House of Commons Debate on Social Care Cancelled

An Opposition debate on children’s social care set to take place tomorrow has been cancelled, and has been replaced by a discussion about the provision of free school meals for children during the holidays.

No more information about the new debate has been given. The House of Commons library update also does not mention whether the social care debate will be rescheduled.

While a debate on the funding of free school meals for children is important, it is concerning that the original debate on social care has been set aside with no word on whether it will be rearranged.

This is not the first time a Parliamentary discussion on children’s social care has been set aside.

A discussion about children’s social care promised by the Backbench Business Committee in October 2018 was abruptly cancelled after Researching Reform shared details about the event on its site.

Thousands of families in the UK took to social media to say they would make the journey down to attend the debate peacefully, and with the hope of being able to give feedback on the meeting.

Many parents had paid for train tickets and bus fares which had represented a large chunk of their monthly income, or agreed to take the day off work at personal expense to make the trip.

Researching Reform reached out to the sponsor for the debate, Tim Loughton MP, a month after the debate was set aside to ask what day the debate would now be held, but he did not respond. The MP had previously confirmed the meeting had been postponed rather than cancelled.

The debate was then held in secret, two months later.

We very much hope the Opposition will push to reinstate their debate on children’s social care and ensure that it goes ahead, in public.

Debates to Watch

We’ve spotted a couple of important child welfare debates coming up which we think will be of interest to families, charities and key stakeholders. Read on for more details…

Social Care – Opposition Debate in the House of Commons

This debate is set to take place on Wednesday 21 October, and is likely to include important discussions about the government’s decisions and policies on children’s social care.

Opposition debates, which start with a motion, usually criticise Government policies and decisions.

Twenty days a year are set aside for Opposition debates, on subjects which the Opposition chooses, with 17 of those days set aside for the Opposition Leader and the remaining three days allocated to the third largest party in the House.

No details about the debate have been released yet, but we will update you as soon as we have more information.

Challenging sexism, racism & class bias in the family courts– Legal Action For Women

Leading support group Legal Action for Women (LAW) have organised what they’re calling an online workshop to raise awareness about the work they do and to tell people how they can get involved.

Confirmed speakers for the event are Soul Sisters, Support Not Separation, Women Against Rape & Women of Colour, Global Women’s Strike. The discussion will be chaired by LAW.

The workshop will also include a showing of a new film, STOP the Family Courts aiding & abetting domestic abuse.

Their invitation says:

“Most mothers in the family courts are survivors of domestic abuse, the majority are single mothers on low incomes.  Together with women of colour, disabled women and young women, they are at greater risk of having children taken away by the state.  A recent review by the Ministry of Justice confirmed our experiences but nothing is being done to change systemic discrimination within family courts.  The Domestic Abuse Bill which is now in parliament must go further and recognise that victims are overwhelmingly women; extend protections to immigrant and disabled women and stop violent men using the family courts to terrorise children and their mothers.”

The online workshop is being broadcast from the Anarchist Bookfair, on Sunday 18 October, from 2 to 3pm. You can sign up to the event here.

The Latest

The child welfare items that should be right on your radar:

“Adoption creates a fictive kinship” – Interview

An interview conducted by freelance journalist Bonnie Sumner with her mother Barbara who was forcibly adopted as a baby, explores her lived experience of non consensual adoption and her belief that the adoption system is built upon a series of myths and fabrications.

The discussion between mother and daughter looks at the history of forced adoption in New Zealand during the fifties through to the seventies. Barbara mentions that more than 100,000 women had their babies taken from them during this period, with many women telling her that their babies had been “removed directly from their wombs and hidden in a separate part of the hospital.”

The stats for the number of adoptions during this period, as Barbara explains, means that a significant number of people in the country today have a link to the adoption process, making the phenomenon a part of the social fabric in New Zealand.

The interview is heartbreaking, but a must-read for anyone interested in the nuances of adoption. While not everyone’s experience of adoption is the same, at Researching Reform we are aware that many children in the UK who have been adopted have struggled with this part of their life journey, which continues to impact them long after the adoption takes place.

Of the adoption process, Barbara says, “The idea that adoption is a win-win is a form of state sanctioned gaslighting. We rarely consider it as commoditising a child. We’re told that one set of arms is as good as another, and that a pre-verbal child does not experience anything.”

“We hold onto the idea that a mother without support is making a selfless sacrifice. We’re told we’re gifts. Or that the womb is a benign place that does not impact on the child; that once a baby is taken from their mother there is no connection.Then there’s the idea that you are lucky and must be grateful because the myth says your mum didn’t want you,” she adds.

Barbara also sees the adoption process essentially as the commoditisation of children to satisfy demand. “Another [idea] is that you’re chosen when in fact you were just the next on a conveyer belt of children removed from their mothers to meet a market demand. Adopters often say you were really wanted but what they wanted was their own child – you were ‘a’ child not ‘the’ child. I think this is an important distinction.”

Bonnie’s mother, who is an award winning columnist, has written a book about her experience of adoption. Barbara says in the interview with her daughter that she needed to write the book to find her voice.

She goes on to say that in the process of trying to discover her past, her adoptive mother severed all ties with Barbara after being invited to go on the journey with her.

While these periods of discovery for adopted individuals must be deeply painful for adoptive parents, it is essential that these carers stand by their children when they make these journeys of self discovery.

And while we feel adoption must always be the method of last resort, when adoptions have to take place, prospective parents need to be fully aware of the awesome responsibility that goes with loving an adopted child. This process is not for the faint of heart.

You can buy Barbara’s book, “Tree of Strangers” which is a little on the expensive side at £26.99 (though it is also available on Kindle for £8.99 if you have the app), on Amazon or at Foyles.

Goodreads also has reviews of the book, and includes one review submitted by an adoptee. The book was published on 10 September, 2020.

You can follow Barbara on Twitter @barbara_sumner

The Buzz

The latest child welfare items that should be right on your radar:

Question It!

Welcome to another week.

The government has pledged an additional £6 million to help councils support child and adult survivors of abuse in preparation for the launch of the Domestic Abuse Act. The bill places a legal duty on councils to help such victims.

The funding will enable councils in England to provide additional support for those affected by domestic abuse who might be refused help from refuges and other safe accommodation because their needs cannot be met.

Councils will be able to connect to other agencies such as the police or health commissioners to deliver the statutory support.

The press release says the funding is part of a £76 million COVID-19 emergency package which includes a £10 million emergency fund to support domestic abuse victims and their families during the pandemic.

Our question this week, is just this: how would you like the referral process to work?

In The News

The latest child welfare items that should be right on your radar:

Victims’ Commissioner Urges Government To Scrap Covid Child Contact Policy

A lockdown policy launched in March, which allows one parent to unilaterally veto contact on Covid safety grounds is not only still in force, but is causing concern among campaigners who say the loophole is dangerous, and allows domestic abusers to unjustly stop their exes from seeing their children.

Calls to revise the rule have now been made by the Victims’ Commissioner, Rosie Duffield MP, Women’s Aid, DadsHouse and Legal Action for Women.

We wrote about this development for the Huffington Post after receiving messages and emails from parents and campaigners telling us this policy was being exploited by domestic abusers, both male and female.

You can read the story in the Huffington Post, here.

Dame Vera Baird, the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales