The Parents, Families and Allies Network (PFAN) – a parent-led group which supports families going through Britain’s social care system – has published a report based on the ways the system impacts families, and the significant problems this creates.

The report, entitled, “The Way Forward” also offers solutions to these problems.

PFAN has produced a press release along with the report, which they have very kindly shared with Researching Reform, and we are adding this information below.

PFAN Press Release

Children’s Social Care: The Way Forward
Children’s social care as it operates in England is not fit for purpose. It alienates families and communities, fails to protect children, and places older children at increased risk of involvement in gangs and sexual exploitation. The Parents, Families and Allies Network (PFAN) brought together five organisations working with parents involved in different aspects of children’s social care to make suggestions for transformational change. This report is based on the experiences of parents who have lived experience of children’s social care and allies, who work in children’s social care or are social work academics.

Tammy Mayes co-chair of PFAN said:
“The parents we consulted identified the key areas for change and made their own constructive suggestions to transform children’s social care which are detailed in the report.”

Professor Andy Bilson, co-chair of PFAN said:
“We are concerned that the children’s social care system, under the pressure caused by the deaths of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and Star Hobson, will restart the cycle of escalating investigations and blaming of parents which has seen one in every 16 children in England investigated before the age of five, yet no reduction in child deaths. To avoid this, transformational change is needed as well as urgent reforms.
We will need to nurture and test out a range of strategies which shift the power from government and public services to parents, children and communities. Alongside this, immediate changes are required which must be co-led by parents and children with lived experience of children’s social care.”

The report identifies detailed specific changes required urgently and some examples that show how these changes may be achieved. Key to this is the need for children’s social care and other agencies working with children to move from a culture of parent blame and child rescue to partnership and participation. The report calls for parent advocacy to be developed alongside services as a powerful way to change organisational cultures in child welfare systems and to improve support for children and families.

Examples of approaches to provide the bottom up change necessary to transform children’s social care include the organisations that have created this report along with, for example, Hilary Cottam’s work on Radical Help and the Community Paradigm’s approach to transfer power from the public service institutions to the community.

The current system lacks enough champions with the remit to develop the new ways of working that are required. The report calls for a dedicated workforce, working in partnership with families, whose job is to co-produce services with families; to promote the use of these services as alternatives to care and investigative approaches to families; and to raise public awareness of the need for change.

You can access PFAN’s report, “The Way Forward” here.