Implementing the Strengthening Families Approach to Child Protection Conferences

Jane Appleton, Maria Terlektsi, L Coombes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The Strengthening Families (SF) child protection conference model attempts to address some of the weaknesses of traditional conferences by helping families participate more easily and by enhancing risk assessment. This study examined the impact and feasibility of implementing the SF model across one local authority. A mixed-methods design was adopted. Data collection included: semi-structured interviews with professionals and parents; non-participant observation of SF and traditional conferences; and anonymised child protection plans. Interviews and observation data were analysed thematically using NVivo8 software. Study findings indicated problems with the roll-out of training for the SF approach, yet model fidelity was largely adhered to during SF conferences. Most professionals reported initial child protection conferences (ICPCs) to be working well and they were perceived as constructive places for addressing child protection issues. While the majority of parents described their pre-conference preparation as good, many still felt disempowered by the child protection process. Thought is needed about how to tackle the perception amongst families that they are judged and that they are powerless during the ICPC process, particularly as our observations of SF conferences revealed that parents were active in their contributions to meetings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1395-1414
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number5
Early online date27 Mar 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015


  • Child protection conference
  • Strengthening Families
  • mixed methods
  • parental involvement
  • outcomes


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