Multimedia Toolkit for Roma parents- final evaluation report

Law for Life recently published an independent evaluation report about its project, which focused on Roma communities and child protection.

The report highlights that the project made a significant contribution to building capacity within Roma communities to engage more knowledgeably and confidently in child protection investigations. The report also notes that there are indications that this has helped some Roma families to keep their children in cases where they may otherwise have been removed into local authority care.

“In one case a family, after watching the film, changed the way they dealt with social workers. I think this is possibly because the film is simple, and it came from a point of view that the families were not necessarily to blame. It also helped that throughout the film, certain things were repeated thereby reinforcing important messages. Having a conversation with the family after watching the film, opened their eyes to what was going wrong” [Roma NGO]

However, this evaluation also points at the scale of need for Roma families. The national data shows that while the proportion of Gypsy/Roma children in schools in England remained constant from 2017 to 2019, the proportion of Gypsy/Roma children in need and in local authority care increased. In addition, the evaluation case studies demonstrate the disadvantage and discrimination that Roma families can experience whilst going through child protection investigations. In particular:

  • Local authorities providing inadequate interpreting services leading on to misleading assumptions about Roma parents and  
  • Roma parents’ lack of knowledge about what is expected of them, both in terms of parental responsibilities and in engaging with child protection investigations.

The report highlights the need for further interventions and support needed to prevent Roma families from coming under investigation and to support those who do to engage with the process. The report also lists several recommendations for Children’s Services departments, including:

  • Cultural competency training to gain better understanding of Roma culture and behaviour as part of continuing professional development for all social workers. 
  • Training to develop a wider understanding that Roma parents are discriminated against within the system, as social workers are currently working with Roma families in ways that they cannot understand.
  • Routine consultation with NGOs with knowledge of Roma culture in all cases involving Roma families. 

Further recommendations for Roma NGOs are also highlighted, including funding to enable more Roma champions to:

  • help Roma families with child protection cases to understand what is required of them and to help safeguarding professionals avoid making assumptions about Roma culture, and
  • do more preventative work to increase understanding within Roma communities of UK expectations of parental responsibilities before families come under Children’s Services investigation.

The Multimedia Toolkit for Roma Parents project was delivered by Law for Life, an education and information charity that aims to increase access to justice by providing everyone with an awareness of their legal rights together with the confidence and skills to assert them.

The project was developed in response to concerns about the number of Roma families subject to child protection investigations and the number of Roma children being taken into care by local authorities in England. The project aimed to improve access to justice for Roma parents going through child protection proceedings.

Law for Life worked collaboratively with a range of agencies, including three Roma organisations: Roma Support Group (London), Roma Community Care (Derby) and Clifton Learning Partnership (Rotherham), legal experts, academics, and professionals working at the local authority to develop a multimedia toolkit for Roma parents. The toolkit consists of an information guide, a short film and community training illustrating key elements of the legal framework and the skills needed to fully comply with the child protection requirements.

Law for Life is seeking additional funding to roll out its training for Roma champions across England and would also like to engage safeguarding professionals with its multimedia resources to help improve engagement with Roma families.

Published: 28 July 2020

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