Engagement overview

We were clear from the start of the review that we wanted to listen to and engage with a wide range of voices in order to build the best possible recommendations to achieve real change. We are approaching the review over four phases – Diagnosis, Discovery, Development and Delivery.

Here we detail how we have approached our engagement work over the first three phases including the Development phase where we open our Call for Ideas.

The final Delivery stage will see the review team work on recommendations – in this phase we will return to young people, families, professionals and groups that we have developed a dialogue and relationship with over the first three phases.


In January 2021 we asked for submissions through a Call for Advice and in March we extended this through a Call for Evidence.

This evidence and advice complimented the workshops and meetings we held from March to June with people with lived experience of children’s social care during what we call the ‘Diagnosis’ phase and informed the Case for Change where we set out what we considered to be the problems in children’s social care.

The results of our engagement work prior to the Case for Change can be found in the ‘Supporting Evidence to the Case for Change’ published in June 2021.


When we published the Case for Change we asked you to tell us what we had missed or misunderstood – and you shared your feedback through the summer. We published a summary of this feedback in October. From March through to October we offered opportunities to get involved through events, workshops and focus groups – organised by the review or by organisations who work with people with lived experience of children’s social care or the children’s social care workforce.

We have archived the calendar which listed these events and some of Josh MacAlister’s public engagements here.

Listening to those with lived experience of children’s social care

We have now heard from well over 1000 people with lived experience of children’s social care who have shared their experiences, the negatives and positives, and suggested areas for the review to focus on.

As well as holding review-led sessions, we have also met with people through sessions led by organisations that they know and trust, as we know many people prefer to engage in this way.

In October 2021, we published a report rounding up our engagement work with young people since June, as well as a more accessible summary. You can read this as well as insights gathered by Coram A National Voice through consultations with children in care councils and care leaver forums here.

We will share a summary of our engagement with people over 25 years old who have lived experience of children’s social care before the end of the year – this includes birth parents, kinship carers, adopters, foster carers and adults who spent time in care as children.

We will return to the young people, families, groups and organisations that we have developed a dialogue and relationship with through this work in order to test our recommendations in the final Delivery phase.

We would like to thank everyone who gave up their time to talk to us or to give us written feedback. We’d like to remind you that you can seek support from the NSPCC if you were part of this process – details can be found at the bottom of this page.

Listening to the children’s social care workforce

We have also met with over 1000 children’s social care professionals including social workers, early help practitioners, residential care staff, teachers, health professionals, police officers and those who do voluntary work with children and families.

We previously invited Local Authorities and other organisations that support and employ those working with children and families to complete an expression of interest form which closed in July. We also had a form for individuals which closed in September.

You can see our previous workforce engagement plan (published in May 2021) here

We had a great response to both of these expressions of interest which resulted in a huge number of events which allowed us to hear directly from professionals and organisations.

We continue to partner with the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care who will continue to run polls for social workers to feed in their thoughts to the Review. If you are a registered social worker and would like to sign up, please do so here.

A summary of our engagement with the children’s social care workforce will be published before the end of the year.  We will return to the professionals and groups that we have developed a dialogue and relationship with through this work in order to test our recommendations in the final Delivery phase.

Further engagement

We are working with ten local authorities as part of our local area design process and since September we have been undertaking ‘Deep Dive’ visits to these areas. 

Listening to a really broad range of people involved in children’s social care, from those with lived experience to social workers and other frontline staff as well as senior local authority leaders allow the review team to understand how local systems work. As well as local authority teams, we are also meeting staff from other local services including police, health services, schools, community and third sector services, children in care, care leavers and parents. A summary of what we learned from the visits will be published later in the review.

In addition to events and workshops organised by the review or in partnership with other organisations we commissioned a number of organisations to undertake more involved engagement work on behalf of the review.

  • We partnered with Community Co-Lab to deliver Bridge the Gap where more than 200 people with a range of experiences of children’s social care worked together through a series of events to identify problems and come up with solutions.
  • Coram Voice, through A National Voice’ ambassadors (a group of 24 care experienced young people aged 16-25 from across England) led workshops with Children in Care Councils and other groups who had expressed an interest – more than 300 young people took part.
  • Policy Lab is leading research with families who are currently involved with children’s social care to offer us a better understanding of the system from the point of view of those most affected by it. We will share anonymised summaries of this ‘Spotlight on Families’ work later in the review.more than 


In November and December 2021 people will have the opportunity to contribute ideas around solutions which will help us formulate the review’s final recommendations next Spring.

Find out more about the Call for Idea here.

Submissions to the Call for Ideas will inform our thinking as will everything we’ve read and heard over the period of the review – everything you have shared through hundreds of meetings and thousands of pages of submissions. During this phase we will return to young people, families, professionals and groups that we have developed a dialogue and relationship with over the first three phases to test our thinking.

What support is available to people who take part in the Review?

The Review has partnered with the NSPCC helpline and Childline to provide support to everyone (children, adults and families) participating in the Review who wishes to access it.

This support is available pre and post events and includes:

  • A dedicated helpline, available from 8am to 10pm on weekdays and 9am to 6pm on weekends
  • Support by email, web form or the Childline web chat
  • Guidance and advice on the NSPCC and Independent Review websites
  • Support during Review led events
  • A commitment to responding to any safeguarding concerns

For more information please visit the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care support page for adults, or for children and young people .

You can also speak confidentially to an independent qualified practitioner before, during or after the event by calling our free dedicated helpline on 0800 233311.

Sign up for updates 

You can sign up for updates about the Review here.

Contact the Review

You can email the Review team at Review.ChildrensSocialCare@education.gov.uk