Making timely decisions for children: balancing differing needs in families
Prof Brigid Featherstone (OU) and Dr John Devaney (QUB)
In both England and Northern Ireland there appears to be a policy consensus that early authoritative intervention is required with families in order to ensure vulnerable children do not remain too long in neglectful situations. Recent legislation in England - such as the Children and Families Act 2014 - contains timescales for court proceedings, alongside support for speeding up adoption processes. These developments are clearly aimed at ensuring the welfare of children is protected, but they do potentially contain implications for their parents and wider family networks, especially in a context of resource constraints. Drawing upon empirical and theoretical research, this presentation explores the balance to be sought in making timely decisions for children, alongside providing the opportunities for parents and other family members to demonstrate how they can meet children's needs. In doing so, the presentation identifies key considerations for policy-makers in Northern Ireland when developing legislative reform in this area.