‘The single factor most closely associated with positive outcomes for children is meaningful, lifelong connections to family.’
Family Rights Group is working collaboratively with local authorities, family group conference services, Become (Formerly the Who Cares? Trust), Who Cares? Scotland, The Fostering Network, Children 1st, Scottish Child Law Centre and other key stakeholders (including young people in care) to develop and implement LifeLong Links. Our aim is to build positive lifelong support networks for children in the care system.
Funding from the Department for Education Innovation Programme will enable Lifelong Links to be trialled in England from April 2017 for three years. The initial seven English local authorities to trial Lifelong Links will be Devon, Hertfordshire, Kent and North Yorkshire County Councils, the London Boroughs of Camden and Southwark and Coventry City Council. We are also raising funds with the intention that Lifelong Links will simultaneously be trialled in both Glasgow and Edinburgh in Scotland.
The Lifelong Links trial will be aimed at under 16 year olds who have been in care for less than 2 years and for whom there is no plan for them to live within their family or be adopted. The trial will be independently evaluated to determine whether Lifelong Links is effective in improving outcomes for children in care.
Developing a UK Family Finding Model for Children in Care conference
The Lifelong Links operational model will include the following elements:
- A referral is made by the child’s social worker to a Family Group Conference (FGC) service where the FGC coordinator will be trained in Lifelong Links. Agreement of the child and consent of persons/agency with parental responsibility will be sought.
- The LIfelong Links co-ordinator will use online tools and face to face methods to search for relatives and other adults who care about the child.
- The Lifelong Links co-ordinator and child's social worker will engage with those relatives and adults found, ensuring that this is done safely and appropriately and in consultation with the child and those with parental responsibility.
- The Lifelong Links co-ordinator will convene a Family Group Conference with those willing and able to commit to developing a lifelong support plan with and for the child.
- The agreed plan will become part of the child’s care plan or pathway plan, implemented and reviewed (with the network and young person offered a review Family Group Conference as part of this process).