‘Stable Homes, Built on Love’ reforms
5 minute read
In February 2023, the Government published their plans for reforming children’s social care in an implementation strategy document called Stable Homes, Built on Love.
The plan responded to recommendations made by 3 independent reviews:
- The independent review of children’s social care by Josh MacAlister
- The Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel into the tragic murders of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and Star Hobson
- The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) study into children’s social care provision
Our Five Big Asks on Children’s Social Care Reform
Ahead of publication, Family Rights Group called on the Government to commit to system-wide reform in the face of a crisis in the child welfare system.
We set out five key commitments we want to see from Government:
The Government’s strategy presents a positive vision for a ‘family-first’ approach to children’s social care, prioritising early family help and valuing the support wider family and friends can offer including as kinship carers.
We welcome the commitment to developing a national kinship care strategy and an ambition to ensure all children in care have positive relationships they can rely on.
However, the reforms and the funding announced fall alarmingly short of the scale of the crisis that is gripping children’s social care.
Engagement and influencing activity
We are working with families and practitioners to respond to the Government’s plans and influence their implementation.
- Members of our parents and kinship carers panels met to consider the Government’s plans. Their responses fed directly into our consultation response and are shaping our influencing activity.
- Our Chair, Angela Frazer-Wicks, is one of the lived experience representatives on the National Implementation Board
- Members of our kinship carers’ panel are represented on the Department for Education’s newly expanded kinship reference group
- In April 2023, we hosted a national kinship care workshop for carers across England to share their views directly with Government officials.
- We are having ongoing discussions with senior politicians and government officials on kinship care, family group conferences, Lifelong Links, child protection and advice and advocacy provision.
- Alongside others, we successfully influenced the Government to drop proposals made in the MacAlister Review for the removal of the independent chair at child protection conferences.
- We have held a child protection roundtable with stakeholders in the sector and shared our concerns with officials about proposals to introduce ‘expert’ child protection social workers to co-work cases with a family support social worker
- Our principal legal adviser, Caroline Lynch, met with Minister Claire Coutinho, the sector, and kinship carers to discuss what support is needed from Government.
- As part of our Time To Define kinship care campaign, we have published a proposed definition of kinship care and are working to persuade Government to enshrine the definition in legislation.
- We have also launched our Same Love, Same Leave campaign for paid employment leave for kinship carers
- Department for Education officials visited our advice service to see the impact of specialist advice for families
- In March 2023, we brought together parents with experience of the child welfare system, children’s service leaders, and organisations with expertise in representing parents at child protection conferences to start developing a set of inclusive principles and standards for child protection parental representation services.
- We successfully secured changes to legal aid to to parents whose children are subject to placement orders or adoption orders and to special guardians in private law proceedings. We continue to lobby for further legal aid reforms including publishing proposals in relation to deprivation of liberty cases.
- Our Chief Executive, Cathy Ashley, gave evidence to the House of Lords Public Services Select Committee on the Government’s plans and where they could go further to deliver for children and families.