By | January 26, 2021

WHAT PARENTS NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT CHILDRENS SERVICES?

All you need to know about Scottish Children’s Services, their tricks, their processes and all the examples your likely to come across while your children are in local authority care.

This resume’ of problem areas as the current legislation stands, basically its there to protect social workers do all the things their managers tell them to do, if they say no they get sacked, if they report it they will never work in SW again!

The purpose of this post is to show parents the hurdles they have to overcome just to get 1 complaint upheld the system is not there to support you its basically their to keep you all in check so to speak.

I run my own fathers charity and connected with this subject matter since 2006 and my experience so far is that damaged children are very rarely taken into care as they cost to much to look after. Most children in care are good kids with parents that find it hard to fight back or have questionable backgrounds or histories that may make them a prime SW victim.

Now they might say this is not true but the evidenced by a national campaign called caring dads where most children come from domestic abuse cases and virtually none of those children ever see the inside of the care system so if that’s true why are these damaged children allowed to stay in their homes, keep reading?

My own personal advice would be if you have the money and you have evidence of SW wrong doing then take out a civil proceedings rather than a child protection case that can only be decided either at a permeance hearing or on that appeal which can be 2 years down the line.

Basically if you after reading this post, understand its contents then please do all you can to work with the SW team if you cant afford the massive court costs, yes legal aid is available but its complicated and my experience would say think hard first and the first question to ask them are they there for you, your children or the local authority and get the answer in writing?

Politicians are worse than useless, they either know nothing or very little if they say they do chances are they are lying even if you get time as soon as they mention its an operational matter run for the hills this is speak for “we feel for you and the plights of your children but there’s nothing we can do in this case”!

You can find more info on this petition on the Scottish government website.

PE1836: Expand the remit of the Care Inspectorate to investigate individual child protection complaints.

I have read the submissions by SPSO and The Promise.   Neither is incorrect about the current appeal process.     However, the system does not work in practice.    The current system assumes that the mother is guilty as charged. 

Agreed that many different agencies/organisations (NHS, schools, police, foster cares, charities and others) are involved in preparing a case.  All information is collated by social workers.   Social workers condense these reports into one for submission to a Sheriff or a Childrens Hearing.   These reports are based predominantly on opinion, supposition and assumptions.     All information collected is to prove the social workers opinions, assumptions and suppositions.  This Petition asks that the system of appeals be simplified so one organisation investigates at very early stages in proceedings.   The Care Commission does that with other sectors that involve multi agencies.   Care Commission supervises childcare and protection matters but will not look at individual cases.   It monitors files and 

It is rare for a mother/parents to be informed in advance of an application to a Sheriff.    Within 48 hours (excluding weekend days and public holidays) of the Sheriff’s decision the case appears before a Childrens Hearing.    Panel members are laymen with very limit experience.   A Hearing is not a trial – it is an expression of thoughts against the mother who does not have the resources within a Hearing to counter them.   Any decision a Hearing  reaches can be appealed to the Sheriff by mother, child and other relevant persons.     A Childrens Hearing is scheduled to last no more than 1 hour for each child.   Only the mother and relevant persons plus the social workers appear in the Childrens Hearing.   Children do not always appear, especially if they have been taken into care.

 

An appeal to the Sheriff must be made within 7 days including weekend days and public holidays.    There is no assistance from  SCRA to lodge an appeal.   The family do it on their own or try and engage a solicitor.   If an Appeal is not lodged within 7 days, a another cannot be lodged for 3 months.  

At an appeal, the Sheriff can only make judgement on the decision of the Childrens Hearing.   The Sheriff has no information on how the Hearing came by their decision.   If a Sheriff does uphold the Appeal, the case is referred back to the Childrens Hearing for them to review their original decision and the cycle restarts.  

Complaints are from children, mothers and other relevant persons and are about reports submitted by social workers.    A complain against the social workers, must be made direct to the Social Worker involved.   If the complainer is not happy with the response, then a further complaint is made to the social workers manager and so on up the line.    That takes months, mean time the children continue in care.   Social workers do not have powers to investigate other agencies where complaints are made about the information they have supplied.   The child, mother or other relevant person has to make individual complaints to these different agencies.    Experience is complaints are not taken seriously and eventually whitewashed or ignored.   This process can take months.    The engagement of legal advisers is very expensive, and beyond the reach of families

 

Complaints that are made to Scottish Public Services Ombudsman and SSC   can only be lodged once the full complaints procedure has been exhausted through the various agencies.   The SPSO can only investigate the process followed by the authority complained about.   The SPOS does not have the powers to force a reinvestigation of the complaint.    SPSO take between 1 and 4 years to complete an investigation and come up with findings.    The SPSO can only investigate some of the bodies/ agencies.    They cannot investigate complaints involving charities (who provide commercial services to local authorities in child care).

Complaints can be made against social workers to SSSC.   Again, SSSC will only accept complaints after the social workers employers’ complaints procedure has been finalised.   

 

Both SPSO and SSSC require copies of all files and correspondence that form the complaint.     Files have to be obtained by way of a Subject Access Request.    Despite the legislation it normally takes a minimum of 6 months and often a year to obtain full files and only then with the involvement of the Commissioner of  Information Office.    It takes both SPSO and SSSC at least 18 months and more often up to 4 years to investigate and take any action on a complaint.   Meantime children are in care away from their families.     Through three different FOI’s, SSSC admit that they take no action in 99.7% of complaints from the public.

 

Taking civil action through the Courts is extremely expensive and takes years to resolve if ever.   One case is reported to have cost over £2 million in legal aid and after 7 years it is not fully resolved.

 

The proposal from the Petition asks for an agency to step in early, prepare and investigation the complaints about the contents and allegations of documents submitted to Childrens Hearings and resolve disputes quickly for the sake of the children and their families.    It would bring accountability to child protection in Scotland as there is none currently.