About the Family Law Week blog

The Family Law Week Blog is a companion site to Family Law Week. It complements the news, cases and articles published on Family Law Week with additional comment and coverage of the wider aspects of family law.

The Blog is edited by Jacqui Gilliatt, of 4 Brick Court and Lucy Reed, of St Johns Chambers.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Social workers: damned if they do, damned if they don't


On the one hand

2 reports warned of Doncaster social services' failings says the Times.

Calderdale SCRs find 'systemic failings' in child protection says Community Care.

Nottingham baby case review reveals procedural failings again in Community Care.

The Mail reports on a Tameside case in which a child died . The SC review found failings in how professionals involved with the family shared information, failed to identify indicators of neglect and were obstructed in their contact with Child J.

Surrey loses its bid to challenge Ofsted children's services rating (Community Care) as its application for judicial review is turned down by the High Court.

Community Care also highlights concerns about a Gravesend children's home and says pressure is mounting for a public inquiry into the alleged abuse of girls placed in the church-run home in the 1980s, which was first exposed by Community Care more than a year ago.

One of the former residents of this care home is Teresa Cooper author of the blog No2Abuse and she writes about her experiences on the blog. I am grateful to her for drawing my attention to some of the articles referred to in this post. You can listen to a podcast of her interview with Natasha Phillips .



On the other hand the Times reports : too many children at risk of serious neglect or abuse are being left with their parents because the care system is considered such a poor alternative, the head of the NSPCC has said. Andrew Flanagan, the new chief executive of the charity, said that after the Baby P tragedy the debate should shift to why foster and residential care were considered “not a good option” and the steps needed to improve the system so that it was not used as an excuse to leave children in danger.

The Mail picks up the story of the Dean family who have recently successfully defeated care proceedings which it describes as a a sad and worrying saga - and one that seems to be becoming all too familiar - of overzealous social workers acting on a flimsy diagnosis and ultimately tearing an innocent family apart.

The Mail also suggests in a story about a family's challenge to the placement of a child with gay adopters that gay adoptions are being actively promoted by Left-wing ministers and councils.

Single mother adoptions are lumped into the same category by the Mail in this story about an adoptive parent given a conditional discharge after years of cruelty to her adopted child . The Mail comments 'The adoption was one of the first by a single mother after social workers and adoption agencies began looking for single parents and gay couples to adopt, in some cases in preference to married couples.' And it concludes : 'In the late 1990s, social workers began to choose single parents as adoptive mothers on the grounds that children who had been born to single parents are better brought up in one-parent homes'. I was only surprised that there was not some outrage expressed about the sentence.

The Mail is obviously on a mission. In this story they report that a father branded a paedophile in a police and social services 'witch hunt' is claiming damages in the High Court for being put through a 'ghastly nightmare' five years long .

The Times dissects the adoption system suggesting both that social workers strive too hard to keep children with birth families and that the assessment process for prospective adopters rules out people for insufficient reasons.


But one social worker at least has fought off a misconduct hearing. The General Social Care Council has ruled that the social worker in Re X (the McFarlane case) was not guilty of misconduct (although she all of the allegations but one made against her were upheld).

1 comment:

Uzume said...

Social Work is, like any other profession, fallible. The question is, why do we obsess as a nation about every failing but never acknowledge the hundreds of cases where children are protected by the system?

Also, why is it that a doctor, for example, will be judged as an individual (Dr Alesworth ring any bells, or Harold Shipman?) yet A social worker fails in their duty (or appears to) and the entire profession is called into question? Are we really suggesting that Social Workers must be perfect at all times? If so, what are we saying is a better alternative when children and older people are being abused every day?

The programme 'damned if they do....' on BBC 2 last night was OK. I wasn't overly impressed with the way it was handled and I didn't like the meeting where everyone went round saying 'yes' individually to the care order, in front of the parents. However, if anyone can say the child was better off living in a dog crap filled house with no bed, no decent food and little interaction or parenting, you are at best ignorant and at worst, capable of turning a blind eye to abusive neglect!

I know there are some poor SWs out there, but there are also some amazing ones. The main problem I can see is that lack of money and high caseloads (lack of funding) plus the fact it is a predominantly female profession (lack of respect) means poor outcomes/performance on an individual basis open the floodgates to a free for all of SW bashing. Ridiculous when we stop and remember that most SWs either protect the old, young or disabled. All the people otherwise forgotten about in our society!