UPDATE on CHILDREN & SOCIAL WORK BILL

Dec: Labour MPs oppose push for adoption.

Jan: Opposing privatisation – write & call MPs.

Launch of our evidence – Wed 18 Jan

Dear Friends,

Warm greetings for the holiday and the New Year!  SOME GOOD NEWS in these troubled times:

At the CSW Bill Committee meeting last Thursday, Labour MP for South Shields, Emma Lewell-Buck, put forward our proposed amendment to DELETE CLAUSE 9from the Children & Social Work Bill. Drawing on our briefing, she made an excellent speech, opposing this clause on the grounds that it prioritises prospective adopters over relatives or other carers and could lead to children being prematurely placed with prospective adopters which could pre-judge the outcome of legal proceedings, causing unnecessary pain and distress to all concerned.

For the first time during the passage of this Bill, the devastating consequences of the push for adoption was highlighted. She attacked austerity and pointed to the latest research by Dr Andy Bilson, Emeritus Professor of Social Work, which shows that prioritising adoption results in MORE, NOT FEWER, children taken into care, so that there are now more children in care than in the past 30 years, with shocking implications for their health and well-being.

The government minister defended Clause 9, saying that “Where the making of an adoption order is being considered, in most cases the child will already have been living with their prospective adopters for between six to 12 months.”   This confirms the inherent bias in favour of adoption and against a child being returned to their parents or other relatives.  We must continue to oppose it.  The Committee voted 8 to 5 against Mrs Lewell-Buck’s amendment (the government has a majority on the committee).  But the push for adoption, which has been policy for decades, was challenged for the first time and this is a significant victory for all of us.  See her speech below as reported in Hansard.

In JANUARY (Tues 10, Thur 12 and Tues 17), the Committee will discuss the government’s plan to allow local authorities to “OPT OUT” of their statutory duties, opening the way for PRIVATISING CHILD PROTECTION – profiteering from taking our children away from us.

It is urgent to make your voices heard against this.  Many mums and other carers have already written in to members of the Committee – one member told us privately she had been “bombarded” – but MORE IS NEEDED.  We need MPs to get many more letters from concerned mothers and other carers, social workers, and anyone who objects to this profiteering from our children’s pain and trauma.

We are continuing to press for a new clause demanding that SUPPORT FOR CHILDREN SHOULD INCLUDE SUPPORT FOR MOTHERS AND FAMILIES.

As we said to the MPs, 80% of women in the UK have children.  We do our best to support and protect them, often in difficult circumstances and with little or no help.  Many of us are struggling with benefit cuts and sanctions, zero hour contracts, cuts in wages and services, escalating rents . . .  The cost of looking after a child in care is estimated at £35,000 a year. Yet, children who have been in care are four times more likely to attempt suicide and experience mental health difficulties.  If that money was made available to impoverished mothers and families, many fewer children would be taken into care.  The Bill should include provisions to support loving mothers and families who are struggling so children can be spared the tragedy and trauma of separation.

Please see our evidence from five women’s organisations to the Committee with our objections.  Women Against Rape have also submitted evidence about victims of domestic violence and their children.

If you haven’t already, please write your own letters to MPs and make a submission to the Committee – see here for how to do it or phone the MPs offices if you are short of time.

Please do this early in the New Year, and NO LATER than Monday 9 January so the Committee hears your evidence when it starts meeting again.

Here is a list of the MPs on the Committee to email and/or call.  We suggest starting with Labour, the SNP and the MPs on the Committee.  Let us know what responses you get.  See our Model letter here.

STOP PRESS: 18 January 2017, 6pm, Committee Room 11, House of Commons –LAUNCH of Legal Action for Women’s Suffer the Little Children Dossier documenting cases of children unjustifiably separated from their mother or kinship carer, adopted by strangers, put into care or in the hands of violent fathers.

For more information contact: Anne Neale or Kim Sparrow

LAW@allwomencount.netSMSD@allwomencount.net

Tel: 0207 482 2496

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