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Three quarters of care proceedings in Wales now completed within 26 weeks

Nearly 77% of care proceedings in Wales are now completed within the 26-week time limit, Cafcass Cymru has reported.

The 26-week limit was introduced in April 2014 through the Children and Families Act 2014.

Cafcass Cymru claimed that the performance in Wales was now the best in the UK.

Its annual report for 2014-15 revealed that the average waiting time for public law cases during the 12-month period was 24.9 weeks across Wales, with 76.7% of cases resolved within 26 weeks. This was an improvement from an average wait of 56.7 weeks in 2011-12, and 27 weeks in 2013-14, the organisation said.

According to the report, 7,430 children and young people were supported during 2014-15. Most of the children Cafcass Cymru worked with (82%) were aged ten years and under.

Gillian Baranski, chief executive of Cafcass Cymru, said: “Securing the 26-week target for completion of care cases has been a significant milestone. Wales is one of only three areas across the UK which has achieved this, and as a result brought earlier certainty to many vulnerable children and young people regarding their future.

“This achievement is a testament to the strength of partnership arrangements which exist across Wales. No one organisation in isolation could have delivered these changes.

“It has been a demanding period for our staff, but their commitment and determination to improve outcomes for children has enabled Cafcass Cymru to play its part alongside the local authorities and Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service in achieving this remarkable improvement.”

Mark Drakeford, Wales’ Health and Social Services Minister, said: “Ensuring some of the most vulnerable children in society are given certainty about their long-term futures as quickly as possible is absolutely crucial in providing stability in their lives.

“I’m delighted Cafcass Cymru has helped secure this significant milestone. The reforms made to the family justice system were designed to ensure the needs of children are at the forefront of decisions made about them by the courts.

“I have no doubt many thousands of children and young people across Wales will have benefited greatly from the services Cafcass Cymru provides.”