Centre for Innovation and Research in Childhood and Youth

Beyond Contact

Funded by the Nuffield FoundationNuffield Foundation logo

In England, placement within the looked-after system is not viewed as a desirable long-term solution for most children, and policy has prioritised continued contact with parents - and a swift return home - wherever possible. Such work is challenging, however. There is a need to develop practice to support parental involvement in the lives of their children while in the care system, and to work with families to support return home and address problems that contributed to the child's entry into care.

This project examined the nature and purpose of work with families of looked-after children in four European countries:

  • England [Janet Boddy, Sussex & June Statham, IoE, London]
  • Denmark [Inge Danielsen]
  • France [Hél—źne Join-Lambert]
  • the Netherlands [Esther Geurts].

The overarching objective was to identify areas for shared learning with the potential to inform policy and practice development in England through a 'state of play' analysis of parallel country case studies.

The countries were purposely selected to provide complementary case studies within different legal and professional frameworks. As differences in culture and demography meant that direct comparison could be misleading, the project did not seek to evaluate or compare the effectiveness of family-focused work across countries. In each country, a critical analysis was conducted based on documentary reviews of relevant academic policy literature, supplemented by perspectives gathered from stakeholder interviews with key experts in the field (policy advisers, academics, service providers). An additional layer of 'check and challenge' contributing to cross-national analysis was provided through consultative seminars involving a wider invited group of expert stakeholders in each country.

For more information, visit the Nuffield Foundation's website.

Download the final report:
Beyond Contact final report front cover

Download also the Beyond Contact: Briefing Paper [PDF 178.16KB]