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NEW FAMILY COURT SERVICE COULD PUT CHILDREN IN DANGER, SAY GUARDIANS

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The High Court has granted leave for a judicial review following a row over the setting up of a new family court se...
The High Court has granted leave for a judicial review following a row over the setting up of a new family court service.

Leave was given to an organisation which represents children in cases where a court decides their future.

The National Association of Guardian Ad Litems and Reporting Officers claims thousands of children are in danger if the government scraps it and replaces it with a new service called the Children And Families Court Advisory and Support Service.

A spokeswoman for the existing organisation said: 'Vulnerable children need a voice which is independent of the local authority. You just need to look at the north Wales child abuse case to see how important independent scrutiny is. (LGC, 24 January 1997)

'It's about protecting children. Any social worker worth their salt would say there's nothing to fear from independent scrutiny. But some local authorities are rubbing their hands because experienced social workers will be back in the job market.'

The new single body aims to bring together the children's guardians who work for councils on a self-employed basis, the family court welfare service and the children's division of the official solicitors' department.

Susan Bindman, chair of the organisation which represents the children's guardians, said at least half the staff will leave if the plans go ahead.

A spokeswoman for the proposed new organisation said: 'We offered all guardians the opportunity to become employees and a large number are happy to become part of a single organisation. But not all of them will join us, so we have initiated a recruitment drive from both the private and public sectors.'

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