John Hemming's Web Log John's Reference Website
Sunday, May 07, 2006
  Child Protection and Foster Care
There has been some stress about a letter I wrote to the Sunday Times. Although I think the letter is quite clear, I would like to ensure that it is clear. The letter is in bold italics, any comments in normal text.

CONGRATULATIONS on your article Innocent parents accused of abuse (News, April 23). The problems of innocent parents do not stop there.
I think this is quite clear given the multiple cases of miscarriages of justice.

There remain a substantial number of children who die at the hands of their carers
This does not refer to "foster carers". It refers to "carers". That includes parents, other guardians, people who are caring for them temporarily on behalf of their parents. The overwhelming majority of foster carers are good people who I have absolutely no criticism of. I even started the process of looking at fostering children at some stage myself.

while social workers deal with the Alice in Wonderland world of fabricated or induced illness and Munchausen syndrome by proxy
This refers for example to the Climbie case See text here

— where parents are guilty because they claim to be innocent.
This relates to the FII guidelines which people can see if they wish. They are on the web.

The costs of foster care, which involve payments of up to £500,000 a year for a single child, hit both local and central government finances.
The high costs here refer to residential private foster care, not people fostering in their own homes. Local Authority Foster Carers are paid a much much lower amount which we have been rightly increasing in Birminingham. Private Fostering Agencies are paid a lot more per child something like £600 per week.

If smaller sums were used to support parents in difficulties we would not have so many children taken off mothers simply because their parent is epileptic or alcoholic.
This is a more difficult area. Firstly, I support schemes which support families. Secondly I am aware of a case where a lady was continually having children taken off her at birth because she was epileptic.

The first step, which it appears the government may take soon, is to open up much of the operation of the family courts so that the decision-making is open to scrutiny. This cannot happen too soon.
This is the subject of an EDM I have signed along with many other MPs.

*edit note. The letter was not published when I expected it to be, but instead on 7th May.
 
Comments:
There has been some stress about a letter I wrote to the Sunday Times even though it has not been published.

It was published in my edition. Or have I misunderstood you?
 
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It wasn't published when I expected it. I actually had responses to it before I had read the Sunday Times and it was published yesterday.
 
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