Hodge does not believe in reasonable contact for fathers.
Update from behind the scenes:
At the foot of this email is the document
Whitehall doesn't want you to see. click here...
All the proposals submitted have either been
thwarted or replaced.
These are the manoeuvrings which have been happening
that few of us were able to see – until now
The leaked document below sets out details of
the CAFCASS / DfES project which the Government swapped for
the original NATC Early Interventions (E.I.)project. The reformist
NATC E.I. project was based on the presumption of reasonable
contact and co-parenting.
The Early Interventions project had the support
of the legal profession, court experts, child development
psychiatrists, and even the judges. It has been worked out
and is ready to go.
Margaret Hodge and her dept have told senior
minister and the media that they are cracking on with the
project. But that is not true.
She has replaced the Early Interventions project
with her so-called "Family Resolutions" project.
This she is trying to pass off as the Early Interventions
Down below are the leaked specifications for
the Hodge fiasco - her so-called "Family Resolutions"
The CAFCASS inspired Family Resolutions project
is simply a ‘spoiler’ used to confuse the media.
It has no judicial support. It has only recently been dreamed
up. It has no pedigree; no years in the formulation. It has
no particular purpose, and no grasp of policy or contact issues.
Those working on it are unfamiliar with the subject area.
The Family Resolutions specifications are contained
in an unsent draft letter by the Design Team Chair, Mavis
Maclean. This letter was intended for the Coalition for Equal
Parenting in reply to their letter of 23 March. As far as
I know, it was never sent. But it has been issued to novitiates
as a project ‘brief’.
The main headlines are that :-
1- the DfES Family Resolutions project is a
2- there isn't actually ‘a project’
3- the big DfES idea was merely to start a Talking
Shop about a project
4- contact is only mentioned as an afterthought
on the last line
... where it's reduced to the idea of more funding
for supervised contact centres (and as one of several options)
PS. If you want to know more or want to complain
the DfES supremo is Project
Director Althea Efunshile. She can be contacted on: Tel: 0207
Second-in-line is Bruce Clark, (probably the
more culpable of the two): Tel:
0207 273 1288 bruce.CLARK@dfes.gsi.gov.uk
It’s now official. The original EI project,
based on the presumption of reasonable contact, has been scrapped
"Family Resolutions launch core script
/ response to the Coalition for Equal Parenting The aim of
the Family Resolutions Pilot is to support and help parents
to reach agreement about how to share responsibility for co-operative
parenting, after divorce or separation. Evidence clearly demonstrates
parents are happiest with arrangements that they themselves
pilot project will evaluate the options for helping all parents
understand that contested hearings in court are a last resort,
contact and residence arrangements negotiated outside of the
are the best way of helping them to go forward together as
parents, even if
they are no longer a couple.
We have given careful consideration to the experience
of other countries in
dealing with child contact disputes, including that set out
in the detailed
advice paper prepared by the ad hoc group chaired by Nicholas
Crichton DJ in
2003. This paper was included in recommendations made by officials
Ministers in both the Department for Education and Skills,
Department for Constitutional Affairs, for taking forward
on how couples could best be helped to reach settlement over
issues without turning to the courts.
In late 2003 Margaret Hodge, Minister for Children,
asked officials to
investigate options for improving the ways in which child
residence applications to court are dealt with, including
conciliation and intervention measures to increase agreement
disputing parents. We are taking this work forward under the
direction of a cross-cutting Steering Group, which I chair.
recommendations for the practical delivery of options will
be made by a
Design Group, which also includes representation from other
Departments, the judiciary, voluntary service providers and
Two of the members of the Design Group were also members of
the ad hoc
group - one of them being Judge Crichton himself.
The Design Group is not working to any pre-determined
intervention plan - of
the ad hoc group, of CAFCASS, or any other individual or body.
develop recommendations based on the collective expertise
of its members
[see below], and the contacts and advice those members will
draw on from
outside the Group. Mediation is one of the available methods
intervention, among a wider range of conciliation and family
services that are under consideration.
It is however essential to bear in mind that
no two countries are the same,
either in terms of their social cultures or their jurisdictions:
well in one environment offers no guarantee of success elsewhere.
U.S., for example, the law makes the rights of the adult the
concern [untrue]. The law in England and Wales states that
interests are paramount. In developing the Family Resolutions
proposals, we understand the importance of devising solutions
that can and
will work best in this country at this time.
The primary aim of the Design Group, and of
this pilot as a whole, is to
ensure that couples in dispute understand fully the impact
of separation on
their children, and what will be the most effective, and most
way for them to reach agreement about their future roles as
parents. A key part of the success of this project is the
of the judiciary. I am pleased that we have received strong
support from family court judges. In addition to Judge Crichton
Design Group, Mrs Justice Bracewell is a member of the Steering
the judges in the pilot areas have indicated their support
and will be
directly involved in implementation. Judicial support will
to the success of the pilot project, in encouraging disputing
seek to settle their differences away from the confrontational
of the court.
It is important that this initiative is designed
in a way that takes into
account the needs of all family members. This means, for example,
accept this initiative will not be not suitable in cases where
violence is a factor.
The truth is that court-imposed orders generate
the least satisfactory
outcomes in terms of what parents themselves have told us.
Even when an
order is made, disagreements can and do continue to prevent
moving forward. Enforcing contact orders is difficult; judges
understandably reluctant to jail or heavily fine parents who
do not comply
with contact orders, as that would often harm the child. However,
considering this difficult issue as a separate matter, and
will come forward
with proposals in the summer.
Finally, where is safe to do so, we want children
to have contact with both
parents after divorce or separation. To support this, we have
additional £3.5m for child contact services including
the funding of 14 new
supervised contact services."
Aside from DJ Crichton, none of the nine
members of the Design Team who are (according to the Minister,
taking forward the NATC EI project) know anything about the
EI project and have had no dealings with the NATC. For the
most part the membership consists of middle-ranking civil
servants unfamiliar with family law, the family courts or
contact issues. A reforming project approved by the Minister
in one Department the DCA has been scrapped by Hodge's civil
servants. The EI project papers were thrown away and still
have not been seen by the Design Team.