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Family Rights Group was established in 1974 by a group of lawyers, social workers and academics who were concerned about how families were treated when social services were involved with their children.
Since then, the charity has maintained a unique position:
- Our starting point is the child within the family;
- We put the experiences and direct voice of families central to everything we do;
- Our expertise in child welfare law and practice;
- Our independence from government and statutory services;
- Our wealth of experience of providing advice to families, which informs our work with policy makers and practitioners;
- Our commitment to promoting human rights, social justice and to tackling structural inequalities;
- Developing policy, practice and service solutions through co-production, drawing on the knowledge, strengths and insights of all stakeholders – practitioners, academics, decision makers, children and their families; and
- We challenge when required, including through strategic litigation; and
- We will always provide workable solutions to the challenges we raise.
Our work is aimed at enabling children to live safely and thrive within their family and strengthen the family and community networks of those children who cannot live at home.
The landscape has changed since 1974 and there have been significant successes:
- Then local authorities could take away parental rights without going to court. Now they can’t.
- Then parents were not included in their children’s case conferences nor in reviews if their children were in care. Now partnership working is enshrined in legislation.
- Then grandparents had no legal means to seek contact with their grandchildren if they were in care. Now they do.
We were instrumental in influencing the preparation of the 1989 Children Act and associated guidance, which introduced the key principle of working in partnership with parents to secure the best interests of children.
We have had a significant impact on the development of services to children and families. Nevertheless, significant challenges remain. In 2017, with the number of children in the care system at the highest level since 1985, Family Rights Group facilitated a seven month sector-led review into the care crisis. Work continues to implement the key recommendations.
Our achievements are in large part due to us consistently bringing evidence of injustices to the attention of politicians, practitioners and the media, and putting forward workable solutions in the interest of the child.