This paper critically examines the government's proposals for the reform of services for children in public care, or 'looked after', in England and, more specifically, the proposal to set up Social Work Practices (SWPs, see Note 1). These are envisaged as groups of social workers, commissioned by but independent of local authorities. The changes have been mapped out by a Green Paper Care Matters: Transforming the Lives of Children and Young People in Care published in October 2006, a subsequent working group report, and Care Matters: Time for Change, a White Paper published in June 2007. This was followed, in November, by the publication of the Children and Young Persons' Bill. It is argued that there are, at least, two issues which could be focused on by those seeking to counter moves to introduce SWPs. First, the enhanced role being given to private sector providers because, it is maintained, public services provided by local authorities are unambiguously 'failing' children. Second, the fact that the views of parents and 'looked after' children are mostly excluded from the dominant and 'official' discourse on SWPs.