International Parent Advocacy Network

Part 1 Building a Parent-led Movement to Transform Child Welfare: The History and the Future (Lessons from New York)

David Tobis, Ph.D., child welfare activist and author of From Pariahs to Partners

Sabra Jackson, Parent advocate, activist and Parent Engagement Specialist at the Administration for Children’s Services who oversees the Parent Advisory Council

David Tobis will speak about the origin and range of child welfare parent advocacy and activism in New York City. He will describe how the example of New York City has spread to other countries and the role of the International Parent Advocacy Network to support the parent advocacy movement. 

Sabra Jackson will speak about her personal experience with child welfare and her early role and current activities in reforming New York City’s child welfare system.  

Part 2: Make a start, make a difference, and make it happen (Lessons from South Wales)

Fiona MacLeod has worked in diverse roles and positions within child and family social services for over 30 years.  Whilst working as an Independent Reviewing Officer, she has been leading on a project to develop parent advocacy (PAN) in the West Glamorgan region over the last year.

Fiona will present an outline of the PAN project in West Glamorgan which aims to develop parent to parent advocacy in the region, with the aim of supporting and empowering parents through child protection and court processes, discussing key developments, challenges, opportunities and aspirations.

Sana Malik is a founding member of PAN, (together with Fiona), and is an established parent representative on the PAN steering group. She works as a social care professional.  Naomi Hanmer is a newer parent representative to the group and works as a legal professional. 

Sana and Naomi will speak of their personal experiences of the child welfare system, and their views on how parent advocacy can bring about the changes to build parent confidence and influence, bridge the gap in relationships with the statutory services, and ensure children are safely looked after wherever possible at home with their parents and families. 

We will present a voice recording of the experiences of a number of the parent representatives on the steering group, their views on their experiences of children’s social care, and what has been most significant in their journey. 

Time: 4.30pm – 6:00pm

Date: 4th May 2021

Black and Minority Ethnic carers

There is a dearth of research with Black and Minority Ethnic carers.  Little is known about the experiences of this group, and their access to and take up of formal and informal support.

This PhD study aimed to bridge this gap by interviewing Black and Minority Ethnic carers, in Wales and England.  Through qualitative in-depth interviews, it was possible to explore their experiences of formal and informal support, and support they found beneficial to them and their family.  

Although the research was with parent carers of children with life-limiting conditions, the findings are relevant across social care (both for adult and children’s services), in terms of providing support for Black and Minority Ethnic carers. Useful insights are provided into the experiences of this group.  

The presentation focuses on the contrast between previously held beliefs regarding the availability of family and community support for this group of families, and the accounts of carers themselves. Topics covered in the interviews included Black and Minority Ethnic carers describing their caring experiences, support from family and friends, the role of religion, as well as their experiences of services from the NHS, hospices, social care and education. 

Presenter: Dr Wahida Kent, Lecturer in Social Work, University of South Wales.

Time: 1:30pm – 2:30pm

Date: 12th May 2021

Working in partnership with families through participative meetings

There are several models for involving family members in decision making where there are concerns about a child, rather than key decisions being made in a professionally-led case conference.

These models include family group conferences, the model most widely used in the UK. This webinar includes an overview of international research evidence about shared-decision-making family meetings and a presentation on how two English local authorities have recently expanded the use of such meetings.

The research overview includes the findings of a systematic review of evidence on outcomes and a realist review focused on how meetings can enable families to fully participate in decision-making. The practice presentation covers an example of how family group conferencing and participative child protection conferences have replaced traditional case conferences.

Speakers: Jonathan Scourfield and Lorna Stabler (CASCADE, Cardiff University) and Kathy Nuza, Primary Lead, Bi Borough Family Group Conference Service (Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster)

Time: 11am – 12pm

Date: 26th May 2021

The NSPCC Reunification Practice Framework: an evidence-informed framework to make safe permanence decisions for children in care.

The session offers an overview of the Reunification Practice Framework, a comprehensive framework that brings together research insights, practical guidance and tools to support practitioners to gather robust evidence and make structured professional judgements around safe permanency decisions. 

The Framework represents an opportunity to address research findings, that many children who return home from care experience further abuse and neglect or placement breakdown (at times leading to a return to care) (DfE, 2013; Farmer, 2011; Wade, 2011).  The presentation highlights how strong assessment, planning and support for children and families can alter the probability of a child returning to care after a reunification decision has been made. 

The effectiveness of the Framework has been evaluated in 2016, with a study showing that almost all children who had been returned home under the programme remained at home six months later, and that child protection concerns about many of the children had declined (Gill, C.  2016 Taking Care evaluation: the return home and short-term outcomes for looked after children. London: NSPCC). The Framework has been recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as a resource to improve placement stability.

The session includes the opportunity for questions from the audience.

Presented by: Chiara Marin, Implementation Manager, NSPCC and Anna Holland, Consultant Social Worker, NSPCC

Time: 1.30 – 2.30pm

Date: 13th May 2021

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