Project: A Study of Family Involvement in Case Reviews: Messages for Policy and Practice

Funder: BASPCAN

Dates: 2009-2012

Research Team: Professor Marian Brandon, Dr Kate Morris (University of Nottingham), Paul Tudor (Independent Safeguarding Advisor)                          

Although there is an expectation that family members will be involved in serious case reviews, developments in practice and guidance often fall short of these expectations. The study involved interviews with members from seven families who had contributed to reviews, and focus group discussions or interviews with over 100 professionals in the 4 UK nations.

Research Questions:

* What are the current arrangements for participation in England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland? 

* What are the experiences of families who have participated in reviews and what learning can be drawn from these experiences?                                

* What are the professional experiences of family involvement?                   

* What conclusions can be drawn for guiding effective practice?   

Family involvement can make an important contribution to learning from reviews of the most serious cases of child death or serious injury arising from abuse or neglect. This study suggests that guiding principles rather than prescriptive practice is well suited to the policies and practices of family participation. The evidence indicates that the principles grounded in clarity, transparency, negotiation and inclusivity can usefully inform family involvement. 

The study revealed a range of reasons for family involvement in case reviews but agencies rarely make clear why they seek family involvement. In order for families to become involved in a manner that avoids further harm, and for professionals to be clear about their involvement, local protocols need to be transparent about the reasons for family involvement.

The family should be able to contribute from the earliest stages of the review: Phase One: initial contact and mapping of the review (purpose, remit, and relationship to other processes), identification of family's support needs. Phase Two: negotiation (where possible) of terms of reference, agree type and process of involvement, mapping of family members to be involved, facilitation of family preparation including setting out how family information will be used. Phase Three: substantive gathering of information, including family descriptions of experiences, agreement about on-going contact and feedback arrangements. Phase Four: feedback, fulfilling commitments about reporting actions and change, family evaluation of process. The report includes a brief information sheet for families.

Impact: The report has been widely disseminated by BASPCAN. The new edition of Working Together, published in March 2013, provides a direct link to the study.

Publication : Morris, K., Brandon, M., and Tudor, P.,  (2013) ‘Rights,  Responsibilities and Pragmatic Practice: Family participation in Case Reviews' Child Abuse Review. Click here to view this publication.