Question It!

Researching Reform

Welcome to another week.

An official review into the care system in Scotland has concluded that children in care are being bullied because they are using social work jargon they are picking up from their case workers. The review calls on the government to use language that makes sense to children and doesn’t lead to them being singled out and bullied.

An article on the findings, published in The Herald Scotland, tells us:

“”Children in care talk about being “LAC kids” (looked after child), discuss their “siblings” rather than their brothers and sisters and often live in a “unit” rather than a home”, said Fiona Duncan, chair of the Independent Review of Scotland’s Care System….

Duncan Dunlop, chief executive of the advocacy charity for care experienced young people Who Cares? Scotland (WCS), backed the findings.

“This definitely leads to bullying,” he said. “Workers just don’t think.”

Fiona Duncan is now…

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Letter To Lord Patel: Registration Of Social Workers Must Be A Legal Duty

Really good read and it should be this way anyway? Shocking where it is not! One can only imagine how many miscarriages of justice have occured. Families affected spend the rest of their lives struggling to make sense with it all as it is xx

Researching Reform

As recently appointed Chair of the new social work regulation body Social Work England (SWE), Lord Patel outlines his vision for social work in England and Wales, Researching Reform invites him to push for mandatory registration of social workers.

Dear Lord Patel,

In the ten years that this project has been assisting families, we have grown increasingly concerned about the number of social workers practicing inside councils and private agencies, who either have no social work qualifications or who are so badly trained and behind in their CPD courses, that the advice they are giving is endangering lives. That advice is also leading to gross miscarriages of justice and the often unnecessary removal of children from their families.

Currently, there is no legal requirement on social workers to register with an independent body like Social Work England. Whilst no figures appear to be available on the number of social workers…

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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 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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