International Women’s Day – the Global Women’s Strike put the family courts on trial outside Parliament. Women brought their charges and their evidence and found them GUILTY!
It was a moving speak out: mothers and grandmothers who had fought to keep their children or get them back interspersed with people dressed up as judges reading real outrageous court comments. You can see a short film of the event here.
MP Emma Lewell-Buck sent a heartfelt message: “You have been at the forefront of fighting for equality in the system. It can’t be right that mothers fighting for the care of the child are disadvantaged at every stage in terms of practical, emotional, financial and legal support.” Full message below.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
Section 20: councils exposed for keeping children in care illegally – many mothers are told to sign a Section 20 form as a voluntary temporary agreement but local authorities then refuse to give the children back. This is illegal! We are in a stronger position to get our children back if we can call the authorities on their illegally.
Opening the family courts – the head of the family courts, Judge Munby, has acknowledged that secrecy allows judges to get away with ‘significant mistakes’; he is asking that journalists should have more access to the evidence submitted in court. In Canada a judge ordered that journalists be given access to all legal papers in a shocking sexual abuse case where social workers had not protected the children from their violent father.
Forced adoptions not so good after all – two critical reports have come out: an enquiry commissioned by BASW, The role of the social worker in adoption – ethics and human rights, to which we and a number of individual mothers and grandmothers gave evidence; and The End of non-consensual adoption?
They may pretend they don’t hear us when we picket outside the court, write to the press and expose them on social media, but our voices are getting louder and going further!!!
Have a lovely holiday weekend.
MESSAGE FROM MP EMMA LEWELL-BUCK, 8 March 2018
I am so sorry I can’t be with you all today.
You have been at the forefront of highlighting the link between austerity and rising numbers of children in care.
You know that massive cut-backs to early intervention work, Sure Starts and family support services, the very services that can keep families together, are impacting heavily on the growing numbers of children in care.
You have also been at the forefront of fighting for equality in the system. It can’t be right that mothers fighting for the care of the child are disadvantaged at every stage in terms of practical, emotional, financial and legal support.
Cuts and austerity cannot be separated from children’s social work, this work is inextricably linked to wider societal and economic issues. It should come as no surprise that we are now presiding over the largest number of children in care since 1985, over seventy thousand in England.
Or no surprise that Care Proceedings are up by a staggering 130%, suggesting that we are missing opportunities to safely avert the need for some children to come into care and that for thousands of children it is very likely at the end of these proceedings they will be placed into long term foster care or be adopted.
This rotten Government’s overall approach to social work and children and families is completely misguided. They have ignored successive reports over the past 12 months that tell them not only are they failing vulnerable children and families but that everything they are doing to remedy this failure is resulting in worse not better outcomes. Yet they have continued on their destructive path, changing legislation so that prospective adopters can be prioritized over relatives or other carers. This is in complete contradiction of the Children Act 1989 which has, at its heart, the premise that children are always better off in the care of the parents if it is safe for them.
Labour has a different strategy, we do not believe that punitive welfare policies imposed by the state, resulting in the inevitability of poverty for so many, is neglectful parenting. We do not believe that those who have endured domestic abuse should be doubly punished by having their children removed from their care.
We believe in working with families in local communities to prevent children becoming at risk of going into care and to support all forms of care if a child can’t remain with their parents.
If there is one thing I want to leave you with today it is that Labour will always fight to protect families and to give children and their mothers the absolute best start in life – regardless of their background, postcode, or circumstances – because the cost of not doing so is something we are already seeing being borne out in Tory Britain today.
Thank you for all that you do.