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Guidance for clients of Cafcass Cymru about how the service will work during the coronavirus pandemic.

Organisation:
First published:
30 March 2020
Last updated:

As the situation changes, this information will be updated.

How will Cafcass Cymru communicate with me?

We are trying to minimise the impact of the current situation on our communications with you. To do this, our staff will work with you to agree how best to contact you and do their best to ensure you receive the information you need as we work with you.

We are continuing to offer parents, carers and children, the option of using Microsoft Teams, FaceTime or telephone communication and in limited situations face-to-face meetings where it is safe and necessary to do so. Our telephone service remains available across Wales at this time.

Our preferred option of communication is via email, and we have implemented an ID and email address verification process that asks you to confirm your details. We are confident this is helping to ensure communication with you is quicker and more efficient.

How do I contact my family Court Adviser or Cafcass Cymru office?

At this time, and for the foreseeable future, we are not able to receive or send communications via postal services so we ask you do not communicate with us in this way.

You can contact your Family Court Adviser via their team office by email or telephone. You can find these contact details at in the Contact section at the foot of the home page on our website.

Should my child still travel between parents if the child has or might have COVID-19?

If your child has contracted the COVID-19 virus or they are displaying any of the symptoms listed on the Government health advice pages, they should be self-isolating and should not be transferring between households. If you are worried your child has contracted the COVID-19 virus you should follow the Government advice on reporting new COVID-19 cases and alert your Cafcass Cymru practitioner.

If you are concerned your child has an existing health condition, you’re pregnant, or someone in your household has a health condition that makes them vulnerable to the impact of the virus, then you should read the government health advice.

Cafcass Cymru has moved to remote working. How will this affect my case?

A limited number of our offices have reopened. In accordance with Government guidelines, we have strict health and safety measures in place. We continue to encourage and support staff to work remotely. Due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19, Cafcass Cymru is promoting the use of Microsoft Teams, FaceTime and telephone calls as ways of completing interviews with parents and direct work sessions with children and young people.

The Cafcass Cymru practitioner working with you in your case will be in touch with you to discuss the communication needs of your child, and how best to engage with them in the context of the situation.

We will be doing our best to minimise the impact and any delays arising from remote working and we hope you’ll work with us as we strive to achieve this.

I have an upcoming court date. Will I be required to attend?

Family Court hearings are mainly taking place remotely via video conference, or where this is not possible, by telephone. In some cases arrangements may be made by the court for some of the people or parties involved to attend in person, this is known as a hybrid hearing. You or your solicitor will receive information from the court on how the hearing will take place. If you have a court case involving Cafcass Cymru, your Cafcass Cymru practitioner will also explain to you what will happen when they know.

What should I do if I am worried about my child’s safety?

If you have safeguarding concerns about your, or any, child, you should raise these with your local authority’s children’s services department, which has the statutory responsibility for investigating safeguarding concerns. Contact details can be found here.

Are Child Contact Centres affected by COVID-19 and what does this mean?

All supervised contact centres have now reopened for direct face-to-face contact, with the majority also able to accept referrals for remote contact via video platforms such as Skype, where this has been assessed by one of our practitioners to be safe and appropriate for the child.

Most supported contact centres have now reopened, though a small number remain closed.  We continue to review the situation and work proactively with the centres to ensure they are able to open when it is safe and appropriate to do so.

Those supported contact centres that are open are accepting referrals for direct face-to-face contact only.

Will the Working Together For Children Programme (WT4C) still be available

In line with government health guidelines, our providers are currently unable to offer the WT4C programme in a face to face environment.  However, all WT4C providers are offering a remote service via video platform sites. If you have been referred to the WT4C programme, one of our providers will contact you directly about their arrangements.

Will Cafcass Cymru still be available to support First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointments (FHDRAs)?

Cafcass Cymru is committed to continuing to support First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointments (FHDRAs) albeit via telephone or video call.  We have been working closely with the courts to put in arrangements so that our Cafcass Cymru practitioners are available to advise and assist all FHDRAs in Wales.

Will Cafcass Cymru still collect DNA samples as part of its work?

DNA testing can be arranged and Cafcass Cymru can make referrals for this. However, testing is not currently being undertaken directly by Cafcass Cymru practitioners.

How will Cafcass Cymru respond to my FOI or Data Subject Access Request?

We continue to respond to requests for information and whilst we strive to do this in line with our current timescales, the Welsh Government is facing unprecedented challenges during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  As a result resources, both finances and people, are being diverted away from many of our usual activities to deal with the pandemic. This will undoubtedly impact on our ability to comply with the normal requirements for information rights work and as a result you may experience delays when making information rights requests during the pandemic. We thank you for your understanding during this time.

Read further information from the Information Commissioner  about information requests during the coronavirus pandemic.

Will Cafcass Cymru still respond to my complaint?

Yes. We will continue to work with service users who have concerns or wish to make a complaint about the service they have received. While we will strive to do this in line with our current timescales, we hope you’ll understand that, due to the current situation, in some cases this may not be possible. In all cases we will communicate clearly with you and ensure you are informed of any potential delays at the earliest opportunity.

Further information

Should you require further information you should contact your local Cafcass Cymru team, preferably via email. Details on how to contact us can be found in the Contact section at the foot of the home page on our website.