Sunday, 25 June 2017
Always question WHY a young person is in the care system.
For conference report :
In the sessions on fostering, adoption and leaving care, chaired by the Earl of Listowel, the only speaker who even hinted that some of these children and young people shouldn't be in the care system, was the solicitor Naomi Angell (Osborne's) who mentioned several contested cases including a Judicial Review. Solicitor William Bache (G T Stewart) has been involved in a number of family law cases involving misunderstanding and misinformation. It was recently reported by BBC, ITN and elsewhere that his client Carla Andrews was reunited with her daughter after 8 months, http://bbc.in/2s4H0FW Paul Storey QC has spoken of a final adoption hearing for children thought to be injured by their parents. Storey observed the birth father contorting his fingers in a manner impossible for someone with normal collagen and sought an adjournment for the family to be tested for Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. Tests proved positive and the children were returned to their birth family.
Schools are under pressures to increase attendance and reduce spending. The replacement of Statements of Special Educational Need with Education Health & Care Plans and associated directives on "working together", mean that more professional and ancillary workers are operating beyond their sphere of training, knowledge and experience. They are therefore unprepared to identify or recognise such things as Autism Conditions, collagen deficiency problems (e.g. Ehlers Danlos Syndrome) or childhood ME/CFS. When parents of a neurologically different or medically compromised child with poor attendance, demand additional resources to support their child in school, they are often viewed with suspicion and hostility. Other services are called in, but well-intended moves towards working together may be having unforeseen negative consequences. Risk assessments can be misinterpreted and lead to section 47 Child Protection proceedings, with nobody stopping to take stock and consider if this is an appropriate course of action. Once negative comments, views and reports are on file, it is difficult for parents to refute these documents which grow in volume and severity. The psychologist Lisa Blakemore-Brown referred to this as being unable to shake off 'the first gossamer breath of suspicion'. http://bit.ly/2rlNcGS
There may be many children in care homes, foster families or who have been adopted, who (with minimal support) could and should have remained with their birth families. I know a family in which the mother was ill when the child was nearing the end of primary school, they needed short term practical help. Instead the child was sent for a psychiatric assessment, which missed the (later diagnosed) Asperger's Syndrome and misinterpreted pocketing chocolate biscuits from the waiting room as a sign of emotional deprivation (rather than poverty and liking chocolate). The mother was assessed whilst recuperating from major surgery; her hormonal upheaval was mistaken for ongoing psychiatric illness. The child was ripped from home, local support and a safe community to be placed with a drug-using father on a rough estate. This was followed by a succession of unsatisfactory out of area foster placements and as a last resort a children's home in which the young person picked up a drug habit. It took the entire time from year 7 to GCSE failure to reunite this family. Care leaver support is ineffective or absent and the loving mother is left wondering where to turn.
I think this example and the ones cited above of young children with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome being removed from their families, demonstrate that any consideration of the care system needs to look in more detail as to why some children and young people enter the care system in the first place.
Jan Loxley Blount TCert., Diploma in Child Development. firstname.lastname@example.org
Jan Loxley had a pioneering career in children's play, including advising Parliament on 'Latch Key Provision' during 'International Year of the Child'. She came late to motherhood and in 1999 was wrongly accused of fabricating (now diagnosed) symptoms of neurological and physiological difficulties in her children. Their story led to the 17/10/01 House of Lords Debate on False and Misleading Accusations of Child Abuse. Parents Protecting Children UK was formed to serve families with additional educational, medical, physical, neurological, social and emotional needs who, because of professional failure to understand the complexities of their situation, have been caught up in the Child Protection system. Our Facebook community has almost 1500 followers. We work with False Allegations Support Organisation, Parents Against Injustice Network, condition based organisations and family support groups.