Cafcass last month extended the use of its prioritisation protocol for managing high workloads to the Greater Manchester area, it has emerged.
The organisation had already implemented in July this year its process for prioritising and managing high workloads in areas covering Birmingham, the Black Country, Shropshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire and Herefordshire family courts.
This was due to what it called "unsustainable pressures" on the family justice system in the West Midlands.
At the time Cafcass justified the move on the basis that, nationally, it was working with c10,500 more children (6,500 more cases) than it was at the beginning of the pandemic because of the reduced capacity of the courts to hear cases during this period and the associated impact on the caseloads of Family Court Advisers.
The prioritisation protocol sets out the process for assessing which cases will be affected, how the permission of the family court will be sought to manage the work, and the arrangements for families and children to be made aware of and informed about the progress of their application.
Cafcass said the approach would involve the courts working with it to triage cases in private law proceedings on the basis of risk and capacity, as identified in the initial assessment (the safeguarding letter) that Cafcass files to the court.
All public law work continues to be allocated in the normal way and within established timescales.