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 spoke about the origin and range of child welfare parent advocacy and activism in New York City. He described 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 spoke 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 presented 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 spoke 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 presented 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.