The Alliance will work towards society's structures, systems and services:
- Becoming more open and accountable,
- Being more respectful of all children and adults' human rights
- Promoting effective human functioning
- Encouraging healthy relationships and
- Enabling individuals and families to have greater control over their own lives.
Our intention is that that any state intervention or service:
- builds upon families’ strengths, rather than undermines their ability to identify and implement solutions;
- provides the support they need to avert crises developing; and
- promotes the child and their family’s wellbeing.
What is the problem that the Alliance is trying to address?
Recent media commentary and policy discussion has located blame for children being neglected, being at risk or getting into trouble firmly on individual parents, rather than also identifying the systemic challenges they face. Two recent reports on child neglect, for example, made no mention at all of any of the research evidence on the impact of poverty and inequality on the lives of vulnerable children and families. Headlines have highlighted the most extreme, wilfully abusive cases with generalisations loosely applied to all families subject to state intervention. Vilification can erode public empathy, legitimising the stigmatisation and ‘othering’ of such families, including a denial of their rights.
Last year one in every 100 children in England were subject to child protection enquiries. We know from the many thousands of families contacting Family Rights Group’s advice service, and from the consultation with the parents’ panel during the early development stage of the Alliance that many feel ‘done to’ by the state. They spoke of feeling ‘judged’, ‘isolated and targeted’. Some feel overwhelmed by a cycle of multiple, chronic problems, yet their requests for help early on are often rejected due to their difficulties not being bad enough to meet ever narrowing service threshold criteria. Yet when problems escalate into a crisis, the same families, including domestically abused mothers, are then subject to expensive child protection interventions. Anger, fear and resistance by families in such circumstances are judged as an indication of non-cooperation requiring the state to escalate their intervention, often at significant cost to the child (the majority of whom are separated from their siblings as well as their parents when taken into care), to families and to society, including the public purse.