Launch of dossier by Legal Action for Women documenting cases of children unjustifiably separated from their mother or kinship carer, adopted by strangers, put into care or in the hands of violent fathers. And comparative UK-US evidence presented by RICHARD WEXLER, Executive Director of the US National Coalition for Child Protection Reform. Mr Wexler has been debunking common myths on child protection for over 40 years. His evidence is backed by US and UK research which has so far been ignored.
The number of ‘looked after’ children in England is the highest it’s been since 1985. There were applications to take 21,666 children into care in the year ending March 2016. 1 in 5 children under five are referred to children’s services; 1 in 19 investigated; the figures are even higher if over 5s are taken into account. Adoptions are higher than in any other European country, at their highest since the start of data collection. 5,050 children were adopted in 2014, a 58% increase from 2010. 96% of adoptions are without parental consent. The rates of children in care in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland is even higher than in England,
Suffer the Little Children, documents the experiences of 39 mothers with 67 children. Its key findings are:
- In 78% of cases the mother suffered domestic violence. This was not taken seriously and often used against the mother.
- In 36% of cases children were in care or adopted; 18% adopted.
- In 22% of the cases the children were placed with their father, including fathers accused of violence.
- In another 20% of cases the mother was disputing the father’s contact, usually because of violence.
- 40% of the mothers are women of colour and/or immigrant women.
The government Children and Social Work Bill, which has its 2nd reading on 14 June, aims to make it even easier for children to be taken away from their biological families. A child protection social worker has warned against the government’s latest plans:
“The ‘undeserving poor’ have lost their council homes; lost their benefits and lost their community services; why not make it easier to lose their children too?”
Richard Wexler has this to say:
“There is no understanding of the harm of removal. For a young child, it can be an experience akin to a kidnapping . . . Foster care is an extremely toxic intervention. For the overwhelming majority of children it is an undue risk to children’s safety.”
Given the warning against the Children and Social Work Bill, will MPs come to hear Mr Wexler’s expert evaluation? Will they hear from mothers struggling to protect their children?
Tuesday 7 June, 6.30-8.30pm, Grimond Room, Portcullis House, Westminster