Mothers’ care and protection is central to children’s wellbeing

Camden New Journal, Letters to the Editor, Thursday, 9th December

• THE Independent review of children’s social care, led by Josh MacAlister, hails Camden children’s services as a model local authorities should aspire to.

On 3 December I attended a webinar for social workers run by children’s services, Surfacing Child and Family Power in Local Authority Children’s Services.

What this title was supposed to mean was never explained. Neither was there any discussion about how much power social workers have over children and families, and if and how they choose to exert it.

As if anticipating a backlash for the failure of professionals to protect Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, a Camden social worker on the meeting said “parents should be begging us to take their children into care”. I was horrified and said so.

Everyone knows that mothers’ care and protection is central to children’s wellbeing and safety. What mothers are often begging for is to have enough money to feed and clothe children, to get resources for our disabled children, and to escape from violent men.

While we get little or nothing of the support we are entitled to under the children and care acts, Camden and other local authorities pay extortionate amounts to a privatised, profit-driven, industry of child removal. This is despite children in care being often abused and criminalised, less likely to be in education, and more likely to end up in prison.

In our experience, working with hundreds of mothers, women who report domestic violence are more likely to lose their children to the very men we are protecting them from.

Social services and family courts are more interested in complying with the powerful and sexist fathers’ lobby, which underplays and even denies domestic violence, than in protecting children.

Given social services response to Arthur’s murder, we are concerned even more children will now be arbitrarily removed, no matter what the trauma and devastation of such removals is, first of all on children.

Disabled Mothers’ Rights Campaign – Winvisible, part of Support Not Separation