Whilst this is something we write about often on the blog and campaign passionately on, it is wonderful to see other organisations working to highlight poor policy especially in relation to children being removed from parents when better alternatives exist.

A new report by Legal Action For Women says that children are increasingly being removed from single parent families due to poverty and that mothers who actively come forward for help to improve their situations are finding their children are being taken from them instead. It also raises concerns over the ‘secrecy’ of family courts which prevent mothers from openly talking about their cases.

Dr Andy Bilson, who is emeritus professor of social work at the University of Lancashire, has been looking carefully at adoption data and concludes that the steep rise in care applications has less to do with an awareness of, or rise in incidents of neglect and more to do with policies which prioritise removal over support.

The article in the Guardian explains:

The report examined the cases of 56 women, all of whom came for help to fight for their children. Between them the women had 101 children; 71% of the women had suffered rape and/or domestic violence, 47% did not have a lawyer and 39% had mental health problems.

Anne Neale, one of the report’s authors, said: “Charges of neglect are used to punish, especially single-mother families, for their unbearably low incomes.

“The fundamental relationship between mother and child is dismissed as irrelevant to a child’s wellbeing and development, and the trauma of separation, and its lifelong consequences, are ignored.

“Mothers who are victims of domestic violence are refused help, blamed for ‘failing to protect’ their children, and punished with their removal.”

We could not agree with this report more. From financial incentives in adoption to a complete disregard for the importance of attachments and the impact of destroying them, the Family Court system is woefully behind when it comes to implementing effective and powerful child welfare policies.  We know that there are other, far better alternatives to placing children in care for the vast majority of cases, so the question has to be, why is the child welfare system not using them?

Read Legal Action For Women’s report “Suffer The Little Children”, here. 

Very many thanks to Charles Pragnell for alerting us to this development.