Strengthening family networks

We want to see children and young people supported by their family to develop and thrive, and to be safely in their homes with their families as much as possible

We believe there is a moral obligation to support children to stay with their families or in a family-like setting, whenever that is possible. Our focus is on interventions and approaches that help children stay safely with their families.  

What we know already?

Research shows that children who are in non-family care settings – such as residential homes and secure accommodation – experience worse long-term outcomes than their peers. Evidence shows that strong family relationships can improve a range of children’s outcomes. We also know that drawing on a family’s existing network can help find sources of support and care for children such as help from wider family and friends that can enable children to remain with their families. 

We know that offering a Family Group Conference (FGC) at pre proceedings stage means that children are less likely to go into care, less likely to have care proceedings issued, and spend less time in care when they do enter care. See the full report here.

What more do we need to know?

We want to understand how to keep children safely either with their family, or as close to a family environment as possible, at all of the different stages of the system – including what works best in terms of supporting ongoing family relationships, if appropriate, when children go into care, or reunification of families as children leave care. We need to build this understanding through first identifying the programmes that can be evaluated. 

What are we doing about it?

Our areas of focus are Family Group Decision Making, Kinship Care, Reunification and Family Relationships and Contact for Children in Care. We will be generating new evidence to understand what support works across these areas; and making the case for embedding the interventions we know work.  

The DfE’s Kinship Strategy published in December 2023 committed to funding financial allowances for kinship carers. We will be evaluating this pilot.   

Following our recent RCT finding that Family Group Conferencing (FGC) can help children stay safely and happily with their families, we are working with the Department for Education and local authorities to make sure every family that needs one has access to an FGC at pre-proceedings.  

Understanding the variation in support for kinship carers

Evaluation of Family Drug and Alcohol Courts


Useful guides, templates and other resources for you to use

Talking with families about parental relationships: Practical tips and guiding questions

Developing a relationship support pathway for families: A support pathway model

Latest News

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December 15, 2023

Championing Kinship Carers: Moving towards evidence-based support for kinship families

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