Ministers are using coronavirus as an excuse to erode child protection | Carolyne Willow | Society | The Guardian

Safeguards for children in care in England are being yanked away in the middle of a pandemic

Source: Ministers are using coronavirus as an excuse to erode child protection | Carolyne Willow | Society | The Guardian

She’s Mine, My Daughter with Autism

I sincerely love this post and wish you well this Mother’s Day. I have some understanding of your life experiences as, in some respects, this mirrors my own in helping my wife look after our 48 year old daughter for some 30 years of her life. It was a very steep learning curve for myself, but I love her as if I was her biological father, she is a real pleasure to look after and I am really lucky to have this opportunity in life.

Sally Donovan: adoption services should work with, not against, parents to learn from ‘near misses’

By working openly with adoptive parents, social workers can better learn from placement problems

Source: Sally Donovan: adoption services should work with, not against, parents to learn from ‘near misses’

We Didn’t Choose This (A Letter to My Children) » Lauren Casper

Walk up to any adoptive family, look at the children, say the words, “You are so lucky!” and watch the adoptive parents cringe.Don’t worry – this isn’t a “10 things not to say” post. This is an explanation about something deeper. This is a glimpse into the side of adoption that doesn’t always…

Source: We Didn’t Choose This (A Letter to My Children) » Lauren Casper

Family court criticises council for failing to fully consider alternatives to adoption

Original post from Community Care


Picture credit: Image Source/Rex Features
Picture credit: Image Source/Rex Features

A family court has told Gloucestershire Council to re-examine its plan to place a child up for adoption following a “systemic failure” in its handling of the case.

In a judgement made earlier this week, family court judge Stephen Wildblood criticised Gloucestershire for taking a year to issue care proceedings following its decision to remove Child C from his mother and for failing to fully explore alternatives to adoption.

The boy, now six, was taken into foster care in May 2014 due to concerns about neglect, his mother’s mental health and a person known to pose a risk to children continuing to have contact with the child.

But it then took Gloucestershire until May 2015 to make its placement application, a delay the judge called inexplicable. “That has absolutely nothing to do with limited resources,” he said. “It is simply bad practice.”

Long-term fostering

Judge Wildblood also criticised the placement application itself, especially over its failure to consider long-term fostering as an option for the child.

The council did discuss with the boy’s foster carers the option of them becoming his special guardians or adoptive parents, but they wished to remain foster carers. As a result the council’s care plan concluded that since Child C could not return to his mother, he should be adopted.

However, when the children’s guardian talked to the foster carers after the care plan had been filed, they said they would be happy to continue caring for the boy as a long-term foster family. The boy also now regards the foster carers as his family and the children’s guardian recommended that Child C should stay with them.

The judge noted, though, that Gloucestershire Council refused to commit to keeping Child C with his foster carers even if the court ordered it.

“The local authority’s response was that it would give no commitment to C remaining with his current foster carers if a care order were to be made, even if the court made such an order having expressed the view that he should remain there,” said Wildblood in his judgement, in which he also floated the option of giving directions for a special guardianship application if the council’s stance on this did not change.

The judge also said that adoption presented potential problems, including disruption to Child C’s life and the question of whether it was likely he would be adopted given his age.

In addition, after submitting its original plan, the council amended it so that it could first assess whether Mr D, the father of Child C’s younger half-sibling, could become his carer before deciding whether to go ahead with adoption.

While Mr D initially told the council he would not be able to care for the boy before changing his mind late in the care proceedings, the judge said it was “very unfortunate indeed” that the council had not reapproached him before submitting its original care plan given that Child C and his half-sibling were close and still in contact.

‘Deeply frustrating’

The judge also said that if the council had done a psychological assessment of the mother closer to the time when Child C entered care rather than in March 2015, the earlier provision of therapy to the mother might have opened up the possibility of the boy returning to his mother.

Given this, Wildblood concluded that the council’s placement application was “inadequately considered”. “The local authority must consider the realistic options that arise and must put its case into order,” he ruled.

“The local authority must therefore look at the options that arise and file proper evidence in relation to them. The case will have to come back before me later this week when I will have to give further directions as to how that will be achieved.

“It is deeply frustrating that a case such as this has to exceed the timescales provided by section 32 of the Children Act 1989 and that should be recorded as having been caused by systemic failure by the local authority.”

Kathy O’Mahony, Gloucestershire’s operations director for children’s safeguarding and care, said: “I am saddened by the judge’s comments. We did take the previous case seriously, but the early delay in this case happened over 6 months ago and I will be asking for a review to understand why this delay occurred.

“The current delay at this stage of proceedings is due to a family member coming forward late in the proceedings to confirm they would be assessed and we should pursue that option. The family member in the past has told us they would not wish to be considered, and we have had to pause now to give them that opportunity.”

The council refused to comment on the judge’s criticisms about the lack of consideration of long-term fostering as a option for Child C.  …………’

When it comes to adoption reform – are good intentions enough ?

Original post from Community Care

‘………….By Amanda Boorman

Adoptive parent and founder of charity, The Open Nest, Amanda Boorman says too much focus is placed on recruitment, not support of adopters

Photo: Gary Brigden
Photo: Gary Brigden

The general consensus, according to the popular press, is that the current Conservative adoption reforms are well intentioned. Michael Gove and Edward Timpson, with personal experience of adoption and fostering, have been the good guys. With consistent rhetoric of zero tolerance towards child neglect and a healthy Department for Education budget to back it up, the reform messages are ones that place adoption as the golden permanence option for children unable to live with their first families.

Good intentions

Good intentions can however, if not informed of the bigger picture, become just intentions. Intention to put the rights of children first, to provide opportunity, to share the many positives of adoption, to save money, to ultimately provide a win-win situation.

As the reform rolls out I become increasingly uncomfortable about where the good intentions will land those of us living in the world of adoption and those stepping into the journey as recent recruits.

I adopted 16 years ago. My intentions to become a parent by adoption were to make a loving commitment, to help a child waiting for a family. It was a somewhat naive decision to parent a child I didn’t “own” based upon reading of the plight of thousands of children “languishing” in care. I responded to an advert. It nudged me as adverts are intended to do.

Completely unprepared

Despite being a qualified social worker, I was completely unprepared for what unfolded into my life through adoption. Effected by dismal parenting skills, followed by systemic failure to support her birth family properly, my daughter was firmly rooted in what is now labelled as trauma based behaviour. Without exaggeration we stepped onto a rollercoaster that didn’t stop lurching up and down at high speed for over a decade, culminating in a devastating teenage derailment when my runaway daughter was severely harmed.

Within this process I was not a passive bystander. I fought constantly to gain the right support. I faced blank faces, brick walls, blame, shame and financial difficulty. By the time my daughter was 18, we hated social workers.

As a vulnerable adult my daughter now has good support and is catching up on the development she should have been enabled to achieve as a child. Our joint experience has led to us founding an independent peer support charity, The Open Nest.

Focus on recruitment

We began forming as Martin Narey’s report on adoption was published in The Times newspaper. The same newspaper I had written an article for several years earlier. An article from an adoptive parents perspective, urging Tony Blair to get adoption reform right. To become trauma aware, to train and supervise social workers properly, to fully understand adoptees and to support therapeutic interventions for all involved.

When we saw the recent reform intentions, read professor of social work at the University of Bristol, Julie Selwyn’s research that recorded the struggles adoptees face and heard the talk of support, we felt hopeful that finally there was very real potential for change. Other families would not have to face the intense challenges we had. On closer inspection however, the priority of current reform seems firmly based in recruitment.

Millions has been awarded to local authorities to improve their marketing and promotion of adoption. An increase in the speed and numbers of adoptions taking place is expected in return and a funded framework of centralising services away from local authorities is waiting in the wings for those authorities who fail.

Private and voluntary adoption and support organisations have been grouped together via Department for Education funding and an implied compliance via places on reform boards, to streamline the marketing of adoption as the premium permanence solution, as well as develop adoption support products.

As an outsider it’s tricky to trace the money, but in the language of approximates there has been around £250 million put into reform. Only £19.5 million of this into the adoption support fund, and for one year only.

Lack of support

Regular calls to our charity as well as research within the adoption community, show that all is not well. Social workers and teachers have not been given the advanced training needed to understand the complexities of adoption support, appropriate assessments for complex needs have not improved in many areas, adoptees’ rights to quality life story and family contact management are not promoted, there is no mention of specialist support for transracial adoptees.

The varied voices of adult adoptees seem to have been left out of the reform process altogether. There is no independent adult adoptee on any of the expert boards driving the changes. An opportunity to deliver transformative and long lasting responses to adoption support has potentially been missed by excluding those it affects the most.

I don’t hate social workers anymore. Seeing policy around adoption reform rolled I out feel concerned that they may be scapegoated, again, as the ones that “let the side down”.

 Related articles:


Councils will be forced to merge adoption services under new law

Original post from Community Care


Copyright Rex Features Limited 2012;13856668;2640;4126;1341932249;Tue, 10 Jul 2012 14:57:29 GMT;0
Copyright Rex Features Limited 2012;13856668;2640;4126;1341932249;Tue, 10 Jul 2012 14:57:29 GMT;0

Local authorities could soon be forced to merge their adoption services, under government powers set to be unveiled in the Queen’s Speech today.

The new law, contained in the proposed schools and adoption bill, will oblige councils to combine their services to increase and speed up adoption rates.

Councils will have two years to join together services under their own steam, after which ministers will have the power to force ‘failing’ authorities to take action.

Too small and localised

Although no barriers prevent councils from working together, ministers believe adoption is currently happening, “at too small and localised a scale”, with evidence showing councils tend to concentrate their efforts locally when looking for adopters.

By working together, ministers hope the choice of potential matches for a child will increase significantly and permanent families will be found sooner.

Children’s minister Edward Timpson said: “By coming together and joining forces, councils can make sure more children are matched with families far quicker – regardless of where they live.”

‘Greatest step change in a generation’

Local authorities will be encouraged to identify their own regional approach that would see them merge their adoption services under one system, or outsource delivery of their adoption functions into a single regional agency.

The Department for Education (DfE) confirmed the government will provide financial and practical support for local authorities and adoption agencies to help them bring their services together regionally.

Doing so would implement the, “greatest step change in the way children are matched for adoption in a generation”, the DfE stated.

More from Community Care

Related articles:

Photo: REX/Cultura (posed by model)   Councils trying to break up foster placements due to cost, carers claim

Photo: Cultura/REX (Picture posed by models)   ‘LGBT foster carers are very useful – we know what it’s like to be different but equal’

Photo: REX/F1 Online   Placement orders fall by half in nine months, government figures show

wpid-scotland-flag-rex.gif   Social Work Scotland: A new integrated voice for Scottish social work    ………….’

Half of local authorities report increase in care applications

Original post from Community Care


Latest Cafcass figures show 53% of local authorities recorded an increase in the number of care applications in 2014/15

Open letter. Photo: Kevin Steinhardt
Open letter. Photo: Kevin Steinhardt

More than half of local authorities are reporting greater demand for care applications, Cafcass figures have shown.

Of 152 local authorities, 80 (53%), had an increase in the number of care applications per 10,000 children in 2014/15 when compared to the previous year.

In the remaining authorities, 43% saw a decrease in care applications year-on-year.

These figures come a month after care demand in 2014/15 was revealed to have hit an all-time high.

Anthony Douglas, Cafcass chief executive, said that how local authorities are better understanding the families they are working with is more important than the increase and decrease in figures.

“Local authorities are trialling innovative new ways of working to provide earlier forms of intervention, demonstrating the high priority being given to child protection, nationally and locally, within the wider context of increasing demand and the need to use budgets effectively to meet these challenges,” Douglas said.

Monthly demand

Care demand in April rose 18% compared to the same period last year, figures released on the same day revealed.

Alison O’Sullivan, president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, said local authority partner agencies are now better trained at identifying need.

“Though local authorities have experienced significant budget reductions over the last five years we remain active in protecting a growing number of children and young people as these latest figures show,” said O’Sullivan.


What It Means To Be Adopted

So true and a great reflection.

Madamsabi's Blog

Teacher Debbie Moon’s first-graders were discussing a picture of a family. One little boy in the picture had different color hair than the other family members.

One child suggested that he was adopted, and a little girl named Jocelynn Jay said, “I know all about adoptions because I’m adopted.”

“What does it mean to be adopted?” asked another child.


“It means,” said Jocelynn, “that you grew in your mother’s heart instead of her tummy.”


View original post