Headlines: June 20th, 2008

Parents feel left out of their children’s lives when they are taken into care. Some describe it as “a living nightmare, hell on earth” and “…a never ending battle. No one listens. No one understands.” These findings come from a report by the Children’s Rights Director for England, Dr Roger Morgan. The report is based on a survey of the views of children and their parents. The survey also revealed that most parents think that their child is being looked after very well by the local council.

The report shows that 44 per cent of parents did not have a say in their child’s care plan while 38 per cent did not agree with it. The biggest worries for parents were constant changes to plans, plans that weren’t detailed enough or plans not changing once the situation had changed. Over a quarter had not seen their child’s care plan and some did not even know what a care plan was. Notably, around a quarter did not know whether the council planned for their child to return home

Parents also felt excluded from their child’s life in other ways too, with two thirds reporting that they thought the council should tell them more about how their child is doing. A quarter said that they simply wanted to know how their childwas doing generally – from their health, behaviour and progress at school, to how they were getting on in their placement.

Although children were in care for different reasons, over half of parents said that there had been no support from the council to help stop their child going into care in the first place. Over three quarters said that they were getting no or not enough council support including help toward the child being returned to them. Where support was given, it was sometimes the wrong kind, or came too late once a crisis had arrived.

Similarly, where major decisions were made about a child in care, such as during a review meeting, around a fifth of parents said they were not able to give their views and some reported that they had given their opinion but they were not listened to. A quarter said they would not know who they would go to if concerned or wanted to make a complaint.