The Jersey Family Court Advisory Service (JFCAS) looks after the interests of children involved in family court proceedings. We work with children and their families, and then advise the courts on the best interests of individual children.
Our workers, called JFCAS Officers although sometimes we are referred to as Court Welfare Officers (CWO), are registered as social workers and are independent of all other agencies. They are experienced in working with children and families at difficult times in their lives.
A JFCAS worker’s most important roles are to:
- ensure that the voice of the child is heard during proceedings
- keep children safe
- give information, advice and support to children and their families
- help the family court to make the best possible decisions about children
We work with families when:
- separated parents cannot agree on arrangements for their children and one of them has made an application to the court
- Children’s Service has applied to court to take a child into care
- a child is placed for adoption
Children's contact and living arrangements
When parents split up or do not live together, it can sometimes be difficult for them to agree on contact and living arrangements for their children. If an agreement cannot be reached, the court will decide the outcome of the case.
At the first court hearing, the court might ask a JFCAS worker to talk to the family, meet with the children and prepare a report for the court. The report will be based on the JFCAS worker’s assessment of what is best for the children.
Children's welfare and care proceedings
If Health and Social Services is worried about a child’s welfare, they may apply to court to take the child into care. In these cases we look carefully at the Children’s Service’s work and its future care plan. We also advise the court on what we think should happen, based on our assessment of the case.
The JFCAS worker will talk to the parents and, depending on their age, to the children as well. In some cases, they will talk to other members of the family as well as teachers and health workers. They will then write a report for the court, explaining what they think is best for the children. The court will read this before making its decision.
Placing a child for adoption
There are several different kinds of adoption cases in which JFCAS is involved. These include:
- when parents decide to have their child adopted
- when Children’s Service is concerned about the welfare of a child and supports a plan of adoption for that child
- when the child lives in a step-family and the step-parent wants to adopt their partner’s child
In cases where parents agree to the adoption, our role is to make sure that the parents fully understand what it means for them and their child and to check that they really do agree to the adoption. In cases where 1 or both of the parents do not agree to the adoption, our role is to represent the child and to advise the court on whether the adoption is in the best interests of the child.
If the child has been “freed for adoption” then the consent of the parents is unnecessary. The Fostering Adoption Service are responsible for matching and placing the child with the prospective adopters. JFCAS role starts once the application to adopt has been made and they have a duty to ensure and advise the court as to whether they believe that the placement should be made permanent by means of an adoption order.