In 1997, there were just under 52000 children and young people being looked after by local authorites. Prior to the Children Act 1989, where children remained in long-term care, little attention was sometimes given to maintaining links with their families of origin. For social workers, partnership provides a challenge, even for those committed to the empowerment-based practice which is the pre-requisite of any real, as opposed to euphemistic, degree of partnership. The Children Act 1989 obligations and the requirement to extend them to children who had been in care before its implementation provided the banner for the research project. As an action research study, a significant aspect of the project was to explore with social workers what impact being a participant had made, on the study cases and on other work, as well as on their views about partnership.