Cafcass Child Impact Assessment Framework (CCIAF)

NAAP Warning:

If you are an alienated parent, emotionally intelligent and have a family history of heart disease, you may wish to get a paramedic on standby BEFORE reading the CCIAF

close up photography of crying woman next inside room
Photo by Ikon Republik on

originally christened it the ‘High Conflict Practice Pathway’ (HCPP) and it was supposed to have been rolled out and available this spring. Springtime has been and gone and as the autumn leaves fall we now have the rebranded edition of the HCPP. This has now been called the ‘Cafcass Child Impact Assessment Framework’ (CIAF).

Reassuringly, Cafcass tell us, <fanfare>: 

  • ‘All private law practitioners will receive mandatory training in applying the framework’…and…
  • ’The training is due to be rolled out across Cafcass service areas from this month, with all practitioners expected to be trained by March 2019.’ 

Then my heart sank when I read: 

  • ‘As it is a development of our existing guidance, some of the issues will already be addressed in practice in current cases.’ 

This was bitterly disappointing to read because it was not long ago that the Cafcass CEO, Anthony Douglas, squirmed when fielding questions from Rob Harrison at the Fnf seminar on 17th August 2017. The reason I say this is because the FOI data Rob presented to Douglas demonstrated that the majority of their English staff really could not give a monkey’s about free online training about parental alienation and emotional abuse. However, by comparison, online training about expenses claims was exceptionally well subscribed. Candidly, after these deeply revealing and embarassing disclosures, Sarah Parsons coyly admitted: 

‘…it blew up too soon for us.’

When i read this I was already getting ready to call the paramedics because a cardiac event was immenent. 

You see, parental alienation, or ‘parentally alienating behaviours’ as Cafcass have rebranded them are nothing new. Undue influence, whether done by manipulative chancers or alienating parents, is really nothing new. Parentally alienating behaviours made their recorded debut in the English courts 200 years ago. Parentally alienating behaviours are even described biblically and in antiquity. As a phenomenon, parentally alienating behaviours have been researched and described throughout the history of mankind until they received more recent judicial acceptance in Re L in 2000. Only 3 years later, in Re O, Wall J affirmed that:

 ‘Parental Alienation is a well recognised phenomenon’. 

This was 15 years ago. Therefore, my heart was banging out complex rhythyms liked a massed samba band when Sarah Parsons uttered those imortal words:

 ‘…it blew up too soon for us.’ 

With incredulity i thought that a glacier would look lively by comparison.

So finally, now that it is with us – after having ignored case law fand seminal judgments that impacted significantly on their practice for a full 18 years- was it worth the wait ?

The short answer is NO.

As a brief exercise in fallacious argument and corporate damage limitation it is commendable. However, as a means of safeguarding this growing cohort of children from emotional abuse it is an abject, miserable and shameful failure. Having been exposed to daylight our hope is that it will hopefully be quickly consigned to the waste paper bin.

We have already heard that some folk and organisations see the mere mention of PA, albeit reinvented and redefined, as a step forward. However, there are still serious questions to be answered, such as:

  • why has it taken 18 years for cafcass to react to pertinent case law and begin to design a framework for dealing with parentally alienating behaviours?
  • what about the damage that has been done to children and families whilst cafcass have been denying the very existence of a phenomenon that has been the subject of findings in the family courts?
  • After the landmark case of Re L in 2000 and the Sturge and Glasser report, why did it take only four years to develop a domestic abuse strategy but 18 years to publish a strategy for dealing with PA?
  • Who gave consent for cafcass and its practitioners to cherry pick legal developments they like and ignore those that are not appealing and why should cafcass not be bound by the same rule of law as the rest of the uk and its public bodies?

There are many more questions but this will do to get the ball rolling. But’ the mere fact that we have to ask such fundamental question does give rise to another serious question. That is, IS THIS ORGANISATION EVEN FIT FOR ITS INTENDED PURPOSE IN THE FIRST PLACE?

Whenever Cafcass have previously received justified criticism and hit difficult times it appears that instead of looking to the real problems and addressing them honestly and openly they have elected to gaze at their navals whilst appointing PR consultants to weasel their way out of some pretty awful pickles. This strategy will not always work. Let’s hope that this turns out to be a turning point and a time of insight.

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