Is the Child Protection System fit for Purpose?

Proposed Multi Disciplinary Conference, 1st June 2015.

Please see this post from the Transparency Project. 

Policing Parents, Protecting Children and Promoting Adoption: Do we get the child protection system we deserve?

The Transparency Project is pleased to announce a proposal for a multi-discliplinary conference, provisionally arranged for 1st June 2015, which will invite views and perspectives from experts, lawyers, social workers, parents and care leavers in an attempt to re-position the current unhealthily polarised debate around the child protection system.
We hope to be joined by Dr Lauren Devine of UWE who is currently undertaking research into the evidence base for our current system and by Brigid Featherstone, co-author of ‘Re Imagining Child Protection’.
The venue and full list of speakers will be confirmed over the coming months.
If you are interested and would like to be kept informed about developments, or if you have any suggestions for topics or speakers please contact [email protected]

EDIT – Topics for afternoon discussion

Suggestions are coming in for the issues most likely require debate/discussion. Please feel free to contact us to add more.

  • Section 20 agreements – the drift and delay problems. Are there adequate mechanisms in place for review of these? What’s the IRO doing?
  • The anti-authoritarian parent – does disagreeing with or failing to co-operate with a social worker equate to being a ‘bad parent’? What can be done to improve relationships between parents and social workers? These issues are highlighted in the recent Hertfordshire case and discussions over at suesspcious minds.
  • Perception of experts as independent – what should happen if experts in a case are on a ‘paid retainer’ with a LA? also an issue raised in the Hertfordshire case above.
  • Problems with ‘working together’ – example of recent disjunction between family and housing law discussed by Nearly Legal. How do we make sure family courts have the best information about issues they may not be familiar with nor fully understand?
  • Opening up the family courts – the impact on children. Is it likely to be a serious as some fear? What lessons can we learn from other jurisdictions?

25 thoughts on “Is the Child Protection System fit for Purpose?

  1. Pingback: Is the Child Protection System fit for Purpose?...

  2. Hugo

    “Opening up the family courts – the impact on children. Is it likely to be a serious as some fear? What lessons can we learn from other jurisdictions? ”

    child abduction is a crime of child abuse. In other jurisdictions it is treated as such. In the UK the police don’t recognise it unless the parent has left the jurisdiction (yes attempted abduction is a crime under the attempteds act and a serious one at that).

    There are hundreds of abductions every year according to Reunite, but parents are discouraged from following through prosecution, as the ‘child may be resentful that one parent prosecuted the other’

    No reference here to citizens rights (the reason the law was passed by the highest court in the land) ie perversion of the course of justice/witness intimidation is used to coerce people to drop charges.

    No research to back up an institutionalised psychopathy – what if the child of the criminal parent came to the other parent and said why the hell didn’t you prosecute them? (perhaps by some chance they had grown up to be law abiding, conscienced individuals).

    Hey, maybe if someone was actually prosecuted, hundreds of children a year would avoid unnecessary suffering.
    now there’s a thought.

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      I think a far better way to resolve the problem of parents who hate each other and use their children as pawns in some toxic game, would be to encourage people to stop and think a bit before they decide to have children with someone they don’t seem to know very well and who turns out, along the line, to be the kind of person who would run off with their child.

      Something has gone very wrong in a relationship if one parent resorts to that, and I think it is the responsibility of both adults in that relationship to recognise that.

      Relying on the any kind of law, be it civil or criminal, to fix psychological dysfunction in adults is doomed to failure. And yes, I imagine it is not great for children to know that one half of their genetic makeup is now in prison at the behest of the other half.

      I don’t think that the UK is alone in finding this a very difficult problem. I am not aware of any other jurisdiction which is praised for its swift criminal sanctions for parents – perhaps you could enlighten me. I would be interested to know where a punitive regime actually bears fruit.

      1. John Smith

        If someone breaks the law willfully then they are subject to the consequences entailed. Turning a blind eye and offering up some sort of mediation for criminal offense doesn’t seem that much more effective. I assume that the bitterness in your post is due to a bad day? Don’t worry there is always tomorrow, a new chance to make a difference.

          1. John Smith

            Thank you for the thoughtful constructive criticism. I apologize if you find my previous post annoying.

  3. Sarah Phillimore

    I am annoyed by myriad people and comments. It’s not always all about you John.

    Again – examine what you are projecting here.

    1. John Smith

      I read your response to the child abduction comment with you projecting sarcasm and stating that it is the victim’s fault for their poor choice in partner. I would not accuse you of taking the same view in domestic abuse situations. I would think child abduction would be cause for possible emotional and maybe even physical harm. Why shouldn’t the courts step to protect the child/ren in such situations?

      I suppose the court should drop all of the contact disputes, as it won’t change anything for the better from your previous statement on parents who have contact disputes. Case in point there was that xbox case from a year or two ago that seems to prove your theory on the pointlessness of court involvement for the exact kind of scenario you stated.

  4. Sarah Phillimore Post author

    It is pointless trying to have a discussion with someone – i.e. you – who sees what they want to see, reads what they want to read.

    It is not the victim’s ‘fault’ they are in an abusive relationship. They are not responsible for the bad behaviour of another. What they are ultimately and supremely responsible for is themselves.

    If they choose to enter into a relationship with someone who belittles them, ignores them or treats them as a punchbag and then they chose to stay in that relationship – they have a responsibility to ask themselves WHY they made such a bad choice and why they think so little of themselves.

    this applies to any kind of abusive relationship. A parent who abducts a child is either an abuser themselves or is doing this to escape an abuser. Either way, two people have got together and had a child who really should not have done and I think it is perfectly fair enough to question why they did that.

    1. John Smith

      Thanks for your reply on the part about contact disputes. Speaking of contact, I wonder what benefit if any for post adoption contact with genetic donors i.e. “birth parents”. I would just love to see the stats that bear fruit for something so disruptive for the child/ren’s real family and parents.

      1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

        There is research that demonstrates post adoption contact can be beneficial for everyone IF the birth parents don’t seek to undermine the placement with the adoptive family.

        See this post

        Many adopted people speak of their sense of loss and confusion, particuarly after they have their own children. They have no one else in their lives that looks like them. This can be very powerful for some. Not all. Some adopted people have no interest in meeting their birth parents and do not feel that loss.

        Because we are all different. There is no ‘one size fits all’. Birth parents are not simply ‘donors’. They are not simply monsters and they are not simply victims.

        The one fundamental purpose of this site is to try to get people to release their grip on their pet agendas. Even if a few lines you reveal your clear agenda ‘genetic donors’… ‘something so disruptive for the children’s real family’.

        I don’t therefore think this site is for you. I don’t have patience with such proselytising.

    2. william

      She makes a good point about choice in partners. I was in a relationship awhile ago with a woman and we got engaged and were planning on having a family. Before we married I learned she had severe bi polar which as anyone familiar with such a mental illness can tell you is quite dangerous at times. Not uncommon for bi polar people who go off their meds to get arrested. I ended the relationship and am now happily married with 2 kids without the worry of any violent psychotic breaks. I know it is not my ex’s fault for her condition, I just couldn’t risk such a dangerous situation, especially if children were involved.

  5. ian josephs

    No sane mothers who are also law abiding deserve to have their babies taken at birth to feed the greedy and highly lucrative fostering and adoption industries [etc, etc, etc in same vein. Abusive, unevidenced posturing. So deleted]

    1. ian josephs

      HERE ARE 7 OF THE PROFITEERING AGENCIES RAKING IN MANY MILLIONS OF £s IN PROFITS AND DIRECTOR’S (mostly ex social workers) salaries .Google these names ans see for yourselves.

      Foster Care Associates; National Fostering Agency, The Foster Care Agency; Acorn Care and Education, Fostering Solutions, Pathway Care Fostering and Heath Farm Fostering; Partnerships in Children’s Services, Orange Grove, ISP, Fosterplus and Clifford House; Swiis Foster Care; Capstone Foster Care; Compass Fostering, The Fostering Partnership, Eden Foster Care and Seafields Fostering; Caretech
      Here is just one example !
      Foster Care AssociatesFoster Care Associates logo

      Owned by: Jim Cockburn and Janet Rees through Ideapark Ltd

      Income from foster care in 2014**: £127.2m

      Payouts to owner in 2014: £7m

      Highest paid director salary and other benefits: £406,000

      Founded by carers Jim Cockburn and Janet Rees in 1994, Foster Care Associates (FCA) has become the biggest foster care company in the UK, and even has branches in Finland, Australia and Canada. The FCA website assures potential foster carers that it does not have any “shareholders or private equity interests to serve”, but this is only half right. Unlike many of its rivals it is not owned by a private equity firm. But it certainly does have shareholders – principally Jim Cockburn and Janet Rees, through a holding company called Ideapark Ltd.

      The latest accounts of Core Assets Group Ltd (Foster Care Associates is a trading name) show the company paid out £7m in dividends to Ideapark Ltd in 2014, and £11.6m the year before. Ideapark Ltd’s accounts show it only paid out £50,000 to Cockburn and Rees in 2014, but a whopping £9.2m the year before

      And you Wonder why so many wealthy people are desperate to protect such a (for them) lucrative child care and adoption system………………………….

  6. belle

    Sarah, I find your comment demanding that people who have been abused by a partner question themselves as to why they got into a relationship with an abuser to be disturbing and judgemental. Specifically it is very judgemental to state, two people got together and had a child which they should not have done. Leaving an abuser is not simple, as I’m sure you know, and nor is it easy to think well of oneself when the person who supposedly cares about you systematically undermines your self worth through psychological abuse and narcissistically campaigns to turn others in your life against you. It really isn’t as you assert fair enough for you to question the choices I or other abused women have made under extreme circumstances the specifics of which you are completely unaware.

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      I have both personal and professional experience of abusive relationships and thus stand by everything I say.

      I had some hard questions to ask myself about why I entered and then stayed with an abusive man. Why did I think I was worth so little?

      But I appreciate it isn’t easy to leave, particularly if you have children or are financially dependent. But that doesn’t absolve you from asking yourself hard questions and taking responsibility for your choices.

  7. belle

    Further, I find it really telling that in many of your comments and articles you advocate staunchly for people to abstain from tarring all members of a given profession with one brush but see nothing wrong in making such a blanket statement about people who have been abused by a partner. You may be aware of research into intimate partner violence that reveals they is no “profile” for a victim of such violence, our characters, previous life experience, etc are very varied, although our trauma responses are strikingly similar. Whereas the perpetrators of such violence fit into very specific patterns in terms of their values, beliefs, behaviour, etc. It is the perpetrators who need to be questioned and taught to question themselves (one trait they share is a lack of self reflective capacity, whereas, often those of us who have been made victims to them are self-reflecting to a high degree).

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      I have not tarred anyone with any brush. I am saying that entering into and staying in a relationship is a choice we make. To stay with an abusive man and have more than one child with him is a choice. A very bad choice. I want to educate and help my daughter with her understanding and self esteem so she doesn’t make such bad choices.

      This is not victim blaming or denying the reality of how skilled and manipulative some abusers can be. It is about promoting self reliance and taking responsibility, having agency in your own life.

      I firmly believe that it is taking responsibility that will best promote a happy and healthy life, lived to its full potential.

      You are entitled to disagree, but it would be more productive if you disagreed with what I actually say, rather than assigning certain motivations to me, which exist only in your mind.

      1. belle

        It’s odd how many of your responses to comments are so combative as you criticise the people who are commenting. Your previous comment didn’t specify “more than one child” it stated “a child”. And nothing in my comments suggested that there is any thing wrong with taking responsibility for oneself! Perhaps take your own advice and respond to what I have written, rather than something that exists only in your own mind. You are not the definitive arbiter of what does and does not constitute victim blaming. If you honestly want to exchange ideas with people perhaps you also need to be self-reflective and less condescending when someone simply disagrees with you (which is how you’re coming across, whether you intend to or not). Especially when the issue being discussed is highly sensitive and nuanced.

        1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

          I am not combative. I am blunt. If you dislike my comments, please feel free to visit another site.

          Again, I do not claim to be the definitive arbiter of anything. But I do know my own mind and my own opinions; they are the product of many years experience, thought and debate, so I do not lightly relinquish them and I certainly will not relinquish them just because someone else dislikes them.

  8. Sam

    Belle Can you provide a link to your assertion that victims do not fit a profile. This is not to argue with you but out of genuine interest as a DV survivor myself. I do agree that the perpetrator’s appear to have similar characteristics . Personally I can now spot the type the moment they open their mouths or even before by their body language ; but it’s too late for me I lost my children initially through daring to report to the police. Something I won’t shut up about whilst I have breath. The family court in some cases, has moved on very little over judging women who dare to leave abusive men since the 1960’s.It certainly takes very little account of the mental torture woman go through whilst in an abusive relationship and the problems both practically and emotionally that a woman with children faces when leaving.

    1. belle

      I don’t have online links but two books I’ve read cover this topic Trauma and Recovery by Judith Herman and Why Does He Do That by Lundy Bancroft. It’s something that I am looking to learn more about as well, Herman cites many other books and articles that I want to read. I agree with you that the courts show little understanding of the impacts of psychological abuse. I’m so sorry that you lost your children after reporting. I have found online some information specifically about narcissistic abuse, which has been helpful to me, again narcissistic abuse seems little recognized by officials but as knowledge is power I’m determined to learn all that I can from all the resources available to me.

  9. angelo granda

    Belle and Sám, Good luck to you both with your studies in the New Year!
    Only this last week a new law has been passed which makes excessive controlling behaviour a crime and i think that is a good thing.

    In my opinion,you should seek out accounts and books by men themselves if you want to find out ‘why they do that?’.Especially in the multi-cultural society we now live in.

    I think that you will learn more than you will from any book from a woman.What does Lundy Bancroft know about inbred controlling behaviour as practiced by the average Afghan mountain herdsman or Mongolian ? All cultures and racial groups are different and this country is one big melting pot. My apologies if i am assuming wrongly that Lundy is a woman’s name.
    Sám, QUOTE: Personally I can now spot the type the moment they open their mouths or even before by their body language: UNQUOTE.

    That would seem to be the way a lot of sw’s approach assessments.

  10. Pingback: The Privatisation of Children's Services 1 : The corporate gravy train has arrived at children's care homes and fostering agencies - Conscious in Croydon

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