Why are older children in care proceedings? A themed audit in four local authorities.

Commissioned by Research in Practice, as part of the NFJO work programme that seeks to understand what is working well and what changes are needed for the current systems and services to respond well to the strengths and needs of older children and their families.

The report describes the work with English and Welsh authorities to analyse the circumstances before, during and after care proceedings of 73 children aged 10 to 17 in 49 families. With detailed case studies to illustrate the broad range of child and family experiences, and with recommendations for a renewed focus on early attention to parental needs, better support when children return home on a supervision order, ways of reducing the risk of exclusion from school, and earlier connections between children’s services and the youth justice system.

See summary report here

Parker, C. and Tunnard, J. (2021) Why are older children in care proceedings? A themed audit in four local authorities. London: Nuffield Family Justice Observatory


Three other reports arising from our project management of local authority Care Proceedings Projects.

These projects were set up to support local authorities, courts and partner organisations prepare for the changes to care proceedings introduced by the Children and Families Act 2014 and the revised Public Law Outline.

A Year in Proceedings (February 2015)

A report from the four local authority case managers and the project manager about the care proceedings during the first year of the South London Care Proceedings Project (2013 to 2014). With recommendations for future activity by this consortium of local authorities and partner agencies, under the direction of its Steering Group of court and social care stakeholders.

Find the full report here.

Bi-Borough Evaluation Reports (January 2015 and 2014)

Reports from the local authority case manager and the project manager about the work and impact of the Bi-Borough Care Proceedings Project during 2014 and 2015. The Bi-Borough project involved the London Boroughs of Camden and Islington.

Find the full 2015 report here.
Find the full 2014 report here.

Project management of the Bi-Borough Care Proceedings Project

A report from the local authority case managers, and the project manager, about the work of the SLCPP (South London Care Proceedings Project, with recommendations for future activity by the consortium.

Analysis and critical thinking in assessment

A resource pack, developed with managers and practitioners and based on the analytical framework, to improve analysis in assessment work.

Commissioned by Research in Practice

Matching Needs & Services: Emerging Themes from its Application in Different Social Care Settings

A chapter describing how the Matching Needs & Services audit tool was developed and tested and has been used by various social care and health agencies and for different samples of children and families. With a particular focus on emerging clusters of need, the use of the tool to achieve ownership of local research findings across agencies, and the contribution of young people and parents to auditing need, identifying outcomes and planning new services.

Chapter in Ward H and Rose W (eds) Approaches to Needs Assessment in Children's Services (2002) JKP

Matching Needs & Services – 2nd edition

One of the practice tools developed at Dartington as part of its common language work about children in need. It is an audit tool to help agencies collect information on the needs of children in order to plan and implement more effective services and evaluate them to see if they are having the desired effect. It identifies the principal groups of children in need in a local authority area and promotes communication between professionals from different agencies. It also provides a mechanism for incorporating the views of service users in identifying need and planning service responses.

Dartington Social Research Unit(1999)

Structure, Culture and Outcome: How to improve residential services for children

This tool can help design better residential services for children in need. It can be used as a stand-alone tool to reflect on what a residential placement for children in need is intended to achieve and how it can improve life for its residents, or it can be used in conjunction with Matching Needs & Services, above, to clarify the needs of the children being looked after and how residential placements can help achieve desired outcomes for them and the range of professional responses to them.

Dartington Social Research Unit(1999)

The Children Act 1989: Putting it into Practice (second edition)

A practical guide to those parts of the Children Act 1989 that relate to the provision of services by local authorities to children and families, dealing in particular with the powers and duties of local authorities in relation to children in need, child protection and care and supervision proceedings. It combines a discussion of the legal framework of the Act with information about good social and legal practice, relevant research and recent case law. It is grounded on the author’s practical experience of providing an advice and advocacy service for families and training for social workers, lawyers and other child care professionals.

Ashgate (1998)

Mechanisms for Empowerment: family group conferences and local family advocacy scheme

A chapter that describes two mechanisms for empowerment that were developed in the mid-1990s under the auspices of Family Rights Group, a national organisation with a long-standing reputation for promoting user participation in children and family services. The first is family group conferences – its development and philosophy, its introduction to the UK from New Zealand, early findings from research studies, and how it works in practice. The second mechanism is family advocacy – with comment on its slow growth, the impetus provided by the Children Act 1989, and the essential elements for successful local schemes.

In Cannan C and Warren C (eds) Social Action with Children and Families (1997) Routledge

Parental mental health problems – messages from research, policy and practice

A review that distils the findings of UK and international research about the impact of parental mental health problems on children and other family members. It supports the case for bridging the gap between adult and children’s services and draws out messages of particular relevance to those commissioning and delivering services for children and families.

Commissioned by Research in Practice (2004)