Children and Social Work Bill [Lords]

Written evidence submitted by Maria Stanley (CSWB 67)

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

1. I am a retired professional Social Worker, holding the Home Office Letter of Recognition as a Child Care Officer as well as the Diploma in Social Administration (London School of Economics) and Certificate in Applied Social Studies (University of Bristol). I worked as a Child Care Officer in two different Local Authorities. My 30 years experience as a Social Worker also included working with families and children in the fields of child mental health and health and disability. I was awarded the degree of MPhil by the University of Bath for a research project involving the families of severely disabled children in England and France.

2. In the case of Children in Care, the State is deemed to be in loco parentis. This responsibility is devolved to the Local Authorities, whose officers are duty bound to act as good parents. By definition Children in Care live fragmented lives. Continuity of care is therefore essential to their well being in mental, emotional and physical health. The importance of this principle has been confirmed by large bodies of research in both the Health and Social Work fields. In normal circumstances, parents are expected to bring up their children to the best of their ability. Rightly, attempts to exempt themselves from their duties is likely to result in prosecution by the Local Authority under the current Children Act.

3. The current proposals in Clauses 2 to 9, if enacted, would bring further fragmentation to children's lives. Good communication is essential. The involvement of other agencies would leave children open to the kind of damage so often seen in official reports on circumstances where things have gone badly wrong because of the lack of communication and co-operation between different organisations. With the drastic cuts to Local Authority funding, it would be very tempting for these bodies to outsource children's care for short term economies which may result in long term expense such as custodial care. Ethically the question of whether it is right to experiment on already vulnerable children should be addressed by the Committee.

4. On a personal note, my husband, born before the arrival of the Welfare State, needed continuous health care from birth because of a rare syndrome. He has no idea of where he was until the age of three. After that he was in the care of a Local Authority, and experienced caring Child Care Officers and foster parents as a result of which he has been able to pursue a successful career as an international expert in radar, and today enjoys the company of his grandchildren and loving daughters.

5. Please do not allow Clauses 2 to 9 to be reinstated and ensure that Local Authorities continue to have responsibility for the welfare of children in the care of the state.

Yours faithfully,

Maria Stanley B.A. (Hons), MPhil.

January 2017

 

Prepared 9th January 2017