Parental Partnership, Advocacy and Engagement: The Way Forward

Haworth, Simon, Bilson, Andrew orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-1243-2663, Drayak, Taliah, Mayes, Tammy and Saar-Heiman, Yuval (2022) Parental Partnership, Advocacy and Engagement: The Way Forward. Social Sciences, 11 (8).

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This article, written with parents as co-authors, has two aims: (1) to provide a critical view of the English child protection system based on parents’ views and to locate these views within contemporary child protection studies and (2) to present the transformative value of co-production in the context of child protection studies both as a form of critical scholarship and as a means to influence policy and practice. The current children’s social work system in England does not achieve good outcomes for families, and many children and parents frequently experience it as stigmatizing, inhumane, and harmful. The article presents the experience and recommendations for change produced by parents with a broad range of experience with child protection services in England. The Parents, Families and Allies Network worked with five allied organizations in which parents identified the extensive range of problems that the current system presents and ways forward to achieve more supportive, humane, and inclusive practice with families. Seven main themes emerged: a better definition of need and response to need; partnership, participation, and humane practice; improving legal representation and support in legal proceedings; better support in care proceedings; permanence that maintains links; a better response to domestic violence; and the lack of support for disabled children. The article discusses five features of the project that supported meaningful co-production: taking a political stance, choosing clear and feasible aims, incorporating a range of knowledge, the participation of parents with lived experience throughout all phases of the project, and not settling with just knowledge production.

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