account arrow-down-linearrow-down-small arrow-downarrow-download arrow-left-small arrow-leftarrow-link arrow-rightarrow-upawarded books calendar close-modal closedate delete document education emailevent facebookhamburger impact instagramjustice linkedin location-outline location opinion page phonepinterestplay plusplyr-pause plyr-play post preview projectpublication reports resourcesearch-bigsearch series share star-full star-open startime twitterwelfare youtube zoom-in zoom-out

Young people and the family justice system

How can we transform the family justice system to promote better outcomes for young people and their families?

Our aim is to work with young people, families and professionals from across children’s services, family justice and youth justice to identify better ways to support and achieve justice for young people.

Why are we depriving our most vulnerable young people of their liberty?

Why we need research into young people and the family justice system


We know that older age young people are presenting in increasing numbers in the family court with a range of complex behavioural, extrafamilial and mental health issues.

Public law applications involving 15–17-year-olds doubled between 2011 and 2018, and the number of looked after children has seen a particular rise in the 10-15-year-old age group.

Because of their experiences before entering care, and during care, these young people are at greater risk of entering the youth justice system than their peers, and this risk increases for late entrants into care.

We do not know enough about this cohort of young people and what happens to them entering, during and after their interactions with the family justice system. We do not know enough about the impact of decisions made on the outcomes for these young people, their families and communities.

What we are doing


  • Nuffield FJO is bringing together research and the insights of professionals, academics and experts by experience, to identify ways to improve responsiveness and support for young people across the systems of family justice and the intersection with care and youth justice systems.
  • Our 2021 report provided the first national overview of older children and young people in care proceedings using administrative data held by Cafcass and Cafcass Cymru revealing that the number of 10-17-year-olds subject to care proceedings rose by 95 per cent between 2011/12 and 2019/20.
  • Working with Research in Practice we commissioned an analysis of four local authorities’ existing data and evidence about the reasons for adolescents coming into proceedings and their trajectories during and post proceedings.We also undertook a court file analysis with the East London Family Court.
  • We are undertaking a series of participatory events with young people, families, and communities focused on the unheard voices whose lives are affected by the family justice system, drawing on the insights, expertise, and ideas of young people, lived experience adults and a range of professionals.
  • Through this combined research approach of data and first-hand testimony we will be identifying key questions and practice insights to inform ideas about what a transformed system would look like which better supports future outcomes for young people. 

Explore our research on young people and the family justice system

Resource

Young people | 2024

What are the routes into care for young people in Wales?

This briefing highlights some of the key findings from a recent study from the Family Justice Data Partnership which investigates the routes into care for young people in Wales.

Resource type

Briefing

Region

Wales
View resource
View resource
Resource

Young people | 2023

Children subject to deprivation of liberty orders

Children subject to deprivation of liberty (DoL) orders are among the most vulnerable children in England and Wales and living with severe restrictions on their day-to-day freedoms. Over the last 12 months we have been working with the national DoL court during its 12-month pilot phase (July 2022 to June 2023) to understand the number of children and their circumstances. This briefing paper summarises our key findings to date and outlines five principles of care.
View resource
View resource
Resource

Young people | 2023

Principles of Care for Children with Complex Needs

Changes to ways of working, and to the type and availability of services and provision, is necessary to better meet the needs of children with complex needs and circumstances, including those subject to deprivation of liberty orders.
View resource
View resource
Resource

Young people | 2023

National deprivation of liberty court: Latest data trends – June 2023

In July 2022 the President of the Family Division launched the national deprivation of liberty court. Based at the Royal Courts of Justice, it deals with all new applications seeking authorisation to deprive children of their liberty under the inherent jurisdiction and will run for a 12-month pilot phase…

View resource
View resource
Resource

Young people | 2023

National deprivation of liberty court: Latest data trends – May 2023

In July 2022 the President of the Family Division launched the national deprivation of liberty court. Based at the Royal Courts of Justice, it deals with all new applications seeking authorisation to deprive children of their liberty under the inherent jurisdiction and will run for a 12-month pilot phase…

View resource
View resource
Resource

Young people | 2023

Legal outcomes of cases at the national deprivation of liberty court

This summary highlights the main findings from an analysis of the first two months of applications to the national deprivation of liberty (DoL) court (July and August 2022), focusing on the orders made in these cases. The analysis aimed to answer the following research questions: What is the legal outcome of applications? …

View resource
View resource
Resource

Young people | 2023

National deprivation of liberty court: Latest data trends – April 2023

In July 2022 the President of the Family Division launched the national deprivation of liberty court. Based at the Royal Courts of Justice, it deals with all new applications seeking authorisation to deprive children of their liberty under the inherent jurisdiction and will run for a 12-month pilot phase…

View resource
View resource
Resource

Young people | 2023

National deprivation of liberty court: Latest data trends – March 2023

In July 2022 the President of the Family Division launched the national deprivation of liberty court. Based at the Royal Courts of Justice, it deals with all new applications seeking authorisation to deprive children of their liberty under the inherent jurisdiction and will run for a 12-month pilot phase…

View resource
View resource

Infographic

What do we know about children in the family justice system?

Our infographic pulls together what we know, and what we don’t know, about children’s journeys through the family justice system from national data.

Profile