This chapter draws on the data collection phase of a research project that began in 1993, two years after the implementation of the Children Act 1989. At that time concerns had already been expressed that the requirement in the Act and accompanying guidance to work in partnership with parents might be placing some children at increased risk of significant harm. On the other hand, others were arguing that the language of partnership was little more than empty rhetoric that was being used to deprive parents and children of the right to have their cases fully heard in court. Kaganas (1995) summarises this debate and points to a statement in the report of the Children Act Advisory Committee (1993, 33):
It has been reported to the Committee that some local authorities feel inhibited from applying for care orders (and some courts from granting such orders) if the possibility of working co-operatively in partnership with the family has not been exhausted.