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How can we better meet the needs of young people in care? Ideas from professionals, academics and people with lived experience. Films and briefing paper.

Authors & Organisations
Beverley Barnett-Jones: Nuffield Family Justice Observatory
Beverley Barnett-Jones
Nuffield Family Justice Observatory

This briefing paper introduces and provides an overview of the main themes emerging from a series of 12 films about meeting the needs of older children and young people in the family justice system. 



This briefing paper provides context and an overview of the key ideas emerging from a series of interviews with professionals, academics and people with lived experience of the family justice system, filmed between March and May 2021. The interviews contain views, insights and knowledge that help us to understand how current care and protection systems are responding to older children and young people, and what is working or not working. They highlight shortcomings in the current system – but also offer a hopeful vision of how it could be transformed.

We encouraged interviewees to visualise future support and services for young people and what the characteristics and key components would be. We asked them about emerging practice, and whether this is helping or hindering progress towards this future vision, and to think about obstacles to change. The interviews also raised fundamental questions about what we mean by ‘being a young person’, and how we approach welfare and safeguarding and protection.

The interviews and editing took place against the backdrop of the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care. The films should be a timely source of helpful information and insight when we all consider and reflect on the outcomes of this long-anticipated report.

We invite anyone who cares about creating conditions for young people to thrive to listen to whichever interview strikes them to be of interest – though we would say they are all thought-provoking and insightful!

Watch all 12 films here…


We would like to acknowledge and thank all the contributors to this series of filmed interviews, which took place during March, April and May 2021 alongside the stresses and strains of the second COVID-19 surge:

  • Professor Robin Banerjee, Professor of Developmental Psychology, University of Sussex
  • Dr Tim Bateman, Reader in Youth Justice, University of Bedfordshire
  • Patriche Bentick, Senior Practitioner, London Borough of Camden
  • Professor Janet Boddy, Professor of Child, Youth and Family Studies, University of Sussex
  • Darren Coyne, Late Project Manager, The Care Leavers’ Association
  • Jahnine Davis, Director, Listen Up Research
  • Professor Anna Gupta, Professor of Social Work, Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Lisa Harker, Director, Nuffield Family Justice Observatory
  • Dez Holmes, Director, Research in Practice
  • Dr Lisa Holmes, Professor of Applied Social Science, University of Sussex
  • Caroline Lynch, Principal Legal Adviser, Family Rights Group
  • Nick Marsh, Director, Listen Up Research
  • Joe Marvelly, Fizzi Events
  • Vicki Morris, Deputy Director, Centre for Justice Innovation 
  • Sir James Munby, Chair, Nuffield Family Justice Observatory
  • Seth Oliver, Fizzi Events
  • Charlotte Robey-Turner, Head of Service, Children and Young People, Leicestershire Cares
  • Professor Julie Selwyn, Professor of Education and Adoption, University of Oxford.

We especially wish to acknowledge the contribution of Mr Darren Coyne, former young people’s Project Manager at The Care Leavers’ Association and a well-loved and respected member of the care-experienced community. Darren, who sadly passed away in May 2021, was a member of our advisory board and encouraged and challenged us to engage with young people with lived experience in an authentic and non-tokenistic way. We thank his daughters Gemma and Rebecca Coyne in giving approval to the release of his filmed interview.