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PFAN response to review of children’s social care

    Who we are

    The Parents, Families and Allies Network (PFAN) is a recently formed UK wide group bringing together parents with experience of children’s social work, their families and allies including social workers, academics, professionals in health and education and others wanting to see the child protection systems transformed.

    PFAN’s Purpose

    We work together to promote the rights and improve the lives and life chances of parents and children involved with children’s social work in the UK. We aim to transform policy & practice to ensure parent’s views and experiences are heard and that they participate in every decision that affects them and their children. Parent participation is essential to combat injustice, undo oppression and overcome adversity. We enable participation through promoting, developing and supporting parent advocacy and parent advocates. We promote participation through support groups, training, research & publications, advocacy programmes and campaigns.

    Review of children’s social care in England

    PFAN welcomes the review of children’s social care in England which is intended to be “Wide-ranging, independent review to address poor outcomes for children in care as well as strengthening families to improve vulnerable children’s lives.”

    To achieve this aim the review will have to demonstrate its independence in the way that members with lived experience are recruited, involved in decisions and evidence collected.  We are therefore most unhappy that there has been no transparency nor involvement of experts by experience in the selection of the chair and similarly that there is no transparency or involvement in the selection of experts by experience to participate in the review.

    In the Scottish Independent Care Review care experienced people formed the core of all the groups gathering evidence and making decisions about the review. The independent care review spoke to over 5,500 care experienced children and adults, families and the paid and unpaid workforce to ensure that experts by experience were the leading and dominant voice throughout the review. We are most concerned that the aims and objectives published at the launch of the English review do not make a commitment to a similar level of involvement.

    The Parents Families and Allies Network is writing to you to ask that you make a commitment to all those with experience of children’s social care to play a full and active part in the review and be core members of all decision making groups in the review. We would like to see the Aims and Objectives of involving experts by experience changed to reflect this commitment.

    We look forward working with the review team on this fantastic opportunity to transform the children’s social care system so it can address the societal impact of poverty, systemic inequality, structural racism and discrimination on parents and families. We can’t afford a child protection system that investigates one in every sixteen children before they are five and has led to record numbers of children separated from their parents and families in care and adoption. This is breaching the human rights of our most vulnerable children and families. We want to support the review to come up with a series of far-reaching recommendations to ensure parent and child participation in all decisions that affect them, the establishment of parent advocacy, and the end of policies and practices that have led to record numbers of child protection investigations and children separated from their parents and families in care and adoption.