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Our advice service

We provide advice to parents, grandparents, relatives, friends and kinship carers who are involved with children’s services in England or need their help. We can help you understand processes and options when social workers or courts are making decisions about your child’s welfare.

Our advice service is free, independent and confidential.

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By phone or email

To speak to an adviser, please call our free and confidential advice line 0808 801 0366 (Monday to Friday 9.30am to 3pm, excluding Bank Holidays). Or you can ask us a question via email using our advice enquiry form.

Discuss on our forums

Our online advice forums are an anonymous space where parents and kinship carers (also known as family and friends carers) can get legal and practical advice, build a support network and learn from other people’s experiences.

Advice on our website

Our get help and advice section describes the processes that you and your family are likely to go through, so that you know what to expect. Our webchat service can help you find the information and advice on our website which will help you understand the law and your rights.

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Care Crisis Review: Workstreams and Stakeholders

The ‘Care Crisis’ Review won praise for its inclusive, collaborative approach. The review was scoped and planned by family justice and child welfare stakeholders and, ensured that those most affected by the crisis were able to promote a ways of supporting families and avoid problems escalating.

“The Care Crisis Review led by the Family Rights Group, I think, is possibly one of the best examples I have ever seen of bringing together hugely disparate interest groups towards a common commitment to see change. That is no mean feat! I am seriously impressed with that one”

Isabelle Trowler, Chief Social Worker for Children and Families

The Review was funded by the Nuffield Foundation, facilitated by the Family Rights Group and chaired by Nigel Richardson, (former Director of Children’s Services, Leeds City Council). Following engagement with over 2,000 stakeholders, the ‘Care Crisis Review’ made 20 recommendations for change. The seven months Review concluded in June 2018.

Care Crisis Review: workstreams and stakeholders

Stakeholder Group and Academic Advisers

Stakeholder Advisory Group

  • Ben Ashcroft, Care experienced and Founder of Every Child Leaving Care Matters
  • Cllr Judith Blake, Leader, Leeds City Council and Chair of Core Cities UK (subsequently also appointed Chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board)
  • Matthew Brazier, Her Majesty’s Inspector, Specialist Adviser (Looked After Children), Ofsted
  • Nigel Brown, Chief Executive, Cafcass Cymru
  • Beth Cape Cowens, Child Care lawyer and FRG Trustee
  • Ian Dean, Principal Policy Advisor Children and Young People, Local Government Association
  • Anthony Douglas, Chief Executive, Cafcass (since retired)
  • Angela Frazer-Wicks, Family Rights Group’s Parents’ Panel and Co-
  • Chair of Your Family, Your Voice Alliance
  • Dez Holmes, Director, Research in Practice
  • Tony Hunter, Chief Executive, SCIE (since stepped down, current chair of Doncaster Children’s Trust)
  • Sally Ann Jenkins, Head of Children & Young People Services, Newport City Council
  • Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England
  • Kevin Makwikila, Member of Family Rights Group’s Parents’ Panel
  • Lord Justice Andrew McFarlane, a Lord Justice of Appeal in England and Wales (subsequently appointed President of the Family Division of the High Court of England and Wales)
  • Mel Meggs, Deputy Director of Children’s Services, Rotherham MBC (since appointed
  • Alice Miles, Director of Strategy, Children’s Commissioner for England
  • Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division of the High Court (since retired)
  • Keri O’Riordan, Professional Officer, British Association of Social Workers (since left to return to social work practice)
  • Nigel Richardson, former Director of Children’s Service, Leeds City Council (Chair)
  • Alasdair Smith, Director, Children and Families, London Borough of Southwark
  • Isabelle Trowler, Chief Social Worker for Children and Families (England)
  • Rachael Wardell, Corporate Director of Communities with Responsibility for Children and Adult Services, West Berkshire Council (and lead for ADCS on workforce development) (since appointed to Executive Director of Children, Families and Lifelong Learning, Surrey County Council)
  • Cllr Richard Watts, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board and Leader of the LB Islington (since stepped down as chair of the LGC Children and Young People’s Board)
  • Sue Williams, Programme Director, Family Safeguarding, Hertfordshire County Council
  • Teresa Williams, Director of Strategy, Cafcass

Academic Advisers to the Review

  • Professor Janet Boddy, University of Sussex
  • Professor Karen Broadhurst, University of Lancaster
    Alex Clark, Secretary to the President of the Family Division
  • Professor Anna Gupta, Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Professor Judith Harwin, University of Lancaster
  • Dr Lisa Holmes, Oxford University
  • Professor Joan Hunt, Cardiff University
  • Professor Kate Morris, University of Sheffield
  • Dinithi Wijedasa, Bristol University

Facilitators of the Review

  • Cathy Ashley, Chief Executive, Family Rights Group
  • Dorit Braun, Project Manager, Family Rights Group
  • Yasmin Choudhury, Website and Communications Manager (internal), Family Rights Group
  • Sophia Hill, Administrator, Family Rights Group
  • Pam Ledward, Principal Social Work Adviser, Family Rights Group
  • Caroline Lynch, Principal Legal Adviser, Family Rights Group
  • Mary Ryan, Lawyer and Consultant, Ryan Tunnard Brown
  • Caroline Thomas, Honorary Research Fellow, University of Stirling
  • Jo Tunnard, Consultant, Ryan Tunnard Brown

Care Crisis Review workstreams

  • Collating evidence on the drivers for the increase in care proceedings.
  • Scrutinising research findings about the policies and practices that may safely lead to reductions in care order applications and children coming into or remaining in care.
  • A call for information and emerging evidence about effective approaches (used by local authorities, courts and voluntary organisations) to engage positively with families at an early stage and enhancing the chances of resolving family difficulties.
  • Consulting with children, young people, parents and kinship carers.
  • Consulting with sector leaders and legal and social work practitioners in England and Wales, to explore and prioritise actions for change.
  • Reporting, with recommendations, on ways of reducing demands on the family justice and child welfare systems and improving outcomes for children and families.
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