Children England member Children and Families Across Borders introduces their work

Children and Families Across Borders (CFAB) works to give vulnerable children access to a safe home. We use our expertise and experience to ensure children who have become separated from their families across international borders are given care and protection, no matter where they come from. With more children on the move than ever before and increasing numbers of multinational and foreign-national families - and with 78,150 children in care in England alone - CFAB estimates more than 18,000 Looked After Children in England and Wales may have family members abroad that could and should be explored as options for their long-term care.

CFAB are experts in social work in an international context, cross-border child protection cases, care proceedings that require international cooperation and overseas placements. Where possible, we work to reunite families. We are the only UK charity with an international children’s social work team and the only UK member of the International Social Service, with a network of 130 partners worldwide.

As well as offering a wide range of case management services to local authorities, CFAB’s inter-country social work team provides guidance and practical support on a range of complex international child protection issues through our free Advice Line. Our team works with everyone: from individual members of the public to professionals from local authorities, the courts, the police, NGOs, and central government. You can call the Advice Line on 020 7735 8941 (Monday to Friday 09:30 – 16:00).

Thank you so much. CFAB has been a terrific help!! We didn’t know where to start!

Quote from a Social Worker who called CFAB’s Advice Line.

We have also developed a series of resources to support social workers. On our website, we offer a range of fact sheets for professionals on topics such as Covid-19 and cross-border family conflicts and minimising placement breakdowns. To address the difficulties caused by the pandemic, our interim guidance on overseas assessments contains some principles to govern practice related to the assessment of parents or kinship carers (also known as friends and family carers) abroad where face to face visits cannot be conducted. Our Virtual Contact Supervision Service was devised to support in safe, positive contact with a non-resident family member, supervised by a qualified social worker who speaks the relevant language as well as English. To further promote good practice when placing Looked After Children currently in care in the UK into the care of a family member abroad, we have promoted a first-of-its-kind International Kinship Care Guide. The document was drafted in collaboration with the Cross-Border Child Safeguarding (CBCS) Working Group, a number of government departments, child protection agencies, and local authority social workers.

CFAB also delivers specialised training in the field of international social work. Our International Social Work training is an online course delivered over 2 half day sessions for children’s social workers who work in child protection or care proceedings with families where there is a cross border element. The focus of the training is on social work in an international context; child protection cases that cross international borders; care proceedings with international family resources; and practical issues in international placements. Upcoming training dates are in April and July. This year, we will also be launching our International Social Work Training Certificate, covering topics such as key social work principles, relevant legislation, practical considerations, an activity for reflective practice, and a quiz to test knowledge.

From a policy perspective, we have been closely monitoring the impact of Brexit on care proceedings and local authorities’ responsibilities in relation to children’s citizenship and immigration status, including the publication of two guides on the topic co-authored by our Senior Social Worker and Legal Adviser and available on Community Care Inform. We will continue to work with key decision makers in local and central government on the support needed for Looked After Children who are European Nationals, as well as the wider impacts of Brexit on child protection and the UK child social care system.

For information on CFAB and the work that we do, please visit our website and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn or call our free Advice Line on 020 7735 8941.