Staying Mum: new research highlights link between poor social work, domestic abuse and child removal

Researching Reform

An important piece of research by London-based charity AVA (Against Violence and Abuse) shines a light on the connection between preventable domestic abuse and child removals, and offers powerful insights into the way the family court system is used by perpetrators of domestic abuse to traumatise — and separate — children from their non-abusive parent.

The study involved 33 women with experience of domestic abuse and child removal, and peer researchers who conducted 26 semi-structured interviews with mothers in 2021.

At 47 pages it is a thorough piece of research, and in its recommendations echoes much of what Researching Reform and others have said over the years about the need for humane child protection practice and a deeper understanding of toxic patterns of behaviour which put children and their non-abusive caregivers at risk.

Very little in the report touches on how children were impacted by these phenomena as AVA is…

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The latest child welfare complaints published by the Ombudsman

Researching Reform

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has published the latest round of complaints submitted by parents and carers to the body, and its decisions about those complaints. They touch on children’s social care, local authority handling of child protection cases and the provision of education and educational support.

Children and Education

Please note: decisions are published six weeks after they are issued to councils, care providers and the person who has made the complaint. The cases below reflect the caselaw and guidance available.

Of interest this week is that the ombudsman found councils were at fault in a large number of complaints it received.

Among the complaints are family concerns about an unsafe placement, failures to investigate allegations of a biased social worker and withheld evidence which negatively affected the outcome of a case.

Several complaints also center around local authorities failing to provide court-ordered support or support…

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Truth Commission publishes Subject Access Request Letter Templates

Researching Reform

Welcome to another week.

The Children and Families Truth Commission (CFTC) has published letter templates for families and children going through the child protection system who would like a little help putting together a Subject Access Request (SAR).

A SAR allows individuals to request and receive a copy of all the personal data that a government body, company or organisation has collected about them.

The templates were created by Commission lead Michele Simmons who is also a mother with experience of the care system.

The templates were produced after parents attending the launch of the Commission’s guide on how to make a SAR offered feedback on what else they would like. Several parents said it would be useful to be able to see an example of how to submit a request.

Michele’s templates offer invaluable advice on what kinds of documents you can ask for if you are going through…

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Family court judge ignores genetic disorder, removes baby from mother in deeply concerning case

‘As always we welcome your views, so please do let us know what you think in the comments section below.’ Xx

Researching Reform

A family court judge made a care order against a mother after deciding she had inflicted non-accidental injuries to her baby, who is now two years old. In hearing the mother’s request to appeal, the Court of Appeal agreed with the lower court judge’s findings and dismissed the appeal.

This is a deeply concerning case, for several reasons including that:

  • The judge failed to properly investigate the midwife’s claim that the baby had not been accidentally twisted during birth, after being born with a fractured clavicle and extensive bruising as a result of a potentially negligent forceps delivery;
  • The judge and lawyers to the case were not aware of research on pre-mobile bruising which indicates that such bruising is more common in babies than government policy suggests;
  • The judge and lawyers to the case were unaware of the Resolutions Model, which keeps families together and should be applied in cases…

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