Source: (1998) Social Policy & Administration 32(1): 28-45

This paper briefly examines current arguments concerning the demise of the traditional family, pointing out that the numbers of lone-parent families are not historically unparalleled and noting that the current emphasis in the “death of the familyâ€? debate on the nuclear rather than the extended family marks a significant shift over recent decades. The nature of kinship is briefly examined in historical context, and kin relationships are seen to be fundamentally different on a number of important dimensions from other social relationships. The erosion of kinship as the consequence of the increasing state regulation of family life and the lack of importance it is now generally accorded in modern child welfare systems is considered and the reasons for this are discussed. Finally, the article turns to the changes that would be required were kinship decision-making once more accorded a key place in planning for the care of children deemed to be in need of care and protection and the potential, as a model for practice, of the family group conference is considered.