Towards a family-led child protection system

20 November



November 20, 2019 - 9:30 am


November 20, 2019 - 3:45 pm


etc Venues Maple House 150 Corporation Street Birmingham B4 6TB   View map
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The number of children removed from their birth parents into some form of care has increased by approximately 25% in the 10 years between 2008 and 2018, in part a response to the Baby P case. The majority of children are placed on child protection plans or in care because of neglect or emotional abuse, not from physical or sexual abuse [2]. With pressure to resettle children within 26 weeks, there is insufficient time for many parents to make the changes required to bring their children home. Services like FDAC and Pause take a longer term, family focussed approach. Family Group Conferencing has been adopted in some areas. But these approaches do not operate for the majority of families involved with the child protection system.

Having children removed into care remains a stigma for parents.  Many say that they do not feel equal partners in the process, and their views are not given weight. The system is complex, and parents involved in care proceedings often have multiple challenges. For children, the likely outcomes of being a looked after child are often poor.

Many more families have negative experiences of the child protection system, although their children are not placed on a child protection plan, or taken into care.  A 2016 study estimated that, across the UK, one in five children were referred to social services before their fifth birthday [1]. Few of these referrals progress further. However, while they may present an opportunity to introduce parents to support (eg for domestic abuse), they leave other parents feeling vulnerable, anxious and distrustful of statutory services.

Currently, many local authorities are considering the use of predictive analytics, based on analysis of big data, to anticipate which families will be at risk in the future. This carries with it a number of moral and practical challenges with respect to targeting families without their involvement.

How, then, can the child protection system be changed to avoid some of these negative outcomes, and how can families be empowered?

One important part of the answer is to move towards a family-led child protection system. This means ensuring that families have a real and meaningful input into the design of child protection services, as well as confidence that they will be listened to with respect as participants in the system. This approach may be adopted gradually, and can take many different shapes, for example, building on Family Group Conferencing and introducing parent advocacy.

This learning day will explore from a parent’s perspective the negative experiences which often, though not always, arise from involvement in the child protection system. It will draw on research and case studies, including the ‘Camden Conversations’. Sessions will go on to look at how current child protection approaches can be made more family friendly, and what larger scale change could look like.

This learning day will be facilitated by Annie Bertram from Surviving Safeguarding. Annie has experienced the removal of her children into care, and co-led the Camden Conversations research with Professor Anna Gupta, Royal Holloway University of London, who will also be speaking at this event.


[1] Bilson A and Martin K (2016) Referrals and child protection in England: one in five children referred to children’s services and one in nineteen investigated before the age of five. British Journal of Social Work, 47, 3, 793-811

[2] Punishing the Poor? Child Welfare and Protection under Neo-liberalism  – Professor Anna Gupta,  Social Work & Society International Online Journal Vol 16 No. 2 (2018)

This learning day will be facilitated by Annie Bertram from Surviving Safeguarding. Annie has experienced the removal of her children into care, and co-led the Camden Conversations research with Professor Anna Gupta, Royal Holloway University of London, who will also be speaking at this event.

Sessions will focus upon:

  • Understanding the short term and ongoing impact of the child protection process on parents and families
  • An overview of research undertaken into the child protection system, including where successive removals are made
  • The deficit in current approaches to child protection
  • Making first steps towards a family led approach – including Camden Conversations and other case studies
  • What broader system change could look like – case studies, including parental advocacy in New York City

Agenda (subject to change)

9.30 – 10.00

Registration and coffee

10.00 – 10.10

Welcome and introduction to the day – Professor Anna Gupta, Royal Holloway University of London

10.10 – 11.20

The immediate, and long term, impact of a family’s involvement with the child protection system – Annie Bertram

11.20 – 11.45

Coffee break

11.45 – 12.45

Research findings on family experiences of the child protection system – Professor Anna Gupta

12.45 – 1.35


1.35 – 2.35

Initial steps towards a family-led child protection approach – Annie Bertram

2.35 – 2.55

Quick break

2.55 – 3.45

Towards broader system change and what that could look like – Annie Bertram


Final questions and close of day

  • Child protection social workers and managers
  • Adoption, fostering and kinship care social workers and managers
  • Family and parent support workers
  • Charities supporting families
  • Children’s charities
  • Sure Start Children’s Centres
  • Education professionals concerned with safeguarding
  • Drug and alcohol services
  • Specialist support services such as FDACs and PAUSE projects
  • Midwives and Health visitors
  • Community Psychiatric Nurses
  • Other children’s safeguarding leads in the NHS
  • Police

Delegate fee:

 £130 + VAT = £156

*Team of 3 (3rd person attends for half price) £325 + VAT = £390

*Team of 5 (5th person attends for free) £520 + VAT = £624

ring 0115 916 3104 for details.


Included in the delegate package:

  • Delegate pack
  • Lunch
  • Refreshments available throughout the day


Booking Terms and Conditions

Cancellations received up to and including 30 October 2019 will be refunded in full less an administration fee of 25%. Cancellations received after this date will be liable for payment in full.

*Team bookings are non-cancellable but substitute delegates will always be accepted.

The full invoice amount will remain payable if you fail to attend the event, however, substitute delegates will be accepted up until, and including, the day of the event.



Confirmation of booking:

Your booking will be confirmed by email where possible (and by fax or post otherwise), and you will be provided with directions to the venue and details on nearby hotel accommodation. If you do not receive such acknowledgement, please contact Central Conference Consultants Ltd on 0115 916 3104.

The training will take place in Birmingham City Centre:

etc Venues

Maple House

150 Corporation Street


B4 6TB

Venue telephone – 0121 212 8200

Directions can be found on the venue website

New Street, Snow Hill and Moor Street train stations are all a few minutes away from the venue

Car parking

Birmingham High Street NCP (also known & signposted as Albert Street NCP), postcode B4 7L

Birmingham Londonderry House NCP, on Dalton Street, postcode B4 7LX

(Maple House has reduced rates agreed at both these car parks – contact the venue for daily tariffs and discounted rates.  Parking subject to availability)


The venue has a map on its website showing hotels close by.