September 2022 Newsletter

Welcome to our September newsletter, which provides an update on the progress of the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care Services (the Review) over the past month.

Professor Ray Jones, Lead Reviewer, has continued to meet with a range of stakeholders in Children’s Social Care Services during the month of September. He has held separate online meetings with Action for Children, the Centre for Effective Services, the Clanrye Group, members of the NIGALA Board and UNISON.

In Newry and Dunmurry, Professor Jones met with practitioners and managers from Family Intervention and Gateway Teams to hear about their approach in service delivery, and to observe frontline services on the ground. He continued to engage with groups of mothers to hear about the support that they receive from organisations such as Women’s Aid and Pause. As well as this, Professor Jones met with NIACRO to hear about their Family Links service which offers emotional and practical support to families affected by imprisonment.  He also visited Hydebank Prison to meet mothers currently in custody to hear about their experiences of children’s social care.


Professor Jones meeting with NIACRO, who work with families affected by imprisonment.

In the North-West, Professor Jones visited the Shantallow Family Centre and was able to observe how they deliver support. He also engaged with the ‘Together as One’ Parents forum which consists of parents, social workers, and senior managers from Safeguarding Family Support and Looked After Services.

Separate follow-up meetings took place with the British Association of Social Workers Northern Ireland (BASWNI), the Department of Health Office of Social Services and Directors of Children’s Services across the five Health and Social Care Trusts. Professor Jones also met with the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Health, Peter May, to discuss progress.


Our first workshop took place in Dungannon on 06 September 2022 with a key focus on children and young people with disabilities and those who care for and support them. 85 people participated, including service users, parents and carers, practitioners, policymakers, service managers, representatives from the community and voluntary sector as well as representatives from statutory agencies. The workshop provided an opportunity for attendees across Northern Ireland to give their views on the issues facing children and young people and their families to help inform the Review. Thought provoking discussions took place from both an individual and group perspective through roundtable discussions.

Round table discussions underway at the workshop in Dungannon.

Thank you to the wonderful speakers who contributed to the workshop and gave informative and powerful contributions on crucial issues affecting Children’s Disability Services. Mary Kerr and Emmet O’Reilly, attended with the Cedar Foundation and spoke about their experiences as young service users. Marian Bradley spoke as a parent, while Margaret-Ann McKee spoke from the perspective of a social worker. A more detailed report on the workshop is available here.

Mary Kerr and Emmet O'Reilly spoke about their experiences with children’s disability services.

Marian Bradley gave her experiences as a parent caring for a child with a disability.


Margaret Ann McKee, NHSCT spoke about the challenges faced by social workers on a daily basis.


Our second Review Workshop will be held on 13th October 2022 in Hazelwood Integrated College. This workshop will focus on care experienced children and young people and those who care for and support them. We look forward to hearing more engaging discussions to help inform the Independent Review.


Four young people will begin studying at the University of Bath through the Kernow Gold Scholarship Programme. It is expected that fifteen young people will be able to benefit of this programme over the next three years as a result of Professor Jones donating his fees from working on the Review.


If you wish to get in touch with the Review, you can contact the Review Secretariat team through the Review’s website, accessed here. The website provides information about the Review, details on how to contact us, key documents and latest news. The Review website will serve as a platform to connect with you and to seek your views.

The Review has its own twitter account @cscsreviewNI where you can follow us and view our twitter feed for more updates on the work of the Review.