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Cross-border child safeguarding: Challenges, effective social work practice and outcomes for children

This report sets out the findings of a study on cross-border children and families cases, an under-researched aspect of social work with children and families

This report sets out the findings of a study on cross-border children and families cases, a little explored aspect of social work with children and families. The aim of the study was to gather information to inform improvements in policy and practice related to:

1) children in need of protection who cross international borders

2) children in the social care system who can be placed with family in another country.

The research was led by Children and Families Across Borders (CFAB) with a grant from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and with guidance from a Research Advisory Group.

We conducted an audit of 200 cases that were referred to CFAB in 2015 and 2016, and then tested our preliminary findings through focus groups conducted with social workers, solicitors and children’s guardians. There were 333 children involved in the 200 cases audited.

The study revealed that local authorities across the UK are taking various approaches to cross-border cases and there is a need for clearer practical guidance on how local authorities should manage these cases. The findings from the focus groups in particular highlighted how individual local authorities have developed their own approaches and interpretation of their responsibilities and duties. There is, in general, a need for a more consistent and well-informed approach to cross-border cases so that all children in these situations are protected and have their rights upheld.