I was recently invited to attend a talk at Islington Council in relation to the changes that are being implemented in the local government childcare arena. It was a fabulous opportunity for me to become familiar with new protocols which are affecting many of our clients, placing Sellick Partnership in a strong position when helping our clients on vacancies moving forward.
The changes are concerned predominantly with the way in which our family court system is run and how best to protect the child moving forward.
The purpose of the proposals is to implement a dramatic change programme, with the aim of providing a more united and uniform child protection system. During the course of the next year we will witness the launch of a new court of record: the Family Court. The new Family Court will for the first time bring together all judges and magistrates exercising family jurisdiction into one court across England and Wales.
This new Family Court will replace the current system, which comprises of several diverse courts: the Family Proceedings Court, the family jurisdiction of the County Court and the general family work heard by High Court Judges.
Changes have already begun to be implemented to aid the process. In April of this year a new management information system was launched - the Case Management System. Its aim is to completely replace the existing materials in use, which many consider to be flawed due to their lack of policing and continuity.
The new system will track every public law case issued from its inception. It will record all developments and decide a realistic time frame for the case to be completed. It also aims to monitor the progress of this timetable for the child which is set by the court. It will record all adjournments, use of experts and the reasons for the same.
This is a major innovation. For the first time the family courts will have a record of baseline information so as to understand where public law cases are allocated and what is the consequence in terms of delay of the case management decisions that are made. The ultimate aim is to identify when and why unplanned delay occurs and prevent such delays in future cases, thus ensuring greater protection for the child.
The overall programme of change is indeed significant. It will need a strongly managed court and will require a certain amount of patience and understanding from those working within the system. Many of our clients are not used to such rigorous checks and rigid time frames to adhere to. That said, everyone I spoke with concurred that whilst teething problems are inevitable, the new system shows great promise and will succeed in helping us to make the system work for the child. It represents a united front moving forward and in theory should make life much easier for many of our clients.
Ultimately, the new proposals should ensure that each child is treated in the same fair and just manner, and is ensured the same time allocation for their case, resulting in a much fairer system.