Children & Social Work Bill [Lords]

Written evidence submitted by Sonia Mainstone-Cotton (CSWB 19)

Children and Social Work Bill: power to test different ways of working (new clauses 2 to 9).

I am writing to you with concern about the proposed changes to the Children and Social Care Bill

I am a currently a freelance worker supporting vulnerable children aged 4 years. Six of the children I work with are either in Special Guardianship with family members or in foster care. I have worked with vulnerable children and young people for over 25 years, including working for many years as a participation worker for a charity on behalf of the local authority, listening to and supporting the views of children and young people in the care system.

I have heard and seen from the many children and young people I have worked with that there are many problems with the current system, but the important factor has been that all local authorities have the same legal duty to protect and provide for vulnerable children and young people. I am very concerned that with the proposed changes some local authorities could step away from this responsibility. I have no doubt that there are some local authorities who would step away from this responsibility as it is so costly and so problematic. This is not acceptable to the children and young people or to the families.

The children aged 4 that I work with have needed to be removed from their parents due to neglect, drug misuse of parents, emotional neglect. These children are scared, confused, they are desperate to be loved and nurtured. Due to their experiences in their family home they display some incredibly challenging behaviours in schools- self harming, hurting staff, hurting other children, they run off, they shout out, they break things and throw things, they find it very difficult to work and listen. These 6 children have all been removed from their families and are now living in a safe environment, but the damage, the hurt stays for a long time. It takes these children a long time to recover, to feel safe, and to trust adults. I cannot begin to imagine what would happen to these children if the local authority no longer had a statuary duty of care to these children

Over the last 5 years I have seen a growing number of children and young people who are needing support from social care, who are unable to live with their parents. I know this is putting a huge strain on local authorities, however these are our most vulnerable and at risk children and young people. I have seen and heard how scared these children and young people are, they need to know that there are adults who will speak out for them, protect them and care for them. We need to ensure this is the same across the country, no matter which local authority they live in. This cannot become postcode a lottery for children. I am asking you as a committee to not allow the exemption clauses to be reinstated.

Yours Sincerely

Sonia Mainstone-Cotton

Trainer/ Consultant/ Nurture Consultant

December 2016

 

Prepared 5th January 2017