At Least 5,000 Children In Care Have Been Separated From Their Siblings

Researching Reform

A Freedom Of Information request has revealed that at least 5,000 children in care in England and Wales, have been separated from their siblings.

The staggering figure was revealed after 50 councils responded to the request. The actual figure, however, is likely to be much higher. There are 125 ‘single tier’ authorities in England and Wales, which all function as billing authorities for Council Tax and local education authorities.

We could not find the Freedom Of Information request (please do let us know if you spot it), however data published by media outlets offer the following insights:

  • Nearly 2,500 sibling groups, at least 5,000 children, are currently split up in care;
  • In 30 of the 50 councils, more than 50% of sibling groups had been separated;
  • In Islington, 73% of their sibling groups are split up;
  • In Oxfordshire 68% of their sibling groups are separated;
  • 60% of sibling groups are split in Cheshire…

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Victims: Going To Court Can Be Worse Than The Abuse We Suffered.

Researching Reform

Growing concerns about the use of court rooms, and their impact on victims and quality of evidence have emerged this month, with the publication of a damning new report. The document also confirms that victims of rape routinely feel that the court experience leaves them more traumatised than the sexual violence they’ve suffered.

The report, which was organised by The Rape Crisis Network Ireland, and produced by the Vulnerable Witnesses MultiAgency Group, explains that modern psychological research doesn’t support the current view that live evidence produces the best quality evidence, and that much better results would be achieved through pre recording a statement soon after a complaint is made.

The document also observes that the current system relies “too much on memory and performance on a given day, years after the event and on the ability to articulate simple answers swiftly, clearly and unambiguously to complex, sometimes unclear, or even…

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Is Government Quietly Privatising The Social Care Sector To Sell It For Parts?

In 2014, the government was already pressing ahead with the marketisation and privatisation of children’s social services. A strong public backlash followed, which forced the government to issue a revised regulation. Crucially, the revision did not stop private sector companies from getting contracts to provide children’s social care services. Instead, it simply required the companies to set up not-for-profit subsidiaries to provide the services – a little like Nesta is doing for Social Work England.

Research produced in 2015 by Corporate Watch revealed that eight commercial fostering agencies made around £41m profit between them from providing foster placements to local authorities. Fostering and adoption agencies are big business, and with the promise of profits like these, the sector seems ripe for full-scale commercialisation. If privatisation was good for vulnerable children it could be forgiven, but the emerging data does not show any visible difference in outcomes for children who experience commercial placements. In fact, an expose by ITV in December of last year confirms the worst – whilst children in care are given the bare minimum under these kinds of arrangements, private companies are siphoning off the majority of the funds.

And when children’s care homes fail, private equity firms then make millions from their demise.

Despite the Department for Education’s updates on developments inside the sector, little seems to be known about the recruitment processes for positions within bodies like Social Work England, Cafcass and the Independent Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel. Is the Department for Education really being transparent about its agenda, or is a picture emerging of a government ruthlessly chopping up the social care sector to sell it for parts?

Researching Reform

A series of developments inside the social care sector suggests a worrying trend to keep children in state care, and maximise lucrative fostering and adoption placements.

As child poverty in England continues to sky-rocket, it’s likely that more children will find themselves inside the social care sector through no fault of their own. Families struggling to feed and clothe their children will become even more vulnerable to government intervention, and with state care already buckling under the pressure of looked after children – care applications rose by 8% in February this year, signalling the second highest monthly total for a February on record – the government is clearly looking to find ways to shift the burden off the state and, perhaps, make a profit from the trade.

There is already a growing trend to sell adoption and fostering as preferred alternatives to keeping families together where possible, despite momentum building…

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Petition Calls For The Removal Of Children and Families MP

Researching Reform

A petition on Change.org calling on the government to remove Children and Families Under Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has racked up almost 2,000 signatures. Two more petitions were submitted on Parliament’s own Petitions site, but were rejected because the site does not allow petitions asking for government ministers to be sacked.

Zahawi came to the public’s attention after he attended the President’s Club dinner, which was widely condemned for its appalling treatment of waitresses and hostesses working at the function, and its controversial non disclosure agreement which prevented employees from talking about incidents of sexual harassment at the venue. The club has since shut down, but question marks remain over Zahawi’s attendance after an Urgent Question in the House of Commons revealed inconsistencies in Zahawi’s statements about the event.

The petition reads:

“Nadhim Zahawi has been reprimanded by Chief Whip, Julian Smith, for attending the men only The Presidents Club fundraiser where…

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The Narrative Around Adoption Is Changing

Researching Reform

As the child welfare sector becomes more open to the idea that adoption is not an easy choice, or cure-all, for anyone involved in the experience, a growing number of voices inside the family justice system are inviting discussion on the best way forward for vulnerable children.

McFarlane, a judge now widely considered to be the front runner to replace Sir James Munby as President of the Family Division in July, gave a speech at the NAGALRO annual conference in which he offered support for the view that adoption should no longer be seen as the first option in cases where children could be at risk of harm. He appears to take an enormous amount of credit for the burgeoning movement looking at more open approaches to contact, and at times seems out of touch with modern life – he mentions adoption programmes produced by the BBC and tells the…

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Department For Education Breaks The Law On FOI

Needs high lighting yes. They’re quick enough to jump on the vexatious bandwagon a lot of these places. Where is Researching Forums reply xx

Researching Reform

The Department for Education has broken the law, after it failed to answer a Freedom Of Information request (FOI) about a controversial new body created to regulate social workers. The breach now means that there will be an investigation into the department and its handling of the request.

Before making the FOI request, Researching Reform wrote to the Department for Education to ask for a full breakdown of the management team at Social Work England, the new regulatory body that is set to replace The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

The Department did not confirm or deny that a management team was in place and refused to offer us any further information on developments at Social Work England, so on 26th February, 2018, we made a Freedom Of Information request and asked for details about the body’s management team and its partners and committee members.

A reply to the FOI request should…

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Hot Topic: Media Access To Family Court Evidence

Ian Josephs on March 27, 2018 at 12:59 pm
It amazes me that so many people have a blind spot over “open courts”” they say “.Let the journalists in” even though the reality is that few if any journalists would bother to go since they are forbidden to print verbatim proceedings and forbidden to name parents or children !
What is needed is “free speech” – the freedom for parents and others to name themselves and their grievances publicly !

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Researching Reform

As the family justice system faces renewed pressure to take a good look at its working methods, calls to open up family courts so that journalists can analyse evidence in these cases are coming from home, and abroad.

The President of the Family Division, James Munby, will be retiring in July, and whilst he has become increasingly vocal about the problems inside the Family Court during his term as president, he’s clearly chosen to use his last few months to push for more radical reform. We announced at the start of 2018 that Munby was our judge to watch this year, and he isn’t disappointing.

His recent comments about allowing journalists to have access to evidence in family cases, which he made at a seminar on13th March, have been followed up by another push to allow this access. Munby repeated his stance at a lecture he gave at Edinburgh University…

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