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Child Protection

Volume 527: debated on Tuesday 26 April 2011

The Petition of Jackie Goddard,

Declares that the Petitioner’s daughter T was removed from her care because of a burn and a number of incidents where her skin was inflamed. Initially the Petitioner could not explain the cause of these. However, it is now known that the burn was caused by the control panel on a heater which is now accepted by the manufacturers as being faulty. The Petitioner also received a new suite just before the inflammations were recognized. The lesions are also similar to those caused by Di-Methyl Fumerate, however, no test has been allowed to identify whether T exhibits such an allergic reaction.

When the Petitioner’s daughter was removed she was told her daughter would be going into foster care. Her father raised concerns that given that he was a justice of the peace and a registered child minder it would be surprising if he was rejected as a carer. The Petitioner also believes that the reason they took her younger daughter into care and left her older daughter was because the older daughter was of a darker colour and the objective was to satisfy adoption targets rather than protect her younger daughter. The younger daughter was, therefore, more “adoptable”.

The family believe that the medical evidence in this case should be reviewed as the courts decisions rely on information that has now been shown to be unreliable. The family also believes that this case demonstrates that Manchester Children’s Services have acted with a priority of achieving an adoption rather than a priority of protecting children.

The Petitioner therefore requests that the House of Commons urges the Government to take steps to reprioritise the child protection system to concentrate on protecting children and that the House of Commons institute a parliamentary inquiry into this case and the failure of the checks and balances involved.

And the Petitioner remains, etc.—[Presented by Chris Ruane, Official Report, 9 March 2011; Vol. 525, c. 5P.]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Education:

The Secretary of State for Education announced on 10 June 2010 an independent review of child protection in England. The review is being carried out by Professor Eileen Munro who is due to submit her final report at the end of this month.

The immense dedication and hard work of front-line professionals is an inspiration. But the system of child protection in our country is not working as well as it should be and needs to be reformed. We want social workers to be clear about their responsibilities and to be accountable in the way they protect children. They need to be in a position to make well-informed judgments, based on up-to-date evidence, in the best interests of children.

The Family Justice Review, which is sponsored jointly by the Ministry of Justice, the Department for Education and the Welsh Assembly Government and was established in March 2010, has been asked to consider radical reform of the current systems including the processes when local authorities apply to the courts to take children into care. Its Interim Report, issued on 31 March 2011, will form the basis for a wide-ranging public consultation lasting until late June. Its final recommendations are due to be put to Ministers in the autumn.

The Government are aware that there are a small number of contentious adoption cases, and is considering this matter. It has already strengthened the role of the Independent Reviewing Officer in relation to care planning and placement decisions including adoption.

The law is clear that local authorities cannot remove children from their parents’ care, unless this is with the parents’ consent, without first referring the matter to a court. They cannot place a child for adoption with prospective adopters without the birth parents’ consent, unless they have first obtained a placement order made by a court.

It would be for the House itself, rather than the Government, to initiate any inquiry of the kind proposed, subject to the House’s restrictions on debating matters which are the subject of active court proceedings.