Mrs Justice Parker indicated that she was entitled to evaluate the wishes and feelings of the child. Here, those ‘wishes and feelings’ amount to the child making ‘submissions’, not adducing evidence, and so questions about these submissions were not ‘cross-examination’, but just an attempt to get the child to ‘expand and explain’.
Now, on the face of it, that seems ok, because the Guidance makes clear that it is not the purpose of the meeting to glean evidence. As counsel for the mother argued though, whatever the purpose of the meeting, evidence was going to come out. Indeed, it is hard to see how that could be avoided. So Mrs Justice Parker did procure evidence and did then rely on that evidence in coming to her decision.
Children’s Services is responsible for supporting and protecting vulnerable children.
1 This can include providing them and their families with extra help or, where they are at risk of harm, it can involve Children’s Services taking steps to make sure that they are kept safe.
The aim of the law around Children’s Services is that, wherever possible, children be raised by their family of origin, with
both parents playing a full part in raising them unless this would place the child at risk of harm and
Children’s Services providing support without using legal proceedings unless the child is at risk.
This advice sheet is written for parents or carers. It explains what Children’s Services must do when they become involved with your children and also what they can do, but don’t have to. It is divided into sections to make it easier to find the information you want:
Part 1: Key information about services for children (page 3)
Part 2: Words and Phrases used by Children’s Services (page 12)
Here are some tips on working with a social worker.
• Here are some tips also on getting ready for a child protection conference – including how to deal with factually incorrect information in reports.
• If you have support from family or friends you could ask for a family group conference to be arranged to bring them together to help support you and make a safe plan for the children.
• If you think it is necessary you can consider making a complaint – but don’t stop keeping to the plan and working with everyone involved.
Just to note, a child protection plan is not an order – if there is any mention of children’s services going to court to seek a court orderthen please do get in touch with a solicitor urgently or ring FRG’s Freephone advice line to get some advice.
Sometimes decisions are made about children that relate to incidents/ situations or allegations that happened previously – if the children are still being impacted or at risk in some way because of that situation. However, as parents you should always be given an opportunity to put forward your views, both when you have visits from the social worker or when you attend formal meetings such as a core group or a child protection conference. Parents should always be invited and supported to attend conferences (unless that would put someone at risk of harm) and the main meeting that takes place without inviting parents is the strategy meeting which plans any child protection investigation. I don’t know if that is the meeting you refer to? You can ask the new social worker to clarify this for you.
When there is a child protection plan there must always be a follow up review conference to decide if the plan should stay in place or not.
CAFCASS is a major source of injustice for children and APs. Make no mistake about that.
The reasons are these.
Firstly, the training of CAFCASS officers is woeful. Courses in PA are only optional. And the uptake of these courses is lamentable – only 2% of caseworkers take this course (https://voiceofthechild.org.uk/kb/cafcass-parental-alienation-webinar-training/). Well, Mr Douglas of CAFCASS says that CAFCASS officers are very busy – but not too busy to attend courses on reclaiming their expenses – the uptake for those courses is rather better [link to https://voiceofthechild.org.uk/cafcass-douglas-and-the-high-conflict-pathway]
Second, CAFCASS is institutionally gender-biased. In July 2017, CAFCASS produced a report
. Leaving aside a critique for the moment, it is deeply concerning that CAFCASS chose to involve Women’s Aid, but not one group that represents men. The problem is not just the report itself, but in the narrowness of the consultation.
Third, CAFCASS are only now waking up to PA, despite it having been around for thirty years in its current form.
Fourth – Wishes and Feelings Reports
These are a waste of time and money in PA cases, for the reasons we describe in our case law introduction page, and should be abandoned. We should judge a child’s capacity to consent to their estrangement from you using something like the Gillick test of competence.
Continue reading “CAFCASS”
Any professional reading the above cases should ask themselves whether they would have picked up on the warning signs? In addition to major warning signs, which when summarised can seem so clear, there may be cases in which this is in fact far more subtle. Such subtle indicators were seen in Re D itself. In father’s evidence he indicated that D had become privy to information that he believed D to be unaware of and was questioning how he came to find out such information. This information related to a historic drink driving offence that the father had been convicted of and which was used by D to undermine the father’s character in his evidence. This is an example of one parent drip feeding negative information about the other parent to manipulate the child’s view of them. Another subtle behaviour that has been identified is where one parent repeatedly demonises normal, excusable behaviour by the other parent. For example, where one parent takes their child to swimming lessons or sports competitions and makes remarks such as, “I hope your mother/father can be bothered to turn up”, or “I hope your mother/father doesn’t let you down again”, therefore resulting in the child becoming upset and feeling let down when the other parent has not been able to make it, usually for some good reason, such as a medical appointment or busy traffic or where they were never infact told they could attend. Hopefully however with training in place for CAFCASS and children law professionals and the wide reporting of cases such as Re A, D and L the early warning signs may be taken notice of. Earlier identification and response by professionals may have prevented the level of harm suffered by D in this case, and the relationship may have been left at least rectifiable. Continue reading “Identifying the signs of parental alienation”
Cafcass, the Government’s Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass), has noted that “while there is no single definition” of parental alienation, it “recognise[s] parental alienation as when a child’s resistance or hostility towards one parent is not justified and is the result of psychological manipulation by the other parent”. Cafcass adds that parental alienation “is one of a number of reasons why a child may reject or resist spending time with one parent post-separation”, and notes “all potential risk factors, such as domestic abuse, must be adequately and safely considered, reduced or resolved before assessing the other case factors or reasons”.
When a court is considering whether to make, vary or discharge an order relating to contact or residence (called a child arrangements order), one factor it may take into account is the wishes and feelings of the child concerned. It is therefore important that those views are the child’s alone, and have been not influenced by a parent, for example.
While the courts and those involved with proceedings, in particular Cafcass officers whose role it is to talk to the children involved and to convey to the court their wishes and feeling, have long been aware of the issue of parental alienation, the issue has gained an increased level of interest recently, including through a marked increased in the parliamentary activity on the topic.
In October 2018, Cafcass launched its new Child Impact Assessment Framework (CIAF) which built on existing guidance to its staff in regard to parental alienation (and also other topics such as domestic abuse).
Although the law relating to child arrangements orders (the Children Act 1989 as amended) applies to both England and Wales, the England-only body Cafcass (which this note focuses on) is separate to its Welsh counterpart, CAFCASS Cymru, and as such this note applies to England only. Continue reading “Children: parental alienation and the role of Cafcass (England)”
A campaigner against parental alienation sent this heart-breaking message to the consumerwatchfoundation.com after yet another father took his life on the build-up to Christmas.
Dean Adams, a member of a number of groups campaigning against Parental Alienation, sent this and we publish it in his own words:
“This draconian system needs too hang its head in shame – another man has taken his life and left his daughter without a father, she won’t ever see him again.
I wish I could do a lot more as this can’t keep happening, numb ain’t the word. Didn’t know the father, yet in some crazy way I knew what was going through his mind. People, we need to get something done about this or the system won’t be right until they kill us all
Continue reading “Another dad is gone… and so this is Christmas and Cafcass, what have you done?”
1) Do CAFCASS take concerns of parental alienation seriously?
2) What advise do CAFCASS give the parent that is being intentional alienated from their children?
3) What advise do CAFCASS give the parent that is intentional alienated the child from the other parent?….. Please could you provide Documents on Guidance, SOPS (standard operation procedures) on regulation, standards for questions 2, 3.
4) CAFCASS work with or have there worked with any other organisations regarding PA. I.e. NSPCC, domestic abuse originations, police.
5) specifically has any colabarte work been done with any parental alietion origination? If so who?
6) would CAFCASS encourage a parent to parentally alienate?
7) if CAFCASS detect parental alienation without the alienated parent knowing do they inform that parent?
read the answers here:- https://www.cafcass.gov.uk/media/230712/caf_881_parental_alienation.pdf