Improving practice in respect of children who return home from care

Reunification with family is the most common outcome for looked after children in England (Department of Education, 2014a). An increased policy focus in recent years has included reunification and re-entry to care data in the Improving Permanence for Looked after Children Data Pack (Department for Education, 2013) and the inclusion of reunification as part of the Children in Care research priority (Department for Education, 2014b). In addition, NSPCC has recently implemented the Taking Care practice framework in nine local authorities, intended to provide a more robust and evidence-based system of assessment and decision-making when children return home from care (Hyde-Dryden et al., 2015). The Taking Care practice framework has subsequently formed the basis for work, being jointly carried out by the University of Bristol and NSPCC, commissioned by the Department for Education (Farmer, 2015a; Farmer, 2015b; Wilkins and Farmer, 2015; Wilkins, 2015).