Support Not Separation Coalition – Aims

A coalition to end the unwarranted and damaging separation of children from their mother or other primary carer

We are a coalition of organisations and individuals who have experienced or witnessed the damage caused by the forced separation of children from their mother or other primary carer and are determined to change this desperate situation. social

Expose how the policy of successive governments to promote adoption rather than treat it as a last resort, and pressure on social services, have led to more and more children unjustly taken into care.

Separating children from their birth families, especially their mother or other primary carer, causes serious long lasting harm. When considering the welfare of the child under the Children Act 1989, avoiding the trauma of separation must be a primary concern.

Institutional care and adoption must be treated as a last resort. Social services, CAFCASS and family courts must implement the law according to this central but often ignored principle.

Poverty and/or poor housing must not be used as evidence of ‘neglect’ or ‘future harm’ to children when what is needed are support and resources.

Families must be helped to stay together unless there is evidence of serious actual harm.

End adoptions being used for social engineering – taking children from low income families, often single mothers, to place them with wealthier ones. Biased decisions on grounds of income, gender, race, nationality, disability, religious affiliation . . . lead to children being unjustly taken from their families.

Support primary carers. Evidence shows that protecting mothers is almost always the best way to protect children.

Value and protect breastfeeding in line with international recommendations. Children services and family courts must be educated to uphold such standards rather than dismiss them.

Mother and baby units should provide a caring and supportive environment not isolation and monitoring aimed at mothers ‘failing’ so the children can be removed.

Extend and support paid maternity leave and parental leave so mothers are not isolated and threatened with losing their babies if they need or seek help.

Reinstate Income Support for single parents (overwhelmingly mothers).

Provide financial resources so that mothers and children can leave violent relationships and stay together.

Reinstate legal aid so no mother has to face the family court and her violent ex-partner unrepresented.

Fathers with a history of violence to women or children must not be allowed unsupervised contact with their children.

The family courts must open their doors to public scrutiny while continuing to protect children’s anonymity. The courts secrecy has encouraged gross injustices against children and even death. Justice must be seen to be done.

Prison sentences for primary carers must be avoided so children are not punished. Where a prison sentence is in place, children’s regular contact must be enabled.

Requests for respite, temporary care or other help must not be used to prevent children returning to their families at the earliest opportunity.

Every child is the social concern of all of us. We oppose all privatisation of children services.

Support Not Separation is co-ordinated by Legal Action for Women. [1]

Coalition members so far include:

Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services; Black Women’s Rape Action Project; Centre for Social Work Practice; Global Women’s Strike; Lactation Consultants GB; Milk of Human Kindness; Movement for an Adoption Apology; Psychotherapy and Counselling Union; Scottish Kinship Care Alliance; Single Mothers’ Self-Defence; WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities); Women Against Rape; former social workers, teachers and other professionals.

September 2017

Legal Action for Women
Crossroads Women’s Centre
25 Wolsey Mews
London NW5 2DX

Tel: 020 7482 2496

[1] Suffer the Little Children and their Mothers – a dossier on the unjust separation of children from their mothers, Nina Lopez and Anne Neale for Legal Action for Women, launched 18 January 2017 at the House of Commons at a meeting hosted by Labour MP Emma Lewell-Buck.