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Seminars on looking at what reforms are needed to our child welfare system

Published: 8th November 2021

Under 1 minute read

Family Rights Group hosted a series of policy seminars exploring what reforms are needed, particularly within our child welfare and family justice system, so more children can live safely and thrive within their families and communities.

The events were livestreamed and recorded which can be viewed below.

Seminar 1: How can partnership with families run through family support and child protection systems and practice?

Partnership between families and the state in order to protect children and promote children’s wellbeing is an underlying principle of the Children Act 1989 – a landmark piece of legislation which provides the legal foundations for our child welfare and family justice system to this day.

So why, 32 years on, is the reality for families often so different?

On Wednesday 17th November our esteemed panel and guests met to discuss, what would the child welfare and family justice system look like if partnership working was embedded throughout? And what needs to change to realise that ambition?

Speakers included:

  • Professor Carlene Firmin MBE – Professor of Social Work, Durham University
  • Theresa Leavy – Executive Director for Children, Dorset Council
  • Cathy Ashley OBE – Chief Executive, Family Rights Group
  • Josh MacAlister – Chair, Independent Review of Children’s Social Care in England
  • Co-Chair: Angela Frazer-Wicks – Mother whose eldest children were adopted and member of the Experts by Experience Board of the Care Review
  • Co-Chair: Justice Gwynneth Knowles QC – High Court Judge in the Family Division, member of the Design Group of the Care Review, former social worker.

Seminar 2: Supporting kinship care – getting the legislative framework right

When children can’t remain at home, there is much evidence to show the benefits of being raised by relatives or friends they know and love or can build lasting relationships with. Yet, the number of children in care is now at the highest level since 1985, and wider family is not always consistently explored as an alternative to a child going into unrelated care. Many kinship carers also struggle to access the financial, practical and emotional support they and their children need. Currently the legal status of the child (primarily whether they are or have been looked after) rather than the extent of their needs, tends to determine access to support for children in kinship care.

On Wednesday 24th November our esteemed panel and guests met to discuss, what needs to change to ensure we are supporting children to live safely and thrive in their family network? Can we learn anything from the experience of other countries? The event was held on behalf of the Kinship Care Alliance.

Speakers included:

  • Janet Boddy – Professor of Child, Youth and Family Studies, University of Sussex
  • Paul Nixon – Former Chief Social Worker for Children, Youth and Families in New Zealand
  • Caroline Lynch – Principal Legal Adviser at Family Rights Group
  • Donna Weaver – Kinship carer of three children, Director of Kinship Carers UK, and a member of Family Rights Group Kinship Carers Panel
  • Shanayd Warren – Special Guardian and member of the Adoption and Special Guardianship Leadership Board’s Special Guardians Reference Group
  • Co-Chair: Janet Kay – Kinship carer, adopter and former social worker and lecturer. Member of the Experts by Experience Board of the Care Review
  • Co-Chair: Sanchia Berg – Award Winning BBC Correspondent, Today Programme.
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