Networkers’ news: Sabine McNeill

Sabine continues her ‘day work’ with 3D Metrics and works equally hard in a voluntary capacity. One of her main tasks is advocacy for parents who have had their children taken into state ‘care’. She writes that One Voice for the Kids has launched a protest picked up by 38 countries so far. The Education Select Committee is currently investigating ‘child protection’.

The protest comes as the number of children taken into ‘care’ from their parents by social workers is rising. England’s referral figures passed the 900-mark in February, compared with 803 the month before and 698 in the previous January. In March and May numbers continued to rise. Between April 2012 and May 2012, the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) reports that it received 1,727 applications – 14.1% higher than in the same period last year.

Secrecy surrounds hearings in family courts – legally enshrined by the Children Act 1989. An online petition to lift it has over 800 signatures and over 12,000 page views so far. 1,200 signatures collected by hand were handed to Welsh Assembly member Bethan Jenkins by the originator, Jane Davies in Carmarthenshire.

Sabine, who blogs about victims of financial exploitation and/or legal oppression, and the Association of McKenzie Friends, have organised meetings in Westminster, one with MPs Austin Mitchell and John Hemming, who is calling for a parliamentary inquiry into the secret court decisions that lead to many adoptions. His campaign group Justice for Families has over 1,600 case stories on file. The MP says “Social Services are succumbing to Government pressures and OFSTED ratings. They get involved when they shouldn’t and they don’t get involved when they should. It is an evil system.”

He is claiming that up to 1,000 children a year in England are being adopted for the “wrong” reasons and should stay with their families; the threshold for taking children into care is also often too low.

The children’s court advisory service, Cafcass, which looks after the interests of children involved in family proceedings and advises the courts on the best interests of individual children, has reported that care applications are at record level.

Apparently sharing Sabine’s concern, Cafcass chief executive, Anthony Douglas, has been quoted in several sources as fearing that as social workers’ confidence has been so badly eroded by the Baby Peter case, they are simply removing children as a precaution, rather than exploring other solutions.

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