Thank you for visiting the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care’s website. 

Following the publication of the Review in May 2022, the Government has today (2 February 2023) published its strategy, Stable Homes, Built on Love and this can be read here. The plan responds to recommendations made by three independent reviews by Josh MacAlister, the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel into the tragic murders of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and Star Hobson, and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

This website will be closed down. An archived version will be saved with the National Archives. 


Below are some of the questions which we heard most frequently while the review was ongoing:

The Review was a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to set out a bold and broad plan to improve outcomes for children and families. The big question it sought to answer was: How do we ensure children grow up in loving, stable and safe families and, where that is not possible, that care provides the same foundations? 

When the Review launched, we published terms of reference, which are available here.

As the chair of the Review, Josh has been  supported by a Review secretariat team. Most of the team were  civil servants from a range of backgrounds and disciplines, including those with experience of working in children’s social care. Josh has also been supported by Duncan Dunlop whose role in the team was to provide advice, support and challenge across the breadth of the team’s work. Duncan is former CEO of Who Cares? Scotland (an advocacy and membership organisation for care experienced people based in Scotland) and a former adviser to the New Zealand care review. Whilst the Review was sponsored by government, the team operated independently.

The team was supported by an Experts by Experience Board. Josh also appointed two advisory groups to bring independent scrutiny, challenge and expertise to the Review. You can read more about the Evidence and Design groups here.

The Case for Change sets out the major problems in the children’s social care and poses big questions. You can read the full document here. It was developed using the submissions made to the Review by individuals and organisations via the Call for Advice and Call for Evidence, and through the information shared by the hundreds of people that we engaged with. The Case for Change was not about making recommendations but starting the conversation about possible solutions. We welcomed views and feedback on the questions posed by the Case for Change.

The Experts by Experience Board will tell us how we should hear the voices of care experienced children, young people, adults and families. It will also help the Review to test and refine emerging findings and recommendations.
Recruiting this group was purposely the first action of the Review so that the group could shape the wider plans of the Review to bring in the voices of those with lived experience.

We received 1,011 applications to join the Board, and the panel, chaired by Josh, assessed every application received against the criteria we included in our Expression of Interest document – which you can read here. We started reviewing these as soon as the application window closed on Friday 5th February 2021 – and read the responses applicants provided against the criteria we included in the expression of interest document. All applications were assessed ‘blind’ – which means the panel had no information on the name, location, ethnicity or disability applicants had declared in their application.

Many applicants met the criteria in the expression of interest document, and the panel had to make some very difficult decisions based on which applications gave us a diverse and experienced cohort we could invite to interview. The panel did have access to information about whether applicants had either 1) personal experience in care or with a social worker, to ensure that, overall, we had a balance of those with recent / historic experience of children’s social care, as well as 2) those with familial connections – such as parents, foster carers and kinship carers.

The Experts by Experience Board was appointed by Josh MacAlister, chair of the Review. Josh asked Shazia Hussain (head of the Review team), Jenny Molloy (care leaver and author) to help him review all applications that were received, and Duncan Dunlop (former CEO of Who Cares? Scotland and independent panel member) also assisted with conducting interviews.

The groups were selected by Josh as the Review chair to bring together a wide range of perspective and expertise and provide support and challenge to the Review process. Unlike the Experts by Experience Board that was openly recruited, members of the Evidence and Design Groups have been directly invited to provide specific expertise that could only be provided from a smaller number of individuals (for example, a family judge or an academic from a specific field of research). So that the Experts by Experience Board retains a broad overview of all Review activity, members of the board will sit on both the Evidence and Design Groups.

The What Works Centre is the Review’s “what works” partner, they will support the Review by producing and commissioning evidence summaries, rapid reviews and new analysis. WWCSC are an independent charity who, as well as reviewing existing and creating new evidence, champion the application of robust standards of evidence in children’s social care research. Their aim is to seek better outcomes for children, young people and families by bringing the best available evidence to practitioners and other decision makers across the children’s social care sector.

To help develop the review’s final recommendations, we shared draft versions of the final report with the review’s expert boards and some key stakeholders. A list of individuals and organisations that saw the draft report or were informed in advance about the publication date is available here.