Your Family, Your Voice
Your Family, Your Voice is an Alliance of families and practitioners developed by Family Rights Group. The Alliance works to transform the systems that families whose children are subject to, or at risk of, state intervention come into contact with.
The Alliance works to:
- Counter the stigma, negative presumptions and judgemental approaches to families whose children are subject to, or at risk of, state intervention, by influencing how families are perceived by the public and portrayed by the media and politicians
- Influence law, policy, practice and service design and delivery so that our child welfare, child mental health, youth justice and education systems promote effective human functioning and healthy relationships
- Enable families to have a voice in policy and decision-making circles.
Become a member
The Alliance is keen to encourage anyone who shares its values and purpose to join. Membership is free and you can commit as much or as little as you wish. You will also be invited to twice yearly events at which all members of the Alliance discuss where we are up to and to plan future work.
To join, please complete a membership form online.
Further information about Your Family, Your Voice is available on the Family Rights Group website here.
Projects and events
Click on the blue bars below to find out more information about current and upcoming projects and events being led by Family Rights Group and Your Family, Your Voice.
Mutual Expectations - A Charter for Parents and Local Authority Children's ServicesThis Charter has been developed by Your Family, Your Voice. It aims to promote effective, mutually respectful partnership working between practitioners and families when children are involved with the child welfare, family justice, mental health, education and youth justice systems.
The Charter is written for parents, local authorities and their partner agencies and those working for them. It has been developed by parents and practitioners, as part of the work of Your Family, Your Voice Alliance.
The key themes of the Charter are:
- Respect and honesty
- Information sharing
If you are interested in finding out more about the Charter you can:
- Download the Charter here
- Watch the short film about the Charter on YouTube here
- Support our work to promote the Charter by becoming a member of Your Family, Your Voice.
The Young Parents Project began in June 2015 to focus upon the needs and experiences of young parents whose children are in need, deemed at risk, are in care or adopted. The aim was to help more young parents to keep their children safely with them.
The project has:
- Developed a Young Parents Panel designed to give young parents a national voice with decision-makers
- Provided specialist training to individuals within youth organisations to equip them to be able advocates for young parents within the child protection system
- Developed this easy to use, mobile accessible website for young parents to help them understand their rights and options
- Published a project report, launched at a national conference in June 2016 which included findings from interviews and group discussions with young parents and practitioners and suggested changes to law, policy and practice to better meet the needs of young parents and their children.
Until June 2017, Family Rights Group will continue to offer indirect & self-advocacy support for up to 180 young parents whose children are involved with children’s services a part of this project. You will find full information about what this service offers and how you can access this help on our Advocacy support page.
Your Family, Your Voice continues to campaign for changes to law and policy to better support young parents including those who have had a child permanently removed from their care.
Knowledge Inquiry: section 20 voluntary arrangementsOn 8th December 2016 Your Family, Your Voice launched a Knowledge Inquiry (a kind of research project) to look in detail at one part of the child welfare system. The Inquiry is examining the powers and duties that children’s services departments have under section 20 of the Children Act 1989 (the leading piece of child welfare law in England). In Wales, the equivalent powers and duties can be found in section 76 of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014.
Section 20 of the Children Act 1989 attracts interest and attention because it can allow children’s services to bring children into the care system with the agreement of a parent and without the involvement of a court. You may hear these arrangements being called ‘section 20’,‘voluntary accommodation’ or ‘section 20 voluntary arrangements’.
As at 31 March 2016 nearly 19,000 children in England were looked after in the care system under a section 20 voluntary arrangement. There are now record numbers of care proceedings and recent cases before the family courts have highlighted significant gaps in good practice where the powers in section 20 Children Act 1989 are used.
The Inquiry aims to answer these questions:
- What was the original purpose and intention behind section 20 Children Act 1989?
- Is that original purpose and intent still valid and relevant today?
- How is section 20 presently being used in England & Wales?
- What needs to change and what are the priorities?
The Inquiry is asking parents and other family members (as well as different practitioners including social workers, lawyers and foster carers) to fill in online questionnaires to tell us about their views and experiences of section 20 voluntary arrangements.
You can find further information about the Knowledge Inquiry including the online questionnaire for parents and details of other ways you can get involved on the Inquiry webpage on Family Rights Group’s website.
Initial Family and Friends Care Assessment: A good practice guideViability assessment are increasingly being used by local authorities to decide whether a family member or friend might be a potentially realistic option to raise a child who cannot live safely with their parents. Family Rights Group initiated and led work with different organisations and individuals involved in the child welfare system to develop a guide that sets out best practice as to how these initial (viability) assessments should be conducted.
The good practice guide was launched in February 2017 and lists what factors social workers conducting the assessment need to consider, including when undertaking assessments with family members overseas. It also includes research evidence, a schedule and example template and an information sheet for a family and friends carers.
A copy of the guide can be found on Family Rights Group's website here.
If children’s services are involved with your child and are going to be carrying out an assessment of a member of your family, or a friend, you can:
- Ask your child’s social worker if this good practice guidance is going to be followed by the person doing the assessment
- And share this information about the guide with the family member who is being assessed.
Domestic violence projectFamily Rights Group and Rights of Women are funded by Trust for London to develop a domestic violence project from February 2014 until March 2019. This project aims to enable women in London who are survivors of domestic violence to be in a position to make informed decisions and influence what happens to their children when social workers are involved. The FAQs about domestic violence that appear on this website have been developed as part of the domestic violence project.
The current phase of the project includes:
- Training courses for domestic violence advisers in London
- An on-line discussion board for London-based domestic violence advisers from the voluntary sector and practitioners from children’s services to provide practitioners with an e-forum to consider practice dilemmas and share solutions
- Working with children’s services authorities to embed effective practice in working with children and mothers who are victims of domestic violence
- Launching a campaign, involving mothers who were victims of domestic violence, to highlight their experiences of the child welfare system and promote policy and practice changes to ensure effective support for adult and child victims and avoid the unnecessary removal of children into care.
You can find more information about the Domestic violence project here on the main Family Rights Group website.
Upcoming eventsWe host and support a variety of events for family members and practitioners. Check back here regularly for all the latest information.
Your Family, Your Voice Knowledge Inquiry Challenge Event
24th April 2017 in London.
This event will bring together parents and wider family members, social work practitioners and managers, lawyers and voluntary organisations to think through some of the initial findings and themes from the Knowledge Inquiry about children coming into the care system under section 20 voluntary arrangements.