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September 27, 2012 by Jo Tunnard, RyanTunnardBrown

Did you know that this year about 90,000 children and young people in England will spend time being looked after by a local authority?

For many children, this is a brief period while their family sort out a crisis and then the children return home. For others, it can go on for longer and this can mean that children get cared for in different ways, for some as they grow into adolescence and for others as they become adults.

These different types of care include living with relatives, or with foster carers, or being adopted, or living in a residential home with other young people. Sometimes it still ends up with children going back home or to other family members. All these ways of looking after children are part of the English “care system”.

The aim of our care system is to support families to help keep children safe and happy, and to make sure that children have a permanent place to grow up in. But, as the learning from practice and the evidence from research develop, is the care system still serving our children as well as it should be? The Care Inquiry wants to take stock on this important question.

The Care Inquiry is a collaboration of children’s charities with a special interest in all the care options for these children and young people. The charities are Adoption UK, British Association of Adoption & Fostering (BAAF), Family Rights Group, the Fostering Network, Research in Practice, TACT, The Together Trust and The Who Cares? Trust.

Together, they are using their expertise and knowledge – and that of others in the sector – to explore how society can best provide secure and stable homes for our most vulnerable children.

The Care Inquiry wants to:

  • take a fresh look at which children come in and out of the care system;
  • explore what we know about how children in care can have the same chances as other children to grow up with a positive sense of their identity and where they belong;
  • find out what more can be done to provide children and young people with a sense that they have a home for life, and;
  • make recommendations to government about how the care system can best meet the needs of children and young people in the future.

This is a good time to run The Care Inquiry. The government is reviewing different aspects of care, including how children’s homes operate, which children get adopted, and what happens to contact with sisters, brothers and other relatives after adoption. There are likely to be changes in the law about these things next year and we all have a duty to make sure that decisions made about vulnerable children are made in the best possible way and based on the best possible evidence of what works, for whom, and in what circumstances.

Local authorities make decisions about children in care in different ways. We want to find out more about why this happens and what it means for children and those close to them. We want to check what research studies and other reports have told us in recent years. We want to see what we can learn from the way other countries respond to the needs of children and young people who might not be able to stay at home or go back home from care. We want to get people talking about what they know, what they think, and what they themselves and others close to them can tell us about their own experience of the care system.

There will be three formal meetings of the Care Inquiry in November, December and January. These will be for invited people, and the aim is to:

  • look at recent trends in the law and practice for children in care;
  • learn from young people and adults about how the care system can support long-term stability for children, and;
  • debate how best to provide well for all children in the care system, given their different ages, backgrounds and needs.

Those invited to the formal meetings include researchers, local government policy makers, legal experts, service practitioners and managers, and young people and adults who have experience of the care system.

There will be plenty of opportunities for everyone to get involved in The Care Inquiry. You can follow the Inquiry on Twitter, or visit our Pinterest page where you can find out all the information you need about the Inquiry’s work and the organisations involved.

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Telephone Advice Line

If you are a parent, family member or friend of a child, in England or Wales, who has social workers involved in your child’s life, or if you need extra support from Children’s Services, and would like to speak to an adviser, please call our free and confidential helpline.

0808 801 0366 

(Monday to Friday 9.30am to 3pm)

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Discussion Boards

For advice from our advisers, or to get online support from other people in a similar position to you, visit the parents or family and friends carers forums.  To explore new research and to discuss ideas with practitioners and families, visit the FGC Network  or the Your Family, Your Voice Alliance Boards. If you are a domestic violence worker or social worker in London, visit our new research and practice  board.

 

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FAQs

We have answered the most commonly asked questions put to FRG advisers. Please follow the links to see a list of questions and answers, grouped together by subject.

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Advice Sheets

For more detailed information, please see our range of advice sheets on family support, child protection, looked after children, family and friends care, adoption or challenging decisions.

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Films

Family Rights Group has produced films for families to help ‘demystify’ the child welfare system.

Go to the relevant films to view fictionalised cases which show what happens when a child protection conference is held and similarly when a family group conference takes place.

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Advice during the Coronavirus Crisis

Delivering family group conferences during the Coronavirus crisis

This guide is written to help local authorities, during the crisis, to work in partnership with families. It describes how remote technology can be used to continue to enable family group conferences to be offered to families and to support their children during the Coronavirus outbreak.

Top tips guide for kinship carers to help children maintain relationships

This top tips guide is intended to support kinship carers to help children to safely maintain a relationship with those who are important to them, including their parents, brothers, sisters and friends, even if they cannot visit them.

Advice guide for parents and families with a child in the care system

In this guide, we have set out some creative ways in which relationships can be maintained and you can support your child during the Coronavirus crisis, even if you cannot visit them.

Government urged to step up and support kinship carers during the crisis to avoid placement breakdown

In this guide, we have set out some creative ways in which relationships can be maintained and you can support your child during the Coronavirus crisis, even if you cannot visit them.

Delivering good practice initial assessments of family and friends carers in the context of Covid-19

A new appendix to the existing good practice guide for practitioners assessing whether a family member or friend might be a potentially realistic option to be a carer for a child who cannot live safely with their parents.

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