The head of the charity Barnardo's has provoked a new debate over problem families with a controversial call to take more children into care.
Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, Martin Narey said that social workers should remove more, not fewer, children from their natural parents.
He admitted many professionals would regard his views as "heresy", and criticised the prevailing philosophy of social services departments which, he claimed, sought to keep families together wherever possible.
His call comes amid widespread public concern over how problem families should be tackled, in the wake of the Baby P scandal and the debate over "broken Britain".
His remarks divided social workers and politicians. The Conservatives welcomed the call for more intervention, but family justice campaigners said that any such change would lead to more children being removed without good cause.
Mr Narey also said that once the decision had been made to take a child away from their family, there should be greater use of residential care – formerly known as children's homes – as an alternative to placing challenging children with a succession of foster families.
He said: "The emphasis is – too much in my view – on fixing families."
Describing a case dealt with by Barnardo's, where children with rotten teeth and poor school attendance had been removed from their "scandalously neglectful" family and had begun to improve in foster care, Mr Narey said: "The whole direction of statutory and voluntary sector effort, it seemed to me, was directed to seeing whether this family could be fixed.
"In time, that would probably involve the children returning to a home which might, if not immediately, once again descend into inadequacy and neglect. Why would we want to take that risk?"
Referring to Baby P and Shannon Matthews, he went on: "Long before the revelations around these two children I have wondered whether we need fundamentally to reassess our approach to care and to residential care in particular."
Mr Narey, a former director general of the Prison Service who left government to run Barnardo's in 2005, said local councils and charities tended to regard placing a child in care as "the worst possible choice for any child", particularly if the youngster was heading for a residential home rather than foster care.
He called for a fresh look at the way children's homes are set up and financed. "It cannot be beyond us to provide high quality residential care," he said. "Indeed – to add to my heresies in this paper – I have seen such care provided in the UK by the private sector."
Welcoming the remarks, Michael Gove, the shadow children's secretary, said: "I think after Baby P a change is now going on, where people do realise that the interests of the child are paramount. It is not good enough to leave children in circumstances, with the birth parents, where that child could be at risk of abuse.
"Foster parents do a fantastic job but we do need to look seriously at other care options. I am not saying that residential care is the right answer in all circumstances, but we do need to give consideration to improving it because we cannot leave children like Baby P in places where they face significant risks."
However, John Hemming, the Liberal Democrat MP and chairman of Justice for Families, pointed to data from the Department for Children, Schools and Families which showed that among 7,800 children taken into care in 2006, only 1,800 had been returned to their families by March 2007.
"I'm not sure Mr Narey really understands what is going on. Nor am I sure that he has the practical experience," said Mr Hemming.
"His basic assertion that more children need to be taken into care and fewer need to be returned to their families ignores the statistics."
Harry Fletcher, assistant general secretary of the union for family court staff, Napo, disagreed with Mr Narey's suggestion that more children should be taken into residential care.
"Barnardo's have a vested interest in residential homes because they run some of them," he said. "All the evidence suggests residential care should be used as little as possible because the experience is damaging."
Baby P, who was 17 months old, died in August 2007 after suffering more than 50 injuries while living with his mother, 27, her boyfriend, 32, and their lodger Jason Owen, 36, despite being on the "at risk" register and receiving 60 visits from health and social workers.
Karen Matthews, the mother of Shannon, was jailed for eight years last week along with the child's uncle Michael Donovan for kidnapping the youngster, then aged nine, for £50,000 in reward money, raising further questions about the way the family had been handled by social workers.
Wes Cuell, director of children's services at the NSPCC, broadly agreed with Mr Narey's assessment.
He said: "We should not be keeping children out of care just because we don't like what care represents.
"If children need to be in care, they should be, and we should find the right sort of care for them which is not based on traditional beliefs about care based in families.
Ian Johnston, chief executive of the British Association of Social Workers, said: "Martin is right to say that we need to look at things differently. I would like to think that most social workers will look at all the possibilities."
I noticed this article yesterday, but you were quicker to add it than I was, Kerry. Not only many professionals would call the opinions of Marin Narey "heresy", I do too and given the history of Barnardo's (especially with regards to Child Migration, but also looking at the stories Robin has told about their practices), I'd say the better take a very modest stance. Barnardo's'has done more wrong than almost any other organization in this world. Obviously Martin Narey, never hears about the atrocities taking place in foster care and only sees the horrors that take place in natural families.
As the former director general of Prison Services, I can understand Narey's plea for residential care and while I think the negative reputation of residential care has much more to do with the monetary aspect of it, I also find it dangerous when someone has such an outspoken preference for it. The forms of child placement we know should be used in the best interest of the child. Sometimes that means temporary care in another family, sometimes it means permanent care in another family and sometimes it means institutional care. Advocates of one form or the other, usually think in terms of a hierarchy, where one form is generally preferable to another. I think that is a dangerous way of thinking, because the needs of children can not be generalized.
The most common preference hierarchy is adoption before foster care before residential care, which is not founded on any proper research, but is actually based on economics. Adoption is usually cheaper than foster care, while residential care is much more expensive than the other two. No wonder politicians are so eager to embrace this preference hierarchy.
UK: Adoption Petition - SAVE US FROM ADOPTION
Seems very timely, this petition, considering Barnardo's appeal!!!
SPREAD THE NEWS:
SAVE US FROM ADOPTION LET US GO HOME
CHILDREN LIKE THIS ARE BEING KIDNAPPED EVERY DAY, BUT NOT BY WHO YOU THINK! SUBJECTED TO LIVE WITH UNCARING FOSTER CARERS ,ONLY DOING THE JOB FOR THE MONEY. WHILE A NEW INFLUX OF AMERICAN SOCIAL WORKERS ARE KIDNAPPING OUR BRITISH CHILDREN WITH ONLY THE MENTION IN COURT OF POSSIBLE OR PROBABLE CAUSE, USING HEAR SAY, GOSSIP,TWISTING FACTS, TO MEET NEW GOVERNMENT TARGETS OF ADOPTIONS. PARENTS GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT, MOSTLY WITH NO PROVE OR CAUSE, HELP CHANGE THE LAW, BRITAIN USED TO BE INNOCENT TILL PROVEN GUILTY, GONE IS DEMOCRACY FREEDOM OF SPEACH, PARENTS ARE INTIMMIDATED, BULLIED, YOUNG MOTHERS & FATHERS TORN APART, WHILST MANY FACTS ARE TWISTED. THE LIST IS ENDLESS. THE CHILDRENS ACT AND RIGHTS IS THEIR TO PROTECT CHILDREN NOT BE MANIPULATIVELY USED TO REACH GOVERNMENT TARGETS, AND BONUSES IN THE FAT CATS POCKETS. TO HELP SAVE THESE TWO CHILDREN AND OTHER CHILDREN LIKE THEM WHO HAVE NOT BEEN ABUSED BY THEIR PARENTS AND THERE S NO PROBABLE CAUSE, FALSIVELY BEING SUBJECTED TO FOSTER CARE THEN ADOPTION PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION.
Just noticed this. Are American social workers now invading the UK Child Protection Services???? Anyone knows more about that?
Staggering for Martin Narey to say 'it cannot be beyond us to provide high quality residential care'.
Hasn't he done his homework. He is working for an organisation which closed all its children's homes, most of them excellent and with philanthropic caring staff, and promoted 'the family' as a solution, my god! As an orphan brought up in a caring childrens home, suffering the odd wack and abusive behaviour from pervy staff, I preferred that place to any of the foster homes I was sent t, small little nuclear families that to me were utterly spooky, I wanted my family in the children's home, and ran back to join my brothers and friends. Safe. We could at least discuss the pederasts, and had to deal with it. How much more damaging would it have been in a so called normal family, where abuse also takes place. And nobody to turn to. Who are these people that run such important places, Narey is a prison devotee, no wonder he wants more children taken into care, he is used to institutional life, and thinks he can corral 10's of thousands of difficult children into homes based on what, prisons? \poor Barnardo, if he were here now, what a betrayal
Um... wasn't Barnardo a major player behind the
Great British ShameChild Migration scheme? I can't help but think the word "betrayal" is synonymous with "Barnardo"...but then, over the past few years, I've had many former inmatesresidents share all sorts of stories and pieces of information not usually posted in major newspapers.
While it can be said Barnardo's original intentions were good, there are many interesting historical facts that show a different side to Barnardo's philanthropy. One that sticks out in my mind right now is the piece written in 2002 for The Guardian, called, Barnardo's faces Canada action:
What really captures my attention in the above response is the repeated theme that many who were once put in a children's home/orphange admit they would rather have stayed-put than be sent to a foster home or "small nuclear family".
I know there are many who cannot begin to imagine what, exactly, that means, but it's a sentiment I can very deeply appreciate. I was adopted by a so-called "normal family". (A family that kept all sorts of hidden secrets and had quiet a garden variety of serious dysfunction.) There are so MANY many times in my own life I would have LOVED to have lived among a small group that knew what it was I was subjected to and what I was going through. In my mind, those who lived in an orphange/children's home were the lucky ones... at least they knew who and what they were, and they had others just like them. In my mind, the orphanage kids didn't have to pretend all was fine and good.
"Nobody to turn to".... (being all alone) ...yes, many times that felt like a fate far worse than death.
BARNADOS TAKING MORE CHILDREN INTO CARE
So it is acceptable to have your child wrongly taken into care and have your life destroyed forever?
I am somewhat bemused and angry by Martin Nareys comments.
We are all angry by the way Haringey Social Services, failed in their duties to protect Baby Peter, which resulted in this poor child's horrendous tragic death, and now we have Doncaster, Huddersfield, and Birmingham,
But at the other end of the scale there is the likes of Cleveland,Rochdale,and the Orkney Islands i wonder if Mr Narey has conveniently forgotten about these these tragic events?
I have clients call me on a daily basis in tears,with reference to that past scenario.
Angela Canning and the other mothers, who were wrongly convicted, and spent years in prison, for a crime they did not commit, their lives must be a daily torment, which i am sure resulted in the untimely death of Sally Clark.
I have experienced system abuse, after having my youngest son taken wrongly into care in 1986,he jumped from the side of the bath,and landed awkwardly, which resulted in a spiral fracture of the tibia. with no trauma. we were later accused of inflicting the injury, after a paediatrician, submitted a report, to which his opinion was Non Accidental Injury.
The powers to be backed down in the end, and said that the incident, could of been caused accidentally .
Our son was returned to us after 12 agonising weeks,and within that same year, he was diagnosed with OI Brittle bone disease, during the time of the Care Proceedings, our oldest son,who was five at the time, was left in our care, unbelievable as i was being accused of harming his younger sibling.
The whole episode has left me completely devastated, i despair for my nine month old Granddaughter who has the classic symptoms of OI.
We have won our campaign with John Hemming MP , to get the Secret Family Courts opened up for Public Scrutiny from 1st April 2009, Social Workers, Guardians, Doctors giving conflicting Medical opinions , to gratify Local Authority statistics, and Adoption targets, may be a thing of the past,and Justice for some Families may prevail.
I would just like to mention i deplore child Abuse of any shape or form.
Alison Stevens Parents Against Injustice- www.parentsagainstinjustice.org.uk
Abuse, in it's many forms
Since we started PPL, I have become more and more aware of the ATROCIOUS closed-family court system and how it feeds into the adoption target/quotas marked and made by "state government" -- this meaning not just individual states, like in the US, but country quotas, as determined by certain officials and authorities.
It concerns me that more PAP's don't see how abuse of power is hurting innocent parents and non-abused children.
I will add only one of so many videos sent to me, showing how parents are being wrongly accused of abuse, and children are being placed in foster-care, where the general public is encouraged to "save"/adopt the so-called forgotten children "lingering in poor foster care."
According to testimony, the following mother (in Virginia, here in The States) lost her child because of poor newborn weight gain. As one who breastfed all four of my babies, I know how not all newborns gain weight at the same rate. I shudder to think ANY of my babies could have been taken away from me because my breast milk was not enough, and I shudder to think anyone could have seen me unfit to parent because I lacked certain education/training credentials/certificates.
Knowing what I know about the conditions seen in state-care, I don't know WHAT I would do if I lost my child to CPS. (All I know is, I would simply want to die.)
Child Protection Abuse
It is well over twenty years ago since i had my youngest son wrongly taken into Care.but the past events still haunt me on a daily basis.
The experience is documented in my last blog.
I became a Grandmother to a beautiful Baby Girl called Hollie Jade,almost nine months ago.
Mum and Baby were discharged home from Hospital within seven hours.
Proud Grandparents and Uncle, went round to our sons house to see the new arrival for the first time,and the experiance was wonderful, because she was our first Grandchild.
My son telephoned us during the night,to say that the Baby had been rushed into Hospital with respiratory and feeding problems.
We went in to visit her the next day, on walking onto the Children's ward, i noticed that it was the same Hospital area, that Social Workers had taken her Father from, all those years ago.
My husband managed to drive me home in a hysterical state, i rang one of my Support group Children's panel Solicitors in tears, i was convinced history was going to repeat itself, he managed to calm me down,and tried to reassure me, that the Local Authority had no grounds to remove her.
What should of been a very joyous occasion, was blighted by past trauma.
Thank you Brendan Fleming Solicitor. you are one of the best.
I'm somewhat inclined to the same views
I'm somewhat inclined to the same views as this commentator, myself, with regard to the way Barnardos operates
Barnardo's still shows little concern for those whose lives it screwed up in the past, essentially because of similar ideas on its part With donations to charity in general falling fast, Barnardos no doubt feels the need to generate some more of the propaganda that it is famous for (and one of the things that it best at) Phrases like 'pension fund' and 'shortfall' come to mind
Got to find something to keep them all busy for that extra 5 years and it'll be even worse now
Or am I just being cynical, do we still need money wasting charities like Barnardo's and NSPCC to do work that in any civilized country should be part of a services provided and adequately financed by central and local government?
I thought perhaps Narey would sort Barnardos out when he first arrived there, but it just gets worse, not just him, the whole bureaucratic mess of the thing from its Board of Trustees downward. I've met more than my fair share of Barnardo's social workers and managers none of them had a job title any less impressive sounding than project leader or deputy director of something or other. I came away with the impression that a lot of the 'experts' there had little expertise in real life let alone their own supposed are of expertise. For me that impression is just confirmed by Narey's recent comments
"Real life experience"
I'm fortunate to have made contacts who are willing to share with me what their "real-life experience" has been. [It's amazing to me how different one place can seem, when one person was treated kindly and one person was subjected to inhumane treatment.]
This human-fact leads me to ask a question about "services for the community": Do you think Barnardo's own dark past, as it relates to the sexual abuse of children, has been properly addressed over the decades?
This was found today....
An updated version of a similar theme was found in the Daily Mail today. According to Andrew Flanagan, more abused children must be taken into care, says charity chief,
In 2003, the UK charity published a piece called, Abuse of children in residential care, suggesting foster care is the much safer alternative to institutional care. Ironically, the following observations were made about supervisors and staffing problems found within many institutional settings:
[It should be noted, back in 1999, the NSPCC was in the news for the care given to an eight year old child who died with 128 separate injuries on her wasted body which had been inflicted by her great-aunt and her boyfriend. See: NSPCC 'doctored information in Victoria Climbie case ]
Abuse in care is not new and in spite of lofty promises made by those in highly paid positions, there remains a simple truth that exists for most child protective services:
So...if reports around the world are true.... foster care is not the best solution for children who have been neglected and abused, why are more and more people pushing for more children to be placed in (private) care?!?