Creating an outstanding team at Cafcass


The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) is a non-departmental public body set up to promote the welfare of children and families involved in family court, and is the largest employer of social workers in the UK. Since 2010, Cafcass has faced significant new operating challenges, including pay caps, reduction in number of offices (-61%), increased demand (+30%), reduced budgets (-18%), fewer staff (-21%) as well as increased scrutiny.

Despite this, Cafcass has remained committed to attracting, developing and retaining top talent, partnering with Strengthscope® since 2013 in order to develop a sustainable strengths-based culture in which all staff feel appreciated, engaged and motivated to deliver improved services to children.

Our solution

All aspects of learning at Cafcass now have a common theme – a focus on strengths, using positive ‘strengths’ psychology. This approach permeates through many areas of organizational life, such as day-to-day coaching, performance conversations, development planning and team development.

For example, Cafcass introduced training for ‘Strengths Coaches’ throughout the organization, with 120 now certified as Strengthscope® practitioners, able to provide colleagues with feedback and support to get the most from their strengths at work. This has the added benefit of ensuring the vast majority of learning is delivered in-house, saving £180,000. To date, 650 staff have attended a strengths-based team development event, facilitated internally with associated cost savings.

These changes have enabled staff and managers to achieve higher quality while dealing with fewer resources and higher demand.


  • Cafcass now exceeds all KPIs as set by the Secretary of State
  • Social worker turnover reduced by 25%, reducing agency staff numbers by 80%, with vacancy rate now 17% of national average (only 2.52%)
  • Sickness absence now 35% lower than the national average
  • Cost of output reduced by 15% per case, with 18% increase in cases completed
  • Ofsted rating has improved from ‘Inadequate’ to ‘Good’, with an aspiration to achieve ‘Outstanding’ in 2017.
  • Cafcass’s people team achieved bronze in the Training Journal Awards 2016 Best Public Sector Programme

35% Sickness absence lower than national average

25% Reduction in social worker turnover

15% Reduction in cost of output per case

"Adopting the strengths approach has unlocked the culture change we needed and provided a new focus on learning."

HR Manager

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