With regards to Public Law Cases we are finding that the Cafcass Wishes and Feelings Pack is very rarely filled in.
Gillick Children are being denied Their rights to take part in child protection case conferences.
I recently attended a Child Protection Case Conference in the West Midlands as an Advocate for the Parents.
The Chairperson of the Conference asked if there was anything i wanted to say?
All Local Authorities have a mandatory obligation to invite children and young persons to these meetings and to inform them in writing at least 48 hours prior to the meeting and to encourage them to be there with an Advocate.
I said to the Chairperson why has the 13 year old Son of the Parents i was advocating for not invited to the Conference.
The Social Worker beamed up, and stated that she did not know why He had not been invited.
At the next Case Conference, the 13 Year old Boy was at the meeting with an Advocate from NYAS.
With regards to our Private Law cases, i have personally been an advocate, for two Gillick Sisters ,who filled the Cafcass Wishes and Feelings pack in while i was in a room, but i put no words into Their mouths and sat in silence, while they filled Their paperwork in.
The final hearing was at the RCJ.
Previous to the final hearing the Judge allowed both Girls into Chambers to see him to voice Their wishes and feelings, this has happened in quite a few of our cases now.
We also have Solicitor who is happy to represent Gillick Children in Their own right.
Things are improving with regards to the voice of the child in Private Law cases, but with regards to Public Law cases there is a very long way to go.