New Cafcass chief executive pledges to improve children's experience

By Dan Parton

| 02 September 2019

Improving children's experience of the family courts is being put centre stage at Cafcass as new chief executive Jacky Tiotto takes over today. 

Jackie Tiotto takes the reins as Cafcass launches its new strategy

Former Bexley director of children's services Tiotto joins as Cafcass launches its strategy to ensure children's, parents' and carers' experience of and outcomes in the family courts system are improved.

The strategy, which Tiotto is in charge of implementing, sets out the organisation's direction for the next four years, with the aim of working more closely with partners and families.

Tiotto, who has previously been a columnist for CYP Now, said that one of her early focuses will be establishing a family forum which "will help all of us at Cafcass to hear directly from the children and families with whom we work, about what we do well and what we need to improve".

Cafcass' strategy also outlines plans for staff to have better support, resources and working environment. 

It also aims to share knowledge, learn from others and use their collective influence to improve the family justice system and wider family policy.

It replaces a 2015 version, which Cafcass claims helped boost Ofsted ratings for casework, leading to an overall rating of outstanding in its most recent inspection.

"Being involved in [the strategy's] development and implementation alongside our practitioners, managers, partners and families at the start of my experience with Cafcass will help me to understand the strengths of our practice and the challenges that we face as an organisation," Tiotto said.

"I am determined that the success of any new strategic plan will be measured by the views and feedback from the 130,000 children and young people with whom we work each year and I will look to the Family Justice Young People's Board to advise and help me closely.

"Over the coming weeks and months, with the senior team, I will be working closely alongside practitioners, managers, families, children and professionals outside of Cafcass who have a key role in the family justice system to discuss how we enable our strategy to have the best impact."

Prior to Bexley, Tiotto was director for social care inspection development at Ofsted.

Her other senior professional roles have included heading the National Safeguarding Delivery Unit, being lead professional adviser to Professor Eileen Munro during her 2011 review of child protection and lead official to Lord Laming's 2009 Review of Child Protection in England.

Tiotto replaces Julie Brown, who became interim chief executive in May following the departure of Anthony Douglas, who led the organisation for 14 years.

Cafcass chair Edward Timpson said that Tiotto's "early commitment and enthusiasm for the task ahead, as well as the strength of the interim leadership arrangements which have been in place since May" meant that the strategy could be launched today.

Timpson added: "The input from Cafcass staff into its development has been phenomenal and reflects a passionate workforce which is dedicated to the children and families they support. 

"I look forward to strengthening the connections we have with partner organisations to take the steps necessary to provide a family justice system which is always working harder to better meet the needs of the children and families it serves."

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