Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) Chair

Body: Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) Chair
Appointing Department: Ministry of Justice
Sector: Judicial, Prison & Policing
Location: London
Skills required: Legal / Judicial
Number of Vacancies: 1
Remuneration: £400 per day
Time Requirements: 80 Days per year


An announcement has been made on the outcome of this appointment.

The Secretary of State has appointed Sally Cheshire CBE as the Chair of the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass).The Secretary of State has also reappointed Catherine Doran, Paul Grant and Mandy Jones as board members of Cafcass.

Sally Cheshire has been appointed as Chair of Cafcass for 3 years from 1 April 2021.

Sally Cheshire CBE, Interim Cafcass Chair since December 2019 and a Board Member since May 2018, is an experienced Chair, Board member and Audit Chair across the public sector and is an adoptive parent of three children. She was a Board Member of the regional adoption agency, Adoption Counts and remains an independent member of Adoption Panels in the North West, which approve adopters and family matches in the best interests of children.

Sally is Chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, the UK’s regulator of the fertility sector and embryo research. She has held several senior leadership roles across the NHS and the wider health and care sector including with Health Education England, NHS North and the Health Research Authority. Sally is also a member of the Departmental Audit and Risk Assurance Committee at the Department of Work and Pensions, and is a Board member of the Care Quality Commission.

She has not declared any political activity.

Date: 22/03/2021

View Announcement

Campaign Timeline

  • Competition Launched


  • Closed for Applications


  • Panel Sift

    W/C 23 November

  • Final Interview Date

    11 January 2021

  • Announcement


Shortlisted candidates will have an informal discussion with the Family Justice Youth Board on 7 January and the panel interview will be 11 January 2021.


Assessment Panel

Vacancy Description

The role of the Chair is to lead and direct the work of the Cafcass Board (including its various sub-committees), the purpose of which is to ensure probity in the conduct of Cafcass’ affairs, and that Cafcass’ policies and its strategic vision are compatible with those of the Secretary of State.
The Board is specifically responsible for:

• Establishing and taking forward the strategic aims and objectives of Cafcass consistent with its overall strategic direction and within the policy and resources framework determined by the Secretary of State;
• Ensuring that the responsible minister is kept informed of any changes or risks that are likely to impact on the strategic direction of Cafcass or on the attainability of its targets, and determining the steps needed to deal with such changes or risks;
• Ensuring that any statutory or administrative requirements for the use of public funds are complied with; that the Board operates within the limits of its statutory authority and any delegated authority agreed with the Department, and in accordance with any other conditions relating to the use of public funds; and that, in reaching decisions, the Board takes into account guidance issued by Department;
• Ensuring that it receives and reviews regular financial information concerning the management of Cafcass; is informed in a timely manner of any concerns about the activities of Cafcass; and provides positive assurance to the Department that appropriate action has been taken on such concerns;
• Demonstrating high standards of corporate governance at all times, including by using the Audit committee to help the Board to identity, address and manage key financial and other risks;
• Ensuring Cafcass is compliant with appropriate adaptations of sections of Corporate Governance in Central Government Departments: Code of Good Practice;
• Ensuring suitable business continuity arrangements are put into place and tested; and
• Appointing a Chief Executive, with the approval of the Secretary of State, and – in consultation with the Department – setting performance objectives and remuneration terms linked to those objectives for the Chief Executive, which give due weight to the proper management and use of public resources.
• Members of the Board may be called upon to chair various Cafcass working groups that are charged with developing strategies for priority areas, or to take on lead roles for specific issue.

Person Specification

Essential criteria
• Outstanding organisational leadership including the ability to set strategic direction; manage and embed change and continuous improvement using technology where necessary;
• An understanding or experience of governance in the private, public or voluntary sectors as well as an understanding of operating in a regulatory regime.

• Personal credibility and integrity which will inform the ability to command the confidence of Ministers, senior officials, Parliament and the public as well as a willingness to develop an understanding of the public sector;
• A demonstrable commitment to the goals, values and ethos of Cafcass;
• Excellent judgement and the ability to scrutinise, interpret, assimilate and interrogate a range of evidence and perspectives;
• Outstanding communication skills which will enable the Chair to lead the organisation as well as act as an ambassador, for Cafcass, by engaging effectively with a varied range of internal and external stakeholders.
Desirable criteria
• Evidence of valuing and promoting diversity.
• Experience of one or more of the following areas will also be taken into account by the selection panel:
o Management and finance;
o Family Justice and Courts System; and
o Children’s Social Care

Additional Information

Public appointments are offered on a fixed term basis. We do this to ensure that the leadership of our public bodies is regularly refreshed and Cafcass can benefit from new perspectives and ideas. The appointment will run for three years with the possibility of reappointment for a further term subject to satisfactory appraisal and at the discretion of Ministers. In line with the Governance Code for Public Appointments, there is a strong presumption that no individual should serve more than two terms or serve in any one post for more than ten years.

How to Apply

To make an application, please send:
• A CV (maximum two sides of A4) detailing your qualifications, employment history and any appointments or offices you hold. Please also provide your preferred contact number and email address.
• A personal statement (maximum two sides of A4) providing evidence against the role criteria and your suitability for the post, including evidence of leadership qualities and a vision for the organisation. Please consider the role and criteria carefully in preparing your statements. Information from AAPs indicates that applications which offer specific and tailored examples against the criteria, making clear the candidate’s role in achieving an outcome are often the strongest. Structuring the statement around the criteria using relevant headings also aids clarity.
• Guidance on how to write a successful application is provided at (Appendix 2).

Supporting Documents (attached separately on cabinet office website)
Please also complete and return the following supporting documents:
• potential conflicts of interest: If you have any interests that might be relevant to the work of Cafcass, and which could lead to a real or perceived conflict of interest if you were to be appointed, please provide details in your supporting documents.
• Given the nature of public appointments, it is important that those appointed as members of public bodies maintain the confidence of Parliament and the public. If there are any issues in your personal or professional history that could, if you were appointed, be misconstrued, cause embarrassment, or cause public confidence in the appointment to be jeopardised, it is important that you bring them to the attention of the AAPand provide details of the issue/s in your supporting letter. In considering whether you wish to declare any issues, you should also reflect on any public statements you have made, including through social media. The AAP may explore any issues with you before they make a recommendation on the appointment. Failure to disclose such information could result in an appointment either not being made or being terminated.
• Conflicts might arise from a variety of sources such as financial interests or share ownership, membership of, or association with, particular bodies or the activities of relatives or partners. If you need further advice, please contact Frank Munro at

• note of public appointments – please list any appointments currently held;
• referee details – please give names/contact details of two referees (who will be contacted if you are shortlisted for interview);
• the political activity declaration form – In line with the Governance Code for Public Appointments, details of any declared activity will be made public if you are appointed; and
• the diversity monitoring form – information is requested for monitoring purposes only and plays no part in the selection process. It will be kept confidential and will not be seen by the AAP. Please go to the “how to apply” section of the job advertisement and complete the diversity monitoring.
Please send your CV, personal statement and supporting documents to: quoting reference PAT 160008 in the subject line of your email. We will acknowledge receipt.

If you have any questions about any aspects of this post, you are welcome to contact Nicola Blakebrough at Nicola.Blakebrough@CAFCASS.GOV.UK.

Cafcass Conflict of Interest - October 2020
Cafcass Diversity monitoring form October 2020
Cafcass Candidate Pack 20 October 2020
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