Families and Social Care

Restorative practice is a term used to describe a way of behaving that helps to build and maintain healthy relationships, come up with solution focused plans, resolve difficulties and repair harm where there has been conflict.

When we work with and alongside people, rather than make decisions about them in isolation, there is strong evidence to say that the lives of children, adults and families are improved.

"The way we see the problem is the problem"  Stephen Covey 

There is no one restorative theory; rather it describes a ‘way of being’ when communicating and resolving difficulties. Restorative practices enable those who work with children and families to focus upon building relationships that create change. Creating change requires challenge as well as support.

Restorative practices include both formal and informal processes that enable workers, managers, children, young people and their families to communicate effectively. The processes used focus upon removing barriers, proactively promoting a sense of community, understanding, social responsibility and shared accountability.

These approaches provide staff with explicit language, behaviours and processes that strengthen their relationships with children, young people and families, empowering them to share responsibility and support positive change.

Everyone working with children and young people has a duty to keep them safe from harm. We want to improve the life outcomes for all children, especially those in our direct care, and to reduce the numbers of looked after children and young people. It’s an important part of the way in which we support children, adults and families to become better equipped to solve their difficulties and address challenges.

To see the evidence of impact restorative practice can have when working restoratively with families, scroll down to the orange section below. 


Key Benefits of Restorative, Relational and Collaborative Practice

  • Builds community, meaningful relationships and strengthens effectiveness of teams and its resilience.

  • Develop clear bottom lines

  • Manage risk and mitigate for it

  • Family led decision making

  • Families flourish, enjoying life, happier, more successful and increases in connectedness with each other and professionals

  • Professionals can work alongside families – doing things with them

  • Decreases in conflict, disengagement and strengthens self awareness and awareness of personal impact on others

  • Links between thoughts, emotions, actions

  • Increases in connectedness and kindness

  • Increases in emotional intelligence, including increases in positive emotions and also encourages expression of these emotions

  • Decreases in conflicts, disruptions and encourages forgiveness

  • Accountability and ownership

  • Improving social problem solving

  • Building interpersonal skills - for adults and young people, professionals - Active listening, patience, emotional regulation

  • Conflicts are resolved, reducing ongoing issues

  • Builds empathy and understanding

  • People are more prepared to take responsibility

  • Creates clarity of language, purpose and values

  • Models key values

  • Develops autonomy, ownership and participation in decision making at various levels

  • Increases family engagement and attendance

  • Increases capacity for improvement

  • Creates the language and currency for challenge

  • Creates the confidence to take risks and innovate

  • Give families back their power

  • Creates safe, respectful boundaried conversations

  • Encourages people to take responsibility for themselves and others

  • Enables people to find and express their authentic voice

One of the ways we do could this is through a Family Group Conference (FGC). Extended families and staff meet together in a decision making circle to consider risks and concerns about their children. The families have private family time to create a plan that fits in with their individual dynamics, and enables family leadership in what would otherwise be a professionalised planning process.

Restorative practices are used for a range of meetings, both formal and informal. These are held in circles, rather than around tables, to remove physical and psychological barriers between people. Some more formal meetings may be facilitated by skilled staff to create a safe environment where all those attending can share their thoughts and feelings in a way in which is constructive and come up with plans that address bottom lines.

For further information about developing restorative work with children and families or an initial discussion, please contact Mark on 07525 173258 or complete our online enquiry form.

I have been working in Wokingham for the past two years as their lead trainer and consultant around the development of restorative practice.' Family First' is Wokinghams version of the National 'Troubled Families' work.

With Family First now in its second year in the borough, its positive effects on families are outstanding,.

Here is the difference: working in partnership together made to Family First families in Year 2 of the programme:

  • 91% of families significantly reduced (or stopped) their offending
  • Over two thirds of children and young people increased their school attendance to over 85% and reduced their exclusions
  • 41% of families had an adult who entered into employment

A visit from central government in February 2014—to celebrate Wokingham’s good practice, said that Wokingham has had the highest outcome changes for families in the country for two years running.