Looking After Children: Good Parenting, Good Outcomes. A Training Guide

Produced by Dartington Social Research Unit and University of
Bristol with the Department of Health.

Available from: HMSO, High Holborn, London


Many trainers in child care will already be aware of the
enormous task to be undertaken in those authorities which are
adopting the new ‘Looking After Children’ process. This programme
and material provides an opportunity for real progress being made
in the lives of children who spend time away from home.

The pack is intended to train those who are responsible for
placing, supporting, managing and caring for children who are
looked after by local authorities. It introduces and reinforces the
key messages through the accompanying documentation.

The pack comprises copies of essential information records,
placement plans, care plans and reviews, together with age specific
assessment and action records. There is also a separate booklet
containing demonstration documents which provide a number of
completed examples. The SAARs are a major improvement on those
piloted previously and provide a comprehensive record which should
set a framework for improvement in children’s lives.

Disability issues have been incorporated, although there are
still unresolved matters for children with profound learning
difficulties. It also contains a video which shows workers using
the records with parents, foster carers and children, a report on
the research underpinning the programme and a management and
implementation guide. The guide includes specimens of modular based
programmes together with exercises, handouts and acetates and case
studies, all of which are well prepared.

Having run this course in a number of authorities I have found
because of the excellent material it is relatively easy to convince
course members of the need for change but at the same time there is
a risk of overloading participants with the sheer volume of the
material and forms. For the field worker, in particular, the
prospect of the volume of work this system involves can appear
overwhelming. To achieve the outcome this programme aspires to,
trainers and managers need to listen carefully to practitioners’
views and incorporate this feedback into the implementation

Bruce Thornton is an independent trainer, JBT Staff Training and

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