What is being said in the Care Profiling Study

Last week the Guardian published and article called Study clears social workers of 'snatching children', which claims the Ministry of Justice made a study that undermines the validity of the following articles:

According to the Guardian:

The study, which has been leaked to The Observer, undermines assertions by some MPs that social workers are 'snatching' young children and babies from families in order to meet government targets. It shows that most of the children were on the child protection register at the time a court application was made, suggesting an already high level of concern from various agencies.


The study was commissioned by the government to see if the right cases were coming up before the family courts, amid allegations that too many children were being taken into care for the wrong reasons.

Children's minister Kevin Brennan could not comment on the study, but said he was concerned that social workers were very often criticised for taking babies too fast, when in fact a number of agencies had real concerns about the children's welfare. He has already criticised the Lib Dem MP John Hemming for suggesting that social workers are taking babies into care to meet government adoption targets.

I read the study and wouldn't dare to make the same claim the observer makes. For example it states:

Given variation in court culture, it is not possible to draw conclusions about the relationship between work done by Children’s Services before proceedings start and the subsequent course of those proceedings. It may well be that Children’s Services Departments adapt their practice in various ways to a perception of the requirements of their court, so that, for example, more limited pre-court assessments may be undertaken where courts routinely order assessments during the proceedings – or vice versa. However, this can only be speculation without further research, including interviews with local authority lawyers and managers of children’s services.

So instead of pronouncing the claims the Guardian makes, the study itself declares its own impotence. The study does say:

Crises took many different forms but almost all resulted in the local authority concluding that it had become unsafe to leave the child with the current carers. Carers’ lives were unstable and unpredictable, frequently as a result of mental health difficulties, substance abuse and domestic violence. Whilst these difficulties may be managed even for long periods of time through family or professional support, this instability and unpredictability means that there is always the potential for a child protection crisis to erupt.

Of course local authorities draw that conclusion, its exactly the conclusion they drew the moment they took children away. That by itself doesn't prove it was an appropriate choice or an astute assessment of the situation. The study continues:

Where parents are isolated, lack support from their family and do not maintain co-operation with professional services opportunities for support may be lacking before a crisis occurs. Even where child protection plans had been considered in preparation for the birth of a baby, the birth itself might necessitate an urgent response before planning was complete. Inadequate care of very young children requires an urgent response because of their vulnerability. The crisis nature of these cases leads naturally to a focus on the child’s immediate protection often involving separation from the parents with arrangements (possibly coerced (DOH 2001)) for the child’s accommodation, police protection or application for an EPO.

While there are certainly cases where the above applies. It doesn't mention this should be a last resort, instead it seems to be the focal point of attention, making the following provision:

Another consequence again linked to limited cooperation is that the local authority has not completed a Core Assessment and does not have clear plans about the child’s future care. The fact that families are known to the Children’s Services Department and many cases are being worked with, raises questions about alternative ways of managing cases so that children are protected, thresholds for intervention are neither raised nor lowered and applications are thoroughly prepared.

So much for clearance given to the local authorities, deciding over child placement. I wonder if the Guardian read the same study I have, because I can't find anything backing up the conclusions they made. In fact I can't find anything at all in the study that clears the local authorities. Instead it is a pretty prosaic study with a lot of methodology, figures and  statements about the implementation, in April 2008, of the new approach to care proceedings set out in the Public Law Outline (President of the Family Division, 2007; DCSF, 2007). The latter is even an indication not everything is peachy in the state of England. Why a new approach when the old one was working well?

I wonder what drives the Guardian to publish an article like they did? Are they mainly read by social workers who want to hear their work is all swell? Did they read the study at all, or did the source of leakage write this article for them while having a personal agenda? Certainly not many people will read such a tedious study, so all sort of non-sense can be said, without the risk of anyone checking it up.


I'm still struggling with

I'm still struggling with the study report, it's exceeded my boredom threshold several times. I've been very tempted to do what I think many people here in England have done, go straight to the back of the report where the conclusions are and assume that it proves what the Civil Servant who leaked it to the Guardian told them that it proves. Of course all it probably really tells us is what we already knew, that there are parents out there that really do abuse and neglect their kids and in those cases social workers and the courts have little alternative but to find alternative care for those children.

So far I've been able to find nothing in the report that explains or excuses the increasing number of high profile cases where very serious mistakes have been made and children have been taken in to care as a result of lack of care and professionalism by the professionals involved, social workers, paediatrician and lawyers all included

I'll persevere with the report and come back here with a few of the things I've already found somewhat disturbing in the first 40 or so pages that I've read thoroughly out of 128 pages in all



If anyone else feels they would like to have a go

If anyone else feels they would like to have a go, the 'Care profiling study' can be found in PDF format here


And I see they have added a 'Summary' since I last looked, where the people who did the research tell you what it shows, rather than leaving you to come to your own conclusions


There's nothing like condensing a 128 pages down to 3 to make it easier for journalists and the rest of us to understand

That's never good a sign in my experience



Certainly not many people will read such a tedious study, so all sort of non-sense can be said, without the risk of anyone checking it up.

This statement reminds me of my hospital staff-nursing days when I would see first hand the sloppy work certain staff-members would leave-behind for the next-shift to complete. It was assumed "someone" would finish what became “a very busy day” for someone who didn't feel like doing all the required (and sometimes tedious) tasks each nurse had for each of her patients. Cover-up and protection would happen all the time, because many doubted eight hours would matter that much for a person who appeared to be stable.

The most common excuses given for NOT performing or completing a required task was, "The patient was sleeping, so I didn't want to bother him." Or, "By the time I got to the patient, I realized the next scheduled change would be in a few hours, (so just make sure it gets done by the next shift.)" The real problem behind the neglect? Paper-work. Too much charting kept nurses away from the physical and emotional needs of many. It didn’t take me long to realize charting protected the hospital and the doctors, not the nurse or her patients. Such is the glamorous reality of short-staffed hospital nursing, and the value of a medical record.

I cannot begin to explain how dangerous the mind-set of "leave it for the next-person to fix" is, especially when the life of another human being is depending upon the actions and reactions of a professional sworn to help, not hurt, the healing process of someone else.

I was in my early twenties when I learned how easy it was for professionals to lie and forge information on a medical record. Words cannot describe the disgust I felt when I realized no one cared about the inactions of others. As long as no one was caught in a wrongful death, all would be seen as being fine and working well.

Pound Pup Legacy