Since Covid 19 we must put all our efforts into the Scrap SI445 campaign, which is being spearheaded by many children’s rights campaigners like Carolyne Willow who writes this article in the Guardian
The Children’s Commissioner has stood against the changes brought in by government and asked for them to be revoked – you can read her statement here.
The Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson – has justified these changes on the basis of discussions with the Association of Directors of Childrens Services – but there is doubt about whether such discussion and consultation ever took place.
Regardless of whether they took place or not, we raise the children who have been removed by the state – and its about time this government started talking to us.
It is morally lamentable the government is speeding up adoption and taking away scrutiny of local authorities under the auspices of safeguarding children through ambiguity within the terminology that makes any challenges to decisions, which are hard enough as it is for parents and guardians, even harder. The government seems to continually ignore the fact that these are often our children who end up going back into care because the support to keep them within the adoptive or special guardianship family wasn’t there. We end up having to make heart wrenching decisions to keep family members safe. But the current legal frameworks don’t work for us when our children go back into care – and on top of this we can find ourselves persecuted and blamed in family courts by those with a duty of care, or made into adversaries of the child we sought help for – by those acting as their Cafcass guardians. There is a dearth of court experts – professionals who truly understand what it is like to raise a traumatised child or a teenager whose hormones are raging and who cannot self regulate – and our families, created by the state, are being destroyed by it too.
It beggars belief that the Department of Education commissioned the Selwyn Report in 2014– and still doesn’t heed it’s recommendation in respect of Section 20 being the only way we can access respite.
Modern adoption and special guardianship need to change – and we need legal frameworks that support us and more decisions about care planning made by panels that include other adopters and special guardians who have been through the challenges we go through – not courts that judge us against thresholds of significant harm that are meaningless when a child is also beyond the control of the state – and not looked after child reviews that leave our children at risk of modern slavery and us so traumatised that we need therapy ourselves – as we cannot expedite the help and care for our children they so clearly need. This is the very definition of secondary trauma.
These are some of the changes that we feel are most urgently needed once SI445 is scrapped:
- We would like to see the Adoption Support Fund renamed to include special guardians
- We would like for all special guardianship and all adopted children, regardless of the child’s legal status or whether they live within the family home, to be able to access the Adoption Support Fund until the young person is 21 years old or 25 if they have an Education, Health & Care Plan.
- The legal status of all children coming into care needs to be recorded to inform future policies and actions – not missing data for over 4k children.
- We need respite to be available without it being required that we make our children homeless or looked after under Section 20
- We need one person with decision making authority to take responsibility for any decisions made, working in meaningful partnership with us and other professionals.
- We do not want to be so frequently put in a position where we feel we must make formal complaints to resolve problems and access services/support rather than make progress through dialogue and shared understanding. However, it is important that we are able to make complaints when there has been disagreement and conflict – for example, it is problematic that Mott MacDonald, who administer the Adoption Support Fund, have no complaints procedure,
- We need recognition of the ‘parenting from a distance role’ as being of value to society and protected by new legislation. We urgently need a framework/guidance for the reunification of children who are hard to care for with safe parents – so our children do not get trapped in care with no efforts made to support them in the context of their family – and us written off as a failed care option.
- We need for the tacit knowledge, insight and experience of adopters and special guardians to be valued – especially when the parent or guardian is also a professional.
- We need financial security – financial support that is adequate & fair and not suddenly withdrawn. This may mean legislatory change to protect our families.
- Our children often need greater support than their peers so we will need much better support for us, and for our children, as they transition to adulthood.