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Lifelong Links

Project start date: April 2017

Family Rights Group were awarded £5m to develop and implement the Lifelong Links project whose aim is to build positive support networks for children in care. Research shows these relationships offer emotional and practical support, provide an explanation of historical events, and reinforces the child’s identity and sense of belonging.

Project Summary


The Care Inquiry 2013, concluded the care system’s greatest failing is it too often breaks children’s relationships with their family and others who care about them. The absence of a positive, consistent, informal support network can result in loneliness, destitution, mental ill-health and engagement in self-destructive or risky behaviours.

Lifelong Links uses tools and techniques for professionals to use to search for and find family members (known or unknown to the child) and other adults (such as former foster carers or teachers) who care about the child. Approximately 40 relatives/supportive adults are found during this process. This network is then brought together in a family group conference (FGC) to make a life-long support plan with, and for, the young person. The local authority should integrate the Lifelong Links plan into the child’s care plan and social workers should work with the young person and their support network during the young person’s time in care and during their transition to independence and adulthood.

Lifelong Links will be trialled in seven authorities in England over three years, ending in . More than 920 looked after children who are unable to live in their family or be adopted, will take part in the project, reconnecting (or connecting for the first time) with supportive adults and/or relatives from their past.

Project contact details

Pam Ledward

Project Director

Project evaluators

Rees Centre, University of Oxford in Partnership with University of York and York Consulting

Project partners

Camden London Borough Council, Coventry City Council, Devon County Council, Hertfordshire County Council, Kent County Council, North Yorkshire County Council, Southwark Council

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