Understanding the relationship between the use of care and care proceedings

27th May 2020 : 12:30 - 13:45

Category: Webinar

Research Group: Rees Centre

Speaker: Professor Judith Masson, Law School, University of Bristol

Location: Zoom webinar - recording available

Audience: Public


Understanding the relationship between the use of care and care proceedings

Since 2015, an increasing number of children have entered the care system through care proceedings (i.e. compulsorily), whilst the number of children entering under s.20 (voluntarily) has declined, largely as a result of policy pressures from the courts. The use of court proceedings and court orders is of increasing importance as the population of children in care becomes more dominated by children subject to care orders. Research into the care system has tended to focus on numbers rather than legal status (Sinclair et al 2007; Dickens et al 2007) and neglected the impact of the legal process on the pathways children travel through the system. The Outcomes of care proceedings for children before and after care proceedings reform Study (2015-18), for the first time linked DfE data (CLA and CiN) with data on children in care proceedings and  identified children’s interactions with the care system before, during and after proceedings, and the impact of proceedings on the use of local authority care. The findings identified: how the reform of care proceedings reduced the length of time many children spend in care; a ‘different leaving care curve’ for children subject to proceedings and issues with the CLA data which confuse rather than clarify the use of SGOs for looked after children. This presentation will explore the relationships between court proceedings and care (and vice versa) and highlight the importance of understanding when children are, or have been, subject to proceedings, as well as whether or not they are accommodated or subject to a care order.

Judith Masson M.A., PhD, FAcSS, QC (hon) is Professor of Socio-legal Studies at Bristol University. Throughout her career she has applied empirical socio-legal methods to studying family and child law, highlighting the importance of empirical research for understanding the operation and limitations of law. Her empirical research ranges from adoption to wills, methodologically from action research and ethnography to quantitative analysis and data linkage, and has been undertaken in welfare agencies, lawyers’ offices and courts. For the last 25 years, Judith has focused on work relating to child protection using mixed quantitative and qualitative methods, with studies on: children’s legal and social work representation; social work with parents of children of children in long term care; emergency intervention to protect children by the police, social workers and the courts; court process, parents’ legal representation, and decision-making in child protection cases; the impact of law and practice reform on child protection.  She recently completed an ESRC funded study examining the implementation and effects of the PLO 2014 on outcomes for children following court intervention. She is currently working on a national study of discharge of care orders. Publications from this work include: Mine, yours or ours (1983), Lost and Found (1999), Out of Hearing (1999) and Protecting Powers (2008) as well as research reports:  Just following instructions? (2011); Partnership by Law? (2013) and Child protection in court: Outcomes for children (2019). Alongside this work Judith has been a member of the Judicial Studies Board, the Family Justice Council and a specialist adviser to the House of Commons Constitutional Affairs and Justice Committees. In 2015 she taught a course on UNCRC at the University of Florida, and in 2016 she was a Miegunyah Distinguished Fellow at the University of Melbourne.

This webinar is jointly organised by the Rees Centre and the Oxford Children’s Rights Network for the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights (Networks Seminar Series).