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TRAIN has been working to support Traveller and Romani families who are experiencing child protection involvement since 2015. It was set up to respond to urgent need and because no other specific support for Traveller and Romani children and families in child protection existed in the UK.


Since 2015, TRAIN has been providing free telephone advice and support to parents whose children are in need, at risk, or are in the care system, and with members of the wider family or community who are raising children unable to remain at home. TRAINs main aim has been working on  capacity building to help Traveller and Romani communities to help themselves. TRAIN has always been managed by two volunteer social workers and each year the work that TRAIN has been involved in has grown. In 2017, for example, TRAIN provided help and support to 61 families. TRAIN enabled people's voices to be heard, and it has enabled the situation of child protection to reconsidered and to be taken seriously. Whilst advocating for one family a Judge made it clear that without TRAINs involvement the outcome of Care Proceedings would have been quite different.  


Today a growing number of organisations are beginning to see and exploit the need to provide help and support to families in matters related to child protection. There is now money available to organisations so that they can fund advocates, online media tools, training videos and information services and all of the other things that TRAIN has been providing. What TRAIN has done for the last 3 years on a free and voluntary basis, other well meaning organisations are now receiving payment to do as well. For this reason, the work that TRAIN has been championing has come to a natural end. 


The fact that more organisations are working to support Traveller and Romani families who are experiencing child protection services is fantastic. As many of these organisations are also grassroots Traveller and Romani Community groups, TRAIN's aim to work on capacity building to help Traveller and Romani communities to help themselves has seemingly been achieved, not through consultation though, but by example, innovation and leadership.  


TRAIN hopes that those people who found the strength to ask for help in the past will enable others in the future to speak out about the situation that they are in and to seek support early and without delay. It hopes that other well meaning funded services are able to understand and cope with the complexity of child protection policy, and it hopes that the new organisations taking over TRAIN's role are sufficiently knowledgeable and skilled to spot and challenge procedural irregularity and to fight for natural justice, without compromise, in a way that Traveller and Romani families urgently require and deserve.


Most importantly TRAIN hopes that the unique challenges faced by Traveller and Romani families in Child Protection will not be dismissed, minimised or denied. If the significant discrimination that Traveller and Romani face in child protection is not taken seriously, all of the work that TRAIN has tried to achieve and all of the lobbying work it has done will be undone. 




















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TRAIN

Traveller and Romani Advice and Information Network 

What is fostering?

Fostering is a way of providing a family life for children who cannot live with their own parents.
It is often used to provide temporary care while parents get help sorting out problems or to help children or young people through a difficult period in their lives.

Often children will return home once the problems that caused them to come into foster care have been resolved and that it is clear that their parents are able to look after them safely.

Others may stay in long-term foster care, some may be adopted, and others will move on to live independently. Types of foster care include:

  • Emergency - where children need somewhere safe to stay for a few nights.
  • Short-term - where carers look after children for a few weeks or months, while plans are made for the child's future.
  • Short-breaks - where disabled children or children with special needs or behavioural difficulties enjoy a short stay on a pre-planned, regular basis with a new family, and their parents or usual foster carers have a short break for themselves.
  • Remand fostering - where young people in England or Wales are "remanded" by the court to the care of a specially trained foster carer. Scotland does not use remand fostering as young people tend to attend a children's hearing rather than go to court. However, the children's hearing might send a young person to a secure unit and there are now some schemes in Scotland looking at developing fostering as an alternative to secure accommodation.
  • Long-term and permanent - not all children who cannot return to their own families want to be adopted, especially older children or those who continue to have regular contact with relatives. These children live with long-term foster carers until they reach adulthood and are ready to live independently. 
  • "Connected persons" or "kinship" fostering or "family and friends"- where children who are looked after by a local authority are cared for by people they already know. This can be very beneficial for children, and is called "connected persons", or "kinship" fostering or  "family and friends". If they are not looked after by the local authority, children can live with their aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters or grandparents without outside involvement.
  • Private fostering - where the parents make an arrangement for the child to stay with someone else who is not a close relative and has no parental responsibilities, and the child stays with that person (the private foster carer) for more than 27 days. Although this is a private arrangement there are special rules about how the child is looked after. The local authority must be told about the arrangements and visit to check on the child's welfare

What about adoption?

Fostering is different from adoption because when a child is in foster care, the child's parents or the local authority still have legal responsibility for them. But when a child is adopted, all legal responsibility for the child passes to the new family, as though the child had been born into that family, and the local authority and the birth parents no longer have formal responsibility for the child.

When there is no possibility for a child to return home to their parents, attempts will be made to see if anyone else in the family can care for them. If this is not possible, a family must be found who can provide "permanence" for the child, to allow them to feel as secure as possible. This either happens through long term fostering or adoption.


Fostering and Adoption