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April 2011


Welcome To Our Newsletter

Family Rights Group is the charity in England and Wales that advises parents and other family members whose children are involved with or require children’s social care services because of welfare needs or concerns.


New resources

Family Rights Group has published two major research reports which set out clear findings and recommendations written for national and local decision makers responsible for child welfare and family support services as well as social work managers and front line social workers.

‘Big Bruv Little Sis' is the first research study undertaken in the UK into the experiences of siblings who are raising their younger brothers and sisters. To download the free report click here. To purchase a copy £14.94 inc.pp click here.

‘Working with Risky Fathers' outlines the results of ground breaking research with three Children's Services authorities on working with fathers who are domestically abusive . It also sets out the legal context and includes an international review of projects working with domestically abusive fathers aimed at identifying good practice that can be replicated.

The publication complements the earlier Fathers Matter Volume 1 and Volume 2 reports on fathers and their involvement with social care services. To purchase a copy £17.24 inc.pp click here.


Forthcoming events / training courses:

Fancy a wonderful 100k cycle ride through London at night? Now's your chance to do it with other keen cyclists – in aid of FRG - as part of Nightrider on 11th June 2011. Deadline for applications 25 April 2011. For more information and to book please email

We deliver legal and practice courses for independent reviewing officers, social workers, assessment teams, family and friends care teams, family group conference co-ordinators, voluntary sector practitioners working with families and advocates.

For example on:
28th April we're running assessment of family and friends care training.

4th May we're running a Legal and practice update for social care practitioners responsible for looked after children and IROs.

Click here to find out more.


Sibling carers conference

Over 50 practitioners and carers attended the first conference on sibling care. Chaired by Sharon, who is bringing up her two sisters, conference discussions centred on what local authorities could be doing to assist siblings who wish to provide a loving and stable home to their younger brothers and sisters. The sibling carers highlighted the need for easy to find, accessible web-based information and advice and a support group for sibling carers. FRG is now seeking funding to make this a reality.

Cathy Ashley (FRG's Chief Executive) and Paul Prescod, a sibling carer of 6 children subsequently appeared on Radio 4's Women's Hour with Jenny Murray.


P1010273 3 From left to right:
Paul, Sharon, Kelli, Cathy and Bridget




Influencing the national agenda

This has been an action packed few weeks.

Family and friends care guidance

Following years of lobbying by Family Rights Group and the Kinship Care Alliance, the Government has now issued statutory local authority guidance on family and friends care. The guidance requires all local authorities to, no later than 30 September 2011, publish a policy setting out their approach towardspromoting and supporting the needs of children living with family and friends carers. Whilst the guidance is a step in the right direction, FRG will continue to campaign for a national support system that meets the needs of all children who are unable to live with their parents. Click here to read the guidance.

Munro review on Child protection

In our submission to the review FRG welcomed much of Munro's work to date but emphasises that protecting children must involve putting in place a support structure that enables families to be able to take responsibility for their children's safety, including:

- preventative steps and services to stop problems escalating into child protecting concerns; and
- assisting families to recognise and take ownership of the plans necessary to keep a child safe, in order to avoid unnecessary care proceedings.

Moreover, the recommendations of the Munro review need to be consistent and seamless with the recommendations of the Family Justice Review. Click here to read FRG's submission

Interim Family Justice Review

There is much that's positive in the interim review of family justice review which was published earlier this month, including proposals for specialist family judges. We are however very worried about:

- The proposal for reduced court scrutiny of care plans e.g. plans for sibling placements.
- The absence of concrete proposals to work with families pre care proceedings including the lack of emphasis on alternative dispute resolution to avert the need for such proceedings, similar to that being proposed for parents in private law proceedings.

Following our initial written and oral evidence to the Review last year, we will be drafting our response to the interim report by 1st May 2011. We welcome your views which you can make by posting on our facebook page or emailing Cathy Ashley (Chief Executive, Family Rights Group)

Reform of legal aid

Both FRG and the Kinship Care Alliance have made submissions to Government in response to their consultation on reform of legal aid. We have expressed our
considerable concerns that the proposed limitation of the scope of public funding to exclude private law children's applications unless there is domestic violence present, does not appear to take account of the impact on family and friends carers who are applying for a legal order to take on the care of children who are at risk of harm and often on the edge of care. We have also written on behalf of the Kinship Care Alliance to Jonathan Djanogly MP, Minister at the Ministry of Justice requesting an urgent meeting. Click here to read FRG and the KCA's submissions.

Please also do contact your MP to highlight these concerns.

Welfare Reform Bill

Family Rights Group and Grandparents Plus has been working with members of the Kinship Care Alliance to brief MPs and to draft amendments to exempt family and friends carers from the requirement to seek work if they are raising a child who is 5 years or over and also from the welfare benefits cap. We are emphasising that the impact of the Bill, as currently drafted, could be to make it financially impossible for some relatives to come forward to raise children who would otherwise be in care. We had a productive meeting with Priti Patel MP and will continue to press these points. Again please do contact your MP to raise this issue– if you would like to read more click here.


Big Lottery Fund family and friends care research – update

FRG and Joan Hunt from the University of Oxford are leading a research project funded by the Big Lottery Fund on the link between need, legal status and support provided for children being raised by family and friends carers and what needs to change in policy and practice. Last year we recruited 3 family and friends carers to be part of the research team and by June 2011 we will have interviewed 100 carers. Thank you so much to all of you who have so generously agreed to be interviewed. In June we will be supplementing this information with an extensive web-based survey of carers and in the Autumn we will be producing a report with interim findings.

Running for Family Rights Group?

We have places for our 10k runs and half marathons in 2011.

Contact if interested.
Run 4


Contact conference

In February we held a successful conference examining managing contact in family and friends care arrangements. Amongst the excellent speakers was John Simmonds, BAAF. But the voices that will stay in the minds of all present was that of Ann, a grandparent carer who had impressively managed contact to the benefit of her granddaughter and Amy and Sean, two very courageous and articulate young people who are being raised by their aunt and gave their forceful and considered perspective.

024 3
Amy and Sean

Latest news about our advice service

We have submitted a tender to Government for the continued operation and development of our advice service for families. We should hear on the 18 th May whether we have been successful. We'll let you know!

Please help us improve our website

We are conducting a short online survey to help us continually improve our website. The survey takes five to eight minutes to complete. To go to the survey click here.



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Family Rights Group
The Print House
18 Ashwin Street
London, England E8 3DL

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