Channel 4’s Failure to Care Public Debate - Response by No2Abuse
Failure to care debate Exclusive
Journalist Rageh Omar who made the Lost in Care dispatches film about the care system chaired the debate, to what can only be described as the blind leading the blind on the panel with the exceptions of Tim Loughton MP, Shadow Minister for Children, David Akinsanya Adoption Campaigner and Robert Tapsfield chief executive of the Fostering Network who also made some useful comments. Rageh was also joined on the panel by Baroness Morgan, shadow minister for children, Mo O’Reilly and director of child placement at BAAF who had very little to say and Martin Narey chief executive of Barnardo’s. Before Rageh takes the debate he shares his view before he shows a few clips taken from Lost in Care. He explains the need to give children in care a voice and those who have experienced the care system. Alarmingly all those who attended the debate many of whom are care leavers, children in care and organisations, all their questions were edited out of the published version on Channel 4’s website on the debate leaving an unfair representation of that debate. What is also alarming is that Channel 4 did not seek written consent from the audience attending prior to the debate as they did the panel. Does this mean they never intended to use the audience and only invited them in order to incite a more natural response from the panel which has also been edited? Perhaps this is Channel 4’s answer to giving careleavers and children in care a voice when in fact they edited them all out and in fact took away their voice.
Tim Loughton made it clear that children in care are dehumanised and picks up on a young lady who said “they should treat children as children and not as cases” after watching the initial clips from the Lost in Care programme.
Many questions were raised by members of the audience including those of two social workers as Rageh randomly chose from a display of hands all who had alot to say.
A few clips were then shown on adoption much to the dismay of angry parents who’s children had been removed by social workers after being wrongly accused of abuse and emotional abuse. The clips were in short misleading as they covered children being adopted from drug addicts to alcoholics and whilst that should never be undermined given the seriousness of the problem Channel 4 failed to address in any meaningful way those going through the forced adoption scandal which is currently happening today and a major problem faced by distraught and innocent parents. Whilst it was a subject briefly touched by the panel members this later led to a mother from the Mothers for Justice Campaign to ask a simple question. “Today Children are being removed from domestic violence victims and care leavers and I ask the panel to define emotional abuse and can the panel guarantee 100 per cent that their own children would never suffer it as that’s what parents have to defend themselves against” and accused the system of being “snatch happy” which is a view felt by many families wrongly accused.
The MFJ Campaigner was concerned at forced adoption where children not at risk are being removed and those from a variety of backgrounds have been removed based on possible emotional abuse which currently is not a legal form of abuse nor is it understood yet is a key factor in removing children from parents when the same system leaves children at risk of harm at home where they are seriously neglected, injured or murdered. There is also the concerns at the growing rate of mothers wrongly accused of abuse only to find they can not reverse the adoption when they prove they did not abuse their child/ren. This was lightly touched on by Robert Tapsfield during the debate but not in response to the mother.
The panel bypassed the mother’s question and went onto discuss everything but what she asked. They clearly didn’t know the answer.
Ivor Frank, Barrister, Trustee of The Frank Buttle Trust and Member of the Parliament Group for Children and Young People in and leaving care questioned why children were being put into care by the system for not being loved enough at home and then placed into a care system where they receive even less love. He also pointed out about the civil problems regarding survivors of abuse who face many problems with the legal and civil route if abused in care. Tim Loughton Responds “Ivor’s point and there’s no point trying to discuss law with him because he is a barrister and his point about love is absolutely right and if we had the people in positions able to emphasize with those children in care be it the social workers or be it the foster carers and allowed to do that we wouldn’t need the advocates or those legal standing up for them as they would be the pushy parents and what we need more of is those to be willing and play the role of being the pushy parent just as I am with my kids which would be no less for those children in the care system.”
A Foster Carer currently fostering stood up and stressed the lack of support they receive from social workers which in turn then affects their lives
An adoptive parent made her grievances known at the lack of support she received after adopting a child/ren and this was met with a drop in peoples mouths as they listened in shock and further debated her qualms after the debate had finished. If this adopted parent needs so much support why did she adopt in the first place? She has taken that child/ren on as her own and therefor her own responsibility as is the full responsibility of any natural parent who chooses to have a child. Adopted parents are apparently chosen based on their abilities not only to be a parent but also to be responsible and if they are to be needy and dependent upon the social services system once they adopt a child should they adopt? It also brings about questions as to why children are removed from families who are in need of support and see their children forcibly removed by social workers only to see those children placed with adopted parents who are also in need of support and are in effect in the same situation as the birth parent was when their child was forcibly taken and adopted to that new adopted mother. We should also not be under the assumption that every adopted parent and foster carer is a suitable parent just because they have been chosen by a social worker.
A Social Worker stood and aired his views on how they do a good job and made some sense or at least more sense than some sat on the panel
David Akinsanya heavily criticises the private industry running children’s homes and organisations who “cream off” the plight of children when making a profit which he felt was totally wrong and they should all be non profit and plough the profit back into the system. The audience greeted this with applaud.
One Care leaver spoke out very strongly and said “you (meaning those on the panel) shouldn’t be allowed to give out advice on children when you are all looked after by Nannies
A remarkable young lady who attended with her supportive foster carer pointed out that she is unable to go to social services for support in case they moved her from her foster placement where she is happy which is a sad state of affairs when a young lady should feel this way whilst currently in care.
Another young care leaver expressed her good and bad experience in the care system and highlighted herself and two sisters were placed in a staggering 100 plus placements between them and one foster carer fostered in order to pay for their mortgage and expensive lifestyle.
Onto Baroness Morgan DCSF ” we also do have some sense of confidence and some sense of hope that through the work we are doing that we can create a care system that will deliver the best possible outcome for all our children and the governments care matters programme is actually a comprehensive programme of reform which is going in the right direction. Baroness Morgan is the first to say they haven’t gone far enough. My heart is broken when I listen to those clips (the ones in the lost in care documentary) but we also have to keep going and keep making the investments. The local authorities through the children and young persons act has had a whole host of new duties put on them. The most important thing is we listen to the voices of young people and listen to the experience of those who have gone through the system some time ago”
This is clearly not the case and all those words from Baroness Morgan are exactly that, just words and of which are easily proved when Teresa Cooper spoke thus undermining that of the Baroness.
Teresa Cooper not only highlighted the severe abuse of girls at Kendall House who’s children went onto have birth defects as a result of that abuse which was heavily exposed on the BBC in April but expressed her anger to Baroness Morgan representing the DCSF at not only the fact they refuse to investigate that abuse thus showing they in fact do not listen to the experiences of those who have gone through the system some time ago but does in fact ignore the abuse when they are informed. And the DCSF’s continued refusal to investigate historic abuse and the abuse of the Kendall House girls shows that children abused in care today and who are ignored, will then be further ignored by the DCSF and system when they are old enough to address their abuse and the DCSF will again ignore them in ten years time stating they don’t investigate historic abuse. The owner of no2abuse and author of Trust No One which exposes her experiences in care also responded to Baroness Morgan who also said which wasn’t on the Channel 4 video’s that they have set up boards and Teresa’s response was to ask those on the panel as to how many of them had been in care “None” Teresa made clear and she went onto ask how they could fairly represent children in care when they have no idea about what its like and have no experience on the care system yet they make decisions on children in care and get it wrong. The author also made it clear that she feels every social services and board/panel should have a care leaver sat in everyone so that the voice of children in care are fairly represented and that they are able to contribute in making those decisions.
Natasha Phillips from No2abuse and Divorce Manual put to the panel “One of the greatest bug bears in the system is the lack of understanding in relation to children at very basic levels and one example of this is when social workers and carers become frustrated with children and end up placing them in psychiatric wards which include adult psychiatric wards, a practice that the current government has specifically stated is not allowed and yet it continues to occur. My question then is, when blunders as extreme as these are still being made, how can we take anything this panel says seriously?
There was an eerie quiet from the panel and audience and then a burst of laughter from the public audience amused at the sudden silencing of the panel
Silence is often Golden!