The conversations we are not having about adoption – and how we could have them

On 23rd September 2017 with curiosity and trepidation, I will become a ‘performer’ in a ‘unique live oral communication performance’ created by the artist Pamela Neil (, looking at some of the issues around child protection and adoption.

In this performance piece I want to explore important questions that are not being raised publicly, such as – can we ‘make’ happy families? Do we need to ‘rescue’ children or should we be trying to keep unhappy families together?

And probably most fundamentally of all – can we impose identity on a child? What IS our identity? And what does it do to us – as individuals and as a society – to see the identity attached to our birth family be destroyed or altered by the state? When does the price to pay for child protection simply become too high?

I was attracted to this unique art form, creating a live oral communication performance about adoption, because it’s become very clear to me over the years that the necessary public debate about these issues keeps stalling and stagnating around the polarised positions of those who feel very strongly that their experiences and understanding represent the only truth.

Attempts to broaden debate and understanding often falter because when the debate pushes so many emotional buttons, attempts to make a particular argument often seem to end up being a barrier to communication rather than opening a door to greater understanding and awareness – its not so much the FACTS that win hearts and minds but the FEELINGS they create.
Is it possible therefore to come at this from another angle? Not the dry legal approach which has informed my training and professional life – but trying to shine a light on the issues in another way?

One of the most important benefits of any performance or work of art must be how powerfully complex thoughts and ideas can be communicated to an audience; straight to the heart, rather than draining our interest in a dull legal lecture and PowerPoint.


Where and when

I have no idea if this will work, but whatever happens I am sure it will be interesting and I am really excited about the venue!

I hope you can join me at ‘happy families, the conversations we’re not having about adoption’, 18:30 – 20:30

Saturday 23 September 2017 Arnolfini Gallery Bristol UK.

Tickets are free and you can register here via EventBrite 

97 thoughts on “The conversations we are not having about adoption – and how we could have them

  1. Angelo Granda

    I hope the exercise is productive.I agree with the Goverment that adoption is better for children in circumstances which are so dire that nothing else will do and I am sure the average citizen will think likewise. If parents are so dysfunctional,cruel and malicious in cases like Fred West or others where there are criminal convictions of real wickedness ( not simply dv one parent’s part which has also traumatised the other parent or mental health problems) then I think it is reasonable.
    However, all safeguards and procedures and everything possible should be done to avoid it as is laid down by law.All less intrusive alternatives to be examined etc. Family conferences etc. Investigations to be thorough and impartial and so on.
    Temporary foster-care should suffice to safeguard children in most cases. Or LA care-home.
    Unfortunately I don’t trust the civil family courts to make ‘proportionate’ findings.
    Do any readers think enforced adoption should never be imposed? I would have thought a child will be much better -off adopted than fostered as with orphans whose extended family don’t want to know.
    In really dire circumstances, I also support bonuses for SW’s who place children for adoption.I wooder why so few do get placements and suspect the LA’s prefer fostering and care homes.Good on the Government for preferring adoption.

  2. looked_after_child

    Hmmm..There really is a spectrum of opinion on this Angelo. I’ve not any experience other than s20 and meeting ”Pause’ and Adoptive Mums . ( not in huge numbers though) and finding a lot of common ground with both.
    There are a lot of problems with Adoption. People will always have the potential to be very flawed and wonderful – That applies to adoptive parents too.
    I’m also very sceptical about what adoptive parents are told about the children they are adopting – some of these children will have life-long struggles with disability and poor mental health and adoptive parents are likely to face the same herculean struggles as the rest of us getting help. The help offered seems to come from the ‘trauma industry’. I’ve had and been grateful for lots and lots of hours of therapy however my view is unless you know what the problems for a child are you cannot fix them ( and even then only some are fixable).

    The issue of identity is also at the core of who we are. (In no particular order – family, values/religion, education etc etc) My son cannot ‘see himself’ as having a disability. Actually the chances are, he would not cope half as well as he does at the moment if he accepted that he is autistic. His identity is as a non-vulnerable, non-disabled young man. Who am I to take that from him and to give him another identity ( just because he has a diagnosis?).
    Adopters face this difficulty with adoptees, particularly if they do not ‘support’ birth parents and birth families. Trying to supplant an old identity and graft a child into a new family is always going to be very problematic for these reasons . People will make their own choices and that is their right.

    And then there are the Mums..what can I say having a child enter care under s20? The whole ‘business as usual ‘ process from professionals set against the primal losses of these women, who are only seen in the context of failing mums/no one ever questions the failures of services etc that have brought them to this point. I don’t think that many professionals CARE about these Mums – they are ‘adults’ – they made choices – It is their fault they are losing their child their role is to ‘rescue the children’ etc etc. and they are doing that so what is the problem etc etc.

    I believe Adoption is likely to be necessary say if a parent is complicit in abuse. In many less clear-cut cases even on a practical basis, most Mums will go on to have ‘replacement’ babies so you just HAVE to engage with these Mums and increase their parenting capacity -all of which should move the focus away from Adoption so it really is the last resort. Having experienced s20, I know how tight resources are and how pragmatic SWs are – I’m very doubtful that is how Adoption is viewed,

    1. looked_after_child

      ….and that makes the potential for miscarriages of justice all the more likely.

    2. HelenSparkles

      Afraid this is just not true.

      “And then there are the Mums..what can I say having a child enter care under s20? The whole ‘business as usual ‘ process from professionals set against the primal losses of these women, who are only seen in the context of failing mums/no one ever questions the failures of services etc that have brought them to this point. I don’t think that many professionals CARE about these Mums – they are ‘adults’ – they made choices – It is their fault they are losing their child their role is to ‘rescue the children’ etc etc. and they are doing that so what is the problem etc etc.”

      In my experience, most cases are sad not bad, & parents’ stories are very sad. That they can’t parent safely is a tragedy for everyone. SW do care and birth parents need support, it just isn’t the child protection worker who should be doing that, or that they would want to be. You do indeed need an agency to intervene with cyclical behaviours and there is PAUSE, I’m just not ethically a huge fan of mandatory contraception although I understand the project’s premise.

      As for children being removed under S20, if a child is moving to adoption, a court has to make that decision. The court can choose not to make an order if S20 has been agreed, but that is generally on the understanding that an ICO application would be made if it was revoked. If the SW hasn’t evidenced that nothing else will do, the court will let them know. Nobody severed the ties of children with their family of origin with anything other than a heavy heart. SW already explore family and friends who could be appropriate carers.

      The uncertainty of adoption exists for adoptive parents even if they are given all the information available, since this includes a child permeance report and a medical consult, I struggle to see how they are not informed. I would of course accept that things go wrong. There is no crystal ball, genetic tests may or may not tell us something will happen, it is as uncertain as having your own children.

      I would in general be happier with a growing up family and a birth family, without so much separation between the two, except where there is a risk. Adopters need more help to tell children their story and to cope with the grief, loss and separation which leads to some of the issues of bolting the door shut. It would be different for every child, so I wouldn’t be too prescriptive, but my fundamental change to the system would be that it should not be viewed as a fertility service, but as a service for children.

      Adoption has changed hugely since Gove was adopted, children no longer come into care for anything other than CP reasons, and very few babies are relinquished because we no longer live in a time when that is cause for shame. I can see that Gove has adopted his adopters as his family and identity, but I wonder about how well that really has worked for him. If it has, it isn’t good enough to say it worked for me it can work for everyone else. We don’t know Gove but I would suggest there was a lack of empathy in most of the public school cabinet/decision makers in the Cameron government. That may or may not be connected to his adoption, separation from adoptive parents who sent him to boarding school, or just a personality trait. Either way I don’t think any of those men could feel our pain.

      Oh and sometimes it is dad being complicit in abuse, mums are not saints.

        1. looked_after_child

          ‘ a child permeance report and a medical consult’ – Can you explain what these entail Helen – how many specialists and feed into the ‘medical consult’?

          How do you explain the findings of this study
 lead by this man

          lif the ‘medical consult’ is accurate/comprehensive?

          ….repeating the words ‘trauma’, ‘abuse’ neglect’ endlessly does not make for a reasoned analysis. Neither does repeating the word ‘Autism’ but there IS something ‘going on’ that much higher numbers of disabled children than most expect, are entering Care and being adopted. When ‘medical consults’ are not picking this up then we really do have a problem with their quality.

          1. HelenSparkles

            Afraid I haven’t got time to read the study at the moment but can answer the other queries.

            The medical consult for adopters involves a paediatrician with all the medical info available on a child. Sometimes the adopters will see a specialist separately but it is more usual for them to feed into the consult. SW also take a family history and any ambiguities are followed up before the consult by the paediatrician and SW. The Child Permanence Report (CPR) details all spheres of a child’s life and is the document which is shared with adopters, as well as having other uses, and which will tell them everything that is known about a child. It also details family background and any future uncertainty. So there might be a genetic condition that the child has a 1% chance of inheriting for example, that would be included in both the consult and the CPR.

  3. looked_after_child

    As regards the trauma industry ( anyone such as its high priest who denies the existence of ADHD such as Dr Bruce Parry – will get no respect from me.
    Personally I hope there is a special place in Hell for people who exploit other people’s tragedy for their own ends.

  4. Elizabeth Smith

    It’s inevitable, perhaps, that the tragedies are the ones we hear about, both in the professional journals and in the mainstream media. But that should not detract from the fact that adoption can work, and well.

    Regardless of your politics, look at Michael Gove. What struck me was that his adopters were his family. His parents are Mr and Mrs Gove of Aberdeen. He had no interest in his so-called “roots”, or his “identity”. He is who he is.

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      Unsurprising. He was adopted at 6 weeks old, as I understand. I deal frequently with children who have a very clear idea who they are, who their siblings are and who will suffer if the relationships they have with family members are severed. Despite the clear comments from MacFarlane LJ about the need for more imaginative thinking about what happens post adoption, we seem to still be stuck in the view that once adopted, the shutters come down.

      Of course some children will not care and live and die without any interest in their birth family. But for other children, it will be real disaster. we may not know which children fall into which category until it is too late. But given that majority of adoptions do NOT involve new born babies, its a discussion we need to have. Adoption can still ‘work’ with some recognition of a child’s birth family, and even direct contact with family members. Why do our choices have to be so stark, so binary?

  5. Angelo Granda

    Of course, adoption can work! It does work but in the right circumstances only. The choices are stark and binary because currently an adoption order is irreversible which is why the Law says it should only be imposed on a child in the most dire of circumstances.
    Why can we not accept the Law which is fairly uncomplicated and put less severe plans in place. Plans which will genuinely safeguard children and at the same time maintain their human rights. Foster-care is reversible and children can be re-united with natural family as soon as practically possible. Families can be reformed and reshaped; their isn’t a need for adoption in most cases. Example of inhumanity: A social worker who follows the false ideology that it is impossible to impose reform on a poor or criminal parent. They can be reformed and, in fact, they have a human right to it. It is the whole basis of our civilisation. We cannot interfere with their children’s rights to a family life except in the most serious circumstances.
    Sarah, either adoption should be reversible ( which seems unfair to the adoptive couple) or it should not be ordered at all. We should concentrate on improving the fostering, residential placement system.

    Many professionals ,SW’s and some lawyers included will not accept it being in over their heads, in cases badly trained and with heads full of false ideology about alloparenting, statistics, the benefits of adoption, outcomes for adopted children, research etc. etc. They forget the simple matter of human rights and the law.
    Sorry if this comment is out of place on this thread, readers, which is all about a ‘unique live oral communication performance’ created by the artist Pamela Neil. I wonder if that great advert for adoption,Michael Gove will be going to the event.

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      No of course your comment is not out of place – it is very welcome. That’s the whole point really. We all need to be talking TO each other, rather than AT each other. I hope this is going to be something to promote actual discussion and sharing of ideas.

  6. Angelo Granda

    By its very nature adoption has to be irreversible, stark and binary. I would not agree to ‘adopt’ a child if it could be undone and the family could never live a normal family life if two sets of parents were involved. Adoption is really for orphans or when natural parents just don’t want the child. Forced adoption is inhumane. Thank Heavens it is no longer forced upon ‘fallen’ women who became mothers anymore, it was cruel to both Mum and child. Neither should it be forced on those with mental illness or in dv cases. Example of inhumanity: SW’s or Judges who say reform and change cannot be imposed upon a family. It can indeed our civilisation depends on it; rehabilitation is the primary raison-d’etre of our criminal system and it is fundamental to the British sense of fair-play.
    Fixed term Foster-care is the natural alternative when immediate safe-guarding and family reform is called for with rehabilitation always the main aim. I bet there are literally hundreds of families out there who have benefitted .Where are all their stories? A much more proportionate sanction!

    Having said that, as I said before adoption and allo-parenting etc. can be successful in the right circumstances. Michael Gove is a shining success story especially now he has been readmitted to the TM fold and I hope he finds the time to attend the event advertised above.
    Sarah, when you say performance, do you mean singing a song, making a speech, reading a poem or what? Or even the flying trapeze? How will we have to perform?

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      I don’t know!!! come and find out… But I think its just me who is doing the ‘performing’ so don’t worry about that.

  7. looked_after_child

    I was able to hear the CEO of Coram BAAF this morning give a huge (and pretty abrasive) endorsement of ways to better match baby ‘supply’ and ‘demand’ via regional adoption agencies. I was only half listening as I was I was trying to digest that she is also the Chair of Trustees of the National Autistic Society. (How did that happen and hopefully she has no policy role or there will be a membership revolt???)

    1. looked_after_child

      To be honest if you were the parent of a child in need struggling to support your child, she would strike fear in your heart that your child would be removed to a wonderful new shiny adoptive family that would’ent struggle or fail or lose their child ( or so we are told..)

      1. looked_after_child

        Gist of the speech about adoption
        ‘biggest issues that need ‘fixing’ ..really quick timescales and efficiency of matching supply and demand…very straight-forward..need to get on and fix it’

        1. looked_after_child

          I can see why you need to take to the stage Sarah..if these are the people driving the agenda!

        2. HelenSparkles

          Which is just not what is happening on the ground. Timescales are fine and matching takes the time it takes. The government rhetoric is just so unhelpful, it is all about lax rubbish public servants.

          1. looked_after_child

            The audience was one of civil servants ..and the narrative was one of one of lax rubbish civil servants. I’ve been at a few similar events like this, but in different contexts and there is a very common narrative eg from the DfE ( busy dismantling the welfare state and pushing whatever ‘bright idea’ currently passes for policy) and there is very little challenge from the floor generally ..except for one or two parents (!)

      2. HelenSparkles

        The rhetoric around adoption is v unhelpful.

        Most children who are adopted are from families where they have experienced abuse and trauma, not those who are struggling a bit.

        1. looked_after_child

          Sorry Helen but my family experienced trauma because we were abandoned by services (this is not struggling a bit!) so yes families like mine DO need to be very careful. I’m exaggerating a bit (!) but this woman seemed a cross between the recruiting sargeant and the press gang , hunting out MORE put into the baby processing machine that she runs.

          1. HelenSparkles

            I didn’t hear the speech but I know the CEO of CoramBAAF and she is driven by finding adopters for the children who need adoption, this is usually where there are very stark issues and risks, and where family members can’t protect. Children over 5 are thought of as older for adoption, the risks of breakdown are greater, not that they are never adopted just that families of older children really don’t have to worry about adoption. There are also very few babies.

            In being transparent about concerns, parents do often feel shame and blame from SW, mitigating it is a challenge. SW do all have to assess if there are safeguarding issues, even if services and support are being sought, that is part of our role.

        2. Angelo Granda

          QUOTE:Most children who are adopted are from families where they have experienced abuse and trauma, not those who are struggling a bit:UNQUOTE

          I doubt it. Most children who are adopted come from families who are struggling a bit ,the LA picks upon them as vulnerable and abuse and traumatise the children both by the act of removal from parents and then by the poor standard of care they give themselves. That is the complaint and experience of most families and parents who have contributed to this resource.

          Professionals should take off their rose-tinted spectacles.

          1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

            Angelo – I don’t wear rose tinted spectacles. You underestimate hugely the appalling circumstances in which some children live. It is not a case of ‘struggling a bit’.

          2. HelenSparkles

            Angelo you really haven’t been exposed to the lives some children lead. I really don’t think transplanting children is the best thing for them, but it is often better than the homes they emerge from, and the trauma and abuse they experienced there. This is not just about children, this is about long term impact, and the adults they become. The very sad story of parents’ lives, in those CP cases, is often rooted in their own trauma.

          3. Angelo Granda

            Thank you both ( Sarah and Helen) for your replies. In my view , in many cases Social Worker’s and Lawyers have great trouble understanding the massive difference between FACT and THEORY. Or, for that matter FACTUAL EVIDENCE and INTELLIGENCE. They are obsessed with theories about how children might be suffering significant harm or might be unattached etc. etc. When you say children are removed because of abuse and trauma what you really mean is that they ‘might ‘ have suffered it or that on the balance of probabilities after consideration of all your theoretical evidence ,the Judge found that they had suffered abuse and trauma.
            You don’t even try and the Judge doesn’t even try to look at the case scientifically using factual evidence and to decide whether the children had genuinely been discovered to be traumatised. You don’t report any evidence factual or theoretical contra- indicative of it either.
            SW’s traumatise children when they remove them into care claiming removal is in their interests more often than not , I would say.
            What you have to realise is that parents understand that all you Child-protection professionals have to be careful, we emphasise with your worries , we understand your theories and know what a very difficult job you have. We recognise that lots of families present a problem ,we know that sometimes homes are below standard ( not sufficient to remove a child into care in itself, by the way). We know that often children are neglected .
            All the Public ask is that you take less notice of theories which give you cause for concern and carry out a fair and impartial investigation of the facts. That way innocent families won’t suffer for your exaggerated fears for children and , equally important those families genuinely dysfunctional will not have their human rights abused. The Public know the difficulties and we have set out laws, safeguards and correct procedures for you to follow. Follow the guidelines, that’s all that is asked of you. The guidelines say you must base your assessments and decisions on FACTS of what has happened. Not trauma and abuse which you think a child ‘might’ have suffered. Not when removal or adoption is to be contemplated anyway.

          4. Sarah Phillimore Post author

            No. I mean children are removed because they are found by the police lying on mattresses soaked in urine, or they are out late at night in the cold with no socks or shoes on, or they are too hungry and tired to concentrate at school. Or their mum’s boyfriend is having sex with them and she doesn’t protect them.

            There are real and serious examples of children who have suffered ACTUAL harm. You do a great disservice to these children and those who try to protect them by skating over that.

          5. Angelo Granda

            In the cases you are talking about, Sarah, there should be no problem establishing real facts and easy to gain a conviction. Follow all the correct procedures and conduct the case correctly. No need to start discussing theory or how it ‘might’ of happened or being anything less than impartial. I am not a professional. CP professionals with power who skate over the facts do a disservice to children.
            That is the problem, when parents complain and give the truth, they are not listened to, the professionals go on the attack and begin discrediting the complainant.

          6. Angelo Granda

            QUOTE: I mean children are removed because they are found by the police lying on mattresses soaked in urine, or they are out late at night in the cold with no socks or shoes on, or they are too hungry and tired to concentrate at school. Or their mum’s boyfriend is having sex with them and she doesn’t protect them :UNQUOTE

            I really worry for UK children when I read messages like this from professionals. Where is their sense of humanity and proportionality? Do they even understand proportionality?

            I harp on about proportionality because I feel it is central to injustice in Family Courts but rather than examine the subject, all I get back is criticism and arguments like that above. Sarah, do you really think that the following warrant permanent removal from natural family ?
            1. If a child has no shoes or socks on outdoors.
            2. A child who wets his bed and soaks the mattress.
            3. Sexual abuse by a predator who has gained the confidence of a child’s Mum.
            4. When parents are convicted of criminal neglect.
            5. When it is felt a child has suffered Actual Bodily Harm but no charges have been brought by Police because there are no facts to support their intelligence reports.
            Bear in mind that the Law sets down frameworks and procedures to be followed and actually states that it is in the child’s paramount interests to remain with natural family. Safeguards and working together frameworks must be followed strictly ( such as a Family conference to examine extended family support . To angry victims etc. your arguments have little value. To me ,your arguments explanations and some by SW’s are bankrupt!
            Even the child of a sex abuser or murderer has human rights including that to a scrupulously proportionate hearing.

          7. Sarah Phillimore Post author

            If a child has no shoes or socks on outdoors frequently – then yes. Removal. This is neglect.
            If a child who wets his bed and soaks the mattress and is left to lie on it – then yes. Removal. This is neglect.
            If a child is abused by a sexual predator who has gained the mother’s confidence – then yes. Removal. This is failure to protect
            When parents are convicted of criminal neglect – yes, removal, which will probably be necessary as i assume parents will be in prison.
            When child has suffered actual bodily harm but no charges bought – if the family courts find on balance of probabilities – looking at medical evidence/ history from child etc – that the parents hurt the child, then yes – removal. Actual physical abuse.

          8. HelenSparkles

            Angelo, you have no wish to safeguard children, only to prevent them from being removed, even when they are at risk of harm or have been harmed. It is very sad when children can’t stay with their birth parents or within their family of origin, it not proportionate for children to be at home when their needs are not being met, nor is it the law. Family Group Meetings/Conferences are about building safety not inviting people who can’t protect a child to meet up and have a bit of a chat about it. Once again I find you misunderstand the law, correct procedures, and paramountcy principles. I was horrified to read your comments, you have crossed a line for me I’m afraid, I knew we had a different position but you don’t take children being hurt seriously at all.

          9. Angelo Granda

            Helen, Thanks as always for your comments, but unfortunately I have to disagree. I think you misread my comments.
            Attempting to establish a lawyers view on proportionality , I asked Sarah a series of questions with the idea we might learn something about proportionality.
            I understand that all of the behaviours mentioned are serious and I understand that threshold criteria for neglect will often be crossed and lawyers will issue care-orders. Children have to be safeguarded and I, myself, have said THOUSANDS of times that I do not disagree with removal from home in certain circumstances and even permanent liquidation of families in the most dire cases. So I really don’t know where you are coming from. The interests of children are paramount for me because that is the Law.
            Sarah, I am concerned that you say dirty mattress warrants removal. They can be cleaned or replaced easily plus obviously Mum cannot be held solely responsible for that. She might be overcome by an incontinent child or unable to afford a rubber mattress cover or plastic blanket. A continence expert would be able to help.
            Removal for a child who runs outside without shoes is also not dire enough to warrant removal in my eyes.
            As far as A.B.H. or simple neglect is concerned, I do not believe that an ordinary Court would order a death sentence, life imprisonment or the permanent liquidation of a family for it although it might for sexual abuse or G.B.H. torture etc. or other dire behaviours.
            Talking proportionality how can a Family Court order more severe sanctions than a criminal court can without even being 100% certain the offences have occurred. Can you understand that the Public might think that being found guilty of GBH in a proper court might be counted as so dire that nothing but removal will do but ABH not dire enough. Especially when not convicted in a proper court.
            Please discuss.

          10. Sarah Phillimore Post author

            No, I said a dirty mattress that a child was left to lie in clearly constitutes neglect.
            Of course children wet the bed, it happens. What you would need to see therefore is a parent who reacted to that – by replacing the mattress, giving the child clean bedding, taking the child to the GP to get some advice.
            It should not be the case that a child with problems attracts the attention of SW who then seeks to blame the parents. I appreciate that sometimes it isn’t that easy to unpick what is a genetic/environmental/social problem. As we have been discussing here, sometimes parents get ‘blamed’ for problems/behaviours displayed by their child when the parents should be getting help and support, not blame.

            I accept not every case is clear cut. But what would be very clear cut is that if a child was suffering due to a harmful physical environment and the parent did nothing to make it any better. i.e its not the bed wetting that’s the problem, its the doing nothing about it.

          11. Angelo Granda

            Yes ,of course it is neglect if a parent regularly leaves a child in a filthy bed. Yes it may warrant a child-protection order even if there is not sufficient evidence to secure a conviction for criminal neglect because there is not enough FACTUAL and/or FORENSIC evidence which is very important . I would have no hesitation in getting an order and permission to visit and monitor a child and to force the parent to clean the mattress regularly, get continence advice etc. if I were a SW.
            Yet I am asking is it proportionate to removal. It would be more in the paramount interests of the child to keep him with natural family. As a SW, I would jump into the hole feet first , show Mum how to keep the mattress dry, perhaps buy her a new one and so on to give her a clean start. Or provide her with a home help. Thanks for discussing it with me , Sarah but what about the last question which is about the subtle difference between ABH and GBH?

            Helen, I suggest the apparent disdain you have for family conferences ( as advised by the FRG and as set out in the Working Together frameworks of the Children Act) stems from your embarrassment that the CS does not always arrange one OR consider extended family placements as they should . Grandparents have been on this resource to complain it. You know yourself how difficult it is to arrange these meetings ; it follows that the CS often don’t bother and that many innocent babes are taken into care unnecessarily.

          12. HelenSparkles

            “Helen, I suggest the apparent disdain you have for family conferences ( as advised by the FRG and as set out in the Working Together frameworks of the Children Act) stems from your embarrassment that the CS does not always arrange one OR consider extended family placements as they should . Grandparents have been on this resource to complain it. You know yourself how difficult it is to arrange these meetings ; it follows that the CS often don’t bother and that many innocent babes are taken into care unnecessarily.”

            I was commenting on the pointlessness of arranging an FGM if there is nobody in the family/friends network who (a) recognise the risks (b) can protect the child. If they can do it that’s great and my experience is that family meetings are held regularly in all cases, where they can be. It would be nigh on impossible to place a baby in a fostering/adoptive placement without evidencing to the court why family/friends have been ruled out. Viability assessments are carried on on everyone who comes forward, even at the last minute, unless the court directs otherwise. You language about innocent babies is ridiculous, aren’t all babies innocent, or just the ones you think SW purloin for some reason?

            I’m not commenting on any of your other responses because basically you refuse to acknowledge the impact of neglect, which can be profound., and only seem interested in violence proven to the burden of proof in a criminal court.

    2. HelenSparkles

      CoramBAAF do amazing work with adoptees so perhaps what you heard is not representative of ALL they do. The idea of regional adoption agencies is a better match for children, if you want to call that supply and demand you can, but it is about finding the right adopters for those children in the best way possible. I am not convinced by them but don’t think they are a bad thing either.

      1. looked_after_child

        CoramBAAF do amazing work with adoptees so perhaps what you heard is not representative of ALL they do

        I have no doubt of that too. Just Mums like me are not meant to be listening or able to speak up – people are happy to speak about us though – this woman’s speech was very unguarded for that reason. I’m sure she could’ent see any problem – and that in itself is a problem.

      2. Sam

        This is an answer about neglect , from further up the page. The problem I see is that is intervention is so random.for instance I know one mother who was a hoarder, you could literally only get in the front door, and just about get up the stairs, she kept her children despite the obvious conditions being detrimental to the children. Another family has kept their children despite the two daughters separately accusing the father of raping them. The younger one did wet the bed until about 13 and she was not taken to the Dr with extreme menstrual cramps, which was confirmed by a witness. It should be fairly obvious to any professional that the father is a narcissist and the mother prioritises his needs above her children.
        Yet other children get taken on made up evidence.There needs to be a more forensic process.

        1. looked_after_child

          I heard a sim story from a Mum who at the time her children was removed was using heroin (she lost her children), talking about a Mum who was an alcoholic.(she kept her children)
          This Mum believed she had engaged 100% with agencies even ging so far as to adopt strategies that did not work ( this was used as evidence of the need for removal in court – her point -they were the wrong stratagies). Is there an issue around criminality for heroin use but not alcohol affecting how parenting capacity is perceived?

  8. looked_after_child

    The ‘Head of Business’, Family Placement from Barnado’s was also at the top table.
    What struck me again, having been involved on campaigning on the Children and Social Work Bill, is how compromised the big children’s charities are.

    1. HelenSparkles

      The big charities do what they say on the tin, which is why the state still operates in children’s services, and why further privatisation was opposed by so many re the Children and Social Care Bill.

  9. looked_after_child

    Hmm..the big charities do great work but they also have huge business interests and will not bite the hand that feeds them. From memory neither Barnardo’s nor Mencap said a word against the Innovation clauses – even the Children’s Commissioner and the children in Care Alliance did not come out against them to their shame. It was left to the small charities and individuals to build a coalition against these clauses that would have deregulated Children’s Services by removing primary legislation so the market could be opened up.

  10. Angelo Granda

    looked after child, I believe there is a certain type of parent ( predominantly professionals, lower and upper middle class, aristocracy etc. who simply do not want disabled children and the autistic are just the category which those people will reject. It is inhumane but by having them adopted they feel they have fulfilled their responsibilities to the child. I am not talking about all career-parents or all society types but a certain type of ambitious, selfish career parent who always put themselves first. They will pay large amounts of money to clear their consciences to homes ,foster-carers and adoption is the cheapest option.Perhaps these are the unfortunate children about which the NAS are talking . On my visits to residential homes where some autistic children are placed alongside much more seriously disabled children ( a practice which I see as wrong) the staff have informed me that most of the inmates belong to parents who have cast out the children and only visit perhaps once a year probably out of a perceived duty. This has happened throughout history even with royalty .Mentally ill or physically disabled children are cast out and their identities forgotten. It is a crime in a way.
    It would be interesting to know the percentages.
    Lower middle-classes, working classes etc. are less likely to offer such children for adoption voluntarily being more realistic towards bad fortune, less career minded professionally and generally having less personal ambition. They are more loving and humane and put such children first as a matter of course. Most will want their autistic children and even severely disabled offspring, downs syndrome and so on at home.
    This may be a problem when it is career SW’s and upper-class Judges etc. who seem to take adoption decisions so readily. They have a different outlook. They no doubt think they can solve the problem by removing them from home, throwing money at care homes etc. They forget the law and human rights of the children ( not to mention the family as a whole).
    I agree with you about charities and I will even include the FRG in amongst those who are in hock with LA’s to an extent. When an organisation receives Public money it is bound to lean towards the authority which pays the piper. For example, the FRG has made it plain that before it will provide independent advocacy ( in London only) the LA must first agree to provide funds on an ad-hoc basis case by case.
    Of course, when a charity like Barnadoes are in the main serving LA’s , attending working parties alongside SW’s regularly then they are bound to become friendly and see themselves as colleagues. I suppose they are colleagues but it is imperative they don’t turn a blind eye to malpractice etc. I am afraid that happens all too often.
    I share your concerns about these large charities. In particular, they don’t always do what they say on the tin. They seem to talk a good game. Take a look at some of the websites then try to take them up on the help and services which they say are available. Sometimes it is cloud-cuckoo land idealism. The person you talk to will deny having heard of it and keep passing you from pillar- to- post. Many will say no help is available full-stop unless the Authorities refer a case to them.
    Some smaller organisations which receive Public money are a sham for the most part. Wherever Public money is spent think corruption because the two are almost inseparable. They run what I call ghost sites. Plenty on offer in theory but no services actually available. One number I ‘contacted’ through a website, the person who answered hadn’t even heard of the welfare expert I wanted to talk to. No-one ever gets back to you either .I think there should be tighter controls over Public Expenditure. Two years after contacting one so-called service provider and being told no help was available, I was contacted by the Authorities how helpful had I found the service provided. I suspect the provider had gained funds by putting in lists of names and details of individual families it had not actually helped. What other explanation can there be?
    I am mentioning these experiences only because I am interested to hear those of other reader’s in getting help.

    1. HelenSparkles

      Sometimes a disability is caused by an injury, to the brain for example. Those children have ongoing lifelong needs and sometimes a shortened life expectancy, they are rarely placed for adoption.

  11. looked_after_child

    My experience is very mixed. We were often asked if we needed support by which the person asking meant referral to non-existent services by another agency or assessment by that agency. However when you do find good support it really did prove a lifeline. We were desperate for help understanding our son’s behaviour – it was so abnormal, so frightening – so we could ‘reach him’. This kind of help dos’ent exist in statutory services especially for families like ours where there were none of the ‘toxic trio’ in play. Truthfully I think few people have this EXPERTISE if he would not engage, but it takes a ‘big’ professional to admit that. We did’ent realise that there are a substantial number of families in our position and we were following a pretty well-worn path but that each person’s story was just a little different so it was hard to see the connection at first.
    I dont know about the ‘class thing’ – there used to be a lot of shame around having a disabled child. It is not a nice thing to have ‘mental illness ‘in the family’ either. Shame is hugely isolating, because you cannot talk about what is happening/is real. One of my coping stratgies is to ‘let go’ of shame and to be open. This is very hard when you are talking about someone else though. What right do you have to tell their story? So what I’m saying is it is very complex and different from person to person.
    We were on an almost inevitable trajectory into a NHS secure unit or the Care system. There was’ent any help really around changing that. There was also a lot of resentment eg from our son’s GP – that we were so articulate, perceptive and challenging………

  12. looked_after_child when parents tell me they experience this resentment too looking for help say from those involved in the Care system, I listen very carefully. You might call that confirmation bias, that is up to you!.

  13. looked_after_child

    Sorry to ramble on but I’m trying to think this through -.there is rarely ‘shame’ without ‘blame’.
    People found very creative ways of blaming us often along the lines of ‘he says he dos’ent need help, so if there is a problem, then maybe the problem is with you’ or ‘Why are you trampling all over your son’s rights by asking for help for him. You have no rights to do this because he is over 16’
    We really really care about him and could see he was spiralling and few professionals cared plus they knew there were no services so resented us bothering them ( Ah yes..pushy parents..)
    In relation to parents who leave disabled family members in care homes unvisited – there are a variety of reasons for this – to do with death/illness of a parent, placement a long way from home over a long number of years, really restrictive visiting hours etc.
    I’m not sure how much experience you have of having a disabled child with challenging behaviour or a high level of vulnerability but people get very worn down if Care needs to be 24/7. Also people including parents have different capacities to cope. An absolutely fantastic mum of two young men both with Asperger s said to me that she was jealous of the fact that I’d manged to hold down a career despite having a child with Asperger s. Few people talk about those ‘costs’ in terms of self-fulfillment or even financial resilience ( because there is less cash in the family).

    I really do’nt ever want to judge parents in this way Angelo – most parents are heroic and most people have no idea..

    1. Sam

      A very large % of parents end up losing their jobs. From my experience for two reasons: firstly children do not settle at school end end up being excluded and secondly the sheer number of appointments and meetings that have to be attended means it becomes impossible to work. I believe foster carers looking after such children are paid at a higher rate to reflect the time consuming nature of looking after an SEN child and of course have respite care also. Perhaps a level playing field would be a start.
      Getting back to adoption, as most of the children adopted now have complex needs and autism and learning difficulties are largely genetic , should prenatal screening not be mandatory? It may well be now, but it wasn’t when I was pregnant. For one thing it would speed up diagnosis , which can take years, whoever is the parent.

      1. looked_after_child

        You are absolutely correct Sam. The tests are not there yet but they are emerging – brain scanning shows when a child’s brain is developing differently from about a year – Blood tests may also be useful. There are big ethical issues around this – it depends on our view of difference/stigma however if the baby population at large is screened ( there are studies of high risk younger siblings at the moment only) then these issues go way.
        ‘Stitch in time saves nine’ – early diagnosis and targeted support ( this is not the same as ‘early intervention’ either!) has to be the way to go. What would be interesting is to see how the ‘care and adoption market’ would respond and if they could adopt to a different ‘business model’

        1. looked_after_child

          And don’t forget the ‘Factseeker’ approach ( there is miliimetres between it and Attachment Theory) – when a child’s brain has an abnormality – it MUST be because of the quality of issues around quality of care in hospital or very early baby illness for example.
          I still believe in universal screening though because we need to start to address this – it should involve moving money into support for families so they can keep children.

          Almost 1 in 3 children do not enter the care system as a result of Abuse and Neglect.
          There is a major, major problem with commodification of babies for adoption most apparent when sibling groups are split or so I think. It is the very real prospect of this that means many parents agree to ‘Kinship Care’.

        2. HelenSparkles

          I think we need to differentiate between fostering and adoption. Adoption agencies, even if private, are not able to make a profit. I like a lot of what you say but it really isn’t a market, there are services in place because there is a need, what we really need is a way to prevent that need because care and adoption are drastic solutions.

      2. HelenSparkles

        Foster carers are paid more for children with a high level of needs, disability or not. Parents of children with additional needs are entitled to DLA or other benefits – isn’t that a level playing field?

        Pre natal screening isn’t possible for a number of conditions, there is a risk where it is possible. The genes haven’t all been identified but what are you proposing should happen with any embryos with a pre existing condition?

        Diagnosis takes a long time, not just because everyone is inefficient or rubbish, but because it is complex and some conditions are not diagnosed until children are older because they can’t be.

        1. looked_after_child

          ”Foster carers are paid more for children with a high level of needs, disability or not. Parents of children with additional needs are entitled to DLA or other benefits – isn’t that a level playing field?”

          No – It is not about the money ( if you can access it) It is about the back-up as you would know if you had ever been told from CAMHS that they ‘are not an emergency service – call an ambulance or the police’

          1. HelenSparkles

            Forgive me, I was talking about money because money was mentioned in relation to foster carers.

            CAMHS are not an emergency service. I won’t say that services are adequate but that is fairly obvious.

        2. Sam

          DLA does not equal a reasonable salary, that’s if the child can actually jump through the DWP hoops. Parents, mainly mothers are literally left with no choice but to become a full time carer with all that entails i.e. likehood of poor mental/physical health and poverty. Also of course that can then lead to CP concerns even though the parents have absolutely no control over what is happening in their family.

          Genetic screening would offer would be parents choices as outlined in the link that Looked-after -Child provided.

          1. looked_after_child

            Was at a very interesting event today. Training for professionals ( 20 people, CCGs and teachers, no-one from social care) within this framework
            The training session was around CTRs and CTERs
            This is the key document –

            My personal experience is that ‘social care’ think they can ‘go it alone’ in preparing transition plans etc whereas health and education colleagues said that when they look at EHC plans for this really vulnerable group, the social Care element is missing.

            The CTR reviews do’nt have the legal force of CPA meetings held under the MHA but they do flag up where there is a problem with the treatment regime.

            Lots and lots of very good practice – dynamic risk register (RED, AMBER GREEN rated against each person on the list, each person has a unique identifier so identities only know to the list holders – CCGs) Multi agency meetings held every 2 weeks where co-ordinated care to people moving between risk ratings discussed….Is support right??

            So much of this transferable to social care.
            Social Circumstances Report very highly valued

            Quote from the trainer to colleagues – ”Autism is a feature throughout. If not for you yet, it will be” so where is the NICE guidance around ‘Edge of Care for Autistic children, where is the SW training around Autism, Where is the Care leaver support for autistic looked-after-young people? Why has social Care turned its back, by and large to children with LD/Autism and focussed only on those with ‘Attachment difficulties’ ‘mis-diagnosing’ left right and centre?

        3. Angelo Granda

          Very interested in your comments,Helen. In my experience, diagnosis does not take long when the true experts are asked to examine a child. Another point worth remarking on is that the real experts in autism simply will not consider making a diagnosis without interviewing the parents about his or her early behaviours as a baby.
          The problem is that often LA’s take children from families and get new GP’s for them , then they fail to talk to parents or to allow them contact with the doctors. Plus the doctors don’t contact them .
          As far as screening is concerned, Sam and looked after child. Both of my children were diagnosed at a very early age so we were lucky. Because the eldest was special-needs any way being born extremely prematurely, she was being watched and studied very closely anyway and ASC soon became apparent to me after discussions at the child-development centre which were supervising her early education. My son was also diagnosed early because he was being observed closely because his sister was ASC, it was suspected he possibly would be also. It is a genetic problem after all.
          The point about screening is this, There may not be any x-ray or physical test ,MRI scan or anything like that which can screen for ASC.I don’t think so anyway. It is not a brain abnormality as such which will show up on a scan e.g. epilepsy, hydrocephalus.
          In my opinion it would not be difficult for the health visitor to recognise the early symptoms .If HV’s were to examine the children with parents at 1,2 and 3 yrs of age she could then refer the infant to a specialist.
          So the HV needs to be taught the early symptoms and perhaps SW’s should be taught them too instead of irrelevant attachment theories and suchlike.
          What are the early symptoms? We all know the autistic spectrum is wide but I was told that early symptoms apply to most of them.
          a) a very quiet baby, no crying or keeping parents awake at night, undemanding. A good baby! Not always demanding feeding.
          b) baby will not make much eye-contact or babble normally.
          c) shows repetitive behaviour, e.g. opens and closes drawers, switches lights on and off. Sets out toys in a certain way meticulously every time.
          d) likes routine and gets upset at changes.

          I don’t think it will be beyond a HV to ask parents specific questions about those symptoms at health checks then to refer them to an autism specialist at 3 yrs if the answers signify possible autism. Every child could then be diagnosed ( or not diagnosed ) ASC before even starting nursery. Send a child to the wrong nursery or the wrong school and they get worse. Early supervision and development is very important to the prognosis. Children should also be placed in a nursery or school along with those of a similar problem. It can be very damaging to place ASC children in a school for children with severe learning difficulties, severe physical difficulties or mental deficiencies etc. because they tend to imitate them.
          Yes, early screening will be very helpful.

          Unfortunately , that will not stop the LA’s targeting them for the care-system as is alleged by many parents.

          1. HelenSparkles

            The issue with the traits you mention Angelo is that they aren’t unique to ASC, they would also apply to a child being neglected for example, experts usually want to see where developmental milestones are being missed and that is possible from about 18 months or later.

            If a child is in care, generally that is through the court process, and not only are parents asked for their medical history, a report is requested from their health professionals. Why you think any child is targeted by the SW, I fail to understand on many levels.

          2. looked_after_child

            ”The problem is that often LA’s take children from families and get new GP’s for them , then they fail to talk to parents or to allow them contact with the doctors. Plus the doctors don’t contact them .”

            I do’nt have evidence of this but it is a major concern of mine that this is a key part of why things are going so wrong for autistic children in Care unless they have classic autism or enter the Care system with a diagnosis.

            There are key events that have the potential to change things beyond recognition for the better for these children – they absolutely depend on really good physical health checks and an open mind…neither of these things are a realistic prospect for so many of these children, or so I feel.

            There is so much emotional stuff and belief swirling around them. Professionals are as guilty of this as parents plus they hold all the power. It is really quite a toxic mix with toxic outcomes for children. Cprporate parents are then at a loss how to help – learning the hard way at a child’s expense that there are no easy answers – although it may have looked that way when a child enters care or is adopted.

          3. looked_after_child

            Clinicians ( not just ‘pet clinicians’) and Social Workers and other professionals need to start taking to each other and develop a ‘mature’ common language ( please not just trauma. trauma, trauma, neglect,neglect,neglect..) CCG need to build links with Children’s Services. In all likelihood they share a common workload if they carried out an in-depth analysis.
            What all have recognised as a difficulty between Social Care and the NHS for frail/vulnerable adults is a a key part of why so many children are entering Care in rising numbers. This is only likely to get worse until it is addressed….

          4. looked_after_child

            Oh yes .and the DfE..I don’t hold out much hope of a ‘mature’ approach from them sadly.

            They simply dont ‘get’ disability..” something to do with ‘Education’ is’int it, nothing to do with Social Care’ .. no disabled babies or is very tight.. We are in our comfort zone ‘calling the shots’ and do not work with MoJ or DH..

            ..dealing with Health as equal partners when it comes to do with children in care will never happen unless they completely change their perspective and modus operandi..which is why campaigning is so important.

          5. looked_after_child

            I continually refer to this study.

            These children suffered ‘profound neglect and maltreatment’
            It should challenge so many preconceptions and move the debate to how do we best help these children, given that we know so much about their communication needs, sensory and sleep disorders etc.

            Autism does not go away …ever…It is life-long so all must make ‘reasonable adjustments’ not hold out the prospect of recovery via specialist therapy although really specialist therapy may be needed for poor mental health for example because no one including social workers is making ‘reasonable adjustments’.

          6. looked_after_child

            so no central role for the trauma recovery industry.. well now – that is a challenging thought (might be challenging to a few ‘therapists bank balances too..)

    2. Angelo Granda

      I agree with you absolutely LOOKED AFTER CHILD and I was not necessarily criticising indeed I mentioned that I was not referring to all career women or all professionals. I was talking about a certain type of selfish, inhumane character but did not mean to generalise . I have no doubt many only give up their children as a last resort. Obviously, those that are forced to should not be blamed for it and I am sorry if you thought I was having a go at you because I wasn’t.
      You say your son is very bright . Is he in a ‘secure unit’ under dols? Has he got worse or better? I feel he would be better off living his own life either at home, in his own home or better still in a proper autistic-friendly home with fellow ASC adults run by the NAS or some other charity .
      According to the real experts, as ASC folk get older they get better not worse if cared for properly. Natural parents should not let SW’s tell them deteriorations occur inevitably as they get older. They only say it to excuse their abuse and neglect. If you can, demand an expert assessment not one from CAMHS who have little idea.

      1. looked_after_child

        I do not worry about my son Angelo. He has good support – he just had to enter Care to get it. I don’t worry about the high financial cost of his care either – this is the financial cost of failure to provide coordinated services to families with children at the edge of care. I’m cynical enough to realise that even if you dont have a heart, you have a wallet and eventually someone will cotton on that the financial cost of service failure is very high and might put some effort into fixing it to cut back on the costs to the public purse.

  14. Sam

    Slightly off subject , I am afraid. I have been looking into Cambrian Group who provide homes for children and adults , foster placements amongst other services targeted at the vulnerable. They are paid by public funding. The CEO for 2015 had total package of 563,000 (46,916 per month), which was down from 2014 where he was paid 9439,000 ( 78,658 per month).
    The CFO was paid 289,000 for 2015 and 761,000 for 2014.
    There is also a link here which is useful about their shares

    I find it appalling that the vulnerable are seen as commodities to make the rich richer. As I have stated numerous times before (obsessive?) , there is not a lack of funding, it is how it is being spent.
    Public funding seems to equal private profiteering nowadays.

      1. Sam

        It’s ironic really, most SW are left leaning liberals and yet they are feeding the capitalist system by placing children in these private arrangements. The high cost places more strain on the public purse, which causes cuts in services, resulting in yet more children coming into CP, families parted and yet more profits for private companies. Someone needs to break the circle.

        1. HelenSparkles

          You can’t assume SW are left leaning liberals I’m afraid.

          But yes, as a left leaning liberal I don’t like placing children in any independent sector placement which is not a charity, I don’t like that agencies can make a profit out of looking after children, and I hate that hedge funds are involved.

          But I also have to say that once LA on costs are factored in (pensions, buildings, rent/mortgages etc.) the placements may prove to be comparable in cost. So no extra cost to the public purse. I would be surprised if there was any correlation with cuts to public services (whilst still being concerned about that.).

          The cycle is most often broken by children who decide not to parent in the way they were parented.

          Personally I would like in house provision for all but the most specialist placements, I know you often think SW have no idea but across an LA there would be staff with expertise on the needs of the children and the LA does know the children better than any private provision could.

          1. looked_after_child

            ‘The cycle is most often broken by children who decide not to parent in the way they were parented’
            Should that not be
            The cycle is most often broken by children who are shown how to be good parents, even when they themselves have been parented poorly, with an assumption that most parents love their children and want to parent well?

  15. Angelo Granda

    Looked after child,I am glad your son is happy and that you are happy with his care. Unfortunately , I am not so happy. In one case, a girl was taken from a foster-HOME to a secure residential placement when the foster-carer complained that she was waking in the night, wandering and disturbing the rest of the household. That is a common trait amongst autistic children indeed one which led to her being removed from home in the first place. To enable her parents and family to get some sleep, they were advised by the Special -needs experts ( including psychologists) to fit either a stable-type door, a baby-gate or a safety-chain to prevent her leaving her room at times of danger such as at night. She had little sense of danger at that time and she never came to any harm thanks to the specialist advice. When a set of dysfunctional SW’s got to know, they started proceedings against the family claiming they had CAUSED her to have severe learning difficulties by confining her to her room for long periods of time. In actual fact she never had them and she was a very bright girl ( like your son). The specialists specifically stated she had no severe learning difficulties but that was not mentioned by any other professionals because the documents were withheld by the LA.They submitted a one -sided assessment to Court which even denied evidence she was autistic and had been diagnosed as such.

    Unfortunately, the foster-carer never sought specialist advice as the parents had but merely reported it to CS . She had reached 16 and the CS never sought specialist advice either, they merely consulted CAMHS ( although their dear daughter has never, ever been officially diagnosed with any mental illness). Next thing ,she was sent to a secure ,residential home for adults contained under the Mental Capacity Act. Not only were autistic specialists not consulted for advice but they weren’t either despite the fact they were perfectly willing to give her a home. The CS never even thought of providing for her human right ( to a home-placement).
    She is now receiving drug treatment despite advice from the specialists she should not be. She has steadily got worse behaviourally, has begun to self-harm and kick out at the carers. She sometimes misbehaves when out too so now they have stopped taking her out and they won’t let the parents take her out. She was on 1/1 care but now they claim she has deteriorated so much that she needs 2/1 thus they can no longer let her leave the house until they have agreed extra funding from the SW.
    They have made her worse and now she will deteriorate even further.
    The parents are the only ones who knows her true medical history and the only ones who know the true facts and who are able to provide an over-view. Every one else still insist falsely she has SLD. The parents are never consulted before welfare decisions are made, indeed when they try to protest, they INVENT counter arguments to maintain their own interests. No one is allowed to see or talk to her without supervision and free-speech forbidden ostensibly because discussing things with her ‘might ‘ upset her and cause her harm. I have been allowed to visit her personally but when talking to her about her difficulties and about her parents, the manager appeared in the room to stop me forthwith. In that respect, the restrictions are more severe than in any prison I have heard of even Guantanomo bay. She has no privacy whatsoever , her door is open permanently and she is watched even when she is in the toilet , all because they feel she must be kept ‘safe’. Occasional she has a ‘meltdown’ and will hit her head on the wall ( not uncommon amongst the autistic) and they count that as possibly ‘fatal’. Even prisoners on suicide-watch are not subject to such inhumane lack of privacy and freedom. It is worse than prison in another respect. In prison, girls are ‘guarded’ by female warders. Not so in the ‘ secure residential home’. She suffers degradation by virtue of the fact that she has to reveal herself to male carers who follow her and watch her when naked and when perform her ablutions even when on the toilet. Yet none of the ‘carers’ are nurses or doctors although they do claim to be trained ‘carers’.

    Autistic specialists are not consulted. The company who invent these counter-arguments to advice are making a fortune. SW ,after a number of months ,has not supplied extra funding yet.

    No, I have not invented this narrative. Ask Sarah about these C.O.Protection type placements, she knows about them and I guess she has knowledge of how they are run.

    1. looked_after_child

      I’m really sorry to hear this Angelo.I shall see what I can find out about ‘secure residential placements’ for children. Is the Clinical Commissioning Group or the LA paying the bills? There are different routes and I know a bit more about the hospital one.
      If the CCG, has anyone from the CCG visited her?. Has anyone asked for an Independent Psychiatrist’s Assessment?
      CQC should also be inspecting. What are their reports like?
      If looked-after The Virtual School Head should be following up on her education and there should be a Transition Plan to adult services.
      As you know there are different kinds of Advocates for different situations.

      You will know this but you cannot just lock someone up for life for being different – there MUST be a plan either for treatment ( so how is that progressing – month after month and how realistic is it – what exactly is she being cured of?) or release to the community. These are the questions that should be asked every month in Care and Treatment Review meetings and if the answer is – well she is not being treated only managed and there are no better community facilities available, she should ‘come off section’ – this means she is there voluntarily and can come and go/leave to suit.
      Institutions never suggest this option because clinical staff generally are ‘low calibre’ ( sorry about that crude label but I’m pretty such I’ve seen calls after call for better training for these staff from professional bodies) Institutions also see these people as ‘paying the bills’ – they do not let them go easily.

      I’m going to be the relative who will get to ask questions of the relative in ‘role play’ I think at CTR meetings and will ask more questions.

      If the LA is her Corporate Parent and have ‘dumped her’ somewhere -out of sight, out of mind – then personally I’d go through the Courts. There are issues about who can instruct. This really is not my area but maybe someone else can help.

      1. looked_after_child

        I should have said – ”I’m going to be the relative who will get to ask questions of the professionals in ‘role play’ next week at CTR training for professionals and will ask more questions”

      2. looked_after_child

        Simple thing Angelo but I’d also investigate where her family think she would thrive…not just at home – and work all the details through – sometimes you find people have little imagination/time and if you show them the way to make their difficulties disappear – they are more amenable to change. You have to appeal to the good in people to start with anyway – after that people who think it is OK to mistreat a vulnerable person deserves no less than Jail

        Let me know if this child entered Care. s20, s47 etc

      3. Angelo Granda

        The young lady concerned is now 18 and has had a transition plan in her ‘best interests’ and a dols order was issued .Of course wrong information was given to the Court and rehabilitation with support was not investigated. NICE guidelines recommend that transition plans should be commenced when a child is about 14. That guideline was ignored. SW’s stated to Court no home support was available although that is plainly wrong. They did not even look for any.
        I really don’t think I should go into too much detail about the specific case but I wanted readers to know some general information about procedures ( how they are flouted) and how these places are run.
        I presume that as Sarah often is involved in COP cases, she will have visited children in them . Lawyers should never accept the descriptions given by LA’s ,carers etc. but go and see for themselves also insist on a private conversation with the child or adult concerned. Please note ,SW’s often make up their own diagnosis e.g. when this young lady was first sent to the secure placement at 16 , the care home were told she had SLD and that she was suffering from psychosis and both those statements were false. Consequently when she got to 18 and the COP became involved, they had to invent new reasons and suddenly 1/1 care was no longer appropriate; they developed concerns that 2/1 and even 3/1 care was essential. I don’t think they like to let them go once they have them.
        As far as ‘best interests’ are concerned, the finding that she lacked ‘ capacity’ played a major part at the COP. Surely, the Court in such a situation should assume that she will be better off at home. No medical need was proven just a lack of capacity to communicate her wishes. Is that normal?

        1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

          If someone lacks capacity to make decisions about their own health and welfare, then these decisions have to be made by others after an investigation of that person’s best interests. That will not always mean a decision that the person goes home. No such assumption can be made; there has to be proper analysis of what is in a person’s best interests.

          1. looked_after_child

            What I would say is that the LA often is very pragmatic and once they decide on what they want, they want to get on with it. Partnership working with parents is just not something they have the ‘culture’ for. The major problem with this approach is that people who care (and all the safeguards that brings) are cut out of the picture, to achieve short term/meet funding objectives. The Courts seem to be left to make the ‘ethical’ decisions while SW’s make the ‘practical ones’ with all the problems that brings.

          2. Angelo Granda

            I think it should always be considered in a person’s best interests to have a permanent home placement even if the person does not have the capacity to demand one herself. A home is ALWAYS better than life in an institution if possible and no stone should go unturned to enable a home placement with family.
            What appears to be happening is that social workers do not bother investigating properly in the person’s best interests; they invent reasons to keep them in an institution ( usually safety reasons ), then they arrange for a Doctor to sign a form that the person lacks capacity.
            Then they claim falsely it is in their ‘best interests’.
            Sounds familiar? Institutional inhumanity all in the best possible taste ( for our own good)!
            P.S. They do the same with a lot of old people.

    2. HelenSparkles

      I am very confused by this comment and your reference to CoP involvement. I never say that things can’t go wrong but CoP work is about the persons best interests being at the centre of planning & it would be very odd if this was based on an inadequate one page assessment.

  16. looked_after_child

    ..sorry should have said – the National Audit Office – 7.5minutes into the above link.

  17. Pingback: ‘Adoption by Stealth’ – the dangers of rhetoric and the law of unintended consequences | Child Protection Resource

  18. Pingback: The conversations we need to have about adoption – London performance. | Child Protection Resource

  19. Pingback: We have to talk about adoption – Feedback from the Bristol Performance | Child Protection Resource

Comments are closed.