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Sunday Telegraph Story

The linked story is about a case where the intervention of Childrens Social Services has simply undermined a family. One of the state's reasons for taking the baby is that the father does not agree with what the Social Workers think.

Comments

andrew said…
When I heard of Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming’s press comments last week that “newborn babies are being removed from their parents in order for councils to meet adoption targets” http://www.communitycare.co.uk/Articles/2007/07/19/105201/social-workers-are-snatching-babies-from-loving-homes.html my gut reaction was that he must be wrong. Despite all of my concerns over the years about the unnecessary removal of children from parents with learning disabilities, I found it difficult to believe that any professional social worker or social services system could be acting in this way. Indeed, I fell back on the argument that it is a judge who makes the decision, not social services, they merely provide evidence.

Undoubtedly there are times when children should be removed from their natural parents, when the level of abuse or neglect is such that serious damage has already been done, or is inevitable. I have seen this during assessments I have carried out when acting as an expert for the court. The concerns detailed by social services have been well described and are of a serious enough nature to make the decision by the court pretty clear cut. Yet despite a fairly obvious decision, a lengthy process still has to be gone through, assessments carried out, alternative supports explored and so on.

I feel for social service departments who are under a legal obligation not to reveal any details about cases, it is difficult for them to point out that this child has received numerous cigarette burns, or the like, whilst in the care of their parent. And I find it difficult to see how Hemming can state: "What is utterly unacceptable...is the clear evidence that social workers are literally snatching newborn babies and children from good, stable, loving homes." I don’t believe there is that evidence. There are plenty of stories from aggrieved parents who will quite naturally want to give a rather one sided view of the need for removal, safe in the knowledge that details will probably not be released.

Having said that, although the courts make the final decision, they do seem to often play it safe, they do, of course, place a great deal of weight upon the social workers reports, and some of those reports are written, I believe, with a particular prejudice. A particular problem I have encountered is that once there is a belief that a parent is not ‘good enough’ all that remains is to find the corroborating evidence. And if you look hard enough that is exactly what you will find. This ‘mind set’ is the problem for many parents with learning disabilities, a view is taken and the evidence found.

There is also pressure to get through the process whilst the child is as young as possible, thus improving future adoption chances, I believe the quota idea came from trying to get more looked after children adopted. It would certainly be wrong to have targets to increase the numbers of children removed from parents, such actions have to be a bastardisation of the process, don’t they??

Therefore, I still can’t believe that any social worker or service would be consciously taking into account an adoption quota when writing their reports, or making their judgements. To do so would throw the whole system into such disrepute as to make it unworkable. We need much clearer evidence of these allegations, relying on the accounts from aggrieved parents (whether rightly or wrongly) is not enough.
John Hemming said…
I have had these things confirmed by social workers, but unsurprisingly they don't want to have their names known.
moira said…
I find it totally incredible that an expert in court should write this.

Firstly in many cases there are not lengthy assessments.I was in court after only been involved with SS for 2 weeks.They wrote terrible perjurous statements and they did not even know me. They system is unworkable.There are some terrible social workers out there who are vindictive and nasty characters. Unless you have been a parent under social services its difficult to make people believe how corrupt some of these workers are.

If you look at the Websters case when they lost their 3 children,the second judge criticised the original court proceedings as the final decision was made in one day.So obviously what you are saying is incorrect.

A child can be considered for adoption after 3 and a half months.That is not enough time to get to know a family and carry out the lengthy assessments.

You refer to parents with learning disabilities and say you find it difficult to believe that a social worker could act in this way.
Well the government has admitted in a report that social workers are acting this way. It said they were behaving in a negative way and not considering support,just taking the children away.

I have the report if you want to see.

Yes the judge does make the decision but the family courts are biased towards social services. Solicitors say the judges rubber stamp what social workers want to err on the side fo caution.

I nearly lost my child through corrupt and uncaring social workers.I am convinced they wanted my child for adoption quotas.Otherwise why would they present me as a terrible mother when the opposite is the truth.

I assure you there are some cynical and wicked people who are working in social services. I think its because they will give anyone unsuitable a job due to shortages in the profession.

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