Bravo to the Kent heads for refusing looked-after children a school place
Heads who have refused to take looked-after children are trying to avoid a Rochdale abuse scandal
Children who have been removed from their families and into the care of the state usually top the priority list for school admissions – a “looked-after” child pretty much trumps all other categories of need when it comes to who gets a school place.
I say, bravo. Kent heads have been warning for months that the children who have been shipped from one local authority area to live in the county's deprived seaside towns are at a high risk of being sexually exploited.
Caring for children when their parents can’t?
The state takes you for a mug
Special guardians and kinship carers make huge sacrifices – and save councils a fortune. But all they get in return is exploitation
Nobody likes being played. It’s especially galling when you know from the get-go that you’re being set up. But when you’re asked in grave tones by a social worker if you’ll take in your grandchild because their mum or dad – your son or daughter – isn’t providing a safe home, then, for most people, it’s a request that’s impossible to refuse.
The Guardian, May 2018
The state has a terrible secret: it kidnaps our children
Councils are keeping children in care against their parents’ wishes. Until family courts are opened up, these human rights abuses will continue to be hidden from view
Imagine you’re a single mother. You get injured in a car accident, and a kind friend offers to look after your two young boys while you’re in hospital. You accept with relief. Three weeks later, when you get home, you’re still a bit shaky, so your friend suggests it might be best if she has the boys for another few days. You are unsure, but she is persuasive.
The Guardian, May 2018
The government has turned the right to education into a charitable cause
Cake sale, plant sale, quiz … austerity is causing school fundraising to get out of hand
My nine-year-old son looks at me anxiously. “Mum, you definitely, definitely have my sponsor money plus an extra pound, which I need for the fundraising games. We have to bring it in today.” I search through my wallet for a quid each for him and his brother. I’ve got no cash on me. “We have to,” he repeats, his voice going wobbly. I stick an IOU in his piggy bank and the day is saved...
The Guardian, April 2018
Economic abuse destroys lives – it must be taken seriously
Elizabeth and her children have been reduced to poverty by her ex. The law must treat such cases like domestic violence
Elizabeth doesn’t dare tell social services, but there have been nights when she and her three kids couldn’t eat. “No heating, no gas. We’ve lived like paupers,” she told me. “He doesn’t pay any maintenance even though legally he’s meant to, so sometimes I can’t pay my nursery bill. That means that even though I’ve left him, my job’s at risk – I can’t take a child into work.”
The Guardian, March 2018
Don’t blame social workers. It’s the system that’s broken
It is not surprising that practice is falling short of professional standards, given the pressure child protection teams face
In the new Channel 4 drama Kiri, the social worker played by Sarah Lancashire is seen being hung out to dry for a decision she makes that leads to a child, who is about to be adopted, being abducted by her birth father. The little girl is later found dead, and Lancashire’s character, Miriam, knows instantly that every judgment she has ever made relating to the child’s contact with her birth family will be scrutinised and probably found wanting, especially as the prospective adopters are an articulate, white, middle-class family, and Kiri’s father is black and just out of prison.
The Guardian, January 2018
Adoption and fostering are not the only options. It’s time to invest in kinship care
It’s a struggle to get vulnerable children adopted. Their relatives should be offered funding and practical help if they can provide homes
The grandmother of Elsie Scully-Hicks, the 18-month-old girl murdered in Cardiff last year by one of her two adoptive fathers – who was convicted last month – had been rejected in her attempt to become her granddaughter’s court-appointed special guardian.
The Guardian, December 2017
How to stop record numbers of children going into care? Help their mothers
Women whose children are removed have often been abused and through the care system themselves. Specialist therapy can help break this cycle
Some 90 children a day were taken into care last year – and the total number of children in care is now at a new high: 72,670 according to the latest statistics, and care numbers are rising at the fastest rate for five years. Financially, this is unsustainable. But in human terms too, it can’t carry on – because where does it leave the thousands of traumatised and grieving mothers, and their broken families who must stumble on with no support and no hope?
The Guardian, October 2017
Charlie Gard’s case shows why family courts must lift their secrecy
We heard his tragic story but it’s rare that such hearings are reported, even when devastating failures in child protection take place
The tragic case of 11-month old Charlie Gard, who died last week after a protracted legal battle, shone a rare spotlight on the role of courts in disputes between parents and the authorities. In Charlie’s case his parents were disputing the medical treatment their young son was receiving, or not receiving. Unusually for a family hearing, the parents’ arguments and those of Great Ormond Street hospital were aired in open court.
The Guardian, August 2017
How can it be right to have targets for breaking up families?
Councils are setting benchmarks for the number of child adoptions – this practice is morally repugnant
Imagine you’re a mother arriving at court, fighting for the right to keep your baby who was removed from you just after birth. Your local authority now says your child should be adopted. Despite everything your barrister has told you about the rigour of adoption law, you will arrive in front of the judge today with even less trust than you had before.
The Guardian, December 2016
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