A new study suggests that child protection cases where children are being returned to their parents, are breaking down in the long term. The researchers at East Anglia University’s school of social work make the claims in their latest report, which is part of a series of papers looking at reforming the care system. 

The research was produced to offer insight into how two high profile cases (re B and re B-S), have impacted child protection cases. The two cases have made it much harder for councils to push adoption orders through.

The report takes the view that the family courts and councils are increasing their use of supervision orders and Special Guardianship Orders in order to meet timescales and fend off austerity measures. The stats in the report suggest that within the time periods they examined, 25% of supervision orders were unsuccessful in the long run. Jonathan Dickens, who is head of East Anglia University’s school of social work and who co-led the study, told Community Care that whilst only a small number of orders broke down, difficulties experienced by some special guardians highlighted the need for joint support, including financial support, with adopters.

Do be careful with this research. While some of the observations are sound, the conclusions are not, including the view that courts are issuing supervision orders rather than adoption orders because they are under pressure both in terms of time and resources. There is also a clear push by the research team to increase adoption orders, which is underlined by their view that adoption is the best way forward in cases where orders break down. We know from scientific evidence and research that this is not always the case, and that more often than not, parents can, with proper support, love and care for their children very well.

East Anglia was granted the funds for this research by the ESRC, whose council is made up of individuals who, amongst other organisations, work for the Home Office, and Department of Health and Social Care.

Child Welfare Complaints

For the fist time, the latest Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman decisions show a marked drop in the number of complaints around child welfare proceedings. We don’t know if the drop is related to our post explaining that the ombudsman cannot investigate such cases. You can access the latest decisions here. 

Child Sexual Abuse In Football

The findings of the Football Association’s independent inquiry into the historical child sex abuse scandal are due to be published shortly. The investigation is led by barrister Clive Sheldon QC, whose latest report will outline the key failings that allowed abusers to prey on children in the past. Sheldon previously acted as counsel for the Health Secretary, then Jeremy Hunt, over a new junior doctors’ contract. 

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