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Family Rights Group secures major three year grant to improve early and pre-proceedings work with families

Published: 10th September 2021

4 minute read

We are delighted to announce that Family Rights Group has been successful in securing a major three-year grant from The Legal Education Foundation.

This funding is being awarded to enable Family Rights Group (FRG) to develop an approach that will promote, support the implementation of, and embed the key policy and practice messages regarding pre-proceedings work arising from:  

  • The Care Crisis Review 
  • The reports and guidance produced by the Public Law Working Group and  
  • Relevant academic and voluntary sector research.  

All elements of the work to be undertaken will be co-produced, in design and delivery, with families and we will be working closely with a range of practitioners. The grant will also fund an academic evaluation of the approach FRG develops and the impact it makes.

We are pleased to announce that the evaluation will be led by Caroline Thomas, Independent Researcher and Honorary Research Fellow, University of Stirling. 

In pursuing this initiative we are grateful to have had the endorsement of both Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division and Mr Justice Keehan, Chair of the Public Law Working Group. 

Caroline Lynch, Principal Legal Adviser at Family Rights Group, said:

“There have been clear messages from reviews, research and best practice guidance that early, effective partnership working with children and families is crucial. It can prevent difficulties from escalating, help to keep children safely within their family and avert the need for care proceedings. The challenge however is implementing those messages and creating system change.  

“This three-year funding from the Legal Education Foundation is a unique opportunity to support the child welfare and family justice system in tackling that challenge, and to do so through co-production with families.  

“We are looking forward to working closely with the judiciary, practitioners, social care leaders and others in developing an approach which will help to realise a re-emphasis on early work and partnership with families and help to safely divert cases away from court.”  

The work undertaken with this funding will include:  

  • A national legal and practice programme for the judiciary, co-produced with families. This will be delivered to the magistry in partnership with The Magistrates Association. We hope to work in close partnership with the Judicial College 
  • In two family justice areas in England, piloting focused and in-depth work which will aim to:  
    • Engender a re-emphasis on early and effective partnership working with families and for this to be demonstratable in the system 
    • Promote greater insight into the experiences of families interacting with the child welfare and family justice systems. 
  • Working with a small number of local authorities and the judiciary in the pilot areas, engaging with a range of decision makers and practitioners. This will include directors, service managers, judges and magistrates, team managers and others. We will facilitate peer challenge, learning and change through activities that cross professional, team, hierarchy and geographical boundaries 
  • As appropriate, disseminating more widely the resources produced both for the judicial legal and practice programme and the local pilots. This will enable these materials to be adapted and utilised by local agencies and multi-agency partnerships including local family justice boards  
  • Producing accessible, tailored advice resources for families, including easy read versions of the Public Law Working Group best practice guidance. 

In delivering this ambitious programme of work we are pleased to be working closely with:  

  • ENGINE Transformation 
  • The Magistrates Association 
  • Nadine Tilbury and Beth Tarleton, Working Together with Parents Network (Norah Fry Centre for Disability Studies, University of Bristol)
  • Nuffield Family Justice Observatory 
  • Research in Practice (RiP). 
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Our funding means we can currently only help 4 in 10 people

Your donation will help more families access expert legal advice and support from Family Rights Group.

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