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The contribution of experts in care proceedings

Evaluation of independent social work reports in care proceedings

Several concerns surround the use of independent social work (ISW) assessments in care proceedings. Some result from the exclusion of this work from a review of legal aid for expert assessments in this field, a cap on ISW fees, and fears about a resulting reduction in the availability of ISWs. At the same time, submissions to the Family Justice Review (FJR) claimed that ISWs cause delay, simply duplicate existing local authority assessments, add nothing new and undermine confidence in social work assessments. It was also said that ISW reports result from parents utilising human rights claims to gain a second opinion of a local authority assessment – and to which courts too readily accede.