Family Involvement in Case Reviews Report

Monday 12 November 2012 was the launch date of the BASPCAN-commissioned study of family involvement in case reviews: messages for policy and practice.


The Executive Summary can be accessed here.

The full Study (66 pages) is available to all as a download for £10.00.

To purchase by debit or credit card, visit the link below.

For any queries please email us at or telephone 01904 613605

The Study will be of particular interest to policymakers, statutory and voluntary organisations,  Local Safeguarding Children Boards/Child Protection Committees and those who chair and author case reviews.

It  provides practical guidance on how to involve families in this highly challenging work and a brief information sheet that can be used to sensitively prepare families to understand the purpose of case reviews and enable them to contribute their thoughts, experiences and the child's lived experiences.

Please contact Judy Sanderson, National Office Manager at should you require more information.


Please page down for the background information to this initiative.

Across the four nations of the UK there are expectations in policy and practice guidance that families should be involved in the reviews that occur when a child has died or been seriously injured as a result of abuse or neglect.  However, there is little guidance about how this should occur, and to date no research about family experiences of involvement.  

This study commissioned by BASPCAN makes a unique contribution to examining and supporting best practice in this challenging area. The study explores the experiences of professionals who have involved families in reviews, and the experiences of families who have contributed to reviews. In England the proposed revised guidance for case reviews makes clear the expectation that families should be involved, reflecting the growing concern nationally and internationally that such reviews should maximise learning by ensuring all relevant knowledge is considered.

 The study identifies the principles that should support family involvement (irrespective of the review model adopted) and the practices necessary to ensure this involvement is effective for all concerned.  Families and professionals acknowledged the need for sensitive communication and practice that demonstrated care for the family's grief and empathy with their lives.

‘I felt they treated us with sensitivity and I think they were very approachable...they came in as human people and I think, you know, that's what needs to be seen really.'

Families wanted to know that the review was going to make a difference and wanted to be kept informed about the review's progress and to have access to the learning and proposed plans for change beyond just the executive summary. Evidence from families and professionals made clear that successful family involvement is not a single event but a phased process that needs careful planning and skilful handling.

‘One of the greatest challenges for LSCBs is how we engage families both effectively and sensitively in the Serious Case Review process. This thought provoking research provides for the first time an insight to what the process is like from the perspective of the family and from this develops practice guidance that will be a become an invaluable resource.'

 The principles to underpin family participation in reviews include clarity about the purpose of family involvement in the review, set out in a way that is clear and easy to understand; inclusivity and a broad understanding of ‘family'; transparency about the limits and opportunities of participation which should be established very early on in the review process; careful negotiation about the terms of engagement for family involvement in each review; sensitivity and professional judgment about the best approaches to facilitate family participation and finally feedback from family members so that there can be evaluation and development of the process.

  The report offers guidance to professionals and a brief information sheet for families who may be asked to participate. The report suggests that unless local policies make clear the purpose for participation, family involvement will continue to be an area of practice that can be difficult and at times unsatisfactory.  

Catherine Powell, Past Chair of BASPCAN said:

 'BASPCAN have been pleased and privileged to support this important work.  Many of our members have been (or will be) involved in case reviews and this report rightly reflects the crucial importance of taking into account the lived experiences of the child and their family.  The participative nature of the research, and the engagement of families, practitioners, academics and policy makers from across the UK has challenged the status quo and the final recommendations are a powerful force for change and improvement.'