Enabling more young parents to keep their children safely with them

Research from the Young Parents Project

Source: Family Rights Group and the Young Parents Project

This project focuses upon young parents whose children are/have been subject of Children’s Services intervention – whether as children in need, children deemed at risk or as children placed in care. The overarching aim is to enable more young parents to keep their children safely with them. The project, funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and by Tudor Trust, is looking at the experiences and needs of young parents up to the age of 30 years.

‘The Project’s focus resonates with a body of recent research literature which indicates that young parents with multiple needs are particularly in jeopardy of losing their children; that young fathers are often marginalised during the involvement of services with their children; that services for young parents may be limited; and that for care experienced young parents such services may not be coherently or systemically reviewed’.

Important Findings on Rights and Entitlements

‘Most young parents did not feel that they knew their rights and options at crucial times in the child protection process. The accounts of some young parents of the processes surrounding the formulation of child protection plans, written agreements and section 20 voluntary accommodation arrangements highlight the importance of parents having access to independent advice and advocacy’. (page 69)

The key project findings:

  1. The strengths that young parents have can easily be overlooked in favour of sole focus upon their vulnerabilities.
  2. Practitioners and young parents value the opportunity to build trusting relationships but there are barriers to achieving this.
  3. Practitioners recognise that young parents benefit from preventative help and early assessment but this is often not available.
  4. Young parents can feel frustrated by the late provision of help and this can negatively affect their ability to keep their children safely with them.
  5. Separating parenting support from wider support needs relating to housing, income and employment is artificial.
  6. Young parents value practitioners who share and explain information.
  7. Young parents require independent advice and advocacy support.
  8. Too many young parents have felt abandoned by support services and the child welfare system.
  9. Young parents who are care experienced or who are care leavers are often stigmatised.
  10. There is a limited range of accommodation options available for practitioners to enable young parents and their children to live together.
  11. Young fathers can too easily be overlooked, dismissed or identified as a problem.
  12. Domestic violence is a prevalent reason for children’s services becoming involved with the children of young parents.
  13. Young parents face poverty and deprivation which can place additional strains on them and in turn impact adversely on their parenting.

Report Published By Family Rights Group (June 2016): Young Parents’ Involvement In The Child Welfare System 

Visit the Family Rights Group website and read more about the Young Parents Project: here

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