Achieving positive change for children? Reducing the length of child protection proceedings: lessons from England and Wales

Judith Masson, Jonathan Dickens, Kay Bader, Ludivine Garside, Julie Young

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8 Citations (Scopus)
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Court decisions are required to remove children, compulsorily, from their families, and approve permanent care arrangements which restrict or terminate parents’ rights. The children involved are mostly young, have experienced serious abuse or neglect and may require permanent placement away from their parent(s) for their remaining childhoods. In England and Wales, justice to parents has dominated the rhetoric about these proceedings; this has resulted in lengthy proceedings, long periods of uncertainty for children and reduced placement options. In order to reduce delays, reforms in England and Wales have set a time limit for the completion of care proceedings. The Children and Families Act 2014 limits proceedings to 26 weeks; approximately 60% of care proceedings are now completed within this period. This article will discuss the impact of these reforms on decision-making for children, questioning whether they achieve both good decisions for children and justice for families. It uses the findings of an ESRC-funded study: ‘Establishing outcomes of care proceedings for children before and after care proceedings reform (2015–2018)’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-413
Number of pages13
JournalAdoption and Fostering
Issue number4
Early online date24 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • Child protection
  • court proceedings
  • law reform
  • justice
  • outcomes

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