Monday, 13 December 2010

Child Contact at Christmas

14 December 2010


This Christmas, more than 750,000 children in the UK will not have any contact at all with one of their birth parents – not even a card. A new website,, launches next week to help parents, grandparents and birth parents find responsible, valuable advice and guidance on how to make contact with their loved ones.

According to new ONS figures, there are 1,768,000 lone parent households with an average of 1.85 children per household, in the UK. An Omnibus survey revealed that of the children who are living without one of their parents, 23 per cent have no contact with them at all. That’s a staggering 752,284 children in the UK today, who have no contact at all with an absent parent.

With remarriages and co-habitation clouding the figures, court-appointed Children’s Guardian and co-founder of, Kenn Griffiths, fears the real figure could be more than 1.5 million. “Everyone knows someone who has been affected by child contact issues. For both child and parent, losing contact can be emotionally devastating, and it can be an incredibly difficult, time-consuming and expensive problem to resolve. In my role, working with parents and children, I could see that they desperately needed an online resource that could provide them with somewhere to turn and a chance to be heard,” claimed Kenn. is a free resource for adults looking to resolve access issues. The forum provides an open discussion area for issues with legislation, the role of social services and the courts, societal bias and the opportunity to share experiences. A virtual postbox and services directory helps direct parents towards the best support and advice.

The unique Life Story Legacy service gives parents who have been denied access the chance to leave a record of their life, information relevant to their child or their side of the story, in a secure vault protected by Iron Mountain, for release when their child reaches 18 or 21.

Founder Kenn Griifiths said: “ is a vital resource for the thousands of parents and family members in the UK who are unable to make contact with their children. The pain, heartache and potential repercussions for parents and children denied access to each other is vast. Legal aid budgets are being cut in this time of austerity, and social services are looking for cost-cutting solutions to child contact issues, so it’s essential that we lobby government on behalf of mothers, fathers and grandparents to make the system fairer for all.” is backing World Child Contact Day on 20 March 2011, which has been set up to highlight the plight of the millions of families who are torn apart by access, custody and contact issues around the world. Fronted by Kenn Griffiths, the campaign will promote the right and wrong ways to make contact, highlight the dangers of using social networks to make contact and examine high profile cases of abduction or murder.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Children must be protected from Cafcass

The leading Professional Association for Children’s Guardians and Family Court Advisors NAGALRO have spoken out about the failings of Cafcass.

NAGALRO’s Chair Ann Hague, reflecting on a Government report early in November said “we agree with the Public Accounts Committee that Cafcass is unfit for purpose. Cafcass has consistently failed to deliver the service the law requires for children. Its very expensive management has failed over a long period to provide the timely service that that vulnerable children need.”

Cafcass management have stated that they have “greatly reduced” their waiting lists and have still maintained strong safeguarding for vulnerable children. Their practitioners give a different account explaining to me in recent conversations that they have been forced to conduct much of their work on the telephone. Children have not been seen or properly assessed. The service has adopted a ‘watching brief’ model that takes no account of the need for continuity in the case, leaving children without adequate protection at a time of crisis in their lives.

Children and Family solicitors I’ve interviewed who are regularly appointed by Cafcass’s Children’s Guardians are well aware of the danger to children. Unfortunately many of these lawyers rely on their ‘friendship’ with Cafcass for their day-to-day work and collude with this failing service. Those having the strength to stand up for the rights of children can be left ‘out-in-the-cold’, effectively gagged by powerful paymasters.

“It is the best interests of children that is the paramount consideration here, not the best interests of Cafcass the organisation. Children’s voices are being silenced by the very agency that should be listening to them and ensuring that the court knows what is happening to them. Above all we must preserve the important role that protects children, even if we have to create a new way of delivering it.”