Legal Action for Women (LAW) have scheduled another demonstration outside the Central Family Court in London, to raise awareness around unjust removal of children from their mothers by social services.

The demonstrations, organised under LAW’s ‘Support Not Separation’ initiative, are held on the first Wednesday of every month outside the Family Court in Holborn, and take place from 12.30-1.30pm.

LAW offers interesting facts in their email blasts for the protests. The latest message contains the following information:

  • Women are primary carers in 90% of households. 28% of children live in poverty.
  • There are more children ‘in care’ now, than at any time since 1985 – 75,420 by 2018. Children from poor areas are 10 times more likely to be taken. Of families whose children are taken, 75% are single mothers.
  • 90% of adoptions are without parental consent.
  • While mothers are denied support, it costs £56k p.a. to keep a child ‘in care’.
  • 70-90% of court cases feature domestic abuse yet less than 1% of child contact applications are refused – violent fathers nearly always get contact.

The email also offers helpful advice on rights, resources and reading materials, including a Self Help Guide which has been published on the Support Not Separation blog.

The advice offered this month is added below:

  • Courts and social services must prioritise the welfare of the child by keeping children with their mother or other primary carer wherever possible.
  • Section 17 of the Children Act (1989) instructs local authorities to assess what resources they should offer ‘children in need’, including what support (financial and other) mothers need to keep children safe in the family. This should happen BEFORE any care plan. If it doesn’t, a lawyer can challenge it (by judicial review).
  • Disabled mothers are entitled to further help under the Care Act (2014).
  • Victims of domestic violence have a right to be protected in court and NOT to be cross-examined by their abuser. Lawyers and judges should follow the guidelines in Practice Direction 12J.
  • Mothers have a right to REFUSE to sign a Section 20 allowing their children to be taken into care. S20 is ‘voluntary’ but once signed it’s very hard to get the children back. No one should sign ANYTHING they don’t agree with.
  • Children in foster care are entitled to an Advocate (and possibly their own lawyer). There should be review meetings at least every six months which mothers have the right to attend to discuss how the children are doing.
  • Mothers denied contact with their children by Children’s Services, the special guardian, or other parent/carer have the right to go back to court.

The next demonstration is taking place on Wednesday 5 February. The address for the Central Family Court is 49 High Holborn, London WC1V 6NP.