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Panorama on children in care

The link is to Panorama's story on children in care in Coventry where they looked at the situation for children in Coventry by following them for 6 months.

Much that at times children do need to be taken into care, at other times they are kept from their families for no good reason.

The young Connor in the programme who has already had a disrupted (aka failed) adoption is a good example of a child who has many symptoms of reactive attachment disorder. This results in his behaviour being from time to time particularly difficult and would be likely to cause a subsequent adoption to fail. However, the authorities are set on getting him adopted again - this is probably the worst thing they could do to him and he would be best to remain with his current foster family.

The thing to note about this is that it is likely that the RAD has arisen subsequent to him being removed into care.

The older Connor is basically angry with the state for keeping him away from his mother and young half sister. He has been through over 10 placements. There appears no good reason as to why he cannot live with his mother. He is counting the days until he can escape from Care.

Then you have Shannon who appears to be part of a cycle of mothers and daughters brought up in care who learn patterns of behaviour which then results in them going to jail from time to time.

A fourth child, Hezron, seems to be doing well from the system and sees his mother as often as he wants (more like the Danish system).

At around 16 minutes into the programme Connor explains his understanding of the care system. Section 20 (voluntary care), Section 31 (Care orders) and adoption.

He says; "[Section 20] is better than being under Section 31. ... [referring to S31]That's one of the worst ones you can get. The worst one you can get is when you get adopted."

What this does is demonstrate the perspective of some of the children which is that they are being effectively punished by the state rather than protected.


Jerry said…
What strikes me is the knowledge of Conner who knew the difference between a sec.20 and sec.31, now in my view a child as knowledgeable as he was should have been given more of a say in the court arena, he should be permitted to speak with the judge and tell the judge the real story, sadly with cafcass shadowing the social services this is of the main reasons children don't get listened to, the voice of the child was heard loud and clear on the programme, what happens next regarding this is anyone's guess.

here is the article written in today's Telegraph written by Christopher Booker

Last Tuesday's BBC Panorama was in effect an hour-long commercial for the social workers of Coventry. For six months its cameras followed three of their "case histories", showing what a fine job they do against the odds.
The most haunting story was that of Conner, a 14-year-old boy who has been in care most of his life. Now stuck in a council care home that costs £3,721 a week for each child, Conner was only allowed heavily supervised contact with his family every six weeks, as a punishment for the fact that his mother ran away with him when he was eight – amid considerable publicity – to escape the clutches of social workers. The BBC wanted us to see what a challenge Conner presents to them, as he swore at the young man in charge of his case and ended up kicking and beating his car.

But many viewers might have seen this story in a rather different light. The more we saw of Conner, the more he came across as a sensitive, intelligent boy whose only continual cry is that he might be released from what he sees as an inhuman imprisonment and allowed to live again with his family. In the presence of his insufferably self-righteous 21-year-old social worker – 21, for heaven's sake! – he may have been surly and resentful. But enjoying a brief supervised contact with his family, happily playing with his three-year-old sister, he came across as a different boy, gentle, polite and alive. When he was finally provoked into lashing out at the social worker's car, it was the only way he could respond to the system that has him ruthlessly in its power.
What was disturbing about the BBC's attempt to portray Coventry's social workers in such glowing light was not just what it did tell us, but what it didn't show. Coventry council has also been in the news lately because a judge allowed it to be named – ironically, at the instigation of the local BBC radio station – after it had, for once, failed in an attempt to seize three children from their parents, at a cost to public funds of £400,000. Coventry withdrew its case when the medical report by a paediatrician, on which the social workers had relied for their evidence, was shown to have been hopelessly flawed, prompting the judge to make withering comments on the "expert's" performance.
It is this same judge who is in charge of a most alarming case that I have been reporting here in recent months, involving Coventry's forcible seizure of a baby from its family, after a legal battle that has also cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds. And the council has depended, in its campaign to seize this baby, on the same controversial paediatrician about whom the judge was so excoriatory in the earlier case.
Despite the anguish being caused, the next hearing in this case – which I hope one day to be able to report properly, because it says so much about the workings of our "child protection" system – will not be until April, another six months away.
The most terrifying feature of this system is how much of it remains hidden – except when Panorama is allowed to give us a one-sided glimpse of a tiny part of it, entirely on the social workers' own terms.

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