCA Civ 5‘It is a matter for another day to determine whatexactly is meant in this context by the word―necessary‖, but clearly the new test is intendedto be significantly more stringent than the old.The text of what is ―necessary‖ sets a hurdlewhich is on any view significantly higher that theold test of what is ―reasonably required.‘
  42. 42. Five points from TG First, active judicial case management has for someyears now been an integral and essential part of practicein family cases, as it is for all other civil and criminalcases. Second, an essential part of appropriate casemanagement is the power of the court to controlevidence. Third, the court has particular case managementresponsibilities in relation to experts.
  43. 43. TG (cont) Fourth, the Court of Appeal has recently re-emphasised theimportance of supporting first-instance judges who make robustbut fair case-management decisions. Fifth, in evaluating whether an appellant meets the highthreshold required to justify its intervention, the Court of Appealmust have regard to and must loyally apply the principles laiddown by Lord Hoffmann, speaking for a unanimous House ofLords, in Piglowska v Piglowski [1999] 1 WLR 1360, 1372. Inrelation to appeals against the exercise of discretion it isconventional to refer to the classic authority of G v G (Minors:Custody Appeal) [1985] 1 WLR 647.
  44. 44. Letter of instruction Court must approve. Are the instructions too wide? E.g. psychologists onlyreporting on psychological issues. Limited no of Qs Can the expert report within timetable court has set? Message to experts – if you want to do the work, reporton time. Succinct reports. Executive summary
  45. 45. Disclosure from police, etc Should also be ordered at First Case ManagementHearing. Ensure local protocols for disclosure are followed (e.g.Metropolitan police will complain in writing if notfollowed). Will be new protocol for Plymouth DFC. May well need to be reviewed at Second CaseManagement Hearing.
  46. 46. Next hearing Second Case management hearing. Is it necessary?
  47. 47. IRH/Final Hearing Not a directions hearing. May be final hearing. A genuine attempt must be made to resolveissues at this hearing. If issues are not resolved – identify what issueshave to be litigated at the final hearing. Use preambles to orders to record where youare. In a 26 week case must be by week 20 if at allpossible.
  48. 48. Final hearing Time that case starts. If case is listed at 10 o‘clock the partiesmust be in court at 10 o‘clock (unless the court is engaged inanother case). It should not be for the usher to find the parties. If more time is needed court can be asked for it, having come tocourt at the time ordered. If ordered to be at court by e.g. 9 o‘clock, parties need to ensurethey are. Production orders – consider the realistic time at which theperson in custody is to be produced. Is a 10 o‘clock startrealistic?
  49. 49. If placement order made ‗The Respondent parents must keep the courtand the Local Authority informed of theircurrent addresses in order that effective noticecan be given to them of any subsequentadoption proceedings. If they do not do so, acourt may subsequently order that effectivenotice of such proceedings may be given to theirlast known addresses‘.
  50. 50. Final hearings - Case Summaries Case Summaries from the Local Authority areessential and must be filed at least 48 hoursbefore the final hearing. Up to date and relevant. Short positions statements should also be filedby all other parties. Can be sent by email to judges and considerarranging to do the same with magistrates.
  51. 51. Bundles – Plymouth DFC Protocol Key core documents – set out in protocol. Will be revised for Magistrates and Legal Advisers Master bundle only to be brought to court by LocalAuthority. Local Authority Case Summary with prescribedinformation Position statements – all parties (includes guardian). 24hours. By email also. Other core documents Compliance essential. Otherwise it does not work.
  52. 52. The Children and Families Bill –Core aspects 13 Control of expert evidence, and ofassessments, in children proceedings. 14 Care, supervision and other familyproceedings: time limits and timetables. 15 Care plans.
  53. 53. Statutory basis for modernisation–e.g. Art 13 (6): The court may give permission [for anexpert] only if the court is of the opinion that theexpert evidence is necessary to assist the court toresolve the proceedings justly. Art 14(2): In section 32(1)(a) (timetable for dealing withapplication for care or supervision order) for ―disposingof the application without delay; and‖ substitute―disposing of the application (i) without delay, and (ii)in any event within twenty-six weeks beginning with theday on which the application was issued; and‖.
  54. 54. Extend beyond 26 weeks?Statute [the Bill] 14 (6) - When deciding whether to grant an extension under subsection (5), acourt must in particular have regard to—(a) the impact which any ensuingtimetable revision would have on the welfare of the child to whom theapplication relates, and (b) the impact which any ensuing timetable revisionwould have on the duration and conduct of the proceedings; and here―ensuing timetable revision‖ means any revision, of the timetable undersubsection (1)(a) for the proceedings, which the court considers may ensuefrom the extension. (7) When deciding whether to grant an extension under subsection (5), acourt is to take account of the following guidance: extensions are not to begranted routinely and are to be seen as requiring specific justification. (8) Each separate extension under subsection (5) is to end no more than eightweeks after the later of— (a) the end of the period being extended; and (b)the end of the day on which the extension is granted.
  55. 55. The Bill – reduced scrutiny of careplan – Art. 15 ―(3A) A court deciding whether to make a care order— (a) isrequired to consider the permanence provisions of the section31A plan for the child concerned, but (b) is not required toconsider the remainder of the section 31A plan, subject tosection 34(11). (3B) For the purposes of subsection (3A), the permanenceprovisions of a section 31A plan are such of the plan‘sprovisions setting out the long term plan for the upbringing ofthe child concerned as provide for any of the following— (a) thechild to live with any parent of the child‘s or with any othermember of, or any friend of, the child‘s family; (b) adoption; (c)long-term care not within paragraph (a) or (b).
  56. 56. Social work evidence The President has stressed that the expertiseof social workers and guardians in relation tothe welfare of children must be recognised. They do not require Part 25 authorisation, ofcourse.
  57. 57. Plymouth initiatives Regular conferences / lectures are to be held to ensure thatJudges, Magistrates, legal advisers, court staff, lawyers,Cafcass, social workers and academics are aware of currentissues and how they are being dealt with. CASMOs and CVRs - innovative Discussions will also be taking place with the Department ofWork and Pensions and also with such charities as theSamaritans to see how there can be better facilitation ofsupport for adults, witnesses and children who are involvedin family court processes.
  58. 58. Subgroups In the focus on public law is would be easy forother areas of family law to be forgotten. Wecannot allow that to happen. In particular, we need to keep private law,adoption and financial remedy work on all ouragendas. There will also be a subgroup established tolook at LIPs and how we ensure justice forthem.
  59. 59. Late transfers It causes a very real problem when cases are transferredfrom the FPC to the County court at a late stage. Where any case is transferred at a stage later than thefirst directions appointment (i.e. the first casemanagement hearing), the legal adviser, DJ (MC) orChair of the Bench must send an email to HHJRobertshaw stating the name and number of the case,that the transfer has been made and the reasons for thelate transfer.
  60. 60. Emails to Judges relating to listedhearings – conditions that apply Save where stated, these arrangements do notapply to the Magistrates court or toMagistrates. They relate only to judges sittingin the Plymouth, Torquay and NewtonAbbot County Courts;
  61. 61. Emails All emails that are sent to a judge must becopied in to the court office as well as beingsent to the judge; Such emails must be sent from secure emailsites only; The name of the judge, the name of the caseand the date of the hearing must appear in thesubject line of the email;
  62. 62. Emails Only the following documents may be sent by emailto the judge:i) Case summaries / skeleton arguments;ii) Position statements;iii) Reports (not statements) that have been received bythe parties within the period of seven days or lessfrom the date of the relevant hearing;iv) Other documents that the judge has expresslyrequested or directed to be sent by email.
  63. 63. Emails The sending of a document by email is not a substitutefor filing hard copies with the court office in thenormal way; The party sending documents by email must notassume that the document will be printed by the courtor by the judge. The provision of hard copies is amatter for the parties and not for the court; This email arrangement is not a justification for the latefiling of documents.
  64. 64. Emails Emails about cases should not be sent to Judges on the morningof the hearing and should be sent by at least noon of the daybefore (subject to contrary direction and any protocol relating tocase summaries and position statements); Emails must not be sent to the court staff with attachments onthe expectation that the court will print them off. The court isnot a printing service. It is the responsibility of parties to filehard copies of documents. In an emergency only, the court maybe prepared to print off a small number of documents that arestrictly necessary for emergency action. This applies to theMagistrates court as well.
  65. 65. Emails Any misuse of the above by any person,business or institution will result in: the facility being withdrawn from that person,business or institution the email being deleted, unread, from the systems ofthe judge and court.
  66. 66. Adoption Conference 2013Plymouth University
  67. 67. Adoption: past , present and futureAnthony Douglas CBEChief Executive, CafcassWednesday 22nd May 2013
  68. 68. Adoption: then and nowThen Now1950’sThe biological pretence – ‘he’sbetter off not knowing’------ Adoption with contact1950/60’sNo support needed ------All concerned: adoptee, adoptiveparent and birth parent may needlifelong support1970’sChildren should not beadvertised for adoption ------Children featured in The Sunnewspaper during National AdoptionweekToday Social work led-matching days ------Adoption parties and adoptionactivity daysThen and Now - Forced or illegal adoptions, sometimes for profitThen and Now - Child-centred, altruistic adoption
  69. 69. Adoption metrics• 800,000 people in the UK have been adopted since legalisation in England and Wales in1926 – the first Adoption Act did not allow adopted children an inheritance.• 1 in 3 of us know someone who is adopted or an adopter• There have been over 60% more care applications and 60% more Placement Orders inthe last 5 years• The average age a child comes into care is 7.5 (in England and it is identical in Wales)• Adoption breakdown is closely correlated with the age at placement – the older thechild, the greater the risk of disruption or breakdown. However, ‘late’ adoptions dowork for some young people.• Over 4,500 children in England are waiting for an adopter. 364 adopters are on theAdoption Register, waiting for a child. The two figures continue to diverge, althoughreferrals to the Register have increased over the last 3 months.• In the US, 15% of adoptions are by relatives• Most countries outlaw adoption as an infringement of family rights.• Some, like Australia, have troubled adoption histories from which they can’t recoverand move on• The average duration of care proceedings has come down by over 20% over the lasttwelve months, and continues to reduce.
  70. 70. A culture of urgency• Care cases project managed from the day a child comes into care tothe day she or he leaves (using a case tracker)• Case plans defining the nature and timescale of all professional activity• Timetables taking into account emotional and psychological processes,as well as court and bureaucratic processes• A culture change in social work teams, particularly in family placementteams, replacing a culture of delay with a culture of urgency• 2 stage assessment for adopters: adopter-led to begin with,professionally-led at the end, approaching the decision• A concurrent 6 month maximum for all stages of the care andplacement process• Extended viability assessments (6-8 weeks), before care proceedings,leading to a single proposition for children subject to care proceedingswherever possible
  71. 71. LINES OF ENQUIRYEVIDENCE BASE• After social work input, mum supports kinship care placement withPGM• Permanence assessment of PGM and PGF concludes positively in5 weeks• Their assessment concludes this will keep both mum and dadpositively involved in child’s upbringing• PGF health issues resolvedMum engages withsocial worker on acontract to enterdrug rehabMGM commits to safeshared care with childDad commits to childMum’s sisterassessed for viabilityPGM, already a permanentcarer for 2 grandchildren,positively assessed for viabilityConcerns expressedby mum about PGMPGF health issues
  72. 72. Equal status - ‘emotional and psychologicalpermanence’ options• Safe reunification• Kinship care• Permanent fostering• Adoption• Special Guardianship• Residential care
  73. 73. Assessing for emotional andpsychological permanence• Considering the same single assessment process for a permanencecarer, irrespective of the child’s eventual legal status• A new more streamlined analytical assessment process – a criticalanalysis of parenting capacity• Use of ‘assessment agreements’, extending self-assessment asmuch as possible• Active assessment combining a teaching element e.g., abouttherapeutic parenting, attachment• Smart due diligence
  74. 74. Contact TodayContact is not abargaining tool atthe court roomdoor, nor a rightsjamboreeInterim contactneeds are forchildren, notparentsLong-term contactneeds shouldrecognise thereality for the 21stcentury child e.g.use of apps likeFacetimeContact should not bepolarised to mother vfather, but should flowfrom the child’s world,where many childrenneed to stay in touchwith friends as much asparents and relatives –an ‘inclusive network’framework for contact
  75. 75. Adoption: past , present and futureAnthony Douglas CBEChief Executive, CafcassWednesday 22nd May 2013
  76. 76. Adoption Conference 2013Plymouth University
  77. 77. Adoption- the Evidence BaseDr Julie Selwyn, Hadley Centre for Adoptionand Foster Care Studies University of
  78. 78. Adoption in England(year ending March 31st 2012)3,450 adoptions FY2012Up 12% from theprevious year• 85% white and 10%mixed ethnicity• 72% entered carebecause of abuse andneglect compared with56% of whole carepopulation.• Only 70 children (2%)adopted under 1yr ofage
  79. 79. Children adopted from care- what do we know about risks totheir healthy development?Pre-natal exposure to alcohol/substances and lack of antenatal care.More likely to have been abused/neglected than the rest of the care population.Many come from backgrounds of many genetic risks and enter care with physicaland mental health problems.More likely to have entered care on an EPO.Not be placed for adoption until 2yrs or older.Have experienced multiple placements and caregivers.
  80. 80. What do we know about Adoption Outcomes?Adults adopted as infants in the 1950s-60s have outcomes similar to the generalpopulationLate placed children can have very good outcomes but adolescence time ofgreatest uncertaintyAdopted children’s sense of belonging and permanence greater than those inlong term foster careDisruption rates - Infant adoptions 1-3%Late placed maltreated children : 18% 7yrs later (Selwyn2007) 29% at age 16yrs (Rushton & Dance 2004)Disruption rates lower than permanent foster care
  81. 81. Outcomes of infant adoptions at age 33(NCDS data)01020304050Adoptedgeneral populationbirth comparisonsa-lev el or any broken high malaise psy chiatric alcoholhigher relation ships score treatment problems
  82. 82. Comparative outcomes according to quality of start(from Howe,1997)020406080100babygood start/latepoor start/ latehostility during psy chological learning problems no GCSE/GCEadolescence treatment at school
  83. 83. Changes in attachment patterns and behaviour followingadoption out of care- recent UK studiesNew & more positive sets of representations develop incompetition with existing negative ones.Most studies of late placed adopted children show someimprovements but about a third with high SDQ scores.Improvements but not recovery. Persistence the messagefrom research.
  84. 84. Implications for adoption preparation and supportEarly experiences remain as vulnerabilities easilytriggered.Adopters can provide such triggers unknowingly.Extent of recovery varies greatly between children andbetween domains of functioning within the same child.Good multi-disciplinary assessments needed.
  85. 85. Threats to stabilityAge of child atplacement.Presence of conductdisorder, attachmentdifficulties and over-active behaviour.Selective rejection.Child does notaccept placement orneed for care.
  86. 86. Impact of delay More moves in foster care- instability and morebroken connections Increasing risks to emotional and behaviouraldevelopment Increasing risk of breakdown of placement New challenges to LA plans in court Chances of being adopted reduce by 20% for eachyear of delay Children believe they are unlovable and unwanted
  87. 87. Reducing delaySenior management oversight. Decisive and earlydecision-making especially around neglect to preventdrift.Court delays- ensure SW practice is not responsible.Assessments -Improve assessment ( esp pre-birth) andplanning for reunifications.
  88. 88. SummaryBalance optimism about adoption with realism aboutthe long term effects of maltreatment.Adopted children improve but some continue toexperience difficulties.Adoption may provide a family for life but not an endto local authority’s responsibilitiesRecognition of the life-long impact of abuse andneglect.
  89. 89. ReferencesBiehal et al (2010) Belonging and permanence, London BAAFBrown B and Ward H (2011) Decision making within a child’s timeframe, J. F., & Berrick, J. D. (2008). Research review: In a rush to permanency: Preventing adoption disruption. Child and Family SocialWork, 13, 101–112.Dance C and Rushton A (2005) Predictors of outcome for unrelated adoptive placements made during middle childhood Child andFamily Social work 10: 4, pp 269-280Dance C , Rushton A and Quinton D (2002) Emotional abuse in early childhood: relationships with progress in subsequent familyplacement Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 43: 3 395-407Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. (2004). What’s working for children: A policy study of adoption stability and termination. publications/Disruption_Report.pdfJones, R., et al. (2011) Factors associated with outcomes for looked-after children and young people: A correlates review of theliterature. Child:Care, Health and Development, 37 (5), 613-622.Rushton, A. and Dance, C. (2003) ‘Preferentially rejected children and their development in permanent family placements.’ Child andFamily Social Work, 8, pp 257-267.Selwyn et al (2006) Costs and Outcomes of non-infant adoptions, London BAAFSteele, M. Hodges, J., Kaniuk, J., Steele, H., Asquith, K., & Hillman, S. (2009). Attachment Representations and Adoption Outcome: On theuse of narrative assessments to track the adaptation of previously maltreated children in their new families. In B. Neil & G. Wrobel (Eds.),International Advances in Adoption Research for Practice (pp 193-216). New York: Wiley.Triseliotis, J. 2002. Long-term foster care or adoption? The evidence examined. Child and Family Social Work 7: 23–33.And www.adoptionresearchinitiative
  90. 90. Adoption Conference 2013Plymouth UniversityAny Questions??