Care Crisis Review

A sector-led Review of the rise in applications for care orders and the number of children in care

Applications for care proceedings in England and Wales reached record levels in 2017. This is one factor contributing to the rise in the number of children looked after in the care system, now at the highest level since 1985.

Family Rights Group have facilited a seven month sector-led Review into the care crisis. The Review is supported by stakeholders within the child welfare and family justice system. 

The Review's aims:

  • to examine the reasons for the rise in care proceedings and number of children in care
  • to at all times retain a focus on achieving the best outcomes for children and families
  • to take account of the current national economic, financial, legal and policy context that impacts on families and on local authority and court practice
  • to identify specific changes to local authority and court systems and national and local policies and practices that will help safely stem the increase in the number of care cases coming before the family courts and the number of children in the care system.

Read the Review's reports:

CCR FINAL IMAGE

The Care Crisis Review: Options for Change

Download the report here


Summary of the Options for Change IMAGE

The Care Crisis Review: Summary of the Options for Change

Download the report here


Care Crisis Review Factors report IMAGE

The Care Crisis Review: Factors contributing to national increases in numbers of looked after children and applications for care orders

Download the report here


Care Experienced Young People and Adults Survey Results IMAGE

The Care Crisis Review: Care-experienced young people and adults survey results

Download the report here


Family Survey Results IMAGE

The Care Crisis Review: Family survey results

Download the report here


Professionals Survey Results IMAGE

The Care Crisis Review: Professionals survey results

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PSW Survey Findings IMAGE

The Care Crisis Review: Children’s Principal Social Work Network survey findings

Download the report here


Analysis of focus group responses from care experienced young people IMAGE

The Care Crisis Review: Analysis of focus group responses from care-experienced young people

Download the report here


We are facing a crisis and, truth be told, we have no very clear strategy for meeting the crisis.” 

Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division of the High Court


Purpose of the review

  • To identify specific changes to local authority and court systems and national and local policies and practices that will help safely stem the increase in the number of care cases coming before the family courts and the number of children in the care system.
  • To do so in a way that retains focus on achieving the best outcomes for children and families and takes account of the current national economic, financial, legal and policy context that impacts on families and on local authority and court practice.

Why a sector-led review?

  • The crisis has an impact on children, young people and families and on those working in the child welfare and family justice systems.
  • All stakeholders have knowledge and expertise about the service responses that can make a difference to children and families and may help to safely avert the need for care proceedings.
  • There is a groundswell of opinion that those most affected by the crisis should take a combined lead in promoting ways of supporting families to avoid problems escalating.

Strands of activity

  • 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 applications and children coming into or remaining in care.
  • Calling for information and emerging evidence about effective approaches (used by local authorities, courts and voluntary organisations) to engaging 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.

Arrangements for the review

  • Scheduled for November 2017 to June 2018.
  • Funded by the Nuffield Foundation.
  • Facilitated by Family Rights Group.
  • Chaired by Nigel Richardson, recently retired Director of Children's Services, Leeds City Council.
  • Scoped and planned by family justice and child welfare stakeholders.
  • Advised by a Stakeholder Group and academics.

Future activities


13 June 2018: Launch of report

Stakeholders and 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
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
Angela Frazer-Wicks, Family Rights Group’s Parents’ Panel & Co-Chair of Your Family, Your Voice Alliance
Dez Holmes, Director, Research in Practice
Tony Hunter, Chief Executive, SCIE
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
Mel Meggs, Deputy Director of Children’s Services, Rotherham MBC
Alice Miles, Director of Strategy, Children’s Commissioner for England
Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division
Keri O'Riordan, Professional Officer, British Association of Social Workers
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)
Cllr Richard Watts, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board and Leader of the LB Islington
Sue Williams, Director of Family Safeguarding, Hertfordshire County Council
Teresa Williams, Director of Strategy, Cafcass


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, Cardiff University


Facilitators of the Review

Cathy Ashley, Chief Executive, Family Rights Group
Dorit Braun, Project Manager, Family Rights Group
Yasmin Choudhury, Website Manager/Deputy Office and Finance Manager, 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

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