May - Cafcass - Putting children first in family courts by decree

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                                                  Board Meeting Minutes

                  12 May 2006 from 9.30a.m. CAFCASS Boardroom, South Quay Plaza 3
                                   189 Marsh Wall, London, E14 9SH
 Present
 Baroness Pitkeathley OBE ............ ............................................. CAFCASS Board Member - Chair
 Baroness Howarth OBE ................... ................................................ …CAFCASS Board Deputy Chair
 Gillian Baranski ................................ ........................................................... CAFCASS Board Member
 Margo Boye-Anawoma..................... …………………………………… ......... CAFCASS Board Member
 Jennifer Bernard .............................. ........................................................... CAFCASS Board Member
 Erica De’Ath ..................................... ........................................................... CAFCASS Board Member
 Mark Eldridge................................... ........................................................... CAFCASS Board Member
 Harry Marsh ..................................... ........................................................... CAFCASS Board Member
 Nicholas Stuart CB........................... ........................................................... CAFCASS Board Member
 Judith Timms OBE .......................... ........................................................... CAFCASS Board Member
 Jane Tunstill………………………… …….……………………………………….CAFCASS Board Member
 In Attendance
 Anthony Douglas.............................. . ......................................................... CAFCASS Chief Executive
 Lamorna Wooderson ....................... ….. ................................................................. Corporate Director
 Sherry Malik………………………… ………….………………………………………….Corporate Director
 Jane Booth…….……………………………….. .................................................... …. Corporate Director
 Sharon Reed…….…………………………….. ............................................. …. Acting Finance Director
 Annette Warwick..…………………… ……….. ..................................... …. Head of Sponsorship - DfES
 Bruce Clark……...…………………………….. ..............................Head of Looked After Children - DfES
 Raina Parris…………………………. …….………………………….…… …………………….Minute Taker
 Apologies
 Richard Sax ..................................... ........................................................... CAFCASS Board Member

 PART ONE: OPEN SESSION

1.   INTRODUCTION

     The Chair opened the meeting by welcoming all those presents, and thanking those who had
     attended the Board dinner the evening before.

     The Chair also made the following points:

          o    Congratulations to Jane Tunstill, Erica De’Ath and Mark Eldridge for their reappointment to the
               CAFCASS Board.
          o    Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss had been put forward as a member of the House of Lords where
               she will sit on the cross-benches.
          o    The new Safeguarding Policy framework is now out for consultation, with a closing date of
               August 2006.
          o    The Recruitment packs had been finalised and samples were available at the meeting.
          o    The CAFCASS National Office security passes have recently been reprogrammed. Any
               passes that do not work should be given to Thelma Othieno, Customer Service Manager.

2.   DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

     The Board had no further declarations of interest to report at this time.
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3.   MINUTES FROM THE LAST BOARD MEETING HELD ON 10 MARCH 2006

     Both the public and private versions were approved as correct records.

4.   MATTERS ARISING:

        o     Strike Action: A one day strike took place in March involving 568 employees. Further strike
              action is dependent on response from the ODPM (Office of the Deputy Prime minister)
              following a new round of talks with trade unions on pension issues
        o     Head of KLD: At the Board meeting in March 2006, Board members had expressed a wish for
              a Head of Knowledge Learning and Development (KLD) to be appointed to move forward the
              5-year KLD strategy funding permitting. Due to budget constraints this has not been possible,
              and a decision had been made to appoint an administrator to give more support to the national
              and regional staff taking the strategy forward
        o     £10k from Children’s Workforce Development Council (CWDC): Anthony Douglas
              confirmed that CAFCASS is to receive a £10K grant from CWDC to develop a comprehensive
              leadership and management programmes for front line managers.
        o     An extensive accredited programme needs to be developed and this should form part of and
              run parallel with practice development.
        o     Anthony Douglas welcomed Board involvement in the development of the bid and the
              programme.
        o     Concern was expressed about the time involved versus the opportunities the bid represented.
        o     There was a discussion round this, with an offer of help from Jennifer Bernard on business
              support competencies and development programmes
        o     Anthony Douglas referred to the work currently being done on the Business Development
              Support Programme, and suggested that Jennifer Bernard could link in with our two regional
              business managers leading on this, Hayley Green and Andrew Dawe.
        o     The Chair agreed that we need to draw all the strands together, and welcomed the £10k from
              CWDC, whilst noting the reservations.

     Action

     Jennifer Bernard to link up with Hayley Green and Andrew Dawe, about the Business
     Development Support Programme.


5.   CHAIR’S REPORT

        o     Appraisals: The Chair confirmed that all appraisals for Board members have now been
              completed.
        o     Audit Committee Membership: Following discussions with the individuals The Chair
              proposed that Harry Marsh replace Margo Boye-Anawoma on the CAFCASS Audit
              Committee. This was agreed.
        o     Policy: The Chair expressed concern over a ‘policy vacuum’ at Board level. Currently the
              Board agrees CAFCASS policy and/or strategy and the Chief Executive implements. The
              Board should take steps to strengthen the way it formulates policy and strategy
        o     Valerie Howarth added to this by stating that insufficient time is dedicated to examining our
              policy framework and the specific areas that needed to be looked at, for example the Service
              User Interest Group (SUIG). It would be timely to link this with the current review of SUIG.
        o     Valerie Howarth and Jane Tunstill offered to work with Anthony Douglas in developing a
              conceptual framework for policy, to fit in with what the organisation needs.
        o     Ministerial Change: The Chair advised the Board that she had personally written to Maria
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         Eagle, and Valerie Howarth had also met with Beverley Hughes. A meeting had been
         requested with Parmjit Dhanda, our new minister. The Chair said that the minister had been
         very positive about CAFCASS since taking up post.
   o     Service Users Interest Group (SUIG) Review: Paul Brown, Corporate Strategist for Strategy
         and Performance, is working on the review, and as part of this Paul will meet with Valerie
         Howarth. Initial feedback indicates that whilst members see this as a good networking
         opportunity, the SUIG was too wide in membership to have an effect on policy – it might be
         more beneficial to divide into sub-groups.
   o     Valerie Howarth expressed concern over the splitting into sub-groups, emphasising that a
         strategic overview needed to be maintained, with links to all our stakeholder groups.
   o     Judith Timms commented that the initial purpose of SUIG, which was to counter negative
         feelings, was no longer the key driver and the group should now be more diverse to include
         the regions and move away from representatives from organisations only.
   o     Sherry Malik suggested looking at a wider consultation and strategy for the SUIG, and offered
         to put some thoughts together for this, and forward some new proposals.
   o     Open Board Meeting: It was confirmed that the Open Board meeting is to be held on the 6th
         October 2006 at the Novotel Hotel in Birmingham. The Chair suggested inviting the new
         minister to attend and deliver the opening address at the meeting.
   o     Board Dinner: The CAFCASS Board dinner on the 11th of May went extremely well. Positive
         feedback was received from the five Judges and others who attended. It was good to meet
         with a significant number of experienced judges and esteemed professionals in the family
         justice system and civil service.
   o     It was generally agreed that this was an opportune time for CAFCASS to be linking in with the
         judiciary, given the proposed move from filing a report to filing an analysis.
   o     Erica De’Ath added that the Child Support Agency review would reduce conflict, and
         suggested that Anthony Douglas be on that review Board. Anthony Douglas confirmed that he
         had met with Sir David Henshaw to discuss whether the CAFCASS dispute resolution model
         could have a wider application in CSA work
   o     Valerie Howarth raised the issue of the physical state of the courts and that we need to have a
         view about the whole matrix within which we work, and in which the child and family find
         themselves.
   o     Margo Boye-Anawoma stressed that we need to bear in mind that it is often very senior judges
         who criticise guardian reports, and that CAFCASS must emphasise that the proposals have
         judicial support. We have a duty to protect our practitioners. Our message needs to give
         reference to why we are doing it and what support is needed.
   o     The Chair suggested that a judicial liaison group would enthuse judges - it was suggested that
         these should be quarterly meetings.

Questions and Comments

   o     The Director of Children’s Services, Tom Jeffries, had expressed an interest in attending a
         CAFCASS Board dinner. This was welcomed.

Action

Judith Timms and Valerie Howarth to provide support to Anthony Douglas in developing a
conceptual framework for policy.

Sherry Malik to forward some new proposals to the Board with regards to looking at a wider
consultation and strategy for SUIG.

Valerie Howarth and Judith Timms to discuss the format of the Open Board Meeting. Sherry
Malik will lead on the overall organisation of the meeting.
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6. CHIEF EXECUTIVE’S REPORT

  The CEO made the following points as part of his oral report:

     o BBC Programme: On the 15th May the BBC are showing a programme about a case in
       Norfolk involving a mother and her 3 children, who were adopted following what she alleges
       was a miscarriage of justice. There is a possibility that CAFCASS could be named in the
       programme.
     o Change Programme: The Regional Director for West Midlands, Andrew Guymer, will be
       seconded to lead on the national change programme for 2006/07. This will include intensive
       work on procurement issues, and he will be linking in with Shirley Hamilton, the CAFCASS
       Head of Business Development.
     o Budget Balancing: Case costs are being looked at in London and South East regions, in
       particular those of the self-employed contractors with a view to no longer allocating cases to
       the most costly contractors, and to remedy any under-productivity by employed staff. These
       Regions are working with East Midlands and North East regions, whose costs are lower.
       London region targets are the most costly.
     o Anthony Douglas referred to the one off money from the DfES, which gives CAFCASS a year
       to ensure that we put reforms of working practices in place.
     o Select Committee Recommendations: Anthony Douglas confirmed that the review of the
       Select Committee recommendations had now been completed and that the recommendations
       had been implemented
     o A Practice Advice Line, which would offer support to Practitioners, was being considered. The
       implementation of a new piece of software would improve the policy process, and provide a
       cost effective tool.
     o Charging Policy: Charging policy was on the agenda to be discussed at the next
       Sponsorship meeting with DfES. Anthony Douglas confirmed that he would provide report
       back to the Board following this meeting.
     o Child Care Proceedings Review: The Child Care Proceedings Review is due to be launched
       by DfES on the 18th May 2006
     o Children and Young People’s Board: It was decided at the last Open Meeting to form a
       Children’s and Young People’s Board. Anthony Douglas advised that progress had been
       made and we were now able to recruit the young people, operating to clear role descriptions
       etc.
     o Valerie Howarth wanted to ensure that the role of children and young people, and of the CYP
       Board is made crystal clear, so as to avoid confused expectations. The Chair suggested that
       the papers for this are sent to Board members for comment before she and the CEO sign off
       the proposal on behalf of the Board.

   Questions and Comments

     o   Margo Boye-Anawoma stressed that where a case is not running properly [budget issues] it
         should be referred back to the Court - we need to factor in that our practitioners know that.
     o   Judith Timms added that this had been discussed earlier at the Audit Committee, and it may
         be worth having a word with Peter Hurst, the senior costs judge, who could provide a useful
         link and specialist advice.
     o   Gillian Baranski referred to the change programme as ‘breath taking’, and added that it
         critically important for driving things forward. She complimented the Corporate Decision group.
     o   Anthony Douglas said that whilst good progress was being made there was a capacity and
         skills gap which made implementation of the programme extremely challenging


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   Action

   Anthony Douglas to bring the review of the Select Committee recommendations to the next
   Board meeting.

   Children’s and Young Peoples Board: Anthony Douglas to submit the papers to the Board for
   comment.


7. 2005-06 ANNUAL PERFORMANCE REPORT

   This paper was presented to the Board by Sherry Malik, Corporate Director for Strategy and
   Performance.
      o Sherry Malik advised the Board that the report was not being presented in its usual format, as
          this report was a near final version of the Annual Report for the year 2005-06.
      o The first draft Annual Report and Accounts was submitted to the Board last week for feedback.
          Sherry Malik thanked the Board for their constructive comments, and confirmed that requested
          changes had been incorporated in the latest attached version.
      o Sherry Malik advised the Board that Annex 2, Accounts 2005-06, will be changed to Annex 3,
          and that the Remuneration report will become Annex 2.
      o Sherry Malik presented to the Board the mock up designs for the Annual Report and
          Accounts, pointing out the double column effect, the 3D graphs, the case studies presented in
          a file format, and the quotes included.
      o There was unanimous agreement from the Board that the designs were very good, and that
          this had been an excellent exercise involving lots of people.
      o The Chair said that the key thing was that the designs were confident, and demonstrate the
          progress CAFCASS has made, and should be considered as an item for the Open Board
          Meeting.
      o Sherry Malik advised the Board that she was still receiving feedback and comments.

8. PROPERTY POLICY AND STRATEGY

   This paper was presented to the Board by Lamorna Wooderson, Corporate Director for Partnerships.
      o Lamorna Wooderson advised the Board that the report was for information and discussion and
          asked the Board to approve the Property Policy, subject to the final consultation with the
          Unions.
      o Lamorna Wooderson pointed out that the Property Strategy now being presented had been
          amended following the Consultation.
      o Lamorna Wooderson explained that the new policy was consistent with Every Day Matters,
          and the Knowledge Learning & Development comments had been incorporated.
      o Jane Booth confirmed that the Union have had a specific meeting about this, and that it was
          on the agenda to be discussed at the Partnership Committee meeting next week.
      o Lamorna Wooderson stressed the key things we need to focus on in order to deliver this are:
          the best quality we can afford, consistence with other policies e.g. Travel and Subsistence and
          IT.

9. ANY OTHER BUSINESS

   The Chair asked the Board to ensure they responded promptly to request from the CAFCASS
   Governance team and flag to the team their preferred method of communication.

10. DATE OF THE NEXT MEETING

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The next Board meeting will be held on 30th June 2006 in the South Quay Plaza 3 conference room at
9:30am.

The extraordinary Board meeting to sign off the Annual Report & Accounts 2005/06 is scheduled for
21st of June 2006 (via video conference?)




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                            Board Meeting Action Schedule
                                    12th May 2006


Pg 2   Jennifer Bernard to link up with Hayley Green and Andrew Dawe, about the Business
       Development Support Programme.

Pg 3   Jennifer Bernard and Valerie Howarth to provide support to Anthony Douglas in
       developing a conceptual framework for policy.

Pg 3   Sherry Malik to forward some new proposals to the Board with regards to looking at a
       wider consultation and strategy for SUIG.

Pg 3   Valerie Howarth and Judith Timms to discuss the format of the Open Board Meeting.
       Sherry Malik will lead on the overall organisation of the meeting.

Pg 4   Anthony Douglas to bring the review of the Select Committee recommendations to the
       next Board meeting.

Pg 4   Children’s and Young Peoples Board: Anthony Douglas to submit the papers in the
       next few days to the Board for comment.




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