Social work and child law experts express their “deep concern” about government’s ‘once-in-a-generation’ review

A joint letter, signed by 27 organisations and over 100 individuals with substantial experience of children and families social work, has been sent to the Secretary of State for Education today (5 February).

The letter raises concerns over the independence of the chair of the recently announced once-in-a-generation review of children’s social care, the review’s time period and its very wide scope. It asks the government to agree that any proposals for reform of the Children Act 1989, coming from this process, will be passed to the Law Commission.

Signatories of the letter have over 2,000 years’ cumulative experience of children’s social care in England – as care experienced people, families, social workers, lawyers and academics.

This joint action to try and influence the review for the benefit of children, care leavers of all ages and families comes days after government answers to parliamentary questions revealed that:

  • The chair appointed by the Education Secretary runs an organisation which has received £72 million funding from the Department for Education over the past five years;
  • Key groups and organisations championing the rights of children, young people and families, as well as social work organisations, were not invited to the online launch of the review on 15 January;
  • A budget for the review has not yet been agreed, though the Department for Education states it “will work with the lead reviewer to ensure there are sufficient resources available to undertake the review”.

JOINT LETTER to The Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE MP 

Dear Secretary of State

ONCE-IN-A-GENERATION CHILDREN’S SOCIAL CARE REVIEW

As organisations and individuals with substantial professional and/or personal experience in England’s children’s social care system, we write to express our deep concern about the recently announced children’s social care review.

First, the scope of the review is unrealistically wide for a relatively short time period, especially within the context of a global pandemic. 

The terms of reference state that this will be a review of: 

… the whole system of support, safeguarding, protection and care, and the child’s journey into and out of that system, including relevant aspects of preventative services provided as part of early help… [It] should include children who are in care in formal settings such as fostering arrangements or residential care and also those receiving support under informal, kinship care. The review may want to consider support for children as they prepare to leave care and those receiving ongoing support once they have left care, drawing on care leavers’ experiences. It may also want to consider the support provided for adoption. The review will give due regard to the SEND Review, which will consider the main questions relevant to children with special educational needs and disability. 

The media release announced: “A wholesale independent review of children’s social care [that] will set out to radically reform the system”. The chair of the review has indicated via social media that he expects to complete this major task in 12 to 15 months.

Other recent reviews of specific aspects of children’s social care (fostering and children’s residential care, for example) each took several months. They were undertaken without the inclusive and transparent participatory processes promised for this wholesale review (though the details of these are yet to be published). The cross-government review of support for children with special educational needs was launched in September 2019 and is not expected to report until later this year – delayed partly due to COVID-19. 

Please do not rush this vital review. Hastily produced plans would inevitably risk making the lives of children, care leavers and families much worse. The Conservative Party 2019 general election manifesto pledged a review of the care system, and we suggest that a refocusing of the current terms of reference could help to achieve this – so that the review centres on children’s experiences of needing help and protection before coming into (or re-entering) care, their time in care (including time spent in custody and mental health units), and the needs of care leavers of all ages. With this refocusing, the review could carefully set in place structures and processes which can, over a realistic time period, facilitate the development of sound and credible recommendations. 

It was under a Conservative government, with cross-party support and strong engagement and backing from organisations representing the rights and interests of children and families, that the children’s social care system was last reformed – through the introduction of the Children Act 1989. That legislation emerged from a robust and inclusive series of reviews and working groups, beginning with a recommendation for law reform from a Parliamentary inquiry which sat between 1983 and 1984 and took evidence directly from care experienced people. The legislation itself was drafted by the Law Commission, under the leadership of a lawyer / Commissioner who was later to serve as President of the Supreme Court (Lady Brenda Hale). Overall, it continues to be respected both domestically and internationally as gold standard legislation.

This brings us to the appointment of the lead (as we understand it, sole) reviewer. Josh MacAlister has no professional background in children’s social care. After a brief career as a schoolteacher, he founded and became chief executive of a charitable company called Frontline.

Leading a once-in-a-generation, wholesale review of children’s social care would be a challenge for any one person. Even with a very talented individual, this is probably an impossible task for someone with no prior direct knowledge of the children’s social care system. We understand that the review will not properly commence its work until March 2021. We ask that you establish a collegiate approach, and appoint a panel of experts which can bring to the review wide-ranging knowledge, skills and experience, including direct, personal experience of the care system – following an open recruitment process.

It is critical that the chair of the review panel is both independent and perceived to be independent. We question the independence of Mr MacAlister. His organisation has been wholly or mainly reliant on substantial funding from the Department for Education from its inception. This may affect his capacity to critique government policy (should the evidence lead this way) and to make recommendations potentially unpopular with ministers, including around financial support to local authorities and others. The Chair of Mr MacAlister’s charity, Baroness Cavendish of Little Venice, led 10 Downing Street’s policy unit under Prime Minister David Cameron, and is presently undertaking the government’s review of adult social care. This may further compromise his independence from government.

Ahead of the 2019 general election, Mr MacAlister was lead author of a ‘blueprint’ for children’s social care published by Frontline, the Centre for Public Impact UK (part of Boston Consulting Group) and Buurtzorg Britain & Ireland. This work shows that Mr MacAlister has already invested time and energy into thinking how children and families could be much better served. 

It would be wrong, however, for this once-in-a-generation review to start with a ready-made template for radically restructuring children’s social care services (including potentially moving them out of local authorities and removing legal safeguards), not least because that particular blueprint was not developed with those who receive (or have received) children’s social care services. 

Further, we are concerned that the blueprint recently designed by Mr MacAlister and others is predicated on no extra funds being made available for children’s social care. The review’s current terms of reference similarly make no suggestion of additional funding for services to children and families and refer only to the effective use of resources and value for money – both of which are essential but only when sufficient funding has been provided in the first place. The Children’s Commissioner for England has estimated that councils need at least £1 billion more each year for children’s social care services. We ask that the government makes it clear to the review team that it is not bound by current resources available to local authorities, and that it has the freedom to explore and make recommendations around funding in accordance with the evidence it receives.

A panel of experts with an independent chair would allay fears, whether well-founded or not, that the government already knows how it wants to proceed after the completion of this review. 

In December 2017, the Law Commission reported that it had offered to undertake a review of Part 3 of the Children Act 1989, but this was turned down by Department for Education officials due to there being no legislative time to act on any reform proposals. We therefore ask that the government further commits to referring any proposals relating to the Children Act 1989 arising from this review to the Law Commission, the statutory independent body for law reform. 

Finally, we want to make it clear that we share the government’s concern that too many children, care leavers and families are not receiving the care, protection and support which they desperately need and are legally entitled to. This is unacceptable. We strongly caution against this review delaying government action on a whole host of policy areas which have required urgent action for many years, such as tackling the increasing use of unregulated accommodation for children in care, the upsurge in children placed outside their home areas and the paucity of places in English secure children’s homes for highly vulnerable children.

We are very committed to supporting a review and to contributing our views, experiences and ideas for change. This year is the thirtieth anniversary of the United Kingdom ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. What better way to celebrate children’s rights than for us all to work together to produce a vision of a world-class care system which makes real those treaty obligations.

Given the concerns surrounding the appointment of the lead reviewer, we are copying this letter to the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

Best wishes,

Carolyne Willow, Founder Director Article 39

Nuala Mole, Senior Lawyer The Aire Centre

Elaine Pearson Scott, Association of Independent Visitors and Consultants to Child Care Services*

Siobhan Kelly & Hannah Perry, Co-Chairs Association of Lawyers for Children

Tom Croft & Diana Skelton, National Coordination Team ATD Fourth World

Dr Pippa Murray, Director Bringing Us Together

David Graham, National Director The Care Leavers’ Association

Dr Mark Kerr, Chief Executive Centre for Outcomes of Care

Dr Simon Duffy, Director Centre for Welfare Reform

Cyrus Larizadeh QC, Chair Family Law Bar Association

Amanda Knowles MBE, Service Manager (Director) Future Horizons 

Allison Hulmes, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Social Work Association*

Sylvia Duncan, Chair Institute for the Recovery from Childhood Trauma

Will Calver, Founder Isabel’s Voice

Legal Action for Women (co-ordinates Support Not Separation)

Rachel Bannister, Chair Mental Health Time for Action

Sukhchandan Pal Kaur, Chair Nagalro (The Professional Association for Children’s Guardians, Family Court Advisers and Independent Social Workers)

Tim Bateman, Chair National Association for Youth Justice

Jon Fayle & Paul Smart, Co-Chairs National Association of Independent Reviewing Officers

Mark Warr, Chief Executive Officer National House Project

June Leat, Founder and Chair Parents of traumatised adopted teens organisation (The Potato Group)

Social Work Education Anti-Racist Network 

Social Workers Without Borders

SPACE (Stop and Prevent Adolescent Criminal Exploitation)

Dr Sylvia Schroer, Chair Special Guardians and Adopters Together

Jane Chevous, Survivors Voices*

Mark Lee, Chief Executive Together Trust

Stephen Gray, Chief Executive Officer Young Lives Foundation

Jo Cobley, Chief Executive Young Roots

Valerie Clark, Director & Solicitor Youth Legal

  • Adele Jones OBE, Professor of Social Work and adoptive parent; 40+ years’ experience of working with vulnerable women and children*
  • Akilah Moseley, social work lecturer with 20 years’ experience as a children and families social worker
  • Professor Sir Al Aynsley-Green Kt, 40+ years’ experience working with and for children and young people, including as former first National Clinical Director for Children and Maternity Services and first Children’s Commissioner for England; author of ‘British Betrayal of Childhood’ 
  • Alisoun Milne, Emeritus Professor of Social Work, University of Kent*
  • Alison Wrobel, adoptive parent*
  • Allan Norman, independent social worker (qualified 1990); non-practising solicitor (on roll from 2000), Celtic Knot
  • Alys Young, Professor of Social Work and registered social worker*
  • Amy Kelly, 20+ years’ experience in children’s social care, including managing children’s homes and local authority child protection (qualified 2014)
  • Ana Olea Fernandez, 12 years’ experience as supervising social worker; currently PhD student researching the psychiatric diagnosis and treatment of children in care
  • Andy Curtis, independent advocate for children and young people (children in care and child protection)
  • Ann Way, 45 years’ experience as a social worker for children and families
  • Professor Anna Gupta, Royal Holloway University of London, registered social worker and social work researcher and educator with 30+ years’ experience in the field of children and families, the family courts and universities
  • Anna Mayer, social worker in local authority child protection (qualified 2014)
  • Annalisa Toccara, founder of Our Mel and care experienced person
  • Anne Hollows, qualified social worker since 1974, academic teacher and researcher since 1996*
  • Anne Knill, adoptive parent*
  • Anne Rutherford, adoptive parent and previously worked with young people in care system and adults who had been in care system as children*
  • Barbara Joss, 30 years as adopter and foster carer; retired health visitor*
  • Barry Anderson, retired former social worker, youth justice worker and charity CEO
  • Professor Emeritus Barry Goldson, University of Liverpool
  • Barry Luckock, registered social worker and university lecturer 
  • Ben Ashcroft, author of ‘Fifty-One Moves’ & Founder/Vice Chair Every Child Leaving Care Matters
  • Brian Douieb, independent social worker with 30+ years’ experience
  • Dr Bridget Ng’andu, Senior Lecturer in Social Work and registered social worker (qualified in 1995)*
  • Carol Levy, adoptive parent*
  • Caroline Bald, lecturer and criminal justice social worker (qualified 1999)
  • Caroline Taylor-Beswick, registered social worker, previous manager children’s rights service and foster-sibling*
  • Dr Catriona Hugman, care experienced researcher
  • Christian Kerr, social worker, social work lecturer, chair of North East branch of British Association of Social Worker
  • Cindy Perkins, adoptive parent*
  • Claire O’Brien, Founding Director Noor Homes Ltd, care leaver and social worker (qualified 2015)
  • Dave Bagshaw, adoptive parent and 8 years as adoption panel member*
  • David Jackson, 16 years as a child in the social care system, published author on the subject and sector-related charity director*
  • David Jockelson, childcare lawyer
  • David Steare, 45+ years’ experience as a psychiatric nurse and social worker in adolescent psychiatric unit, children’s secure accommodation centre, child care operations teams, and community based child & adolescent mental health teams; former foster parent; now works voluntarily with parents, carers of children with special educational needs and young adults diagnosed with ADHD and/or autism*
  • David Mark Keeley, social worker with 23 years’ experience including in fostering and adoption and as an independent reviewing officer 
  • Dr David N Jones, former International Federation of Social Workers President, former Chair of Association of Independent LSCB Chairs; British Association of Social Workers member
  • Debbie Brooks, social care consultant with 44 years’ experience of working with looked after children
  • Deborah Eyre, adoptive parent*
  • Deborah Jamieson, adoptive parent*
  • Denise Smalley, 28 years’ experience in social care, the last 17 as a registered social worker mostly working in fostering and adoption
  • Diane Galpin, Centre for Seldom Heard Voices, Bournemouth University*
  • Dr Donna Peach, lecturer in social work, University of Salford (30+ years’ experience in children and family social work)
  • Duncan Tree MBE, 30+ years’ experience in social care policy for children & adults (public & voluntary sectors)*
  • Ed Nixon, senior manager in children’s social care; Chair Every Child Leaving Care Matters
  • Elaine Bruley, adoptive parent and independent social worker working with children with disabilities*
  • Dr Eleanor Staples, Lecturer in Social Policy and Criminology, University of Bristol, research experience with children in care, children in need, adopted children and their families*
  • Elene Constantinou, former head of regulated services and children’s services consultant (35+ years’ experience working in local authorities)
  • Elena Sandrini, independent social worker /mediator and expert witness; 40+ years’ experience working with children and families*
  • Elizabeth McAteer, 25 years as a local authority social worker (safeguarding, adoption and family court) followed by 10 years as an independent social worker, consultant, trainer and lecturer
  • Ella Dhillon, care experienced person
  • Elsie Price, 40+ years’ experience in children and families social work; last 20 years specialising in therapeutic support in adoption and foster care and working with kinship care
  • Erin Amiss, adoptive parent with 5 years’ experience as independent member of adoption panel* 
  • Fiona Collins, secondary teacher with 26 years’ experience, specialising in inclusion. Adoptive parent and Independent Panel Member for fostering & adoption*
  • Francis Boylan, British Association of Social Workers member, retired social worker (50+ years’ experience)
  • Frank Keating, Professor of Social Work and Mental Health, Royal Holloway University of London
  • Gillian Ruch, registered social worker and Professor of Social Work with over 30 years’ experience of social work research, education and practice*
  • Dr Gillian Schofield OBE, Emeritus Professor of Child and Family Social Work, University of East Anglia (36 years’ experience of social work, social work education and social work research)*
  • Dr Hannah Wright, clinical psychologist working with looked after and adopted children and families on the edge of care
  • Heidi Dix, manager of youth justice service (qualified 1997) and senior lecturer in social work
  • Helen Priest social worker with 30 years’ experience
  • Holly Greenberry, co-founder IntersexUK
  • Professor Hugh McLaughlin, 40+ years’ experience as registered social worker and various manager roles to Assistant Director (Children and Families) level before moving into academia
  • Ian Dickson, retired social worker/Ofsted inspector with 40+ years’ professional experience. Care experienced and campaigner for the rights of care experienced people. Chair of the Conference for Care Experienced People management team 2019 & member of the Our Care Our Say team
  • Ian Gould, Ambassador for Every Child Leaving Care Matters
  • Dr Ian Sinclair OBE, Emeritus Professor of Social Work; 40 years’ experience in probation, social work, counselling, social work education and social work research
  • Inés Martínez, social work lecturer
  • Jacki Rothwell, retired social worker (qualified 1979)
  • Jackie McCartney, Ofsted childminder, Rees Foundation Ambassador & lived residential care experience
  • Jaci Quennell, 43 years social work experience in statutory and third sectors, national and international consultant and clinical supervisor on exploitation and trafficking*
  • Jan Lovett, adoptive parent* 
  • Jane Cross, adoptive parent*
  • Jane Tunstill, Emeritus Professor of Social Work, Royal Holloway, London University
  • Janet Barraclough, adoptive parent*
  • Jeffrey Coleman, social worker, former BAAF regional director, 45 years’ experience as qualified social worker in children’s and youth justice social work practice and training 
  • Jenni Randall, retired social worker (50 years’ experience)
  • Jenny Dagg, senior lecturer and social worker (qualified 2000)
  • Jessica Mitchell, social worker in child protection and previous residential child care worker*
  • Jill Groves Stephenson, 5 years Step Up to Social Work Programme Manager; 20 years as qualified social worker, team manager, senior manager and Principal Social Worker in children and families safeguarding; 15 years’ experience in children’s residential settings
  • Dr Jo Finch, former children and families social worker; social work academic*
  • Jo Warner, registered social worker, lecturer and researcher on children’s social care*
  • Joe Hanley, social work lecturer, Open University
  • John McGowan, General Secretary, Social Workers Union
  • John Radoux, 14 years personal & 17 years professional experience of the care system
  • Jon Dudley, children and families social worker (qualified 1980); member of British Association of Social Workers*
  • Jonathan Dickens, Professor of Social Work at the University of East Anglia; 30+ years’ experience as a practitioner and academic*
  • Dr Jonathan Parker, Professor of Society and Social Welfare, Bournemouth University*
  • Judith Timms OBE, founder and trustee of the National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS); former Chair British Association of Social Workers
  • Dr Julia Brophy, independent consultant in family justice issues, former Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Family law and Policy, University of Oxford, and has been a principal investigator on public law proceedings since the inception of the Children Act 1989 
  • Julia Rowlands, adoptive parent*
  • Julie Mepham, 30 years’ experience in children’s social care to Assistant Director level; currently head of service for corporate parenting 
  • June Thoburn CBE, Emeritus Professor of Social Work
  • Karen Goodman, independent social worker (qualified 1979)
  • Dr Karen Lyons, 40+ years’ experience in practice, social work education (children and family work and policies) and research (latterly as Emeritus Professor, International Social Work, London Metropolitan University)*
  • Karen Shaw, adoptive parent*
  • Kate Leonard, practitioner, registered social worker and academic teaching post-qualified children and family social workers and managers*
  • Kate Mercer, Director of Black Belt Advocacy, 20 years’ experience working within advocacy
  • Kathy Bland, adoptive parent*
  • Katie Clarke, parent carer of daughter with complex needs. 25 years’ experience of working with families with disabled children. Host parent to refugees and about to become foster parent to unaccompanied asylum-seeking children
  • Dr Katrin Bain, social pedagogue, registered social worker, lecturer and researcher in social work in England*
  • Kay Warbrick, experience includes social worker, independent reviewing officer, manager with local authority social services and policy officer in child protection charity*
  • Kerry Bull, care experienced and a qualified social worker with 13 years’ experience working with looked after children*
  • Dr Kish Bhatti-Sinclair, Reader in Social Work and Social Policy
  • Lesley Moore, adoptive parent*
  • Lewis Roberts, senior children and family social worker*
  • Dr Lisa Morriss, Lecturer in Social Work and registered social worker (qualified 1995)
  • Dr Lisa Revell, social worker, lecturer and researcher in social work*
  • Dr Liz Davies, Emeritus Professor of Social Work, London Metropolitan University
  • Lowis Charfe, Senior Lecturer, School of Social Work, Care and Community, University of Central Lancashire
  • Lucy Porteous, Teaching Fellow in Social Work. Registered social worker*
  • Dr Lynn Brady, freelance advocate for children and independent person for 1989 Children Act complaints (40 years’ experience of working with children and families)
  • Lys Eden, care-experienced student social worker*
  • Dr Mair Richards, adoptive parent, consultant paediatrician 1989-2013, former medical adviser for adoption and fostering and former sessional trainer for BAAF (now CoramBAAF)*
  • Martha Cover, barrister Coram Chambers with 33 years’ experience in care proceedings
  • Mary Johnson, adoptive parent*
  • Mary-anne Hodd, care experienced*
  • Maurice Guyer, Secretary Middlesex Law Society and accredited Children Panel solicitor
  • Mel Wilson, adoptive parent*
  • Michael Blowfield, adoptive parent*
  • Michael McGrath-Brookes, 8+ years as a social worker and social work manager working in child protection and children in care; now social work lecturer and programme lead*
  • Michelle Lefevre, Professor of Social Work at the University of Sussex; substantial background in child protection social work practice in children’s social care*
  • Mike Stein, Emeritus Professor, University of York
  • Mohamed Mohamed, care experienced and supported accommodation worker (looked after children and care leavers) 
  • Natalie Harfield, adoptive parent*
  • Nick Barwick, former looked after young person; now motivational speaker, mentor to children in care and social care trainer*
  • Niamh Linnane, independent advocate
  • Nigel Parton, Emeritus Professor of Applied Childhood Studies; 47 years’ experience in children’s social care and former foster carer*
  • Nigel Richardson CBE, former Director of Children’s Services with over 30 years’ experience working in and advising on child welfare services nationally and internationally
  • Nigel Patrick Thomas, Professor Emeritus of Childhood and Youth, University of Central Lancashire; 20 years’ experience as a social worker
  • Nina Biehal, Emeritus Professor of Social Work, University of York; professional experience as a social worker and many years’ experience of research on children’s social care*
  • Nora Duckett, Senior Lecturer and Social Work Course Lead, University of Suffolk 
  • Nushra Mansuri, Assistant Professor in Social Work
  • Paige Alexandra Worrall, care leaver and foster carer*
  • Pam Hibbert OBE, retired practitioner, manager, policy and researcher in children’s social care and youth justice
  • Pamela Stanyon-Carr, Head of Service for Children in Care and Care Leavers; 22 years as a children’s social worker*
  • Pat Leeson, independent reviewing officer
  • Patrick Kidner, former social work practitioner, teacher and manager 1966-2010
  • Paulette Forbes, independent social worker, safeguarding, fostering and adoption (qualified 1993)
  • Penny Sturt, independent consultant, trainer and registered social worker (qualified 1989)
  • Pete Bentley, 40 years’ experience of children and families social work, including as British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering consultant and independent chair of LA adoption panels 
  • Philippa Williams, Adoption UK Wales*
  • Rachel Burton, social worker since 2018*
  • Rachel Lofthouse, adoptive parent*
  • Rachel Webster, adoptive parent*
  • Councillor Ralph Berry, social worker / children’s guardian until 2011 then lead member for children from 2010 to 2016; currently an adoption panel member 
  • Dr Ray Jones, Emeritus Professor of Social Work, Kingston University and St George’s, University of London (50 years’ experience as a social worker and social services director)
  • Raya Tibawi, retired children’s guardian, independent social worker, social work consultant and trainer, fostering panel chair
  • Dr Rebecca O’Shaughnessy, 10+ years’ experience of child and family social work practice and research (Ireland and England)*
  • Richard Lynch-Smith, social worker, poverty representative for Social Work Action Group
  • Richard Servian, retired social worker; former Chair, British Association of Social Workers UK Policy Ethics and Human Rights Committee*
  • Richmal Wild, adoptive parent*
  • Dr Robin Sen, social worker, lecturer and researcher in England and Scotland, member of British Association of Social Workers Children & Families England Policy Group
  • Rodney Noon, Editor, Seen and Heard
  • Ros Gowers, independent social worker, practice educator and practice tutor (44 years’ experience)
  • Ross Gibson, social worker since 2009
  • Roy Grimwood, retired social care consultant with 40+ years’ experience including as manager of secure children’s homes and educating excluded children
  • Ruth Diver MBE, adoptive parent*
  • Dr Ruth Erskine, consultant clinical child psychologist and paediatric neuropsychologist
  • Sally Gross, independent social worker, practice educator and trainer (30 years’ experience in children and families social work)
  • Sally Scott, registered social worker and practice educator (30 years’ experience in social care)
  • Sally Trench, background in child protection and safeguarding; now independent reviewer (serious case reviews) and auditor
  • Sally Wilcock, Children Panel solicitor since 1989
  • Sarah Ewbank, family solicitor since 1986 and adoptive parent of a teenager
  • Sarah Redmond, senior lecturer and social worker; 17 years in practice working across all social work disciplines, including as an Approved Mental Health Professional assessing children and young people under the Mental Health Act*
  • Sarah Saunders, independent social worker
  • Sarah Wardell, independent social worker (qualified 1994) and practice educator
  • Sean Hayes, 25+ years experience in children and families social work (qualified 1996), including as an independent reviewing officer*
  • Sheila Hanly, adoptive parent*
  • Simon Morton, registered social worker (qualified 1989) and father of looked after child 
  • Stephanie Gee, children’s local authority social worker for 22 years; currently an independent social worker and independent visitor*
  • Steven M Shardlow, Emeritus Professor of Social Work*
  • Talib Abdulhussein, adoptive parent
  • Tim Sugden, 44 years’ experience in children’s social care, 19 as an independent reviewing officer
  • Tiphanie Moore, 10+ years’ experience in social work with children and families, including with looked after children and child protection
  • Tonimarie Benaton, social worker and academic*
  • Trish Leaning, adoptive parent with 25 years’ experience working with children including 15 years working with children/young people with severe learning disabilities in both educational & residential settings*
  • Val Coombe, adoptive parent of 16 years; doctor of 23 years’ experience (previously health visitor and midwife) 
  • Valerie Wreford-Bush, adoptive parent, therapeutic foster carer (for 18 years) and former primary school teacher*
  • Vikki Smith, independent advocate (children’s social care) for over a decade and independent visitor
  • Vikki Turner, adoptive parent*
  • Zoe Martin, social worker with children and families for 30 years*

*Names added after 5 February 2021

Joint letter to The Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE MP 
The proposal for a joint letter arose during a meeting of coalitions and networks working with and for children on 18 January 2021. Since sending the letter on 5 February 2021, Article 39 has been approached by others wishing to sign it. We are now adding signatures* via the form below.

*Of organisations and individuals who have substantial (personal and/or professional) experience of children’s social care in England.