The Liver Building

2024 Public Child Law Conference (Hybrid)


Speaker: Various

Date: Wednesday 24th April, 2024

Time: 09:30 - 15:45

Areas of Law: Family

Taylor Wessing
Edward Pavilion
Albert Dock
L3 4AF

Course Code: S4803


Do you act for parents, children, extended family & local authorities? If so, this conference is for you, providing an update on key issues surrounding public children law.

HYBRID – you can attend this event in-person or virtually!  Can’t make the date/time or need to revisit the training? No problem, booking onto this event means you will receive a link to access a recording of the event to watch at your leisure! The link will be sent within approx 72hrs of live broadcast & be available for approx. 3 months, to view as many times as you wish.

Kindly sponsored by

OurFamilyWizard is a platform that helps co-parents communicate with less conflict while keeping family law professionals connected to the families they work with.  Tools and features tailored to ease and improve communication include calendars, expense logs, messaging and more.

Advanced Child Care Assessments (ACCA) is a premier provider of independent social work assessment services specialising in social work reports and interventions. Our dedicated team of experienced professionals delivers evidence-based reports promptly, catering to local authorities, private solicitors, and courts. In partnership with Foresight, we also offer a comprehensive panel of expert witnesses, ensuring legal professionals access to qualified experts and guaranteeing excellence.

Registration & refreshments / log in

Welcome & introduction ~ HHJ Parker

Special Guardianship Orders ~ Margaret Parr, 7 Harrington Street

  • Rationale

(i) Statute

(ii) Case Law

  • Practicalities

(i) The Special Guardianship Regulations 2005

(ii) Checks and good practice

(iii) Assessments

  • Reviews

(i) Special guardianship review: report on findings Government consultation response December 2015 and 2016 Regulations

(ii) Public Law Working Group Guidance June 2020

(iii) National Minimum Standards – fostering standards

(iv) SGOs and other orders?

Seniors Top 10 ~ Mark Senior, St Johns Buildings

  • The latest in the legendary series of idiosyncratic takes on the cases that matter from the last 12 months from the rumple of Liverpool Family law

refreshments / comfort break

Transparency ~ Jack Harrison, Dean’s Court Chambers

  • An overview of the various initiatives happening in the family court
  • An update on the transparency pilot happening in Cheshire & Merseyside
  • Tips for dealing with transparency cases

Communicating Safely & Securely Online ~ Katie Deans, OurFamilyWizard

  • Ways communication can be manipulated online and how to identify and prevent manipulation.
  • New resources and features for the OurFamilyWizard platform and how they can be used to improve communication between divorced and separated parents.

lunch & networking break

Representing parents with learning difficulties ~ Fergal Allen, 18 St Johns St Chambers

  • Identifying vulnerability
  • Capacity and cognition
  • Identifying and assessing needs
  • Advocates and intermediaries
  • Tips and pitfalls

Quality & Service Assurance ~ Sandra Van Empel & Amanda Walsh, Advanced Child Care Assessments

  • How to develop a solid quality assurance framework
  • Examples of effective quality assurance in practice
  • The relationship between capacity and quality assurance
  • The timeline from ISW onboarding and measures taken during the off-boarding process

Supporting the Trans and Non-Binary Community ~ Gaia Reed, The Diversity Trust 

  • Introduction & Diversity Trust Overview
  • Awareness 101: What do we mean when we say Trans and Non-Binary? What does life look like for us, and when might our lives intersect with the law?
  • Children and Young People: What does life looks like for Trans and Non-Binary children? How can we best support them?
  • The medical side of transitioning

Post Adoption Contact Planning ~ Julie Young, University of East Anglia

  • The need for each child to have their own bespoke plan, including reviews & views
  • The model for planning and support
  • Risk and protective factors relating to the child, the birth relatives, the adoptive parents
  • The challenge of identifying when contact is beneficial

Summary & close ~ HHJ Parker

Speaker Biographies

Fergal Allen

Katie Deans is OurFamilyWizard’s Junior Associate. She graduated from the University of Sussex with an LLB Hons in Law with Business and Management. Following this, she continued her studies at the University of Sussex obtaining an MSc Hons in Accounting and Finance. Katie works with Courts, Chambers, Firms, CAFCASS, Mediators, Organisations and Charities to help parents with their communication.

Sandra Van Empel is originally from Clapham, South London, has worked with and for children and their families as a qualified social worker via Greenwich University since 2002.  Since qualification, they have worked as a social worker, senior practitioner, practice supervisor, and team manager whilst continuing to undertake further academic studies, which have led to their recognised qualifications in management, mentoring, coaching, criminology, and psychology. 

Jack Harrison is a barrister at Deans Court Chambers. He is secretary of the President’s Transparency Implementation Group, with responsibility for running the Reporting Pilot taking place in Liverpool and other areas in England and Wales. He is a contributor to the LexisNexis Family Law Precedents Service. He sits as a judge on the Midlands Circuit.

Margaret Parr specialises in family law and has appeared in the Court of Appeal and High Court. Margaret represents parents, children and Local Authorities in care and adoption proceedings. She has experience of complex cases involving sexual abuse, non-accidental injury, substance misuse, mental health issues and neglect. She has experience in deprivation of liberty applications under the Court’s inherent jurisdiction. In private law proceedings, Margaret represents parents and children and is experienced in dealing with intractable contact disputes, implacable hostility and international relocation.

Gaia Reed (She/They) is one of three LGBTQ+ Coordinators at The Diversity Trust. She focuses on Administration, training delivery, and running the South Gloucestershire based Youth and Adults LGBTQ+ group Alphabets. As a transfeminine person, she loves to share her story and lived experience to inspire and teach others around how best to support LGBTQ+ people.

Mark Senior is exclusively a family law practitioner. Before joining Chambers he was solicitor with nine years’ experience, specialising in children law cases. As a solicitor he was a member of the Law Society’s national Children Panel and was also a member of the National Counsel for Family Proceedings and the Association of Lawyers for Children. He has continued to specialise in children law cases, acting for parents, children and local authorities in private and public law cases.

Amanda Walsh is the Training & Quality Manager at ACCA and has twenty-one years of post-qualifying experience. For the majority of her practice, she has worked within child protection, initially as a social worker and after that as a Children’s Guardian. In 2014, Amanda decided to leave CAFCASS. Thereafter, for a brief period of time, she worked as an Independent Reviewing Officer whilst starting to take work on an independent basis. Amanda has also intermittently worked at Manchester Metropolitan University for five years as an associate lecturer. She taught social policy and the construction of childhood on a Child and Youth degree course.

Julie Young is based at the University of East Anglia where she has worked  for over 20 years as a Research Fellow in the Centre for Research on Children and Families.  She has played a key role in several important national and international research projects exploring the experiences of adoptive parents, carers, children and birth families, especially around contact with birth families, life story work and communication within families. She helped develop and pilot training programmes on the Secure Base Model. She has facilitated numerous workshops and training events with legal and social work professionals as well as parents and carers across the UK. Her latest open access paper ‘Life story work for children and young people with care experience: A scoping review’ can be found here:


Member £155
Non-member £205
Training Passport Free
Note: 20% VAT added at checkout