A petition is calling on the government to prevent child protection professionals from incorrectly removing children from Special Educational Needs families.

The petition was created by a mother using the handle ‘Autistic Parent’, and is addressed to the Department For Education; Minister for the department, Robert Goodwill MP; Jeremy Hunt MP; and Dr Philip Lee.

In its summary, the petition states:

“False accusations of child abuse in the form of emotional harm and MSBP/FII happen across the board in the UK, but seem to be particularly focused on parents of children with special needs.

Situations such as:

  1. Asking a school to provide more support for their child or challenging lack of provision/school failings;
  2. Appealing to SENDIST regarding an EHCP;
  3. Requesting support from social services for your child’s difficulties;
  4. Seeking a health assessment for your child’s difficulties, particularly ASD, chronic fatigue, Ehlers Danlos;
  5. SEN child school-refusing;
  6. Cover-up of medical/diagnostic/administrative negligence or error, challenging a health professional’s opinion, or ignorance of a medical or neurodevelopmental condition;
  7. Services wanting to prevent access to expensive resources and disliking a parent’s persistence;
  8. Parent having ASD and being misunderstood or misrepresented by professionals;
  9. A culture of parent-blame;
  10. Circular assurance/professional bias/professional defensivism

can all result in false accusations being made against parents, causing unwarranted child protection investigations, which traumatise the children as well as the parents. Sometimes it results in removal of the children, which can be permanent, for instance by forced adoption.”

Empirical evidence for the often unnecessary removal of children from these families is also included, as is a series of recommendations the petition calls on the government to implement:

  • We request the Government writes stringent safeguards against misuse and abuse of the law, within all Acts of Parliament covering children and families and makes it law that all health/medical and neurodevelopmental possibilities are independently assessed of a child, before a referral for emotional harm or FII can be made and this to include accepting private diagnoses obtained by parents if NHS services have failed the family;

 

  • We request the Government puts in place serious penalties for any professional who misuses and abuses the law against families and sanctions LAs who pursue malicious case building based on false accusations – penalties to include financially compensating families;

 

  • We request social workers who perjure within documents or courts, who do not conduct honest and unbiased child protection investigations and comply wholly with all relevant laws, who do not honestly ascertain the veracity of allegations at the outset to include listening to parents, who emotionally abuse and traumatise children by conducting unwarranted investigations based on false allegations against their parents, are immediately and permanently struck-off and perjury is criminally prosecuted in all cases;

 

  • We request the Government issues new training procedures for all professionals in avoiding false allegations being pursued, to include changing the culture of parent-blame, knowing their legal obligations with regards to Human Rights, disability discrimination/equality, Data Protection, following the law correctly and learning on the damage caused to innocent families by false accusations;

 

  • We request that unless there is very significant evidence (as opposed to speculation and unfounded suspicion) of harm to a child, that children of parents accused of emotional harm or FII, remain with their families, where appropriate under surveillance, until medical or neurodevelopmental possibilities have been independently assessed and parents have been given a fair and unbiased opportunity to provide information and evidence regarding their child and answer allegations at the earliest opportunity (pre-referral ideally);

 

  • We request that all social workers receive mandatory training in all ASDs including the unique subtype of pathological demand avoidance (PDA) as a matter of urgency.  Too many social workers are ignorant of ASD and misjudge parenting or child’s needs.

 

You can access the petition here. 

Very many thanks to Autistic Parent fo sharing her petition with us.

Facts