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Child in care wanting parents to have no information or involvement

 

This issue has to be one of the most Frequently asked questions that I get as a Local Authority lawyer  – “Little Frank is in care and he doesn’t want his mum to know X,  do I respect Frank’s wishes, or respect the duty in the Act that parents are to be consulted with about major issues?”

 

[Very often this comes up in relation to contraception, pregnancy etc, but also sometimes just that the young person wants no information about themselves to be communicated by the Local Authority to their parent]

 

In this case, PD v SD & Another 2015

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Fam/2015/4103.html

 

Keehan J was faced with a child who had been born a girl, named HD, who had changed her name to PD and wished to change her identity to male.  He was 16 years old, and had been adopted at the age of 6. Things had become difficult and unworkable, and PD was in voluntary care under section 20 of the Children Act 1989.   PD was going on to have assessment and assistance from the Tavistock about his gender identity. He did not want his adoptive parents to be involved or given any information.

It became as stark as this :-

So strongly held are his views that Ms. Morgan QC told me he would even wish his parents not to be notified if he were required to receive emergency medical treatment. The depths of his wishes are conveyed by his view that if he suffered a serious accident and underwent emergency surgery he would not want to wake and find his parents at his bedside.

 

Meanwhile, his parents were still hopeful of a reconciliation and wanted to be involved in PD’s life in some capacity.

 

  1. THE LAW
  2. It is agreed by all parties that I have a jurisdiction to grant the declaratory relief sought by P.
  3. By virtue of s.8(3) of the Family Law Reform Act, P, now aged 16, can give valid consent to medical and surgical treatment.
  4. If P was not provided with accommodation by the local authority and was not a looked after child, the local authority would not be obliged to consult with or give information to P’s parents.
  5. Since he is a child looked after by the local authority, it is obliged by s.22 and s.26 of the Children Act 1989 to consult with and give information to the parents. Section 22 provides:

    “Before making any decision with respect to a child whom they are looking after or proposing to look after the local authority shall, so far as it is reasonably practicable, ascertain the wishes of-

    (a) the child;

    (b) his parents;

    (c) any person who is not a parent of his but who has had parental responsibility for him; and

    (d) any other person whose wishes and feelings the authority consider to be relevant regarding the matter to be decided.”

    There are further obligations in a similar vein imposed by the provisions of the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010.

  6. The Article 8 Convention rights of P and of his parents are engaged. I take particular account of the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in Yousef v Netherlands [2003] 1 FLR 210, that where there is a tension between the Article 8 rights of the child, on the one hand, and the parents, on the other, the rights of the child prevail.
  7. In the case of Re C (Care: Consultation with Parents not in Child’s Best Interests) [2006] 2 FLR 787, Coleridge J decided it was not in the best interests of the subject child for the local authority to consult with or give information to the father. In his judgment he expressed the view that it was only in very exceptional circumstances that such an order would be appropriate. The factual matrix of that case was very different from the circumstances of this case.
  8. In my view, rather than considering whether the facts of the case are very exceptional, although in my judgment the facts of this case are very exceptional; I should instead focus on the competing Article 8 rights of P and of his parents.

 

 

There were three major relevant pieces of caselaw – it won’t surprise anyone to know that one was Gillick. The second was Naomi Campbell’s privacy case, setting out that a person’s medical records and medical treatment is private. The third is one precisely on point as to when a young person acquires the right for their medical treatment to be kept confidential from a parent.

 

  1. In the case of Gillick v West Norfolk and Wisbech Health Authority [1986] 1 AC 112 Lord Scarman said, at 185(e):

    “The rights of a parent exist primarily to enable the parent to discharge his duty of maintenance, protection and education until he reaches such an age as to be able to look after himself and make his own decisions.”

  2. Baroness Hale, in the case of Campbell v Mirror Group Newspapers Limited [2004] 2 AC 457 said at p.499:

    “It has always been accepted that information about a person’s health and treatment for ill-health is both private and confidential. This stems not only from the confidentiality of the doctor/patient relationship but from the nature of the information itself. As the European Court of Human Rights put it in Z v Finland [1997] 25 EHRR 371:

    “Respecting the confidentiality of health data is a vital principle in the legal system with all the Contracting State parties to the Convention. It is crucial not only to respect the sense of privacy of a patient but also to preserve his or her confidence in the medical profession and in health services generally. Without such protection those in need of medical assistance may be deterred from revealing such information of a person and intimidate nature as may be necessary in order to receive appropriate treatment and even from seeking such assistance, thereby endangering their own health and, in the case of transmittable diseases, that of the community.””

  3. I was referred to the case of Regina on the Application of Sue Axon v Secretary of State for Health [2006] EWHC 37 (Admin). During the course of judgment Silber J said, at para.64:

    “It is appropriate to bear in mind that the European Court of Human Rights attaches great value to the rights of children. Furthermore, the ratification by the United Kingdom of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in November 1989 was significantly showing a desire to give children greater rights. The ECHR and the UNC show why the duty of confidence owed by a medical professional to a competent young person is a high one and which therefore should not be overridden except for a very powerful reason. In my view, although family factors are significant and cogent, they should not override the duty of confidentiality owed to the child. It must not be forgotten that this duty was described in Z v Finland as a vital principle in the legal system of all Contracting Parties to the Convention.”

    Then at para.127 he said:

    “I am unable to accept Mr Havers’ contention that by permitting a medical professional to withhold information relating to advice or treatment of a young person on sexual matters, the Article 8 rights of the parents of the young person were thereby infringed. In considering this issue, it must always be remembered first, that in Z v Finland the European Court emphasised the significance and compelling nature of a patient’s Article 8(1) right to confidentiality of health information as explained in paragraph 63 above. A similar approach was adopted in MS v Sweden, in which it is said at page 337 in paragraph 41 “respecting the confidentiality of health data is a vital principle in the legal systems of all Contracting Parties to the Convention”. Although these cases deal with the position of an adult there is no good reason why they could not apply to protect the confidentiality of health information concerning a young person, especially because, as I have explained, that a duty of confidentiality is owed to a young person by medical professionals.”

    Finally, at para.130 to para.132 he said:

    As a matter of principle it is difficult to see why a parent should still retain an Article 8 right to parental authority relating to a medical decision where the young person concerned understands the advice provided by the medical professionals and its implications. Indeed, any right under Article 8 of a parent to be notified of advice or treatment of a sexual matter as part of the right claimed by Mr. Havers must depend on a number of factors, such as the age and understanding of their offspring. A parent would not be able to claim such an Article 8 right to be notified if their son or daughter was, say, 18 years of age and had sought medical advice on sexual matters, because in that case the young person is able to consent without parental knowledge or consent for the reasons set out in paragraph 1 above. The reason why the parent could not claim such a right is that their right to participate in decision making as part of the right claimed by Mr. Havers would only exist while the child was so immature that his parent had the right of control as was made clear in Gillick. In my view, any Article 8 right of the kind advocated by Mr. Havers must be seen in that light so that once the child is sufficiently mature in this way the parent only retains such rights to family life and to be notified about medical treatment if, but only if, the young person so wishes. Indeed, whether there is family life and hence a right to family life of a particular family is a question of fact. The European Commission on Human Rights has explained the existence of family ties depends upon the real existence and practice of close family ties. It is not clear why the parent should have an Article 8 right to a family life where first the offspring is almost 16 years of age and does not wish it, second where the parent no longer has a right to control the child for the reasons set out in the last paragraph and third where the young person, in Lord Scarman’s words, “has sufficient understanding of what is involved to give a consent valid in law”. There is nothing in the Strasbourg jurisprudence which persuades me that any parental right or power of control under Article 8 is wider than in domestic law. Parental right to family life does not continue after the time when the child is able to make his own decisions. So parents do not have Article 8 rights to be notified of any advice of the medical profession after the young person is able to look after himself or herself and make his or her own decisions.”

  4. I respectfully agree with Silver J’s analysis of the law and of the relevant legal principles.

 

There were therefore two competing Article 8 rights to balance, and the Court considered that they were to be balanced in favour of the young person, who was 16 and capacitious and understood the issues involved and had made his decision that he did not want his parents to be given that information.  [I think there’s an argument that this rather reverses Coleridge J’s decision in Re C – rather than becoming exceptional that a Local Authority respect a child’s wishes not to share information with a parent, it seems to become the norm if the child is capacitious and expressing a view not to share the information – though this was, and is, of course an exceptional case]

 

  1. DISCUSSION
  2. The situation in which P and the parents find themselves is extremely difficult for each party. The parents struggle to understand P’s position, feelings and his decision about his gender. He struggles to understand their complete lack of support and understanding. The upshot is that he, at 16 years of age, has decided to completely disengage from family life with them.
  3. On the basis of the authorities I have referred to above, that is a decision he is perfectly entitled to reach and is one which this court must respect.
  4. There is no issue that P should be afforded privacy in respect of his medical treatment. In any event, I am entirely satisfied that he is entitled to respect of his privacy on these matters as a matter of law.
  5. I am pleased to learn that the parents, having expressed a willingness to engage with the Tavistock Centre throughout, will continue to seek guidance and support from the same. I am sure that will be extremely helpful for them. It may well help them to come to an understanding of why P finds it so distressing when they have referred to him as H.
  6. Like the parents, I very much hope the time will come when a reconciliation is effected between P and the parents. In my judgment, however, the surest way of seeking to secure that outcome, is to respect P’s current wishes and feelings.
  7. When balancing P’s Article 8 rights against those of the parents I am entirely satisfied the balance falls decisively in favour of P’s Article 8 rights. At the age of 16, having decided to disengage from his family in the very sad circumstances of this case, it is for P to decide what, if and when any details about his life are given to his parents. I have taken particular account of the genuine and sincere conviction with which P has expressed his views and wishes. It would, in my judgment, be wholly contrary to (a) his welfare best interests, (b) his Article 8 rights and (c) any hope of a reconciliation being effected for the court to override his views and permit or require the local authority to provide information about P to his parents.
  8. Accordingly, I propose to grant declaratory relief as sought by P.
  9. I know that this decision will be a source of real disappointment and distress to the parents. I hope, however, they will understand the reasons for my decision in the fullness of time.

 

[Another way of looking at it, not considered within this judgment, is whether the LA are capable of complying with the section 22 duty to consult with a parent where the young person is Gillick competent and objects, because of the provisions of the Data Protection Act and that the subject has rights about how their information, particularly sensitive personal information such as this is processed]

 

Very sad case, where you have to feel for everyone involved, and just hope that for all of them what must be extremely difficult and painful now may result in less pain and hardship in the future.

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About suesspiciousminds

Law geek, local authority care hack, fascinated by words and quirky information; deeply committed to cheesecake and beer.

110 responses

  1. There seems to me to be another aspect to this sad story that goes unmentioned in the judgment: that is, how much the late adoption of the child at six years old might have contributed to the identity issues that he/she is confronting now, and whether there might be issues with adoption and particularly non-consensual late adoption, that are not being examined. I note that the ADCS which has a budget for research, has never spent any money investigating post-adoption breakdowns and other issues because it prefers to pretend that there are no problems to address.

  2. TotallyConfused

    This is a fascinating read.I am currently at ‘odds’ with a social worker who claims my son’s rights ‘trump’ that of myself and his Father. Am looking to take this back to court; school have admitted they have wrong addresess, wrong phone numbers, wrong emai….is with the ICO. Because of my evidence of ‘you can not contact school’ with no court order….LA feeding wrong information to school.. You have to question how much more is wrong?!
    TC

  3. Miranda Dealler

    You have no “rights” over another person. Your son is not your possession. He is another person. He has a right to family life — this “right” of HIS may trump the SW right to keep you apart — but no right of YOURS can over-ride his best interests. You can argue that it is in his best interests to see you but it is his best interests and rights that prevail.

    I can see that this will be painful and the SWs have probably made mistakes of facts or judgement but an approach based on your “rights” will not help you understand what is going on or how to deal with it

    • This is the key part of the law but more often than not ignored by judges !

      “Before making any decision with respect to a child whom they are looking after or proposing to look after the local authority shall, so far as it is reasonably practicable, ascertain the wishes of- (a) the child………..

      Social workers and guardians frequently tell the court that a child wants no contact with a parent and it is just NOT TRUE !
      In such cases the child should come to court and testify.Traumatic? Maybe ,but not so traumatic as for a child who desperately wants contact with parents and want to come to court to say so ,but is denied it because it would be too traumatic,and the guardian has testified to the contrary !

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  5. ashamedtobebritish

    I don’t know so much HelenSparkles … I’ve been in the position to meet many of the children who have been separated from their parents, nearly all say they were told their parents didn’t want to see them, with the parents being told the same about the child/ren. I know a couple who have sued over it.
    My guess is, that as parents seek outside help, they are learning that the child has the right to their own solicitor and pass that information onto the child/ren, this then shows what the guardian is stating, to be an absolute lie.

    In one case, the parents have managed to get the child (15 yr old) a solicitor, however he cannot access the child, the foster carer has stated its too traumatic and that he should make appointments through her so she can decide if the child is up to it, of course, each time there’s a reason why the child isn’t up to it, so she never sees him.
    The LA don’t seem to think this is an issue, the courts even less so.

    • TotallyConfused

      I know of multiple cases as described; I recently asked for my son’s school report; even though I have 51% PR, I was told it was sent to me. LA said my son did not want me contacting the school. LA gave the school the wrong address!

      They are saying my son wants no contact with me. But I see his friends in ‘town’ ‘Why do you refuse to speak to him?’ I explain, that I do want to see him (indeed I want him home) but our lives are so controlled we can not be ‘normal’. (example: today is Saturday; I can not go into ‘town’ to shop; I might run into my son and this could cause him ’emotional abuse.’)

      I got banned from LAC reviews; the foster carer held my son’s hand the whole time. (he is 14) I was told because of this ‘hand holding’ and the foster carer whispering in my son’s ear what to say, I am a ‘distruptive factor’ because I pointed it out.

      I can not find any documents that say I am actually unfit as a Mother. The only things I can find is that the LA think I am ‘difficult’. (#Because basically, I don’t take their crap and know more than them about child development.)

      My son is supposed to have an Advocate; we have no name and have never seen her.

      need I say more?
      TC

      • ashamedtobebritish

        You’ve described pretty average goings on. You don’t have 51% PR unfortunately, if you did you’d say what goes

      • Miranda Dealler

        Was the foster child holding your son against his will? he is 14 he’s likely to be pretty large. Was he telling the meeting he wanted to go home? Has there been a court case, what did it decide? It’s most unlikely that you know more than everyone else about child development — how did this come about? What is “all their crap”/ You can’t argue against something unless you understand the case for it. Try to understand why meeting him is thought to be “emotional abuse”. Has a court banned you from the town centre? What was the reason given? She is your son’s advocate. Why should you have his or her name? She is talking to your son and putting forward his point of view, not yours.

      • Miranda Dealler

        Sorry should be foster parent not child in the first sentence

      • Court can make suggestions but LAs are responsible for care planning so those meetings are unlikely to be in an order and are usually directions that can be varied.

      • If there is a legal order in place that determines PR. A Care Order gives the LA PR. In order for that to be in place statements filed for court would have had to say more than you were difficult.

    • I would contact the IRO, children in care automatically have access to legal advice being funded by the LA and the Children’s Rights Officer. It maybe that the process will re -traumatise the child and the carer is their advocate. Calling that any old reason shows who is prioritising the needs of the child.

      • ashamedtobebritish

        Unfortunately the IRO isn’t interested – the poor child

      • TotallyConfused

        Agreed; IRO doesn’t want to know. Oh, I suddenly got the school report today after evidencing that the LA was AGAIN! giving out in correct information. Miranda- He is not that ‘big’. And yes I do know more about child development that most LA employees; which they admitted in court. As for their ‘crap’; I actually point out all the errors, mistakes in procedures, paperwork, etc. I have taken to Stage 3 complaints; 7 fully upheld; one partial. I know the LA has been fined at least 3 times about their errors by the ICO. (multiple breaches of Sect 7 of DPA)

        A court has not ‘banned’ me from ‘the town centre’; just a statement by LA that if his father and I ‘run into him by accident’ then he might want to run home. Therefore, in his ‘best interests’ we should avoid going out so as to allow him ‘to be a normal teenager’.

        There is a court order that we are to have regular meetings with the ‘life story coach’ and ‘advocate’; social worker decided on her own, after the court order, to say ‘this is not needed.’

        So we have no idea what our child has been told.

      • ashamedtobebritish

        Set it up anyway, if the sw stands in the way she’s forcing you to breach a court order and will get both barrels from the judge

      • Trying to put the comment in the right place now – Court can make suggestions but LAs are responsible for care planning so those meetings are unlikely to be in an order and are usually directions that can be varied.

  6. Sometimes children don’t know whats best for them in the long term. I’m sorry if that sounds harsh to some, but is accepted as a matter of fact in other realms of parenting.

    If a fourteen or fifteen child says they don’t want to go to school, do we disregard their wishes and make them go to school (indeed, place their parents under legal compulsion to send them) or should we have a duty to listen to them and take their opinions into account?

    • Miranda Dealler

      this is why the decision is made on the child’s “best interests” not just his or her wishes.

      • ashamedtobebritish

        Unfortunately it’s often not in their best interests, more often it’s in the best interest of the LA, in case the child ‘talks’ about bad treatment or the parents see burns cuts bruises.

        The foster carer in the Jonas Stadden case decided it was not in the child’s best interest to attend a GP surgery or walk in hospital clinic despite the pleas from the desperately worried parents (they know their child and had been there with him before)
        Apparently the natural child’s birthday party took precedence over his health care, he was dead within hours.
        It is the older sibling who is being denied access to the solicitor or the other way round … The LA don’t see a problem with how either child was/is treated

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  8. Murderers in prisons are treated very well compared with children taken into care because they are allowed to phone out to relatives and to discuss their cases with family and other visitors.
    Children in the 7-12 sort of age group who are taken from their parents by police and social workers are put into fostercare with strangers and then have their mobile phones and laptops/tablets confiscated to isolate them from family and friends.
    When parents are eventually allowed contact visits the children and also their parents are forbidden to discuss their cases,coming home,or any criticism of those who have removed them .Children and parents of foreign extraction are even forbidden to speak their own language during contact visits and are forced to converse in broken English !
    Yes murderers in prisons are treated much better than children taken into State care !
    Lastly if the guardian says a child does not want to see its parents and the parents say they are sure that is not true then surely the child should be able to come to court and either testify themselves IF THAT IS WHAT THEY WANT or at least speak to the judge in chambers without parents or guardian present ;

    • Children in care are often given laptops and neither they or phones are taken from them if there are no risks. It is right and proper that cases are not discussed with children, they are adult conversations and conflicts and children should be shielded from them, contact is to have quality time with your children. Children can speak to anyone involved in their care, the social worker, the guardian, IRO, and their task is to ensure the views and wishes of children are represented.

      • TotallyConfused

        Let me guess Helen…you are a social worker who believes mistakes are never made and every case is a child who has suffered terrible abuse?! You seem to be exceptionally passionate about defending the current situation and question anyone who can explain a different situation to what meets your internal narrative. Please explain what you class a ‘child’ to be? How do you reconcile Gillick Competent and Child?

      • I would never say that mistakes are never made, I have always been very clear about that here. I don’t feel particularly passionate about anything except correcting untruths, which you seem fixated on perpetuating. I am not sure why you think what I think is an internal narrative, it isn’t, it is evidence based practice. I use Gillick competence regularly so do not distinguish it from a child, each of whom is individual, and practice should be child centred. There are cases where children have not experienced trauma, one example would be parents who ask their children to be placed in care because they need help/support. I certainly have not met a child in care whose parents were described as unfit without any evidence, or would that be all their crap?

      • TotallyConfused

        My point was, you are very defensive whenever anyone criticises bad practice. Regrettably I find more bad practice than good. But that is the nature of the beast. Your responses do come across as wanted to ignore bad practice and sweep it away and instead of acknowledging it and wanting to do something about it, just say the parents are lying. I have worked with parents to have their children returned home. (successfully) I have also told parents, ‘Sorry but you have no chance’.

        I have seen multiple cases of children being in care where there is no evidence of the parents being ‘unfit’. And those people fight for their children. (If you think of the ‘welfare triangle’ no negatives.) By ‘all their crap’, you then just have ‘In my opinion’, won’t be co-operative, won’t change the way I want them to, doesn’t agree with me, the parents are hostile, the parents yelled at me and hurt my feelings. And then that is presented as evidence.

        The best one is that because a parent had themselves been on the radar of the LA as a child (even if for a short period), it is an automatic assumption that they will lack ‘capacity.’

        I did have a case a few years ago where the parent asked for their children to be voluntarily accommodated for multiple reasons. (Very sad case and my heart went out to this single father of six severely disabled children.) Him putting his children in care was the most selfless act I have ever encountered.

        In fairness, I have also read cases and reports about parents who come to me and even I as the person on the bus, can work out what all the concerns are.

        Perhaps you could acquaint yourself with the Transparency Project and attend their upcoming conference?

      • Interesting interpretation, we obviously disagree, but putting forward a different point of view isn’t defensiveness at all.

        I know the Transparency Project well and liaise with them regularly, unfortunately I am double booked and can’t attend the conference this year, but I was at their first.

        I have always wanted poor practice highlighted and think that absolutely right and proper, I don’t think you will find anywhere here that I have said anything different to that or that I have ever said parents are lying because I haven’t. I do ask questions when things don’t make sense.

        My aim and that of my managers is always for children to remain at home, to support change where change is needed, and to be honest about where there are issues which mean children are not safe enough there.

        All their crap was quoting you above, it was too vague for me, as is unfit parent.

        I don’t think anyone’s children should be in care because someone hurt my feelings & that isn’t evidence! Hostility and not changing what needs to be changed is another matter. Change being what the children need.

      • Well, that is an interesting response but actually doesn’t answer anything.

        You of course know what an Osman Letter is? I have a 2 inch scar on my face…found to be caused by LA failures and ‘screw ups’ about paperwork.

        Your aim might be great, but the answers are not.

        I have a Mum; her worst offenses were she was young and let Dad have visitation for one hour. (The way it was written, she should be up on war crimes.)

        My client did her ‘change’ with no support except for me and her Mum..

        You do seem to not want to address ‘exacts’ for you this seems like too much like hard work…

        I find this all the time.

      • I have no case knowledge so not sure what I would be addressing or that anyone would expect me to. I am sorry you are so disenchanted but I can only talk generally here, to do otherwise would be unethical and I am sure you would be the first to point that out. I gave you no answers because I was not answering anything.

      • forcedadoption

        free speech,free speech,free speech CHILDREN AND PARENTS SHOULD BE FREE TO TALK ABOUT ANYTHING THEY LIKE WITHOUT HORRIBLE NOSEY SOCIAL WORKERS STOPPING THEM IF THEY DISAPPROVE !

      • You know the capitals mean shouting right, & YOU ARE WRONG BECAUSE PARENTS IN SOME CASES SAY DREADFUL THINGS TO CHILDREN & RE TRAUMATISE THEM. But apart from that, children in care and their parents often have contact which isn’t supervised.

      • forcedadoption

        iF their language is not English they are forbidden to speak in their own language with parents and contrary to what you say EVER child whose parents have contacted me has had their phones confiscated and if the parents give them another that is t

      • So again we must agree to differ, I know plenty of children who have phones & talk to their parents.

      • Helen, I have too much evidence to show you are wrong.

        In my ‘industry’ I am classed as an ‘expert’; 25 years of service to the government and legal and statutory bodies.

        Your ‘I can not comment’ ‘smacks’ me in the face of really saying ‘I don’t want to tell the truth’.

        By the way you have this COMPLTELY wrong:

        I gave you no answers because I was not answering anything.

        Can you not see the problem with that statement? It goes back to my question of ‘what does a parent have to do to show change?’

        From what I can gather, you expect people to throw themselves at your feet and say ‘Oh, a social worker…a new Jesus.’

        I have advised parents frequently, well, ‘maybe if you did this a bit different’ or ‘well, they have a bit of a point about this’, they listen, and they change.

        My situation is that I was not required to ‘change’. Well, except my ‘attitude’; because I am not British by passport

        ;I have argued for years that the British need some cultural awareness training…seems after todays Budget, I am right.
        TC

      • Helen, I am up at this un- godly hour due to attending to Father. (He is not well)

        I am very curious. You would not mind a parent ‘recording’ their interactions with you, would you? After all, if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear do you? If you are ‘open and honestly’ working with parents, then this should not be a problem.

        *For the record, (and he will say it as well), I don’t get along with ‘forcedadoption’; we have very different styles and approaches;

        You have actually created for the first time in 9 years a situation that I am supporting this person…..

        WOW
        TC

  9. forcedadoption

    taken away also.

    • I really have absolutely no idea how you expect me to comment on a case I know nothing about except a few remarks in blog comments, that would be wrong.

      Not entirely sure what you are telling me I have COMPLETELY wrong. If we are still talking phones and laptops, I know LAs have given children laptops rather than taken them away… obviously some parents are a risk and that needs to be managed whether in contact or on a phone.

      Obviously I can’t share any information with you about my work so it isn’t possible for you to know how I do, people throwing themselves at my feet would be bizarre. More normal is the parents I work with understanding what needs to change. I don’t really understand why you think we disagree about that, we would probably flag up the same issues.

      I have absolutely no problem with being recorded.

      You may be an expert, I would never make such a claim, but you don’t have an overview of all cases therefore any evidence you propose is anecdotal. It may represent the experience of all the people you work with but it doesn’t represent the experience of everyone who has social work involvement.

  10. forcedadoption

    I have dealt with many thousands of cases where children aged 6 or 7+ have been taken from parent(s) and I have never heard of even one case where the children have been allowed to keep phones or computersThese items are routinely snatched from them on arrival at the fosterers .,These children are ALWAYS isolated from family and friends for at least the first few weeks and usually indefinitely. You know this Helen and so do all the readers of this excellent blog.
    Wicked isn’t it?

    • As I say, I know children who have been given laptops and bought phones, so absolutely the opposite. Inconvenient truths is it ?

      • I also know children who have had their mobiles and laptops/tablets/etc. taken on the grounds of ‘for 26 weeks you can’t contact your family; we need to see how you do without them.’

        Did you also realise that if a parent is involved with an LA, they ‘confiscate’ all such equipment and send it to the HiTech unit? (I am talking about 12 to 15 year olds)

        Helen; I don’t know what bubble you work in, but it is not the reality of the ‘Child Protection System’; indeed, everything I look at tells me, it is an awful, life destroying, living nightmare of a system. It harms all (for generations) and actually helps no one.

        You are hiding behind the ‘I can’t tell you’. Why not. Give me an example where you have actually helped a family. As you know, cases can now be discussed as long as they are made anonymous. So give us examples of your good work for society.

        All I read in your comments is a constant ‘I have to be right so will ignore anything that tells me different.’ Pretty much like most of the cases I deal with ‘I don’t like this person so will fit my ‘evidence’ to match my opinion.’

      • forcedadoption

        No Helen, both comments can be true ! I speak of when the children are first snatched and their phones and laptops are confiscated to isolate them from family and friends.You speak of children being given laptops and buying phones which obviously happen at a much later date and happens on rare occasions.
        Yes you must find such truths inconvenient !

      • I want to bang my head on a table…..dear Lord, are forcedadoption and I actually telling you the same thing?! We are usually at different ends of opinion. But you have actually made us agree! As we are so different and usually disagree, doesn’t it tell you something (Helen) that we are giving you the same information?!
        WOW…just WOW!!
        TC

      • ashamedtobebritish

        I had a mother who received a phone call from the social worker (I was privy to the conversation) who had rung to “sort out some contact” between her and her son, because “he is asking to see you” (it was their decision to stop the contact)
        she suggested:

        Contact centre supervised
        Supervised friend/family member
        Skype supervised
        Phone call supervised
        Letter letter via social worker

        He said none were appropriate then refused to offer a solution.
        She’s never seen the child again, because “he has expressed that he does not want to see you”

        Really??

  11. “You are hiding behind the ‘I can’t tell you’. Why not. Give me an example where you have actually helped a family. As you know, cases can now be discussed as long as they are made anonymous. So give us examples of your good work for society.” I am not hiding, this is usual in LA’s social networking policies, and I don’t know many people who would risk their job by making a comment on a blog?

    “All I read in your comments is a constant ‘I have to be right so will ignore anything that tells me different.” I have nothing invested in being right, I am just commenting on my experience of child protection and children in care.

    “You speak of children being given laptops and buying phones which obviously happen at a much later date and happens on rare occasions.” If I contradict this again you will probably just tell me I have to be right again, so bit pointless.

    “I want to bang my head on a table…..dear Lord, are forcedadoption and I actually telling you the same thing?! We are usually at different ends of opinion. But you have actually made us agree! As we are so different and usually disagree, doesn’t it tell you something (Helen) that we are giving you the same information?! WOW…just WOW!! TC” not really. You are two people who are on here.

    • P.S. This bit “As you know, cases can now be discussed as long as they are made anonymous.” refers to reporting restrictions which are laid out in court and judgments, it does not apply to any case I work.

      • It also applies to parents, who are not subject to the Data Protection Act as data controllers, but not to social workers or Local Authorities, who are. So Helen can’t discuss any of her real cases in any detail or give examples, even if she wants to. That’s not because she is mean or couldn’t do it, but because she would be in breach of the Data Protection Act by doing so unless the people in the case all consented to what she wanted to share.

      • ashamedtobebritish

        And not should she, quite right

  12. ashamedtobebritish I agree that all seem appropriate methods of contact and that it is the SW responsibility to arrive at a solution if for any reason one isn’t. Children are allowed to change their minds and do, so up to the adults around them to assess whether it is in their best interests and any risks.

    • ashamedtobebritish

      My apologies, it was the guardian who rang, not the social worker.

      Why ring for that specific issue and its resolution, to deny all that is suggested? It was an absolute puss take out of both mother and child to be honest.

      It’s very strange that the child had specifically asked for contact, which was allowed only if the mother could come up with nothing short of telepathy, for him to suddenly state he didn’t want contact, not only is it the la’s job to provide suitable contact, but I feel this boy has been told she doesn’t want contact or worse, told that he doesn’t. I can’t prove that, but it’s not long before he’s old enough to seek answers from mother.
      The timeframe between wanting contact, every choice being denied and him stating he didn’t want any was very small, he then switched mentally from a sweet loving boy into a violent angry thug … No one will be able to give him answers as to why he’s languished in LTFC because there aren’t any other than “parenting is not under question at all, far from it, but it’s not fair to take one and not the other”
      And that mother ‘made up’ his epilepsy, despite the child being hospitalised due to a seizure in the middle of a court case … Go figure

      • I never comment on case details because I don’t know the whole of the case but I completely agree in regard to contact. I have had cases when parents have behaved inappropriately during supervised contact, but once that had happened, it was managed differently. Given most children go home ultimately I think maintaining those links and supporting them to recognise and manage risks is important. The anger should have been explored obviously but we have to work through those things and assessment of any situation should be ongoing.

      • ashamedtobebritish

        I do know shy he’s angry but am not prepared to say publicly, he is of an age where he may read this.
        I am prepared to say it’s not because of his mother

      • & being separated from parents can make children angry even when it is for a clear reason. I just meant it needs to be unpacked. Otherwise we become cyclical.

      • ashamedtobebritish

        Very true in this case, poor child, the LA let him down badly and still do

      • The state does not make a good parent, generally.

      • ashamedtobebritish

        I agree, sometimes there’s no choice, so it becomes the lesser of two evils, but overall what you say is very true

      • If parents love their children enough to go through months of gruelling court cases in the usually vain attempt to recover the children they adore they will have demonstrated clearly that they would be better parents than the cold and dreary State ;

      • That would also apply to loving caring foster carers (cold dreary state) & cruel parents (who also fight for their children)?

  13. Very few cruel parents bother to fight for their child and most avoid courts like the plague in case they incriminate themselves.Very few fosterers are loving though some may be affectionate but can never replace the real mother of a baby. and some of course are just in it for the cash ! On my forced adoption site there is a picture of a Suffolk bus where the Council have attached a huge poster to the back reading “be a Foster carer and earn £590/week per child !
    Not bad dosh if you host 3 kids !!

    • Most of that is allowances which cover costs, transport, bedding, clothing et. & a full time job for a carer of a child who isn’t in school or has multiple appointments. Having a secure attachment to a nurturing primary carer is better than a “real” mother who isn’t doing any mothering.

      • ashamedtobebritish

        I wonder why tax free though? All the perks, such as being spared the bedroom tax etc, then free child care (respite) while you go on holiday with the money raked in from the child.

        To earn this amount of money, like I said, tax free, attracts the wrong type of person, foster care is a vocation, not a job, like nursing, long hours, hard work because you care, not because your pay packet is huge.

        I’m struggling to think of another career/job/vocation that pays so well along with the perks, certainly not motherhood, which brings the same appointments, sick days and challenges of raising a child.
        Maybe queen and PM – that’s about it.

        I had some really vile foster carers, their girls could do nothing wrong and used to laugh behind their parents back as they screamed at me for something their little darlings had done (I was about 4 then) I just went from vile to vile, onto a lovely foster carer, then into a detention centre aged 9 because there was no room in any of the homes, I was terrified of the nightly threats to come in and stab me, seeing other kids commit suicide and as a result suffer from PTSD/depression and severe panic disorder, my life is ruined.

        The local authority had the cheek to use what they did to me, against me.
        I think I’d have been better left with the nutty mother, she at least had passion and love, even if it was largely misplaced

      • ashamedtobebritish

        As an end note, I have a couple of friends who are simply fantastic foster carers, my sister in law … I wouldn’t leave my dog with her (racist and again, nothing is her darling children, it’s everyone else)
        Then another family member who is going through the fostering training now, again, those children will never be in the wrong, they are totally dysfunctional, they move every year without fail, she’s a narcissist, he’s an alcoholic and the cheating that goes on is mind blowing, but they’ll pass, because they are very good at displaying a flowery life to the outside world (as narcissists do) poor child who ends up there!

      • So it’s ok to give a fosterer £590/week for looking after a child but the real mother would be lucky to get £20 /week with presumably the same sort of expenses if the child stayed with her!
        Very odd isn’t it ?

  14. ashamedtobebritish there is an issue with fostering assessments being largely self reported, though we do check bins for bottles! Ring the agency with your concerns and they will investigate – you might not know the outcome but they will.

    • ashamedtobebritish

      I don’t know which agency it is (I understand it’s an agency rather than the LA?) maybe coramBAAF or similar?

      Would they really listen? These ppl are very manipulative and put on a good show, recently all they talk about is how wealthy they’ll be, which kind of makes me more concerned as to the reason behind the decision

      • Foster Care Associates

        Owned by: Jim Cockburn and Janet Rees through Ideapark Ltd

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

        Payouts to owner in 2014: £7m

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

        MOST AGENCIES HAVE SIMILAR PROFITS SO WHY SHOULD THEY CARE ?

      • I have a problem with the private sector profits as well, as I have said here before. The advertised rates, by LAs particularly, are usually for the children with the highest level of needs. Generally this means hospital, CAMHS appointments, YOS involvement, supporting children in school etc. A full time and very demanding job. Carers don’t make a profit, they just shouldn’t lose out.

      • ashamedtobebritish

        To be fair, I had to do all of that, work two jobs and study at uni … I didn’t earn that sort of money

      • Yes but I don’t think that would be great for children living with foster carers, they need therapeutic reparenting not tired carers!

      • I would always say to report it, you won’t know the outcome and they may become carers, but it is often about triangulation of evidence. Whilst we have to take into account (for example not meaning you) that some allegations are malicious, I was very grateful for the information i received from several people which informed an assessment. Those carers were already approved by an LA and wanted to move agencies, I had a gut instinct but no evidence. I might have got further with it under my own steam but I got information from other sources. My findings were that they had lied and misrepresented themselves to me and that doesn’t work when carers are supposed to, by the very nature of their role, work in partnership with the LA. They applied for access to records and therefore had access to all of that, which I was glad about really, they did not continue as foster carers with their former LA or mine at the time. Originally because they were existing carers they were to be fast tracked, I slowed it down when my instincts (probably more professional than gut really) began to call that into question. There are though a lot of independent agencies and you need to find out which it is, they can’t tell you who their applicants are, and you are better making a call with your details than sending anonymous letters.

  15. Forced Adoption not odd at all. Foster carers are looking after other people’s children when they can’t, that is often more of a full time role because of the parenting they have experienced. It is therapeutic parenting and it is a full time job.

  16. I did try that and it took me to Gravatar, I don’t know what that is.

    • ashamedtobebritish

      Suesspiciousminds could you help please?

      • This is how you find a fostering agency if that helps http://corambaaf.org.uk/agencies you can’t contact me via this site because my avatar is not linked to my email address or similar.

      • ashamedtobebritish

        Sometimes Suesspiciousminds will put ppl in touch, I feel I need to talk this over

      • I don’t know how, he doesn’t have any contact details for me either, except Twitter.

      • ashamedtobebritish

        He has both our email addresses that we signed up to this blog with

      • I’m being a bit slow here, are you asking the blog owner for my email address? I am sorry I didn’t realise that. I don’t actually have any recall of signing up to this blog, guess I did use it, but I don’t share it.

      • ashamedtobebritish

        No no I wouldn’t do that, that would be reprehensible, he has means off putting us in touch

      • Every comment posted does show up an email address. I can, if BOTH parties genuinely want to be in touch with one another and let me know that, provide one person’s email address to the other, but I would ONLY do that with explicit consent from both parties and on the understanding that the information is not passed on to anyone else, and I would stress that it is perfectly fine if either party would rather keep the discussions here. I have to compartmentalise my own life too, so I do know that having conversations in place A can sometimes feel very different to having them in place B.

        For anyone who is concerned, I would NEVER EVER EVER give your contact details to anyone, or contact you directly unless you have specifically and explicitly asked me for that. I’d frankly rather that the comments didn’t show up an email address to me at all, it just happens to be the way that WordPress works.

      • ashamedtobebritish

        Thanks for clarifying – I’ll leave this with Heken then, no offence taken if she doesn’t wish to take that route

      • I’m happy to have the discussion here.

      • ashamedtobebritish

        Ok that’s fine, I think I’ve said all I’m prepared to say publicly, but hopefully your advice so far will prevent a disaster, thanking you and bowing out

      • Well I was prepared to have both private and public discussions.. but it would appear that Helen doesn’t want to engage…indeed, asked her to come to the Transparency Project meeting in June and she declined. Something about all this doesn’t sit well with me..hence, my few responses over the last few days.

      • I am sorry you feel I declined your invitation to attend the conference, I had thought I was pretty clear that I wasn’t able to. I attended the first conference and was hoping to again this time, I had booked a ticket, but have let The Transparency Project they can have this as a donation.

        I don’t communicate privately with anyone who posts here, you of course are welcome to do what you wish. I don’t therefore give out my contact details via the host and anyone wanting to communicate with me would probably be very disappointed by a lack of response. I am usually working and don’t check my private emails very often.

        I don’t know why you had so many emails or how comments here work. It isn’t my blog. Not sure what doesn’t add up either? If you are referring to my transparency, I have said in many and varied places that I can’t be.

      • “but it would appear that Helen doesn’t want to engage…” I just have boundaries about how and where. I am allowed and some of that is dictated by the policies and procedures of my workplace.

      • Why anyone would want to “engage” with Helen beats me !

      • & it’ll be no surprise that getting trashed here on a regular basis is quite enough engagement for me.

      • Helen; if you think you are being ‘trashed’ on here, then look at my comment.

    • Not sure what you mean by that.

      • Not necessarily aimed at any one party – the way comments work my end is that I respond to the final comment, rather than addressing the author of the comment particularly. So I think this particular aspect of the discussion has run its course and the players need to agree to disagree and move on.

  17. Hold on…I might be a bit slow….

    I asked Helen to come to the Transparency Project…And then I have had multiple emails…

    Why, when, I haven’t commented for ages?

    I have 17 exchanges that I have not been involved in…so why is my comment listed as the last?
    TC

    • You did indeed mention the Transparency Project Conference, I had been invited by the organisers already and had booked a ticket. I am now unable to attend for personal reasons. See above.

    • ashamedtobebritish

      You were the last to post in the last thread, if that makes sense

      • I made the statement because previously, my last comment (if you look) was made on the 17th; a ‘dialogue’ continued without me, but somehow my posts were being brought into the conversation. Maybe it is just the order in which they appear.

        And by this:
        Well I was prepared to have both private and public discussions..

        What I meant was I was willing to talk to Helen face to face at the conference. And if she was willing to openly discuss issues on here, then I was willing to discuss them.

        I have seen she has posted that she can’t have open and honest dialogues with people due to policies and procedures of her workplace.

        In my experience, as someone who looks at policies and procedures as part of my profession, someone who hides behind that either is a) quite happy to maintain the status quo, b) is afraid of change or c) is afraid that if anything is analysed too deeply, their own incompetence and lack of professionalism may be exposed.

        (As an example, I found in a previous workplace, someone operating very dangerously to the point that lives were at risk. When I brought this to the attention of Senior Management, we were presented with having to dismiss this person. Through their union, the individual hid behind policy and procedures. Their bad practice came to light specifically because my job was to review the policies and procedures. It became a personal vendetta by this person; my response was ‘Don’t shoot the messenger’.)

        I can see nothing in Helen’s posts where she even hints that the ‘system’ isn’t perfect and this needs to be addressed. I see nothing in Helen’s posts where she is being constructive. I do see a lot of ‘defending’ the status quo and justifying it.

        That concludes my contribution.

        TC

      • I have said in various places that the system isn’t perfect and I am not hiding. I wanted to be at the conference but now can’t be. I also have a social networking policy in place which means that anything I say in a personal capacity can be treated as if it represents my employers views, this is quite usual in most agencies I have worked in, and inhibits social worker expressing their views. I do what I can within those confines because, as I have said before and elsewhere, who wants to lose their job over a blog comment. I am proud of being a social worker and it is a shame that those of us who don’t independently need to be represented to speak, but we do. I might find that my views entirely coincide with the views of my agency but I don’t have time to find that out. In the meantime I am generally very boundaried about my work, I communicate here and on Twitter, and of course would have at the conference if I had been able to attend. Please do continue making all kinds of assumptions, were I to do the same I am sure you would let me know. I can understand your example of someone hiding but am happy to say that a b or c don’t apply to me.

      • And I think we’ll draw a line under that and move on. Please.

    • Who knows ? WordPress works in odd ways. The comments section particularly can be very idiosyncratic in where it lists comments on a page. Nothing anyone is actually doing deliberately, the system is just weird and does dumb things from time to time. (Perhaps a meta-comment on what we’re discussing there…)

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