Beth Greene hopes we can look again at the Named Person provisions in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act.
I’m keen to see how much discussion the Named Person Bill gets at Scottish Conference.
Though supported by some child agencies, the bill is condemned by others and also Police Scotland. Named Person was announced at a time when the Scottish Government were discussing plans to “tackle child poverty”; that in itself gives rise to concerns about what areas of society the bill will have most impact on. The frightening thing is, many Scottish families are still unaware of what named person actually is, what it can do and that their child/children may well already have an appointed Named Person.
The Scottish social work system is failing children and ripping families apart, taking children into care for the most absurd reasons. When smaller children are removed and later returned it can have dramatic effect on parent child bonding.
There’s a substantial number of babies who have been removed from their families in Scotland, passed from pillar to post sometimes going to four or more foster homes before they reach the age of one year. If social workers get it so badly wrong what will happen with Named Persons?
Many children placed at risk come from families where one or both parents is suffering depression or some other mental health problem usually caused by low wages, unemployment, poor housing etc. Allegedly 10 babies under the age of three months were taken from mothers in one particular mother and baby unit within the space of one month. Four of the babies were reportedly returned to their family within a couple of weeks. Many claim the drop in kinship care awards is down to factors such as bedroom tax and unemployment/low income. Families have requested kinship care and been rejected without valid reasons.
A head of a social work department commented “we are acting in response to public regarding baby P and Calb Ness.” Social workers are now overzealous, not least because of the tragedies but also because their workload now consists of more paperwork than hands-on work. The Scottish Government see Named Person as the solution appointing teachers, health visitors, nursery nurses and anyone else within the spectrum to “observe” the children and families reporting back to social workers.
The issue is none of them get to know the whole story or the complete ins and outs of the families they sit in judgement on. The fact is it is the working class families, the unemployed families and last but not least disabled parents who are most likely to have their children removed. Successful middle class families rarely become the focal point of social work interest yet some of the most disturbed adults have emerged from such backgrounds.
According to Scottish Government statistics updated in March 2015 some 17,000 plus children were in care with a 3% decrease of children looked after by kinship carers. There was an increase of 9% of children on the child protection register.
Rather than tackle the issue of child poverty it would appear the solution is to remove children. This ‘Big Brother’ attitude is not dissimilar from the days when children were taken from poor or struggling families and sent to Canada and elsewhere. Everyone it seems is missing the bigger picture. Long-term emotional affects on fostered and adopted children taken from loving albeit struggling families, and what lasting impact is there on the older children robbed of their younger siblings?
If appointing a Named Person not only safeguarded children but ensured they have the right support to remain within the family then it just might be a viable thing, but that’s not the case. The alarming increase of children in care doesn’t reflect the number considered ‘at risk’. The cost of undertaking Named Person is confounding, money and resources that could and should be spent making families better stronger and more secure. I personally see Named Person as a threat to the very fabric of our communities, an insult to all the loving attentive families out there and an attack on the working class.
6 thoughts on “Named persons is an attack on the working class”
“Our pledge to the children and young people of Scotland who are at risk of abuse or neglect is that you will:
get the help you need when you need it;
be seen by a professional such as a teacher, doctor or social worker to make sure you are alright and not put at more risk;
be listened to seriously, and professionals will use their power to help you;
be able to discuss issues in private when, and if, you want to;
be involved with, and helped to understand, decisions made about your life; and
have a named person to help you. ”
That’s an excerpt from Protecting Children and Young People: A Charter, which was produced by the Scottish Parliament in 2004.
When Labour were in charge.
The function of the named person, whose help does not need to be accepted, is to provide a guide through the beaurocracy that can surround social services. It’s less likely to be needed by the middle classes, who are more inclined to know how to navigate the system. To present this as an attack on the working class beggars belief. Are you really do blinded by malice?
As a social worker of more than 30 years experience I am outraged by the caricature of social workers and child care practice that is portrayed in this article with nothing about where her information is sourced. My direct experience of the planning for children by social work and partner agencies is that there are careful assessments of the needs of children to inform the planning for these children. For many years social workers have been criticised for allowing planning for children to “drift”. Now planning is more efficient and effective so that children’s needs for long term security can be addressed more quickly, with a presumption that children are best placed at home or within their families if their needs can be met there and if they can be safe. None of what she has said has anything to do with the named person as social workers cannot be named persons. It displays a failure to understand social work practice ad a failure to understand the role of the named person and as a Labour Party member I very much hope that our policy will not be based on this kind of misinformation and misrepresentation. We should value our social work professionals who do a complex job to safeguard the needs of children in increasingly difficult circumstances.
The world described in this piece is not the one I live in day to day as a social worker.
Courts and children’s hearings and to an extent the law have less and less concept of children’s rights and the groundbreaking Scottish legal concept of the child’s welfare being paramount. Because of this it is getting harder to protect children and even harder to give them a secure future.
Poverty is a class issue but abuse and neglect is not. It is fair to say that poverty brings stresses that can lead to physical and mental health issues but that is all the more reason to have a multi-agency approach to support parents via health and other community services. Too often, pressure comes from other services for social work to ‘do something’ when support from those other services is what is needed.
But the sweeping unevidenced statements about ‘absurd’ reasons for children coming into care and babies routinely passing through lots of placements do this piece little justice. With the tight resources available to us I would like to hear the ‘absurd’ reasons for children coming into care. With the plethora of lawyers in the system and the leaning of children’s hearings and courts towards parents’ rights as opposed to children’s rights, the evidence tests for children to be accommodated are tighter than they have ever been.
I can, however, tell you many ‘absurd reasons’ why courts and panels think it is OK to delay a permanent future for kids even though they know they can’t go home. The uncertainty and lack of security for these children, sometimes through years of waiting, can deny them a lasting placement with even more insecurity and long term effects.
Of course we don’t have enough resources. We don’t have enough mental health services to support parents. We don’t have enough drug and alcohol services and domestic violence services to deal with probably the single biggest single group of reasons children come into care in the first place. But at the end of the day you have a child that you have to make a decision about protecting. A child who cannot wait for things to get better.
I don’t recognise the ‘denial’ of kinship either. In my world of social work, family is first. If parents can’t care safely, not only is extended family or friends the first option, it is required. I must look at kinship options, I must bring in family group meetings. And if those safeguards weren’t enough, the massive cuts faced by local government bring the basic pressure that kinship is cheaper!
But it is an area that needs looked at. Kinship payments were ill thought out and the criteria is not widely understood. If you are on benefits you gain much less from them than if you are in well paid employment. In both cases, you will get more money than the parent would have.
The answer to many of these problems has to lie in universal services like health, housing, education and of course decent welfare provision. Too often social work is left picking up the pieces, removing children from situations that might otherwise have been avoided. But the fact remains that the child needs to be protected. Demonising social work for that doesn’t help all the other arguments about the causes.
As far as the named person goes, there are positives in pulling together agencies at a much earlier stage to try to avoid crises. Alongside that there is a legitimate uneasiness about routine sharing of information beyond a ‘need to know’ and a debate needs to be had on that. This article contributes nothing to that debate.
Many thanks for informed comments. Readers may be interested to know that we have published a response to this piece from Michael Shanks. It’s available here:
I am a parent, not an invested social worker like the rest of the knee jerk comments here. I don’t want a Named Person (check the capitals BobDobbalina) allocated to my children. I don’t want my children’s senior teachers to have multiple hats, they are educationalists. I don’t want it “reported” to someone if my children miss a hospital appointment like we are parents in need of a scolding, or quick look over, because too many times letters notifying us of appointments have gone to the GP not the family.
I don’t want this endless professionalization of parenting, where we – the people who spend every moment of our days thinking about the care of our children – looked upon as people who are bound to trip up at some point, so the professionals need to be there to be better than us. I am fed up with the stifling nature of childhood in 2015. Do you know that the University of Glasgow are busy doing a research project to show that children’s brain development and learning is enhanced IF THEY PLAY IN NATURE!!!!! Have you ever heard of such a thing? That we need peer reviewed research to know that playing in the dirt, with sticks and leaves is actually a good thing!
This is how far we have fallen, down this road of constant supervision, and paranoia, and worry, and thinking that intelligent children can’t get themselves home from school, or go to the shop and fetch simple groceries. That everywhere lies danger, and that none more so than parents not able to pick up a phone to ask for help.
If there are parents who need support give it to them. There have been enough cases of children MURDERED by parents under the watchful eye of the State, children where concerns were raised. If there are parent who don’t need support, then for goodness sake LEAVE THEM ALONE!
And can I say to Kezia who made it clear that Scottish Labour under her leadership would support the Named Person intrusion, I respect you, I know that you love children and if you one day chose to be you will make an amazing mother of that I am sure. But until that day, DO NOT be so patronising as to claim that it is in children’s safety – my children’s safety – to have a Named Person. The day you hold your child in your hand you will appreciate the stupidity of ever thinking your child’s safety is not a parents’ number one priority.
If someone wants to fix something, try the Childrens’ Panel! Now THERE is a travesty of Justice!
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