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Welcome to Family Rights Group’s spring 2013 newsletter


This edition focuses on family and friends carers raising children who are unable to live with their parents. We highlight:


The Children and Families Bill, including our significant concerns about Clause 1 (Foster for Adoption) and what action you can take


The Hidden Gold launch event in London exploring findings from a 3 year national study by Family Rights Group and Oxford University on family and friends care and a new report ‘Relative poverty – family and friends care in London' by Family Rights Group


The Hidden Gold workshops in York and Birmingham for practitioners which will consider family and friends care: research, law, policy and practice


Local family and friends care policies


An important high court decision on family and friends care foster payments


The new revised Working Together safeguarding guidance just issued by the Department for Education


Family and friends care awards – make your nomination


Children and Families Bill


The Government has published the Children & Families Bill, which is aimed at speeding up the adoption process. This is the most far reaching child welfare legislation considered by Parliament for decades. As drafted it will lead to a major increase in the state's powers over families' lives.


We are particularly concerned about Clause 1 (foster for adoption). As soon as the local authority consider adoption as one of the options for a looked after child, the Clause exempts English local authorities from the duty to place the child with a suitable family member in preference to a prospective adopter. Social workers will be able to put the child's name on the national adoption register, and place them out of their local area. These provisions apply to all looked after children including those who are accommodated (i.e. in the care system with parental agreement and where there is no legal order). So, at the point the child is placed with potential adopters there may have been no court proceedings, no judicial decision that the child should be permanently removed from their parents and the parents and wider family may not have had any legal advice.


Family Rights Group has taken a lead in opposing these and other measures in the bill, which potentially deny the child as well as adult family members the right to respect for family life and the right to fair legal process. We have drafted a number of amendments, including new duties on local authorities to explore all safe family arrangements prior to a child becoming looked after and to provide an effective support framework for family and friends carers, which are supported by other members of the Kinship Care Alliance and other sympathetic organisation. You can read Family Rights Group briefings on the bill here.


How you can help:

How you can help

How you can help


The Hidden Gold


The Hidden Gold: family and friends carers raising children who cannot live with their parents


A big thank you to the many family and friends carers and practitioners who have generously given up your time to be interviewed by Family Rights Group and the University of Oxford or completed our surveys. Your efforts have born fruit!

The Hidden Gold - launch event in London

2 May 2013, 12 - 4pm, London, launch of new research

We are launching two new studies in London on 2nd May at an event chaired by journalist Yvonne Roberts. The half day seminar will consider Joan Hunt, University of Oxford and Family Rights Group's three-year study funded by The Big Lottery on the links between needs, support and legal status in family and friends care placements. The afternoon will also consider a new report ‘Relative Poverty – family and friends care in London' by Family Rights Group.

The Hidden Gold workshops in York and Birmingham for practitioners


13 May 2013, 10 - 4pm, Birmingham: policy, law and practice workshop

20 May 2013, 10 - 4pm, York: policy, law and practice workshop


The workshops will explore the latest research findings, provide a legal update and consider policy and practice, including effective approaches in working with children who are or could be raised by family and friends carers, even at a time of austerity.


Speakers at the events include:

Joan Hunt, University of Oxford and author of the three year study on family and friends care

Nigel Richardson, Director of Children's Services, Leeds City Council
Councillor Judith Blake, Deputy Leader and lead for Children's Services, Leeds City Council
Family and friends carers including Chris Leaves, who runs the Peterborough Second Generation support group

Cathy Ashley, Chief Executive, Family Rights Group
Bridget Lindley, Deputy Chief Executive, Principal Legal Adviser, Family Rights Group

Rachida Aziz and David Roth, authors of 'Relative Poverty – family and friends care in London' by Family Rights Group.


There are a limited number of free places for family and friends carers at each event. Cost to others is £60, 10% reduction for members of FRG/FGC network.


Local Family and Friends Care Policies


UK Map

Since the government made it a requirement for all English local authorities to have a family and friends care policy, with a manager responsible for it, by September 2011, we have maintained a list of all the policies we know about. We regularly update the information: to date, 99 out of 152 English councils (65%) have published their family and friends care policies.


If you would like to check whether your council has published its policy, or who the manager responsible for it is, you can do so here.


If the council you live in or work for has a policy, but it's not on our list yet, please contact Policy Adviser, David Roth with the details.


High court decision: family & friends care foster payments


There has been an important high court decision which reinforces that local authorities must not discriminate between family and friends care foster carers and unrelated foster carers when determining allowances. The court judgment applies not only to the basic fostering allowance but also to the fostering fee and the ‘reward' element of payments to carers raising children with disabilities. X, R (on the application of) v London Borough of Tower Hamlets [2013] EWHC 480 (Admin) (08 March 2013)


The new revised Working Together safeguarding guidance


We will be publishing next week a detailed analysis of the implications of the newly DfE issued revised Working Together safeguarding guidance. Our first thoughts are that there are some improvements on the earlier draft guidance published last year, for example we welcome that it explains that parents may bring an advocate to a child protection conference and should be signposted to advocacy agencies. However, we have serious concerns that the guidance fails to explain why it is so important to work with the family to safeguard a child. Moreover it makes no mention of fathers. Nor is there any reference to family group conferences, despite the importance of this approach in making safe plans for children and averting children unnecessarily entering care. Do look out for further information on our website.


Family and friends care awards


Grandparents Plus will be holding the first ever Kinship Care Awards, celebrating good practice and recognising those who have done the most to promote and support kinship care. There are awards in eleven different categories, and if you would like to make a nomination you can do so here.


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