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Stepping Up, Stepping Down

How families make sense of working with welfare services

Authors: Kate Morris, Brid Featherstone, Katie Hill and Mike Ward

This report presents the empirical research carried out with families as part of the Your Family, Your Voice Alliance, a national initiative that seeks to change approaches to highly vulnerable families and to develop humane evidence-informed policies and practices.

The initiative is funded by the Lankelly Chase Foundation and led by Family Rights Group and aims to:

  • Counter the stigma, negative presumptions and judgemental approaches to families whose children are subject to, or at risk of, state intervention;
  • Influence how such families are perceived by the public and portrayed by the media and politicians;
  • Influence law, policy, practice and service design and delivery so that our child welfare, child mental health, youth justice and education systems promote effective human functioning and healthy relationships;
  • Enable families to have a voice in policy and decision-making circles.

The research project sits alongside a wider body of work by the Alliance, including developing Mutual Expectations — A Charter for Parents and Local Authority Children's Services and a Knowledge inquiry into children who come into the care system under a voluntary arrangement. The study was informed by a literature review exploring partnership and a background review examining innovative approaches to researching families.

The study also benefited from a Family Advisory Panel made up of family members who have experience of state interventions in relation to their children. The panel provided input into the design, analysis and dissemination of findings.