Saturday, 31 May 2008

Keep Up To Date With Our News, Download Our Browser Tool Bar

Never Miss Our News Stories Or Never Miss Our Protest Information!
Keep Up To Date With All That's Happening In The World Of Social Services, Cafcass, Baaf & Family Law. Get All The Latest On The Law Act's And Changes To It.
Also Parliament News, Our Campaign Latest!
You Can Download Our Browser Tool Bar Here:
You'll Never Miss Out!

Social services called to account as girl, 7, starves to death

Full Story:

Eight years after Victoria Climbie died, the lessons of that terrible case seem not to have been learned The story of seven-year-old Khyra Ishaq who apparently starved to death in a house in Birmingham shocked the country this week. Amid calls for a full public inquiry, authorities in the city met on Friday and launched a serious case review. But questions are being asked as to how a child could be let down so badly, eight years after the death of Victoria Climbie. Emergency services were called to the house in Leyton Road in the Handsworth area of Birmingham last Saturday when Khyra suffered breathing difficulties. She was taken to hospital but died a short while later. Her five siblings, three brothers and two sisters, were reportedly found by paramedics lying next to her on a mattress in a weakened state. They have now been taken into foster care after a brief spell in Birmingham Children's Hospital. Angela Gordon, 33, and Junaid Abuhamza, 29, who are believed to be the child's mother and stepfather, have been charged with causing or allowing the death of a child. They appeared in front of Birmingham magistrates last Monday and were remanded in custody until their next appearance on 28 May. Police are still awaiting results of a post mortem examination and have said the cause of death is not yet known. But sources have said the girl was found in an emaciated condition and had apparently starved to death. The news stunned the local community and sparked much soul-searching as to how the tragedy was allowed to happen. Writing in The Independent yesterday, Deborah Orr said: "No one knows exactly what ghastly events led to poor seven-year-old Khyra Ishaq's death from malnutrition, as her five siblings grew weaker alongside her. But it is self-evident that she was let down by every single adult who might have been able to make a positive intervention in her short life." Daily Mirror columnist Sue Carroll wrote on Friday: "How this could happen in 21st-century Britain beggars belief and throws up terrible memories of eight-year-old Victoria Climbie's death in 2000. "We were told, after she was found to have 128 injuries to her 3st 10lb body, that lessons would be learned. Now Khyra's life can be added to the list of lonely and vulnerable children whose cries, yet again, fell on deaf ears."

Multidimensional treatment foster care pilots

Full Story:

Extra help for young foster children at risk of exclusion and failed care placements - Young foster children with emotional or psychological difficulties are to get extra support to stop them getting into trouble at school and help them settle in care placements, thanks to a Pfund3.8 million pilot project announced today by Childrens Minister Kevin Brennan. Eight local authorities will get Pfund400,000 each to set up a multi-agency team to help 7-11 year old foster children displaying early antisocial challenging behaviour, who have already had a number of care placements or interventions. The Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care Children pilots will involve multidisciplinary health and social care teams that combine high levels of supervision with intensive positive parenting training for foster parents. They will encourage the child into positive recreational activities, greater involvement in school and break contact with other children who are a bad influence. Early intervention should make it possible to reduce the numbers of older looked after children with complex needs who require intensive services and very high cost placements. Speaking at the Associate Parliamentary Group for Looked After Children and Care Leavers, Childrens Minister Kevin Brennan said: Evidence shows that many young children who enter care are already showing signs of developmental delay, behavioural difficulties and are at great risk of long term poor outcomes. If we are to make this country the very best place in the world to be a child, we need to give our most vulnerable children the same opportunities as their peers. We must intervene early and put all the support they need in place. The focus on younger looked after children who are presenting significant difficulties was announced in Care Matters and fits well with the Every Child Matters emphasis on early intervention and securing permanence and stability for children.

Social workers' failings put children at risk

Full Story:

The failings of social workers are putting children from broken homes at risk from abuse, a report has revealed. Children at the centre of divorce or separation cases, particularly those involving domestic violence or abuse, have been left vulnerable by a backlog of cases. The failings were uncovered by an Ofsted inspection of the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (Cafcass), the service set up to ensure that children's views are represented in court. The report covering Kent, Surrey and Sussex found a waiting list of 150 cases, delays of six months for some families, inadequate assessments of the impact of domestic violence and a failure to refer cases to local authorities where there were concerns for the child's welfare.

Striving for maturity without pain

Full Story:

Almost from birth, the service set up to represent the voice of children in the courts has been a target for attack from aggrieved parents and has suffered a troubled history since. With this years first Ofsted reports, the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) has been exposed to official and independent scrutiny and found wanting. It is seven years since Cafcass was set up, bringing together 113 organisations including probation officers in family court welfare, social workers representing children in care and adoption cases, child protection agencies and welfare groups. The idea was highly acclaimed: to provide a national service handling childrens cases both public (care) and private (contact and residence disputes) and give a high and consistent standard of support in courts across England and Wales. Delays in court decisions were to be cut. But, like many new bodies in the public sector, it was set up too quickly and with inadequate funding. Merging 57 sets of pay and different working cultures proved a logistical nightmare. Within four years it had three chief executives. In the first eight months the original chief executive, Diane Shepherd, was suspended and then sacked in July 2002 over an unauthorised payment to a dismissed executive. By 2003 ministers had demanded the boards resignation amid claims that it had descended into chaos.

Social workers’ failings ‘put children in divorce cases at risk of abuse’

Full Story:

Children in divorce and separation cases are being left at risk of abuse because of serious failings by social workers dealing with their cases, according to a watchdog. A report seen by The Times discloses how a backlog of cases is leaving children vulnerable, particularly in family breakdowns involving domestic violence and abuse. An Ofsted inspection of the service, set up to to ensure that childrens views were represented in family courts, uncovered a catalogue of failings in the South East region. It found a waiting list of 150 cases, delays of six months for some families, inadequate assessments of the impact of domestic violence in most cases and a failure to refer cases to local authorities where there were concerns for the childs welfare. A separate report identified serious failings in another part of the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (Cafcass) in the East Midlands region in February. The latest inspection will fuel fears that similar findings will be uncovered during inspections of the remaining eight regions in England and Wales. The inspection of Cafcass operations in Kent, Surrey and Sussex found that in some cases, to determine which parent a child should live with, the records of work were illegible. In one, the clearest account of a meeting was written not by a social worker but by a mother who sent her own record to Cafcass officials. The criticisms focus on the services work in private law cases, in which parents who have separated cannot agree on where the child should live or about arrangements for contacting and meeting children. The waiting list in the South East included some delays of six months, no prioritisation, and no analysis of the risks involved in delayed cases. As a result, Cafcass cannot demonstrate that children on the waiting list are not left at risk, the report said. Inspectors also could not report that safeguards for childrens safety or welfare were adequate. This is a serious deficit. Whilst allegations of domestic violence were a common feature in cases, its impact on children was assessed adequately in only a minority of cases, the report said. In one case, it found that there had been no assessment of the risk to a six-year-old child who had witnessed domestic violence. Nor had there been any attempt to follow up information about child protection with the local council, the report said. The report also criticised recommendations to the courts based on optimism or which had not been agreed with the parties involved.

Seven-year-old girl was visited by social services just four months before she starved to death

Full Story:

The seven-year-old girl found starved to death at her home had last been visited by the authorities four months before her death, it emerged yesterday. Khyra Ishaq was visited in January by police officers carrying out a 'welfare check' as well as a teacher from her school, but the visits were not followed up. She had been removed from school in December and is thought to have been last seen by social services at her home in Handsworth, Birmingham later that month. She died on May 17, hours after being found by paramedics with her five emaciated brothers and sisters lying on a mattress at the inner-city terrace. Khyra's father Delroy Francis had moved out of the rented house three years previously. The children lived with their mother Angela Gordon, 33, and her boyfriend Junaid Abuhamza, 29, who moved in eight months previously. It is believed he had assumed joint responsibility for the children. The couple appeared in court yesterday via videolink accused of 'causing or allowing' Khyra's death. Gordon - dressed in a black outfit which revealed only her face - could be seen on camera at Eastwood Park jail in Gloucestershire dabbing away tears during the ten minute hearing at Birmingham Crown Court. Abuhamza, who is being held at Blakenhurst prison, Gloucestershire, wore white robes and headgear and remained impassive throughout. They are accused of committing the offence between May 9 and May 17 and spoke only to confirm they understood the charge. No application for bail was made and they were remanded into custody until a plea and case management hearing on September 1. A serious case review has been launched by the Birmingham Safeguarding Children Board into the circumstances of Khyra's death.The mother of a seven-year-old girl who died after allegedly being starved at her home appeared in court via video link today. Angela Gordon, 33, and her partner Junaid Abuhamza, 29, are both accused of 'causing or allowing' the death of Khyra Ishaq. The pair, who lived together with Khyra and her siblings in Handsworth, Birmingham, appeared at Birmingham Crown Court charged with the offence contrary to section five of the 2004 Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act. The defendants were not required to enter a plea at today's ten-minute hearing, and spoke only to confirm that they understood the charges against them. They will next appear in court on September 1 where they will enter a plea.

Children as a commodity

Full Story:

There has been much written on these pages about the fact that children these days are born or discarded at the whim of the parent, but thus far, such children have been dispensed with before birth, when they are, as far as the parents are concerned, invisible. Todays news brings the horrifying story that an elderly mother of 59 and her husband, who at seventy two is hardly a youthful father, have abandoned twin girls born as a result of IVF in India, because they wanted a son to carry on the family name. I have grave misgivings about IVF for all sorts of reasons, and the idea that a mother well past the age at which nature would have allowed her a baby crossing continents to have somebody elses (she may have borne it, but these little girls are not her flesh and blood) is something that arouses disquiet. That she should then be able to abandon them because they are the wrong sex is, I suppose, no worse than getting rid of them before they were born. I wonder whether the hospital staff who were so horrified that these girls were left behind in hospital would have been quite so affected had the mother come in at twenty three weeks and some days pregnant, and said that at her age, she had reluctantly decided that actually, she couldnt go through with the birth after all. As a society, we cannot have it all ways. If we are to allow parents to have or not to have babies as and when they see fit; if it is possible for parents to take themselves off to India or Russia or elsewhere in the less regulated world in order to have a child of the sex of their preference (and then expect the National Health Service to pay for the expensive bit of looking after an elderly mother to be, and the cost of the almost inevitable Caesarian section that will be required) and then the expected boy turns out to be a girl, why should we be surprised when it is metaphorically speaking left behind in the shop as faulty goods


Full Story:

Social services directors say they accept fully the implications of a report predicting that the costs of mental health services in England could double in the next 20 years unless savings can be made. The Kings Fund report warned that more cases of dementia and health and social care costs that were rising in excess of inflation, could see the annual bill for services reaching 47 billion pounds compared with the current 22 billion. The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services said it accepted the reports message and its implications. Vice President Jenny Owen said the report built on the Care Ministers decision to commission the first national strategy for dementia. Its consultation report is due to be published shortly. Ms Owen said, We are aware that the rising numbers mean that more resources for these services will need to be a priority for future government investment. We also support the need for current spending in dementia care to be spent effectively, investing more in earlier and better diagnosis and supporting people with better quality services. Richard Webb, who is co-chair of the ADASS Mental Health, Alcohol and Drugs Network stressed that improved mental health did not depend only on specialist services but was also about raising skills, tackling poverty and exclusion, improving housing and community safety.

NHS says baby twins were not dumped by parents

Full Story:

A Birmingham couple alleged to have dumped their twin baby girls, after having IVF treatment in India, are visiting them in a city hospital, NHS officials have claimed.
It had been reported that the parents, who have not been named, abandoned the twins at New Cross Hospital, Wolverhampton, shortly after they were born by Caesarean section a fortnight ago, due to their gender.
It was claimed the 72-year-old father wanted sons to carry on the family name. But NHS West Midlands, the regions strategic health authority, dismissed the reports and said the parents were attentive to their needs.
A spokeswoman said: Twin girls were born at New Cross Hospital, Wolverhampton, earlier this month by Caesarean section. Shortly after birth, the babies were transferred to a unit in Birmingham closer to where their parents live.
The parents are visiting their daughters while they are being cared for in hospital. For patient confidentiality reasons, the identity of the family, the babies and the hospital are not being disclosed.
Birmingham City Council confirmed there had not been any referral to social services.

Foster carers get £400k to help county’s vulnerable kids

Full Story:

THE most vulnerable foster children in Cumbria will benefit from a new Pfund400,000 pilot scheme, one of only eight in the country. Cumbria County Council will lead the intensive programme for seven to 11-year-olds, giving them daily contact with care teams, foster carers and school. The two-year scheme aims to prevent the youngsters from being excluded. Half of Cumbrias allocated funds will be spent in the first year, directly helping six children. Foster carers will get intensive positive parenting training, and children will receive high levels of supervision and care. The aim is to encourage youngsters to join in recreational activities, have a greater involvement in school and break contact with other kids who may be a bad influence. Helen Smith, Cumbria County Councils head of child and family care, said: The initiative recognises the importance of changing childrens behaviour while they are still young enough to get back on the right track. The support and guidance this care model allows will give them the best possible opportunities to change their lives for the better. Cumbria County Council was one of 12 local authorities in the country to be shortlisted for the money. Leaders from the councils Childrens Services department had to go to London to make a presentation to the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

CWDC invites practitioners to shape pilots for new social workers

Full Story:

The Children's Workforce Development Council has begun a consultation to shape the three-year pilot programme to support newly qualified social workers (NQSWs) in children's services. It wants to develop outcome statements outlining what skills, knowledge and experience NQSWs should be able to demonstrate by the end of their first year of practice. These will underpin the pilot programme, due to begin in September, under which new graduates in children's services roles in England will receive structured support and development, including managed caseloads and enhanced supervision. The Department for Children, Schools and Families has charged CWDC with developing the programme.

How parents want Granny, not the State, to look after their children

Full Story:

Parents are shunning 'inflexible' state childcare and asking grandparents to look after their youngsters instead, a Government report found yesterday. They are turning to relatives and even neighbours for help, suggesting nurseries and childminders are either too expensive or failing to offer the kind of care they want. The report - commissioned by the Department for Children, Schools and Families - threatens to derail Gordon Brown's ten-year childcare strategy. Researchers warn the initiative 'has not had as much impact as intended, particularly in relation to the most disadvantaged children'. Despite a massive expansion of childcare - including the introduction of extended schools giving care from 8am to 6pm for under-14s - places are not being taken up. The report says parents complain about high costs which would make working 'not worthwhile', as even schools are now allowed to charge for their extended services under this new regime.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Study Finds That 1994 Adoption Law That Was Supposed To Help Black Children Hasn’t

Full Story:

Back in the early 1990s, legislators found that the race-matching practices of adoption agencies and social services was resulting in a disproportionate number of black children in the foster care system. In 1994 despite the virulent opposition of the National Association of Black Social Workers the Multiethnic Child Placement Act, which prohibits the discussion of race during the adoption process, was passed. The goal of the law was to give black children an equal chance of being adopted. According to a new study commissioned by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, that hasnt been the case. While the numbers of black adoptions have increased by a small margin, black children still disproportionately fill foster homes. And then theres the issue of black children being adopted into white homes without and discussion with parents about social challenges the children might face Because the law forbids discussion of race during the adoption process, it prevents social workers from preparing white parents for the challenge of raising black children in a largely white environment, said the report, titled Finding Families for African American Children: The Role of Race and Law in Adoption From Foster Care. It cited studies showing that dark-complexioned children in white homes tend to struggle with identity issues related to skin color, self-esteem and discrimination that their new parents are often not equipped to handle.

One Click from Capture (BBC Panorama)

Watch The Broadcast:

How an online experiment by Panorama led to the arrest and conviction of a paedophile. One Click from Capture: BBC One 8.30pm Monday 26 May.
How safe are our children online?
A Panorama investigation earlier this year showed how paedophiles were using the internet to groom unsuspecting youngsters for sex.
'One Click from Danger' showed how social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook and Bebo were being targeted by paedophiles.
Two teenagers Olivia and Ellie told how after posting profiles on one site, a character claiming to be a 26-year-old woman wanting to be their friend turned out to be a 55-year-old predatory paedophile.
He tried to meet up with them on a school trip to the Tate Modern.
Sexual predators
Panorama also carried out its own experiment.
One of our researchers went online as a fictional 14-year-old schoolgirl called Jane.
Sexual predators soon sought her out.
One in particular was so disturbing the police took over the case.
In 'One Click from Capture' we catch up with Olivia and Ellie who are now making a video to warn parents and kids of the potential risks of the internet based on their own experience

Friday, 23 May 2008

New Care proceedings reforms

Full Aticle & Rulles with Downloads:

The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations Volume 1: Court Orders (England)
The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations Volume 1: Court Orders (Wales)
Public Law OutlineThe Public Law Outline will replace the existing Protocol for Judicial Case Management in Public Law Children Act Cases from 1 April 2008. The Public Law Outline aims to reduce unnecessary delay and is designed to promote better co-operation between all the parties involved in care and supervision cases.
Public Law Outline [PDF 0.50mb, 48 pages]The Public Law Outline, which will come into force on 1 April 2008
Protocol for Judicial Case Management in Public Law Children Act Cases [PDF 1.05mb, 102 pages]The Protocol, which the Public Law Outline will replace
New court forms, Forms PLO 1-6, for use under the Public Law Outline have now been issued and are available to download from the HMCS website.
HMCS forms and guidance
Practice Direction - experts in family proceedings relating to childrenThis Practice Direction deals with the use of expert evidence and the instruction of experts in family proceedings relating to children, and comes into force on 1st April 2008.

Another Victim Of Social Services; Khyra Ishaq aged 7

Victim Of Social Services:

A man and a woman have been charged with neglect after a seven-year-old girl reportedly died of starvation in Birmingham. The girl, named by police as Khyra Ishaq, and five other youngsters were found in the early hours of May 17 at a terraced house in Leyton Road, in the Handsworth area of the city. The six children were discovered lying on mattresses with the seven-year-old seriously ill and the others showing signs of emaciation, according to reports. All six were taken to Birmingham Children's Hospital where the girl died. Angela Gordon, 33, and Junaid Abuhamza, 29, have been charged with child neglect. They are believed to have been Khyra's mother and stepfather.

During the last 2 weeks, as Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services, I’ve been able to announce 2 innovative and exciting new policies

Full Story:

In April, I was able to announce a new, wide-ranging strategy to tackle autism and improve services for those who are affected by the condition. An increasing number of people are being diagnosed with Autism in Wales and there is a need to improve the provision that is available for children, young people and adults with ASD. Wales is the first country in the world to have established a cross-cutting national strategic action plan for ASD that will help the estimated 30,000 people that are either directly or indirectly affected by Autism in Wales. The Action Plan will drive improvements across both children, young peoples and adult services in health, social services and education services and also expand into areas of housing, leisure and society in general, and is yet another World first for Wales. Last week, I was delighted to be able to announce that children under the care of Local Authorities in Wales are to benefit from an extra contribution of Pfund150 a year to their Child Trust Fund as a result of additional funding from the Labour-led Welsh Assembly Government and from the UK Government. Child Trust Funds, which were introduced in 2005, can help play a crucial role in achieving our aim of tackling child poverty in Wales. The account belongs to the child and can't be touched until they turn 18, so that children have some money behind them to start their adult life. Encouraging a savings culture and helping children learn about finance are crucial if we are to break the vicious circle of child poverty and Im confident that policy will help us reach our goal.

N. Ireland; Vulnerable Children Imprisoned As A Substitute for Social Care

Full Story:

Vulnerable children in the North have been imprisoned as a substitute for proper social care, a watchdog warned today. Custody has been used for trivial offences in breach of international safeguards, Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland found. Inappropriate incarceration is more evident than in other parts of the UK, the authority said. When unsure how to deal with them they were placed in custody as much for their own safety as in response to their offending behaviour, the dossier said. Such placements breach international safeguards and inappropriate use of custody for children remains a more pronounced problem in Northern Ireland than elsewhere in the UK. Inspectors from Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland (CJINI) found that Woodlands Juvenile Justice Centre which opened in Bangor, Co Down, in January 2007, was well-managed and provided many examples of good practice. Their report, Inspection of Woodlands Juvenile Justice Centre, said the main concern arose from the high turnover of young people and the fact that a disproportionate number came directly from residential care. It found that three-quarters of looked-after children (cared for by the state because of abuse, neglect or behaviour problems) who entered secure accommodation had convictions. Research suggested that the gate-keeping process for secure care could actually lead to children being placed in the juvenile justice centre if they did not meet the strict secure care criteria; and trivial offences provided the opportunity to use custody as quasicare. However, that was not the juvenile justice centres purpose and it could be of no benefit for marginalised children to experience custody for insufficient reason.

Charities poll third in trust survey

Full Story:

The public trusts charities more than social services, banks and government, according to The Charity Commission's second survey into people's attitudes toward charities. When asked to place organisations and professions in order of trust, the public gave charities an average of 6.6 out of 10, putting them third above social services (5.9), banks (5.5) and private companies (4.9), with newspapers and government ministers bringing up the rear (3.9). Doctors topped the poll (7.5) with police (7) coming second. The Commission's Public Trust and Confidence in Charities report was conducted by Ipsos Mori and surveyed a representative sample of 1008 adults and a separate boost of 202 black and ethnic minority interviews. When asked what would increase their trust in a specific charity, 25 per cent of people said experiencing what the charity did first hand, 19 per cent said whether they believed in the cause, 16 per cent said because the charity had a good reputation and a further 16 per cent because a charity was well known, proving the importance of good comms.

Where Is Child Protection When You Need It

Full Story:

In a confusing move by The Federation For The Ridiculous, there has been a ruling that will see all babies being equipped with funny baby t shirts up to and including the age of five. For those babies with ridiculous names, this can only add to their disturbed childhoods. Funny baby t shirts may well look cute the first time you use them but the novelty wears thin after a while. What is wrong with sending your toddler to nursery in a plain blue t shirt and telling everyone his name is Harry? Why is it necessary to give them strange names and dress them in funny baby t shirts to be mocked by all adults? It's a fact that children do have to learn that life isn't a bed of roses and that things can be tough. Peer pressure is tough, growing up is tough, learning your place in society - all tough. But in a backlash against previous attempts to mollycoddle our children, it now seems it is essential to bring them down to earth with a bump by dressing them in funny baby t shirts to be ridiculed by their elders. Maybe this will have the desired effect of bringing them into submission but I seriously doubt it. For those poor little darlings who have to wear funny baby t shirts sporting slogans such as 'If you think I'm ugly you should see my mum' or 'I only cry when ugly people hold me' risk getting beaten up by the big kids at school. This will turn some into jabbering wrecks and others into retaliating bullies and I propose we begin a lobby group to prevent this cruelty to children. Of course, this trend is reaching across the water from good old America. Where else would we get surveys that this sort of treatment is good for our children? They think that giving their children monikers such as Pilot Inspektor or Moxie Crimefighter is a good idea yet we still take child rearing advice from them. I think this type of ruling should be put into the same pot as being told how to correctly parent our children via text message and email. 'Hold on, little Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily, please stop smashing up the house in your toddler tantrum whilst I check my emails and see how best to chastise you' - somehow I don't think that will work.

Child Protection damages Public Health - AIMS

Full Story:

The following is an Aim's press release sent out recently that I quote. The punitive way child protection is practised in the UK may be doing more harm than good. In their many cases on file, the Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services has numerous examples: Women with postnatal depression who are at risk of suicide conceal their illness - for fear of losing their children Women who are being beaten up by their partners dont report it - for fear of social workers taking their children Women in need of support whose pregnancies were the result of rape conceal it from midwives at antenatal clinic - for fear of social workers being called in. Parents are afraid to take sick children to A & E - for fear paediatricians will have them taken away. Health visitors, once valuable supporters, are no longer welcomed since they became the health police These and many other examples were outlined in a letter AIMS sent to Chief Medical Officers in the UK - which has now been published. We make sure officials have the information - then they cant say they did not know, says Jean Robinson, former Hon. Research Officer who wrote the letter

How do I come to terms with past abuse?

Full Story:

My stepfather abused me many years ago but I have kept it a secret into adulthood. I am desperate to come to terms with it but am afraid to confront him in case it destroys his relationship with my mother My mother remarried when I was still living at home. On one occasion, my stepfather sexually abused me. This was many years ago but I am still very bitter about it. I grew up afraid to say anything to my mother, and I think part of this was because I was afraid I would discover that she had known all along. I am now sure that she didn't. My mother is still married to this man and is seemingly very happy. They had a child together, who is now an adult. I am a parent myself, and in a happy relationship. I have decided not to tell anyone what happened as it would destroy my family and my mother would almost certainly spend her last years alone - I don't think I can cope with the feelings of guilt that would cause. On the other hand, I feel terrible for letting her live her life with a paedophile. I don't know what effect this knowledge would have on my half-brother. It could be that he would disown me, or that he has been abused too - indeed, I have reason to suspect this may be the case. My stepfather is a wolf in sheep's clothing and I feel as if no one knows but me. For years, I have felt I was the guilty party for keeping this secret. This seems so unjust. I don't want this man to get away with what he has done - but I know I won't confront him about it. I just wish there was some way to accept what happened. This happened to my daughter My own daughter was abused by her stepfather when she was a child, but I was in the dark until she was in her 20s. She showed signs of distress but couldn't give a reason, so I actually thought I must be doing something wrong, especially as she seemed to want to leave home at the earliest possible opportunity, and did not return for visits afterwards. When she found a partner, he said he was helping her find herself; I had no idea what he meant. Then, when I visited them both, my daughter told me what had happened, saying she wanted me to know in case my husband did the same to my youngest child. It was like a bomb going off - suddenly her behaviour made sense. I confronted my husband. He confessed and tried apologising but I went to the police and social services, and my youngest child was put on the "at risk" register. Eventually, I divorced him. I was so angry that he had hurt my daughter. My daughter had been scared of losing my love and that of her siblings, but if anything we all love her more because of what she went through.

How will I pay for care fees?

Full Story:

My mum has just had to go into a nursing home and I am trying to work out how to best manage her money to pay the homes high fees. I went to a financial adviser who said that if I let him sell my mother's shares she holds in several different major companies, even though they are very low right now, he would advise us to put that money into a bond which would pay approx 5% income and put 5% interest/growth on the capital. He spoke to social services on the phone in my presence but I could not hear what was actually said. They apparently agreed with him that they could not take the capital money invested in the bond into any financial assessment and could only regard the income from the bond along with mums pensions into account and therefore social services would pay the shortfall of mums care fees without any chargeback leaving mums capital intact and protected. I can hardly believe that - it sounds too easy!! Can you help as I am exhausted from all the sharks swimming around me and my poor mum. Jules, Brighton Peter McGahan at Worldwide Financial Planning replies: Firstly the advice you have received is incorrect in its entirety. Let me break it down for you. Selling your mum's shares may not be the best course of action. She may be forced into a capital gains position on the profit of the shares. On death that capital gain is completely wiped out due to the current tax laws so why should she be forced to sell them and create that tax problem.

Developing social work practices for looked-after children

Full Story:

It's clear that, despite the commitment and skill of social workers, looked-after children are poorly served, writes Cathie Williams. Social workers and children feel undervalued - and the fact that both groups feel this is no coincidence. Children and young people are clear about what they want from their social workers. This includes: consistency, someone they get on with, someone about whom they have some choice, and someone who is not so stressed that they leave to be replaced by agency staff.* While social work practices might not provide all the answers, it has to be worth piloting different ways of delivering social work. Four key themes emerge which sum up what social workers and managers like about the proposed practices. First, the idea of ownership, particularly co-ownership with trusted colleagues, is a key motivator. Second, the chance to develop social work practice and have the focus and space to do this. Third, most social workers do the job to make a difference, and joining a practice might be a way of achieving this. Finally, social workers can see that it works better for children and young people and for social workers themselves if decision-making is closer to both of them. And what might a practice look like? Imagine children and young people not going to the council offices, but to a building that is designed for them - perhaps one they have been involved in choosing or fitting out.

Problem should not be left to principals

Full Story:

A leading childrens charity said decisions about child protection and rehabilitating offenders are too complex to be left to colleges alone. Marcus Erooga, professional advisor on child sexual abuse for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, said that experts from the police and probation services should take the lead in deciding whether it is safe for former offenders to study in colleges. He said the Government should set a clear procedure for colleges. In terms of asking for previous convictions, we would look to central government for guidance, he said. Another issue is what they do when they receive the information. It may have no bearing on whether someone presents a risk or concern to the young people in college. He said colleges should have a person with a designated responsibility for child protection who would build up confidence and some expertise in the area. They would then be able to liaise with the police and probation experts. Colleges are not prevented from asking prospective adult students about previous convictions. Despite their independence from local government, some also receive advice from the local authority head of childrens services on child protection matters. In the most serious cases, the police or the courts can issue offenders with a Sexual Offences Prevention Order, which can set special restrictions on an offender, such as barring them from colleges.

Review launched after girl 'starved to death'

Full Story:

SENIOR social workers were today launching a wholesale review into the tragic death of Khyra Ishaq. The Birmingham Safeguarding Children Board was due to review the case in the wake of the seven-year-old's death. They were meeting against a growing clamour for answers to why a bright, lively girl could die of starvation in Birmingham. Labour MP Khalid Mahmood said the youngster and her brothers and sisters had been simply "forgotten by the system". He branded the City Council's reaction to the tragedy "incompetent" and accused senior officers of building a "wall of silence" around the tragedy. The Perry Barr MP wants details of what checks had been made on the children since Khyra was withdrawn from school 10 weeks ago after complaints of bullying. He said he feared Khyra and her siblings had simply been "forgotten by the system". "I believe a visit was made by an education worker but that doesnt seem to have been followed through," said Mr Mahmood. "It appears that somebody has failed to help these children and we havent learned from previous cases. Im asking the chief executive of the council for a full inquiry."

Child team meet over neglect case

Full Story:

A children's panel is expected to meet later to discuss the case of a seven-year-old girl who is thought to have starved to death. Khyra Ishaq of Birmingham was taken to hospital where she was pronounced dead on Saturday. Two people, thought to be her mother and step-father, have been charged with neglect in connection with her death. Birmingham City Council has said its panel would meet to discuss the death after an MP demanded an investigation. The council said its Safeguarding Children Board, which looks into every child's death, would meet to discuss Khyra's case. Emergency order Earlier, Birmingham Perry Barr MP Khalid Mahmood has asked for an inquiry and accused the council of "battening down its hatches" by refusing to speak about the case. The council said it had been granted an emergency protection order for Khyra's five siblings who were now in foster care. Angela Gordon, 33, and Junaid Abuhamza, 29, have appeared before the city's magistrates charged with neglect. They have been remanded in custody until 28 May.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Two charged with neglect over death

Watch The Broadcast:

Two charged with neglect over death (Channel 4 News) Two people have appeared in court charged with neglect after a seven-year-old girl died, police said. The girl, from the Handsworth area of Birmingham, died of starvation, ITV News said. West Midlands police named the girl as Khyra Ishaq.

Starving child dies in Birmingham

Watch The Broadcast:

A man and a woman have been charged with neglect after a seven-year-old girl reportedly died of starvation in Birmingham. The girl, named by police as Khyra Ishaq, and five other youngsters were found in the early hours of May 17 at a terraced house in Leyton Road, in the Handsworth area of the city. The six children were discovered lying on mattresses with the seven-year-old seriously ill and the others showing signs of emaciation, according to reports. All six were taken to Birmingham Children's Hospital where the girl died. Angela Gordon, 33, and Junaid Abuhamza, 29, have been charged with child neglect. They are believed to have been Khyra's mother and stepfather. According to ITV News reporter Emma Murphy, one neighbour who had been putting out bread in her garden for birds believes it was instead being eaten by the hungry children. Local residents said three of the youngsters were seen in recent months looking "extremely thin". A West Midlands Police statement said: "We can confirm that a seven-year-old girl was taken to hospital on Saturday 17 May where she was pronounced dead. The girl's name is Khyra Ishaq of Leyton Road, Handsworth. Her cause of death has not been confirmed at this stage. "Police are conducting enquiries and a man aged 29 and a woman aged 33 have been charged with neglect and appeared before Birmingham Magistrates on May 19. They have been remanded to appear again on 28 May."

Neglect charge over girl's death

Watch The Broadcast:

A woman and man have been charged with neglect after the death of a seven-year-old girl. Khyra Ishaq, of Leyton Road in Handsworth, Birmingham, was taken to hospital on Saturday where she was pronounced dead. Tests are continuing to find the cause of Khyra's death. Angela Gordon, 33, and 29-year-old Junaid Abuhamza were charged with neglect at Birmingham Magistrates' Court on Monday. The pair, believed to be Khyra's mother and stepfather, were remanded in custody until 28 May. A Birmingham Crown Court spokesman said Ms Gordon and Mr Abuhamza would appear at the court for a preliminary hearing on that date, charged with causing or allowing the death of a child between 9 May and 17 May. According to neighbours there were six children living in the house, three boys and three girls. West Midlands Ambulance Service said it was called to the address in Handsworth at 0545 BST on Saturday. From that address Khyra was taken to Birmingham Children's Hospital. A statement by West Midlands Police said inquiries into the girl's death were continuing. "Her cause of death has not been confirmed at this stage," it added. Valerie Frances, the sister of Kyra's natural father, said she was "shocked" by the news of her niece's death

Round two in court battle that pitches family’s right to stay in their home against neighbours’ desire for a peaceful life

Full Story:

Judge backs mother and four children facing eviction because of older kids behaviour IN the narrow passageways of a Gospel Oak housing estate the rights of a young family to keep their home are clashing with the demands of neighbours to be allowed to live in peace. A mother and her four children under 11 are fighting a legal bid by Camden Council to throw them out of the flat they have lived in for 15 years. But the Town Hall insists that the wild behaviour of the familys 10-year-old and his teenage brothers has made the lives of neighbours so hellish that eviction is the only resort. Three of the older boys have anti-social behaviour orders (Asbos). Two are in custody but will shortly be released, and one is on police bail. One faces trial for an alleged assault on Gospel Oak Conservative councillor Keith Sedgwick. The only way to deal with this problem is with the family off the estate, the councils barrister Philip Squire told the judge at Central London Trial Centre on Thursday as he tried for the second time in a week to have an injunction imposed on the 10-year-old and his siblings, banning them from the estate even before they are evicted. For the second time, Deputy District Judge McCormack threw the bid out. Disagreements among the Town Halls housing, homeless persons and social services departments over who should take responsibility for the family meant that Mr Squire had to admit that the local authority is not in a position to offer an alternative property and the judge refused to put them on the street. As the familys barrister, Joshua Dubin, argued: Is it within the grounds of exceptionality that a mother and her children should be ousted from their home?

Woman jailed for smuggling baby

Full Story:

A Nigerian woman has been jailed for 26 months for bringing a child illegally into the UK. Peace Sandberg, who was living in the UK, went to Nigeria and bought a baby to become eligible for a council flat, Isleworth Court Court heard. She was convicted last month of bringing a child illegally into the UK. She was reported to police after she initially told council staff she had given birth to the boy, then changed her story to say he was adopted. Sandberg had a daughter who was living with her in council accommodation in the borough of Ealing in west London. With dual nationality - Nigerian and Swedish - she knew that as a European citizen working in the UK she would be eligible for a council flat because she had a child. But her daughter left the UK and moved to Sweden to live with her father, Sandberg's ex-husband. With her daughter's departure Sandberg saw her hopes of a new home slipping away - which is when she hatched her plan to get a child. Distraught appearance At the end of 2006 she flew back to Nigeria.

Children Act 2006

Full Story:

Further to my post on Bloody Relations, this question was tabled and answered in the House of Commons on Monday. Children and Adoption Act 2006 John Hemming: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families when he plans to implement the provisions relating to parenting in the Children and Adoption Act 2006. [204244] Kevin Brennan: The provisions of part 1 of the Children and Adoption Act 2006 relating to Family Assistance Orders and risk assessments were implemented in October 2007. The time scale for implementing the remaining provisions in part 1 of the Act is subject to completion of a number of tasks, including preparing for the provision of contact activities, making necessary changes to the court rules, putting new administrative systems for court staff in place and staff training. The Ministry of Justice published a consultation paper on draft rules on 7 May. The Government will shortly be making a written ministerial statement (WMS), outlining the timetable for implementation of the remaining provisions in part 1 of the Act.

'The war couldn't split us up so why should social services?' say devoted couple who fear they could be separated after 60 years

Full Story:

They fell in love during World War II and have been together ever since. So Thomas and Iris Bashford should have been looking forward to marking 60 years of commitment and devotion with their diamond wedding anniversary. But social services officials have given them the devastating news that they could be living apart by the time their anniversary comes around later this year. Mr Bashford, an 82-year-old war veteran, may be moved to a care home, while his 81-year-old wife, who is blind and dependent on him, will remain in the couple's sheltered housing. Mr Bashford, in hospital after a heart attack and a number of other health problems, said he was appalled at the treatment he and his wife were receiving. 'I feel pretty grim about the future,' he said. 'The war didn't split us up but now this could. 'I never thought I would see the day when I was separated from my wife. We have both worked our whole life, paying into the system, and I am not happy that we are being treated like this.' Mrs Bashford added: 'I don't want to be without him - I am very upset and angry. Things would have been different years ago. Old people used to be treated differently.' Mr Bashford, who ran a decorating business until he retired, has been told he will be allowed to live in a residential home once he leaves hospital. But he and his wife, a former seamstress, have been told they cannot both move to the home in Southampton.

Sign Our On-Line Petition - Stop The Government Sanction Forced Adoptions, Families Should Stay Together!

Full Story:

'The Government & Local Authorities Need To Be Made Accountable For Their Actions When Removing Children'
This Petition Will Go To The Prime minister and Head of Children & Social Services!
Stop Injustice Now Has Been Fighting For Change for Along Time, Its Time to Stop the Abuse by the Government. Approximately 1 in 15 children have been taken into care, some adopted, at some point in their lives. Nearly 80,000 children are taken into care each year. That's the entire population of 100 primary schools. Each case costs the taxpayer an average of Pfund150,000 in legal fees; many cost over Pfund750,000. There are other costs, costs that needlessly drain the resources of local authorities, central government and charities. Private children's homes charge up to 'Pfund10,000 per week per child' and foster parents in High Wycombe for example gets 'Pfund800 per week per child' Children in care cost the taxpayer over Pfund1 Billion pounds a year. That's an average of Pfund5,000 per child, per week-more than eight times what it would cost to send a child to Cambridge University.

EDCM Challenges All Councils And Health Bodies To Take Chance To Change Lives For Disabled Children And Families, UK

Full Story:

Every Disabled Child Matters (EDCM) welcomes a major new package of support for disabled children and their families announced at a national conference by Ed Balls MP, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, as part of the Aiming High for Disabled Children programme. A raft of new announcements, including the publication of key anti-bullying guidance for schools and a new 'Core Offer' for families with disabled children, were made during the Secretary of State's speech. Delegates at the conference, including many of the most senior representatives of local authorities and primary care trusts in England, heard Ed Balls describe Aiming High for Disabled Children as a 'chance for transformation'. Steve Broach, EDCM Campaign Manager said: 'We are delighted that so many senior managers responsible for improving the lives of children across England are at today's conference to hear the Secretary of State make his latest speech on disabled children. This is a recognition that disabled children and their families must be a priority for the reforms to children's services nationwide. But there are many areas that are not represented today and EDCM will continue to push for disabled children to be made a priority in every single locality. Aiming High for Disabled Children must bring an end to the postcode lottery. It should not be too much to ask that families with disabled children, wherever they live, should have the same right to an ordinary family life as other families. Signing the EDCM Campaign Charters is the best way local areas can make sure this happens, alongside delivering the government's new Core Offer for disabled children.'

Mum of three tells of crack hell

Full Story:

A COVENTRY mum of three has spoken candidly about her drug addiction in the hope that it will deter others. Karen (not her real name) says she can identify with troubled singer Amy Winehouse. As the government launches the first national Tackling Drugs Week, she has spoken of how she over-came her habit with the help of counsellors. The 28-year-old became addicted to crack cocaine and heroine six years ago when her youngest child was six months old. With help from Coventry's Community Drugs Team - CDT - she quit using drugs in six weeks and has completely turned her life around. Karen says counselling and alternative therapies including reiki healing, meditation, homeopathy and acupuncture really helped her. Nine months ago she gave up alcohol, four months ago she quit smoking and has also stopped taking the anti-depressant Prozac. In the future she is hopes to train as a youth worker, having just completed a counselling course at college.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Child Protection Volunteers

Full Story:

Can there be a social work equivalent of a police community support officer? Corin Williams looks at a scheme that is pioneering work with children on the at-risk register Volunteering has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years. From the traditional pursuits of helping out at a homeless shelter or clearing a canal of rubbish, you can now pound the beat as a police community support officer. Volunteering is central to the government's thinking on community and many say that these unsung heroes are keeping the nation stitched together. But should there be an equivalent to a community support officer for child protection social work? One scheme set up by Community Service Volunteers offers just that, and it looks like the idea is beginning to grow. After two pilot projects in Sunderland and Bromley, south London, came to an end last year, the organisation's Volunteering in Child Protection project is being taken on by councils and has generated interest. The principle sounds simple enough volunteers are matched with families who are already in the child protection system on the "at risk" register and help out with day-to-day tasks and lend a sympathetic ear. Putting this into practice has taken a great deal of time and effort in order to avoid the pitfalls of working with some of the most vulnerable people in the country. By the end of March 2007, volunteers in the pilots had worked with 29 families benefiting 102 children. As an ex-social worker, CSV's project manager Jean Pardey (right) has a unique overview. "I worked in a children's department and I was very well aware of issues around child protection," she says.

'If you remove a baby, what does the forlorn mother do next? Go and have another'

Full Story:

What really goes on in a family court? Are they as secretive as their reputation suggests? Juliet Rix goes behind the scenes ... A teenage girl in an anorak with a round puppy-fat face and a ponytail sits in a small courtroom with her social worker. Around her is a posse of dark-suited lawyers and ahead, a bench of three magistrates. Sharon has learning disabilities. Her mother is seriously mentally ill and her father isn't even mentioned. The court is gathered to hear an application for a care order (which allows a child to be removed from its parents and given into the care of the local authority). The order is not for Sharon - it is for her one-week-old baby. Sharon is 17 and already in care. We are in Wells Street Family Proceedings Court (FPC), in London, the largest in the country with seven courtrooms working five days a week purely on family cases. Contrary to recent publicity, this is not a closed court, hidden behind a wall of secrecy. "I get really irritated by all these stories of 'secret' courts," says Katharine Marshall, a district judge (DJ) and mother of three, specialising in family matters, who sits regularly at Wells Street. It is right that the public can't just walk in off the street and poke their noses in to other families' private business, she believes, but all FPCs are open to the press, "and it is important that the public understands what goes on". I am certainly welcomed and given access not only to the courtrooms but behind-the-scenes to court staff and to the district judges and lay magistrates who make the decisions here. The only restriction is that I must not identify the people involved in the cases (Sharon is not her real name). Having been reminded of this, nobody in the courtrooms I visit objects to my presence. Family courts such as this deal with most "public law" cases in which the state (usually the local authority) is intervening, or attempting to intervene, in family life. These include everything from supervision orders (keeping an eye on a family with problems) to adoption, but most of the work - more than 9,000 cases in 2006 - is care orders.

Accountant smuggled girl 'slave' into UK

Full Story:

A COUPLE smuggled a 13-year-old girl into Britain to work as a household "slave", a court heard yesterday. During her ordeal, accountant Samuel Quainoo, 59, and his wife, Ernestina, a 37-year-old teacher, denied the girl both schooling and friends, it was claimed. Instead, the youngster, who they pretended was theirs, had to cook, clean and do the wasADVERTISEMENThing for their real child while they worked. She was never paid a penny. London's Isleworth Crown Court heard her ordeal only ended when she fell ill in May 2006 and fled the house to seek treatment. She ended up at Hillingdon social services and told them of her plight. The couple, of West Drayton, west London, were arrested and subsequently pleaded guilty to one count of trafficking, but deny any "slave" claims.

Ghana girl of 13 sold 'as slave'

Full Story:

A COUPLE smuggled a 13-year-old girl into Britain to work as their slave, a court heard yesterday. The teenager from Ghana claimed she was promised a proper education. But she was denied schooling and friends and treated as an unpaid skivvy, prosecutors said. Her ordeal ended after two years when she fled seeking medical treatment and went to Social Services. Accountant Samuel Quainoo, 59, and teacher wife Ernestina denied her claims, insisting she was "treated like a daughter". Gillian Frost, prosecuting, told Londons Isleworth Crown Court: "She was cleaning, cooking and washing. It was not a loving family relationship." She said Ernestina, 37, met the girls mother while living in Ghana in 2004. The teenager now 17 and applying for asylum was paid to work as a child-minder for her young son. But when Ernestina decided to return to the UK, she asked to take the girl with her. She promised the mum her daughter would get an education and job. The teacher flew the girl into Britain on fake papers, claiming she was her daughter, and rejoined her husband. The couple, of West Drayton, West London, admitted trafficking. But they strenuously denied treating the teen as a slave.

Housing worker smuggled baby to get council flat

Full Story:

A woman who bought a baby boy in Nigeria for Pfund150 and smuggled him to the UK in an attempt to get a free council flat was sentenced to 26 months in prison yesterday. Peace Sandberg, 40, a housing support worker, was called "manipulative and a stranger to the truth" by the judge at Isleworth crown court, west London. After buying the child Sandberg used a forged birth certificate to get a visa for him from the British high commission in Nigeria, her native country. Within hours of landing at Heathrow airport Sandberg, a support worker at Kensington Housing Trust who had been living in a hostel, was at Ealing council's homeless persons unit, cradling the child in her arms. She claimed she had returned to Africa in December 2006 to give birth and needed a flat for herself and her "son". But the court heard she was immediately recognised by Lizette Reddy, a housing officer. Reddy remembered Sandberg, who has joint Nigerian and Swedish nationality, as not being pregnant when she saw her two months earlier. Sandberg denied any wrongdoing, claiming she had adopted her cousin's orphaned son to give him a better life in Britain. She also said she took the Pfund150 to Nigeria simply to help care for him while she was out there. But a jury took 40 minutes to unanimously convict her of one count of child trafficking.

Brain injury findings shock association

Full Story:

BRAIN injury association Headway has slammed patient care provision after cases of discrimination were revealed. A countrywide survey uncovered high levels of discrimination and prejudice from the public against people with brain injuries, resulting in social isolation. The survey also exposed poor treatment by health and social services. Linda Kerley, chief executive officer of Headway East Kent, based at the Kent & Canterbury Hospital, was shocked by the results. She said: We are appalled so many people with brain injuries are being mistreated by statuary agencies and are facing prejudice by wider society. We hear numerous stories of how our service users are often bullied, harassed and ridiculed for their disabilities, which is highly disturbing in a sophisticated society like ours. The study explored the feelings of those suffering with brain injuries and looked at how they felt they were treated. According to the survey 60 per cent have experienced discrimination from at least one social service and 17 per cent have been refused support from a social services team. In 2005 the government launched the National Service Framework for Long Term Conditions.

Police crack down on child slave trade

Full Story:

Detectives fighting to halt the passage of child slaves through Gatwick are hoping to deter traffickers from operating in Sussex. A total of nine potential trafficking victims have been identified on arrival at Gatwick so far this year, with one later going missing from care. Police are taking the DNA and fingerprints of potential victims so they can be identified if they go disappear. Detective Superintendent Graham Bartlett, who is running Sussex Police's Operation Newbridge to combat people-smuggling, said: "Experience has shown us kids are brought in to move them on into the sex industry, catering industry, domestic slavery. "Whilst we won't prevent the kids coming through we might prevent them coming through Gatwick." The Argus revealed last month that 42 children, many of whom had recently arrived at Gatwick airport from China and Nigeria, went missing from West Sussex between 2003 and 2007. Nationally about 400 children have gone missing from the care of councils based close to ports and airports in the same period. Sussex Police work to an established a profile of potential trafficking victims.

DCSF publishes 'prospectus' on social work practices

Full Story:

The Department for Children, Schools and Families has released fresh details of how new social work practices for looked-after children - due to be piloted next year - will operate. In a "prospectus" published last week, it said between six and nine English councils would trial practices by contracting out cases of children in long-term care to independent social work teams. The GP-style practices, designed to improve stability in relationships between looked-after children and their social workers, will be paid according to their ability to improve outcomes for young people. Lead professionals will be appointed to work with individual children and support them through each and every episode including when they leave care. A key objective is reducing staff turnover and improving continuity of care. According to the DCSF prospectus, young people see as many 30 different social workers during their time in care. Empowering practitioners They are also designed to cut bureaucracy and empower practitioners to make decisions about cases. Practices will be judged against the five Every Child Matters outcomes - being healthy, staying safe, enjoying and achieving, making a positive contribution and achieving economic well-being - and a sixth, stability and continuity. The latter will cover both placement stability and practitioner continuity.

Social work in the information age

Full Story:

Learning by Experience is a new section showcasing recent research in social care. It will focus on research in important areas of social care and social work which contributes to the evidence base for practice. The research discussed in Learning by Experience can be anything from a small research project undertaken by a practitioner working on the front line to a major piece of academic research carried out by a university. Anyone who would like to contribute should first read our detailed guidelines, which can be found here Abstract This paper looks how social work is managing in the information age. Characterised by flows of information through electronic media, the identity of, and work with, service users is divided into abstracted lists or measures, fed into databases, which then directs practice through performance indicators. Drawing on two current research projects, we describe how social workers in their everyday work are overwhelmed by such developments, but there are also opportunities to resist and embrace them. There has been much debate about how social work and other human services are managing in the information age. What is the place for caring and relational professions when faced with the massive growth of information and communication technologies (ICTs), the rise of the internet and new forms of regulation and scrutiny? The sociologist, Scott Lash characterised the information society as concerned with flow, and the compression of complexity into disembedded fragments. Bits, or more accurately bytes, of information move across multiple contexts, last for a few minutes, are picked up or discarded. There is no legitimating argument, no conceptual framework, no narrative in which it can all make sense. Nigel Parton (forthcoming) talks of the move from social to informational knowledge in social work:

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Full Story:

There is a need for child protection leaflets to be produced in a number of languages UP to 800 primary schools -- a quarter of the national total -- have reported cases of suspected child abuse to the Health Services Executive, according to a shock survey. But schools claim that neglect and physical abuse is not a priority with the HSE, which is more interested in allegations of sexual abuse. They also allege that when they approach the social services for advice without outlining specifics they come under immediate pressure to make a disclosure. The referrals to the HSE are made by Designated Liaison Persons (DLPs) in schools in accordance with Department of Education and Science child protection guidelines. All schools are now obliged to have a DLP and the first of them was appointed seven years ago. A survey of 335 DLPs asked how many had reported suspected cases since they were appointed and exactly a quarter of the 335 polled said they had done so. The survey is an accurate sample representing the country's 3,200 primary schools.

25% of schools report child abuse

Full Stoty:

ONE in four primary schools has reported suspected child abuse to health authorities, a survey of school child protection staff has revealed. But in a week in which the Health Service Executive (HSE) has been criticised for apparent shortfalls in support for children at risk, teachers have complained that the response and support they get on child protection issues is very poor. The survey found that most school staff with responsibility in this area have had little or no training for the role in the past four years. More than 330 of the countrys 3,300 primary schools took part in the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) survey. Under Department of Education child protection guidelines, every school must have a designated liaison person (DLP) to deal with health services, gardai and other agencies in connection with abuse allegations. The survey found that: One quarter of DLPs have referred an allegation or reported child abuse to the HSE. More than half of them have only been in the position since 2004. 53% have had no Department of Education training for their important role. Two-thirds of those with training thought it was inadequate.


Watch The Full Documentary:

The first part of a true story charting the life of a child who was consistently abused by her parent from a young age.The child, now a young woman, recounts her moving story up to the age of 11. For reasons of confidentiality, her story is recounted by an actor.The story is interspersed with interviews, conducted by the young woman herself. Remaining anonymous throughout, she interviews child protection professionals who explain how they intervene in cases of child abuse; something that did not happen in this case.
A Child Abused - After 11
The second part of a true story charting the life of a child who was consistently abused by her parent from a young age.The child, now a young woman, recounts her moving story from the age of 11. For reasons of confidentiality, her story is recounted by an actor.The story is interspersed with interviews, conducted by the young woman herself. Remaining anonymous throughout, she interviews child protection professionals who explain how they intervene in cases of child abuse; something that did not happen in this case.

Child Killers 'Fred West'

Watch The Full Documentary:

Serial killers are the dark stars of modern culture. Their faces are familiar. We know what the Yorkshire Ripper and Ed Gein did and how they did it. But what made them that act that way? What was the path they took from their childhood to adulthood? Each of the best-known serial murderers has been closely scrutinised by psychologists seeking some clue to what prompted their awful crimes. They will provide fascinating testimony about the early years, and reveal whether there is a common pattern in their development. Cromwell Street, Gloucester - an ordinary house in an ordinary street. Number 25 was the home of a local builder and his wife, bustling with children and topped up to the brim with lodgers. The only thing that distinguished number 25 from the others was the amount of people that came and went. Fred West liked company. He also liked to maim, molest and murder. But was this seemingly ordinary man driven to the slaughter of at least 12 women and children or was Fred West Born to Kill? Over a period of about twenty years Fred and Rose West abducted, tortured, raped and murdered an unknown number of girls, many of whom lay buried in the garden until the police dug them up. What motivated West to commit such terrible crimes? Was he born evil or did his upbringing make him this way? Did he do it for sexual kicks? Or, as some allege, did he supply the sacrificial victims to a black magic coven?

Child Killers 'Myra Hindley'

Watch The Full Documentary:

For many years, Myra Hindley was depicted by the tabloid press as "the most hated woman in Britain". The crimes committed by Hindley and her lover, Ian Brady, shocked the nation and became the benchmark by which other acts of evil came to be measured. Until she met Brady, Hindley had been, by all accounts, a perfectly normal girl, with strong religious feelings. She loved children and animals, and was much in demand as a babysitter. When they became lovers, Hindley was prepared to do anything Brady asked Can people be persuaded to kill for love Were they crimes of passion? Brady claimed that Hindley was a manipulative liar who was as committed to murder as he had been.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Sign Our On-Line Petition - Stop The Government Sanction Forced Adoptions, Families Should Stay Together!

Full Story:

Stop The Government Sanction Forced Adoptions, Families Should Stay Together!
'The Government & Local Authorities Need To Be Made Accountable For Their Actions When Removing Children'
This Petition Will Go To The Prime minister and Head of Children & Social Services!
Stop Injustice Now Has Been Fighting For Change for Along Time, Its Time to Stop the Abuse by the Government. Approximately 1 in 15 children have been taken into care, some adopted, at some point in their lives. Nearly 80,000 children are taken into care each year. That's the entire population of 100 primary schools. Each case costs the taxpayer an average of Pfund150,000 in legal fees; many cost over Pfund750,000. There are other costs, costs that needlessly drain the resources of local authorities, central government and charities. Private children's homes charge up to 'Pfund10,000 per week per child' and foster parents in High Wycombe for example gets 'Pfund800 per week per child' Children in care cost the taxpayer over Pfund1 Billion pounds a year. That's an average of Pfund5,000 per child, per week-more than eight times what it would cost to send a child to Cambridge University.

Child-centred service at last

Full Story:

SCOTLANDS first specialist legal service for children and young people who need advice and representation from a solicitor has been launched in Edinburgh. The Community Law Advice Network (cl@n) will specialise in child law, initially covering the Lothians, with longer-term plans to expand across the country. Children and young people and, in some cases, their parents will be able to accessADVERTISEMENTspecialist legal advice on issues ranging from adoption to seeking asylum. The service has been set up by solicitor Alison Reid and Fiona Jones, a non-practising advocate, who have both worked at the Scottish Child Law Centre, which runs a phone and e-mail advice service for children. The two lawyers noted that there was a significant gap between offering advice over the phone and helping young people to find a solicitor prepared to take on their case, partly because of legal aid pressures. If a legal issue arises for a child, then it is very difficult for that child to obtain legal help, explains Reid, who is chief executive of cl@n as well as its principal solicitor. This is due to a reluctance to see a solicitor in an office in town, the perceived costs, the complexity of the law and also the difficulty in finding a solicitor to do child law under the legal aid scheme. We always wondered whether the link was made between phoning the centre and going to the solicitor.

"Better at Home" campaign launched for children with complex health needs

Full Story:

National children's charity, WellChild and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) have launched a joint "Better at Home" campaign which calls for improved care for children and young people with long-term complex care needs and their families through greater investment in community children's nurses. This wide-ranging campaign will not only highlight the current disparity in the health and social care services available to these families, but will also for the first time map the number of children and young people throughout the UK who remain in hospital long term rather than receive care at home because of a lack of specialist children's nurses. The campaign has received parliamentary support through an Early Day Motion and will be asking for backing from all parliamentarians as well as families, health and social care professionals and managers to support the campaign. The Better at Home campaign aims to achieve the following: Timely, high-quality and effective care to be delivered in the home where possible. Packages of care that coordinate health, social care and education in a way that meets their individual and ongoing needs of the children and their families. The government's commitment to support greater financial investment in the provision of children's nurses to work specifically with this group of vulnerable children and bridge the gap between hospital and community services.

Campaign to treat more sick children at home

Full Story:

Children's charity WellChild has launched a joint campaign with the RCN calling for improved care for children and young people with long-term care needs. The Better at Home Campaign is calling for more support for affected families through greater funding for community children's nurses. RCN general secretary Peter Carter said: 'It is unacceptable that children suffering from long term conditions are stuck in hospital when they can be cared for at home with their family around them. 'We want the government to invest more in community children's nurses and provide the necessary resources so that no child is stuck unnecessarily in hospital,' he said. 'Health and social services also need to work more closely together and look at why this is happening and how it can be addressed.'

Social workers slammed over death

Full Story:

A judge has criticised social workers for not helping a young mother who killed her two-year-old daughter in east London. Galtricia Ntsimbi stabbed her daughter Trycia Balhous five times at their home in Barking on August 13. Ntsimbi then turned the knife on herself, before she was found by her mother. Six days earlier, she had been arrested for harassing a shop keeper and the police doctor had referred her to social services.

Trycia Balhous murder: Warnings about killer mother were ignored

Full Story:

Social workers failed to act on warnings about the mental health of a young mother who stabbed her daughter to death, an Old Bailey judge has said. Galtricia Ntsimbi, 23, knifed two-year-old Trycia Balhous five times before turning the blade on herself, days after she was cleared by mental health workers. Judge David Paget, QC, said it was a "thousand pities" that social services failed to act on a police doctor's warnings. Six days before the killing, Ntsimbi was arrested for harassing a local shopkeeper and a doctor voiced fears about her mental health. Despite his fears that she had a "delusional disorder", Barking and Dagenham social services failed to take further action. Ntsimbi was released on bail without charge and less than a week later, her daughter's blood-soaked body was discovered in her east London flat. Ordering that Ntsimbi be detained in hospital indefinitely, Judge Paget, QC, criticised the handling of the case. He said: "It seems a thousand pities in retrospect that his views were not followed up. It might have avoided this tragedy." Christopher Tehrani, prosecuting, said Ntsimbi came to Britain from France in the winter of 2006 and moved to a flat in Barking. Last Aug 13 Ntsimbi's mother visited her flat.

Interview: Camila Batmangeilidjh, Kids Company

Full Story:

There can be few Londoners who have not now heard of Camila Batmangeilidjh and her visionary creation, Kids Company. Camila has been working her extraordinary magic on kids for over 10 years now, sweeping the streets of those left behind, the ones that fall through the social net, the children no-one knows what to do with. The charity is now well established and much admired, and there are plans to replicate it all over the placebut things aint always been easy for Camila.
She was born into relative luxury in Tehran, but things fell apart for her after the revolution when her familys goods were seized and the family effectively exiled. She has struggled with dyslexia and has known material hardship: hey, she even re-mortgaged her flat twice to raise funds for Kids Co when things were bad.
Her philosophy that love is all it takes, and her belief that even the roughest tearaways can be put back on the rails with kindness have been pooh-poohed by mainstream child therapists, but her results speak for themselves.
Camila is about as special as it comes in human form: a meeting with her leaves a warm glow, a feeling that this roving Londonist reporter can only describe as having been Camila-ed. She is one of Londons real treasures, and we all owe her a debt of real gratitude for showing us how to roll up our sleeves and get on with it.

Devoted couple 'were about to be separated'

Full Story:

A DEVOTED couple found dead together in their retirement flat believed they were about to be moved to separate care homes after 60 years of marriage, it emerged today. Retired dentist Tom Hughes, 82, and wife Nancie, 86, were discovered dead next to each other at their home in Abergavenny. Neighbours told how doting Tom and Nancie were never seen apart, and still held hands as they went on their weekly shopping trips. But her health was failing and the pair feared being move into different nursing homes. Mrs Hughes faced going alone to a specialist home for dementia sufferers, while her husband was well enough to move to a mainstream care home. It emerged yesterday that the couple were found dead shortly after receiving an official visit from social services. Gwent Police initially treated their deaths as suspicious but later said they were not looking for anyone else in connection with the double tragedy. The pair, who have two sons, were highly respected in the town where Mr Hughes was a dentist for more than 30 years until his retirement.

New Unit To Target Child Abusers And Sex Offenders

Full Story:

THE Police Service has launched a new Public Protection Unit (PPU) aimed at tackling child abuse, domestic violence and managing sex offenders. Operating across D District - Newtownabbey, Lisburn, Antrim and Carrickfergus - the new unit has been set up to tackle child abuse and domestic abuse, to respond to vulnerable and missing people and to manage violent and sexual offenders in the commuADVERTISEMENTnity. "The Public Protection Unit marks a significant boost to services to local communities by providing protection to the most vulnerable people in society. It will, for the first time, draw together a team of specially trained police officers, managed at local level to detect, investigate and prevent crimes," explained District Commander Henry Irvine. "An important part of its work will be to identify and share intelligence within a dedicated team. There is clear evidence that there are links between domestic abuse and child abuse. The PPU will allow for early intervention and seek to identify links between cases, victims and offenders. They will bring together specialist skills to complete pictures where, in the past, there have been gaps or blind spots," the Chief Superintendent added. Detective Inspector Reuben Black will lead the D District Child Abuse Investigation Unit, which will contain several specialist child protection detectives. Inspector Stephen Marshall, a former Sector Inspector in Ballyclare, will lead the team of officers who will investigate and manage domestic violence, vulnerable people, missing persons and sexual offenders.

John Hemming MP's psychologist comments 'outrageous and unfounded', says judge

Full Story:

An MP made "outrageous" allegations against the integrity of a consultant clinical psychologist, the Court of Appeal has decided. Lords Justices Thorpe and Wall dismissed as "unfounded" a claim by John Hemming, the Liberal Democrat MP for Birmingham Yardley, that the expert was "in the pay of" a local authority that was seeking to take a child into care. "Mr Hemming's allegation that [the psychologist] is part of an 'evil' system only warrants comment because it comes from a Member of Parliament, and thus from a person in a responsible public position whom one ought to be able to trust only to make serious allegations when they are based on evidence," Lord Justice Wall said. "I am astonished that somebody in Mr Hemming's position should have seen fit to put such a disgraceful allegation into the public domain. I reject it unreservedly." The story begins two years ago, when a woman of 21 gave birth to a premature baby, born at about 27 weeks. The mother had not realised she was pregnant until shortly before the birth. Her baby, known as KP, was born with "very many serious medical conditions" requiring skilled management. The mother, referred to as RP, has a "significant learning disability". According to the psychologist, RP's limitations "are too extensive to allow her to parent KP successfully on her own".

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

BBC Panorama - Tests 'damaging' to school system

Full Story:

The national testing system in English schools is being misused to the detriment of children's education, says a report from a committee of MPs.
The Commons schools, children and families committee says teachers spend too much time "teaching to the test".
"The inappropriate use of national testing could lead to damaging consequences," warns the report.
Schools Minister Jim Knight welcomed MPs' recognition that the "principle of national testing is sound".
With hundreds of thousands of 11-year-olds in England taking "Sats" tests this week, the select committee report warns that the tests are being used in a way that does not benefit children or the schools system.
New type of test
"In an effort to drive up national standards, too much emphasis has been placed on a single set of tests and this has been to the detriment of some aspects of the curriculum and some students," says committee chairman Barry Sheerman.

Full Story:

Grandparents Apart Press Release May 2008

Full Report:
The Launch of the 1st Mobile Family Information & Education Centre in UK.

We are proud to announce the launch of our Family Information & Education Centre. It will carry all types of family information. We have information about Kinship care, adoption, social services, courts and advice on how to build bridges when family problems arise. We will also have information about other family support organisations that can help with particular issues. If we dont know the answer, we will know a man that does!
There is an alternative to locking horns, an alternative to legal action. We can help you find the solution to suit your family problems.
We will be promoting The Charter for Grandchildren created by the Scottish Government to remind and encourage families to put the childrens welfare first in family arguments and encourage professionals to be more alert to the real best interest of the child in their daily workings.
Full Report:

Carly Townsend; Let Down By Swansea Social Services

Read The Sad Story:
Carly Townsend aged 16
Let Down By Swansea Social Services
Another catalogue of failings by Children's Services An expert has asked why a teenager who died of a heroin overdose was permitted to live with her drug-abusing family. The mother and half-sister of Carly Townsend, 16, were convicted of manslaughter through gross negligence after failing to call help for her.

Read The Sad Story:

Welsh Assembly aid Local Authorities in trying to cover-up possible Child Abuse

Full Story:
Welsh Assembly aid Local Authorities in trying to cover-up possible Child Abuse
Sir Ronald Waterhouse said it was a "remarkable" decision by the Welsh Assembly Government not to allow Independent Advocacy Services for our most venerable Children.
Watch the extraordinary attack by the former High Court Judge below:
Video Story:
The Children and Young People Committee has published its report on advocacy services for children and young people in Wales.
Advocacy Services for Children and Young People in WalesMarch 2008
Full Story:

Protsts For June 2008
4 One Day Protest's Have Been Organised For 'June 08'at

Harlow Social Services,
Triangle House Palmers Green,
Civic Centre Enfield,
The Town Enfield.

Harlow Social Services 10th June 2008
Willowfield House,
Tendring Road, Harlow,
CM18 6SE

Enfield Adoption Services 12th June 2008
Triangle House,
305 - 313 Green Lanes,
Palmers Green,
N13 4YB

Enfield Civic Centre 17th June 2008
Enfield Civic Centre,
Silver Street,
Enfield, EN1 3XY

The Town Enfield 19th June 2008
The Town,