Channel 5 News is airing a documentary at 5pm this afternoon about the discrimination faced by disabled mothers in Britain’s family courts which can lead to the removal of their children. The documentary consulted with Legal Action for Women (LAW) and the Disabled Mothers’ Rights Campaign.

The following is a press release issued by the two organisations:

We worked with Channel 5 News on its news feature today which found that parents with a learning disability are 54 times more likely to have their children taken into care.  This confirms our experience of the discrimination and hostility faced by disabled mothers, and other single, working class and mothers of colour who face an uphill battle to stop social workers and the family courts taking our children from us.

Ch5 spoke to a mother and daughter, now reunited after forced adoption, who are part of the Disabled Mothers’ Rights Campaign – the full interview will be on our blog after 6pm.  Jean said, “Time was stolen from us where we’re being punished for something that was not my fault. And we now have a lot of work to try to do, to try and get to that normal parent child relationship.”

Tye told 5 News, “That was a good 18 years. That’s my whole existence. I can’t get that back.  But I could have had her growing up. I could have had someone that fought for me relentlessly, and I didn’t get that, and I should have. It’s infuriating.”

Tracey Norton, coordinator for the Disabled Mothers’ Rights Campaign, run by campaign group WinVisible told 5News: “A Social worker is automatically looking for safeguarding, and disability is seen as a safeguarding issue when it shouldn’t be.

“Our message is that we want money for mothers, particularly disabled mothers, so that we can care for their children in the community, so that we can get the right resources that they need, and the children don’t need to be taken into care. And it causes trauma that’s never ending. It will never, ever go away for either the child or the mother. It’s lifelong. “

Anne Neale from Support Not Separation adds:

Our experience is that mothers are targeted for child removal by sexism, racism, disability discrimination and pervasive class bias in the “child protection” system and in family courts:  Of 248 mothers with 446 children we worked with over the past two years, 94% were single mothers, mostly on low incomes; 40% were women of colour and/or immigrant; 42% had mental health issues and 17% had a physical disability, which was used against them.  83% had suffered domestic violence; nearly all were fighting over contact with their children and over half the mothers had had their children removed.”

There are now over 82,170 children in state “care” and millions are being poured into private companies which dominate a fostering and adoption industry.  Some multinationals charge Councils up to £1m a year to keep a child in “care”.  Given these figures the problem cannot be reduced to  cuts: the problem is that mothers and children are impoverished and discriminated against, refused the support we are entitled to.  It’s easier to take our kids than to challenge the child welfare industry. 

We are calling for a complete overhaul of Children’s Social Care to prioritise support to mothers and other primary carers to keep children and families together and demanding a Care Income for mothers (and other carers) who do the work of caring for and raising children.

For information & interviews: 0207 482 2496/07925195758

Many thanks to LAW for sharing this press release with us.