We are individuals and organisations who came together to defend the rights of vulnerable children and young people during the passage of the Children and Social Work Act 2017.

The story of our 2016-17 campaign in England is below. After our success, we stayed together, as a loose network, to continue to defend the social care rights of children, young people and families. Article 39 children’s rights charity co-ordinates the network. In 2019, we had another great result with the removal of a so-called ‘myth-busting’ guide, published by the Department for Education. Visit the ‘latest’ section of our site for more information.

Please note: our campaign is not part of Together for Children SUNDERLAND Ltd.

Our successful campaign against the exemption clauses
We wanted the exemption clauses to stay out of the Children and Social Work Act 2017 because they threatened to remove or change vital, universal duties which have evolved over many decades to meet the needs and protect the rights of vulnerable children and young people. Had they passed into law, the exemption clauses would have allowed councils to opt-out of their legal duties towards vulnerable children and young people. When the Government first published the clauses, it even wanted to have the power itself to remove duties from councils.

After months of campaigning, we succeeded!
On the evening of 2 March 2017, Parliament published a document showing the Education Secretary Justine Greening had added her name to amendments to LEAVE OUT the clauses for good. This was passed on 7 March.

On 27 April 2017, Royal Assent was granted to the legislation – without the exemption clauses!

When legal duties towards children exist, courts can ultimately decide if there has been a failure to implement them. They can force local authorities to give support and services. We know from our work with children and young people that sometimes the threat of legal action is the only means of getting help for them. Without legal duties, vulnerable children and young people could be left stranded.

Throughout our long months of campaigning, the Government offered no evidence that Acts of Parliament or regulations get in the way of meeting children’s needs. Nor did Ministers explain what is wrong with the customary practice of carefully refining and improving legislation – and repealing redundant laws – when this is necessary.

Innovation and creativity in children’s social care are vital and necessary. However, allowing local authorities to pick-and-choose their legal duties towards children is a dangerous idea that would have fundamentally undermined the rule of law.

There was no consultation on these radical changes. The relaxation of social care duties area-by-area was not in the Conservatives’ general election manifesto. More than 80 years of legislation made for children was endangered.

We could not stand by and watch the destruction of decades of commitments to children. That is why we campaigned for the removal of the exemption clauses from the Children and Social Work Bill.

Together, we protected the social care rights of children and young people.


Article 39

ASD Helping Hands

Association of Independent Visitors and Consultants to Children’s Services

Association of Lawyers for Children

Association of Professors of Social Work

Association of Youth Offending Team Managers


Bringing Us Together

British Association of Social Workers

British Institute of Human Rights

The Care Leavers’ Association

Centre for Social Work Practice

Children’s Rights Alliance for England

Child Rights International Network


Coram Children’s Legal Centre

Coram Voice

Depaul UK

Dyspraxia Kids

The Fostering Network

Full of Life

Howard League for Penal Reform

The Independent Children’s Homes Association

Institute of Recovery from Childhood Trauma


Law Centres Network

Legal Action for Women

Legal Action Group


Low Farm Therapy Centre




National Association of Independent Reviewing Officers

National Association for People Abused in Childhood

National Association for Youth Justice

The National Autistic Society

The National Deaf Children’s Society

National Independent Visitor Network


Parents of Traumatised Adopted Teens Organisation

Peer Power

Prison Reform Trust

Refugee Council

Siblings Together

Single Mothers Self Defence

South West London Law Centres

Standing Committee for Youth Justice

St. Michael’s Fellowship

Surviving Safeguarding


Women’s Aid

Youth Access


Professor Priscilla Alderson, University College London

Dr Lucille Allain, Associate Professor (Practice) Social Work, Middlesex University

Dr Raymond Arthur, Reader in Law, University of Northumbria

Dr Maggie Atkinson, consultant in leadership and children’s services improvement

Professor Sir Al Aynsley-Green, former first Children’s Commissioner for England 2005-2010

Wendy Bannerman, Senior Lecturer in Childhood and Youth and Director of Right Resolution CIC

Sue Barker, retired social work manager & consultant

Jay Barlow, Napo National Vice-Chair (Cafcass)

Janet Beale, retired social worker

Georgia Bell, Student Nurse

Pete Bentley, Chair of Adoption Panel; former BAAF consultant

Chas Berry, National Vice Chair, Napo

Kayleigh Blackburn, Teacher

Tessa Bools, Parent Carer

Steve Broach, Barrister, Monckton Chambers

Jillian Bradley, Paediatric Rehabilitationist

John Bramwells, Father

Helene Brown, Child Protection Social Worker

Louise Buckenham, Occupational Therapist

Jan Burnell, Adoption Panel Member

Phil Bushell, Senior Social Work Practitioner

Bec Buss, Tutor in Social Work, Ruskin College; also Independent Reviewing Officer and Independent Chair

Jane Callaghan, Professor of Psychology, University of Northampton

Anne Carter, Analyst

Greg Ó Ceallaigh, Barrister

Claire Champkin, Parent

Ian Chisnall, Chair of Sussex Police Independent Advisory Group

Valerie Clark, Senior Solicitor, Youth Legal & Resource Centre

Katie Clarke, Bringing Us Together

Jenny Cockcroft, Social Worker

Jodie-Lee Collins, Human Resources Business Partner

Michele Collins, Primary teacher

Michael Cowell, Independent Reviewing Officer

Sarah Cowley DBE, Emeritus Professor, King’s College London

Jane Clarke, retired teacher and child protection worker for LB Haringey

Jenny Cockcroft, Social Worker

Bernadette Cullen, Founder: The Bike Rescue Project

Sarah Cummings, Parent

Jayne Davies, Undergraduate student (Criminology and Criminal Justice)

Dr Liz Davies, Emeritus Reader in Child Protection, London Metropolitan University

Peta Davies, Parent carer

Floyd Douglas, Independent Reviewing Officer

Eboney Ellington, Parent/Carer

Kathy Evans, Chief Executive, Children England

Victoria Ewer, Teacher and mother

Lindsey Evans, Mum

Clare Fay, Foster carer

Professor Brid Featherstone, University of Huddersfield

Erica Field, Parent

Wendy Finn, Mother and Founder of Dyspraxia Kids

Julia Furlong, Parent Carer

Caoilfhionn Gallagher, Barrister, Doughty Street Chambers

Jenny Garamszegi, Accountant

Bridget Garrood, Partner and collaborative family lawyer, Cartridges Law Solicitors

June Goh, Parent Carer

Professor Barry Goldson, Charles Booth Chair of Social Science, University of Liverpool

Ian Gould, Care leaver and retired Probation Manager

N Griffith, Mother and former Community Nurse in Health Visiting

Dr Anna Gupta, Senior Lecturer in Social Work, Royal Holloway University of London

Sophie Harbutt, Teacher

Dr Alex Hassett, Principal Lecturer and Senior Consultant, Canterbury Christ Church University

Emma Haughey, Mother

Laura Hawcroft, Mother

Christine Hope, Parent

Catrin Jenkins, Parent

Sam Jennings, Care leaver

Professor Ray Jones, Kingston University and St George’s, University of London

Sarah Jones, Parent Carer

Verity Jowett, Parent

Veronique Kaboha, Expert by experience for NHS care and treatment reviews

Mark Keeley, Independent Social Work and Management

Susan Kellett, Carer

John Kemmis, Patron of National Association of Independent Reviewing Officers; former CEO Voice (retired)

Nicola Kenney, Co-Chair, Family Court Section of Napo, the Trade Union and Professional Organisation for Family Court and Probation staff

Dr Mark Kerr, Lecturer in Social Policy, University of Kent at Canterbury

Victoria Kerr, Teacher

Amalia Key, Parent/carer

Joanne Kimm, Teaching Assistant

Alice Korikk, Child Psychologist

Jane Laing, MA Social Work  Course Leader, University of Sheffield

Liz Leech, Parent

Sallie Leveridge, Mother and Grandmother

Gina Lightfoot, Independent Conference and Reviewing Officer

Stella Lithgow, former teacher

Lisa Longmore, Mother

Audrey Ludwig, Director of Legal Services Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality

Craig Mathieson, former social worker and registered children’s home manager, now studying Law to represent sick disabled children

Yolanda McCarthy, Mother

Jillian McCormick, Adopter

Jane McCready, Parent campaigner

Rev’d Claire McIlroy, Church of England Priest

Kirsten Melbourne, Supported Housing Officer

John Melling, Independent Reviewing Officer

Jenny Molloy, BASW England Patron

Julie Moore, Mother

Ella Montgomery-Smith, Youth Worker

Kate Morris, Professor of Social Work, University of Sheffield

Jean Morrison, Independent Reviewing Officer

Angela Mortimer, Teacher

Kev Murphy, Independent Consultant SEND

Manish Nanda, Carer

Anna Neale, Teacher

Catherine Newell, Brownie leader

Susan Nicholls, Mother

Gemma Ogilvie, Lunchtime Supervisor

Fay Oldroyd, Social Work Student

Peter Osborne, Grandfather

Caroline Page, County Councillor for Woodbridge, Suffolk

Dave Palmer, Lecturer in Criminal Justice Services, University of Northampton

Bridget Parkinson, SENCo St John the Baptist RC Primary School

Chris Pearson, Colchester Borough Councillor

Elaine Pearson Scott, Consultant and Independent Visitor

Paula Pennells, Mother / Carer

Sue Redmond, Vice Chair, Full of Life Charity

Keith Riach, Independent Reviewing Officer

Beth Ridley, Teacher

Kathryn Riley, Independent Reviewing Officer

Louise Robinson, Mother

Sam Rospigliosi, Mum

Sara Rowbotham, Local Councillor and Social Worker

Wendy Jane Ryan, Therapist

Jessie Saunderson, Mother

Jasmine Shadrack, Senior Lecturer in Popular Music, University of Northampton

Deanne Shaw, Parent Carer

Leanne Shaw, Parent

Phin Silberrad, Parent

Olivia Sowah, Parent

Jo Smith, Meldreth Preschool

Roger Smith, Professor of Social Work, University of Durham

Louise Somerville Williams, Mother

Dr Jo Staines, Senior Lecturer and Programme Director, BSc Childhood Studies, University of Bristol

Dave Stamp, Project Manager, Asylum Support & Immigration Resource Team

Mike Stein, Emeritus Professor, University of York

F Stone, Adopter

Janice Storey, Adoptive Mother of two

Tim Sugden, Independent Reviewing Officer

Andrew Swartfigure, Head of The Peartree Centre

Niamh Sweeney, Vice President, Association of Teachers and Lecturers

Helen Taylor, Social Worker

June Thoburn CBE, Emeritus Professor of Social Work, University of East Anglia

Dr Nigel Thomas, Professor of Childhood and Youth Research, University of Central Lancashire

Robyn Thomason, Mother

Ruaridh Thomason, Father

Judith Timms OBE

Mariana Toma, Nurse

Margaret Tully, Independent Reviewing Officer

Jane Tunstill, Emeritus Professor of Social Work, Royal Holloway, London University

Dr Tammy Valberg, Educational Psychologist

Ben van Wagtendonk, Independent Reviewing Officer

Kate West, Family Support Worker, Family Voice Sheffield

Tom West, Solicitor and Partner at Centenary Solicitors

Sue White, Professor of Social Work (Children and Families), University of Birmingham

Jane Whyte, Independent Social Worker

Jo Winship, Independent Reviewing Officer

Heather Woolley, Teacher and mother

Lyndsay Wootton, Social Worker

Ruth Wright, Social worker

Increasing concern over the exemption clauses led us to join forces with 38 Degrees. By the time the clauses were knocked out completely, our online petition had 108,047 signatures.