Category Archives: Dept for Education (DFE)

The Department for Education was formed on 12 May 2010 and is responsible for education and children’s services.

Dept for Education issue publications for Pathways to be followed by Local Authority and Cafcass in accordance to Government policy

All statutory guidance and legislation linked to from this site continues to reflect the current legal position unless indicated otherwise, but may not reflect Government policy.

what should you do if social services steal your children?


what should you do if social services steal your children?.

what should you do if social services steal your children?

An attempt to give some practical advice

I was reading this blog post at the always excellent Not So Big Society

http://notsobigsociety.wordpress.com/2012/07/24/child-stealing-conspiracy-theory-codswallop/ 

involving an unfortunate father who had his children removed and has reacted to this by constructing a case against Leeds City Council for genocide, which has been struck out and is now awaiting an appeal in the High Court against that striking out.

I think one can never, ever, underestimate what a profoundly awful experience having a bad time with Social Services must be. There is very little (possibly nothing, now that capital punishment no longer exists in this country) that the law can do to you that is worse than taking your children away.  And for that reason, whilst people like this are wrong and misguided, I can see why they are driven to these awful pieces of decision-making.

I’ll make no bones about it – I’m a lawyer for social workers, and I present cases in which sometimes social workers have to be asking for children to be removed and placed in care.

Sometimes, hopefully rarely, that’s the wrong thing to do. Sometimes, it is unequivocally the right thing to do. But almost universally, and far dwarfing those ‘definitely right’ or ‘definitely wrong’ cases, it is very sad.

It’s certainly not done to spite the parent, or for money, or to meet targets, or any of the other conspiracy theories; ultimately it is because a professional who is responsible in law for keeping that child safe reaches a point where they no longer feel that they can keep the child safe at home.

And you won’t believe it, but it honestly is the hope of social workers and people like me, in all but the very worst cases, that going to Court will bring about a change that will let us send the children home.

That doesn’t help, if it is your child. I understand that.

But I’m sure that what you want, if your child has been taken off you, is to get your child back.  All of the Freeman of the Land, and your law doesn’t apply to me, and all social workers are wan*ers, and shouting the odds, really, really don’t get your child back.   The success rates of all of those people who nod at Christopher Brooker’s columns and tell other parents how to fight the system is really very poor, honestly.

Other than factual determination cases, where there’s something that looks like a deliberate or non-accidental injury and the Court looks into it carefully and finds out it isn’t, in eighteen years of child protection work, I have NEVER seen a case where a parent is told by the Court, you can keep your child and you need never speak to a social worker again.

If you’re going to get your child back, social workers are going to be a part of your life.  So making social workers frightened of you, or not being able to work with you, or think that you’re a liar or unstable, isn’t going to help.

That’s not to say that you have to like them – or even be terribly nice to them. Your best approach is  “I know you’ve got a job to do, and I don’t like that you doing it has hurt my family, but I also know that I’ve got to show you that I can care for my children”

I’ve seen an awful lot of websites out there giving really really bad advice to parents in care proceedings, so I thought I’d have a crack at redressing the balance.

Here are some brief, practical, non “I’ll sue you for genocide” suggestions. Nobody can guarantee success in care proceedings, but you can make the central principle that the Court works to get children back home if at all possible work for you.  Nothing I’m suggesting here is beyond you, if you try and you ask for help when you need it.  It isn’t a guaranteed recipe of success, that’s up to you, but it certainly improves your chances.

1.  Work out a way of dealing with your social worker without shouting at them. I represented parents for a few years, and what I always told them was “you can call the social worker whatever you want in your bathroom, where nobody can hear you, but don’t say that stuff to the children, or the contact supervisors, or the social worker”    – don’t make it hard to be liked.   Being likeable doesn’t mean being a doormat, but being likeable is something you shouldn’t underestimate. It’s like chemistry.

2. All care proceedings are about giving something up. It’s unavoidable. If you hope to go into that final hearing and talk the Court into you letting you look after the children in exactly the same way as you’ve always done, you’re going to lose. Whether it is giving up drugs, alcohol, a relationship with someone violent, smacking the children, not doing housework, sleeping till two pm, you’re going to have to give up something.  Nearly all the time in court proceedings is spent with people either not accepting that they have to give something up, or pretending that they have given it up and catching them out.

If, instead, you approach it with the idea that “I want to change so that my children will be happier  or better looked after with me than they were” and try to change, you’re already in the top 5% of parents in care proceedings by that one simple decision.  And if you ask for help, and listen to the advice, you’re moving towards the top 2%.    Which means, when the Court is listening to your case, they are thinking “this mum/dad is so much better than the people we normally see”

3.  Everyone makes mistakes.  Honestly, everyone. When you make one, admit it and say that you want to learn from it, to do better in the future. Giving up things you’ve done for years isn’t easy, and you’re entitled to get help with that, and you’re allowed to say that some days it is hard, and some days you might need a bit more help than usual.

4. Turn up to all the contacts  – or at least, don’t miss contact unless you really have to, and tell people when you’re not going to come. When you’re at the contact, don’t be nasty about the foster carers to the children – the children need to know that even though you love them, it is okay for them to be with the foster carers and to like them and have a nice time.  If you can take something to contact that will be fun for the children, that goes down well. Don’t take loads of sweets and presents, some paper and crayons and spending time with the children works wonders. Get down on the floor and play with them.  Don’t promise the children bikes, or ponies, or x-boxes when they come home.  Don’t ask them to say that they love you and want to come home.

5. Nothing says “I’m a paranoid oddball who can’t be trusted” more than tape-recording every interaction you have.  It won’t be evidence anyway, and nobody will ever want to hear it. The only thing it does, is make everyone worry that you’re strange.

6. Get a good lawyer, and stay in touch with them.  There’s a balance, of course, between ringing them five times a day, and not talking to them for months at an end and not bothering to tell them that you’re back with so-and-so and pregnant.  If you tell them what’s happening, or particularly if you’re feeling like you might be about to make a big decision and you’re not sure if it is the right thing to do, they’ll be able to help you.  If they ask you to come in and see them, turn up. If they advise you to do something, it’s not because they’re mean, or nasty, it’s because they want to have the best possible chance at final hearing in getting you your children back. Give them some help.

Don’t believe any of the conspiracy nonsense that all parent lawyers are pawns of the Local Authority, or lazy or crooked;  some of them are smart, some are hardworking, some are inspirational, some work wonders – but no parent lawyer is ever, ever in the pocket of the Local Authority or doesn’t care about doing their best for you.

Child Case Worker Struck Off Social Work Register


February 9, 2013
A Shropshire social worker accused of a string of failures to conduct or complete assessments and to keep accurate records has voluntarily struck himself off his professional register.

As a result disciplinary proceedings against William Goodwillie, who worked for Telford & Wrekin Council, have been dropped by the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC).

The withdrawn allegations claimed he was guilty of misconduct and by reason of ‘misconduct and/or lack of competence’ his fitness to practise was impaired.

It was alleged he had failed to conduct an initial assessment on a two-year-old child who had a repeated pattern of head injuries.

In its decision to withdraw allegations the HCPC says it has acted ‘on the basis Mr Goodwillie wishes to be removed from the HCPC Register voluntarily’.

An HCPC spokesman said: “Mr Goodwillie has admitted the allegation in full and has undertaken not to practise as a social worker.”

To view this article directly from the

    Shropshire Star

News [online] click on the hyperlink below: (if the link does not automatically open, you can manually enter the URL in your address bar)

News | Articles | February 9, 2013 | Shropshire Star | Child Case Worker Struck Off Social Work Register

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Child Case Worker Struck Off Register For Misconduct


suesspiciousminds

 

 

A discussion of the High Court decision in Re S v D &E 2013, in which the High Court determined that a man who had donated sperm which led to the birth of a child could make an application under the Children Act 1989, although leave would be required.   The case involved two separate families where the issues were similar (although of course the precise facts were different, and were bundled up together)  – which becomes very important later on.

 

 As promised, LO !

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Fam/2013/134.html

 

 

The issue really arises as a result of the provisions within the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008, to the effect that in this setting, where a man provides gametes in order to bring about a pregnancy, but that the biological mother of the child is in a civil partnership, the two women will be legal parents of the child…

View original post 6,269 more words

Gallery

Social Services’ Stamp feet over Subjective Storyline


Local Authority complain of the “unfair portrayal” of Staff in BBC’s Eastenders, as the soap depicts a Social Worker heartlessly snatching a baby from the arms of targeted teen mum – who was left helpless and emotionally crippled, while powerless in preventing her daughter from becoming the latest victim to our Draconian system. Continue reading

Don’t Fuck Up Your Children


Image of LJ Wall
Lord Justice Wall to Retire December 2012

In one of the sternest judicial warnings to warring parents I have come across, Lord Justice Wall (left) quoted from Philip Larkin in the case of R (A Child), Re [2009] EWCA Civ 358 yesterday. The case involved a highly acrimonious residence application, part of a dispute between the parents that had been on-going since they separated in 2003. Judge Everall QC at Luton County Court had found that it was no longer possible for the parents and the child to work together, and so made a residence order in favour of the paternal grandparents. The mother’s appeal against that order was granted but Lord Justice Wall in the Court of Appeal gave a warning to the parents of the serious harm that their actions were causing to their child. “I hope this case has given the mother a fright. I hope it has also given the father a fright.” He said. “They have come within a whisker of losing their child.” In a postscript to his judgment he then quoted from Larkin’s poem This Be The Verse:

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.

They may not mean to, but they do.

They fill you with the faults they had

And add some extra, just for you.

These four lines” he said “seem to me to give a clear warning to parents who, post separation, continue to fight the battles of the past, and show each other no respect.”

Let us hope that more parents heed the warning.

Posted by John Bolch at 11:56 AM

Doctor struck off for abusing boys


Wednesday September 26, 2012, [as reported] by TARIQ TAHIR

A FORMER doctor at Great Ormond Street children’s hospital has been struck off the medical register after being found guilty of molesting boys.

Prof Philipp Bonhoeffer was judged by a tribunal panel to have acted inappropriately towards children in Kenya and France.

He was dismissed by the London hospital in 2010.

A Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service panel yesterday ruled his fitness to practise was impaired by reason of misconduct and decided to strike his name from the register.

Bonhoeffer’s actions were ‘calculated, deplorable and an abuse of his special position of trust,’ the panel ruled.

The cardiologist sexually touched a boy in France in 1997 and abused youngsters for more than 15 years while carrying out medical work for a charity in Kenya, the panel heard. Bonhoeffer was employed by Great Ormond Street in 2001 as a consultant cardiologist. In 2002, he became head of cardiology until his dismissal.

Panel chairman David Kyle said: ‘Prof Bonhoeffer has been found to have persistently exploited vulnerable young boys over an extended period of time with sexual motivation.

‘The panel has concluded his conduct is not merely unacceptable — it is fundamentally incompatible with continued medical registration.’

The panel’s decision was welcomed by the General Medical Council.

The doctor did not attend the panel hearing in Manchester or submit any evidence, but a statement from his lawyers said he denied the allegations made against him.

It went on: ‘He has no intention of resuming the practice of medicine in the United Kingdom.’

ADOPTIONS (from care) Rise by 12%


Family Law Weekly > Home > News

Children adopted from care numbers rise by 12% in the last year

BAAF calls for focus on increasing the number of placements from care

Latest figures released by the Department for Education show that there were 67,050 looked after children at 31 March 2012, an increase of 2 per cent compared to 31 March 2011 and an increase of 13 per cent compared to 31 March 2008.

There were 28,220 children who started to be looked after during the year ending 31 March 2012.

This represents an increase of 3 per cent from the previous year’s figure of 27,500 and an increase of 21 per cent from 2008. There were 27,350 children who ceased to be looked after during the year ending 31 March 2012. This is a small increase of 1 per cent from 2011 and an increase of 12 per cent from 2008.

There were 3,450 looked after children adopted during the year ending 31 March 2012. This was the highest figure since 2007 and an increase of 12 per cent from the 2011 figure.

Of children looked after at 31 March 2012, 50,260 were cared for in a foster placement. This represents 75 per cent of all children looked after at 31 March 2012.

The statistical release can be read here.

Edward Timpson, Minister for Children and Families, said:

“The rise in the number of adoptions and adoption placement orders is extremely welcome, but it still takes too long for those who want to adopt and foster to be approved. The time it takes for a child in care to be adopted can be a significant period in that child’s life.

“I know from my own family that parents who adopt and foster bring stability to young lives. That is why we are overhauling adoption, but I know that our reforms will take time to make a full impact.

“So we are looking at measures to encourage councils to make use of adopters in other parts of the country. We will shorten the approval process and fast track those who are already foster carers.

“Taken together I hope these reforms will, over time, encourage more people to come forward and volunteer to adopt children. I want more young children to have a settled start in life with a loving family.

“That way, they can make a profound and lasting impact on young lives.”

The British Association for Adoption & Fostering (BAAF) is pleased to see that the number of children adopted from care in the year April 2011-Mar 2012 increased by 12%.

BAAF says that the headline statistic of 3,450 children adopted from care measures the number of children who were the subject of an Adoption Order by a court during the year in question. Typically the court will make an Order some 9 months after a child first goes to live with their new adoptive family. As such the statistic measures the very end of the adoption process and is not the best indicator of current adoption practice.

To get a better sense of what is happening in adoption, BAAF believes that there is a need to focus on the statistic of the number of children placed for adoption during the year. That statistic shows a very slight decrease in the numbers of children placed for adoption during the year from 2,710 in 2010/11 to 2,680 in 2011/12. From experience BAAF thinks this means that the significant increase seen in numbers adopted will be sustained next year but is unlikely to increase further.

BAAF says:

“Our focus now has to be on increasing the number of children placed for adoption. We know that currently there are at least 2,000 children in foster care with a plan for adoption who are not in an adoptive placement. This is in large part because of a chronic shortage of adopters for particular groups of children e.g. children in sibling groups, older children, children with disabilities, etc. If we could find adopters for those children who are waiting we would see further substantial increases in adoption over the next few years and this could only increase the impact of the Government’s welcome adoption reform programme.

“The latest statistics provide an encouraging base on which to build. To make further progress, we need to see a concerted whole system focus on increasing adopter recruitment, speeding up court processes, improving the adopter assessment process and ensuring adoption support. We know that adoption works and we owe it to every child who has a plan for adoption to realise that plan for them without delay. BAAF looks forward to continuing to do everything it can to help the Government’s adoption reform programme to succeed.”

BAAF also notes the very significant year on year increase in the numbers of children who were the subject of Special Guardianship Orders – a 20% increase in a single year. This figure does need to be seen in the context of the increase in adoptions and shows that the number of children achieving permanence through these different routes increased substantially year on year.