Children’s Links have been awarded the Improving Child and Family Arrangements (ICFA) by Cafcass which began on 1st May 2021. Children’s Links are the Lead provider working in partnership with other ICFA providers across the East of England:

A10 – Leicestershire, Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire
A11 – Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire
A14 – Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk

Partnership providers include:

Great Future Support Ltd, Every Child Services, Women’s Work, Parenting Apart Centre East (PACE), Bold Moves and Bishop's Stortford Child Contact Centre.

What is ICFA?

Improving Child and Family Arrangements (ICFA) is the name of the service designed by Cafcass to help families agree safe, beneficial and sustainable child arrangements when they are finding it difficult to do so on their own. The ICFA work is short term, for private law cases only, and a referral can only be made by Cafcass if it is Court ordered.

How does the ICFA service help families?

ICFA support families to make the most suitable arrangements for children by:

  1. Reducing barriers and resistance to agreeing arrangements and managing any risks so that these are safe.
  2. Promoting positive communication within families.
  3. Ensuring children’s wishes and feelings are heard and considered.
  4. Helping families agree a Parenting Plan to avoid future issues arising.

How do you access the ICFA service?

If the Family Court Advisor (FCA) has assessed that conflict between the parties is preventing safe and beneficial arrangements being achieved, then they can recommend to the Court for a referral to the ICFA service to be directed. ICFA is only available to families involved in private law cases where Cafcass are involved; and the parties may have been court ordered to complete Planning Together for Children.  Click here to find more information about Planning Together for Children.

There also needs be clear commitment from families to undertake the ICFA work and prior to making the recommendation to Court, the FCA should have informed families of the ICFA service, how it could help them, and what is required from them. Following the Court order being made, the FCA will make a referral to the ICFA provider. The referral will include information about the family and the FCA’s assessment of what is needed to move forward to agree safe, beneficial and sustainable child arrangements.

What happens when an ICFA referral has been made?

When the ICFA provider gets the referral from the FCA, they will contact both parents to complete a Proposed Work Plan (PWP). The PWP will set out the agreed work to help the family to achieve better arrangements for the children. The work will take place over a few weeks and, depending on the individual needs of the family, may include:

  • Meeting with parents individually and/or together to help them resolve issues, prepare for time with the child(ren), and agree a Parenting Plan.
  • Working directly with the child/ren to prepare them for time with their parent or family member.
  • Observation of time the child spends with the parent or family member, offering guidance and support where necessary, and providing further insight into any potential risks.

At the end of the ICFA service, the provider will prepare a Final Report outlining the work completed and progress made which will be discussed with the family and shared with the FCA

Where does the ICFA work take place?

This depends on the individual needs of the family and will be agreed before the work begins. It could be at home, in the community, at an office or a NACCC accredited contact centre or a combination of them all.

How does the ICFA service inform Cafcass work?

When the ICFA work is completed the FCA will use the information from the providers Final Report to inform their assessments and further reports back to court.

Do families have to pay for an ICFA service?

Families do not have to pay for the ICFA service. However, families will have to make their own travel arrangements, which are not funded and, depending on the ICFA work required, some expenses may also have to be paid for by families (such as activity costs, food and refreshments).

For more information, please contact us

T: 01507 528300

E: [email protected] 

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