Monday, November 9, 2009

Birmingham Learning Disabled Parents Losing Children to Insufficient Children's Services

"Parents losing children in 'loaded system'
By Nick Lawrence
BBC Inside Out, Birmingham "

"Against a background of prejudice and out-of-date assessments, six out of 10 parents with learning disabilities are having their children removed for adoption, research by Bristol University suggests.

In Birmingham, where children's services were described as 'not fit for purpose' in a government report, social workers have told the BBC the system is loaded against the learning disabled who are more likely to lose their children than keep them.
A whistleblower in Birmingham City Council's social services department said: We frequently remove children from young mothers who continue to have children.' ...

Anna Marriott, a researcher at the Nora Fry institute based at Bristol University, said the system discriminated against the learning disabled.

She told the BBC: "Rather than looking for any actual evidence of problems with parents coping, (social workers) just assume the parent won't be able to cope.
'And rather than looking to put a support plan in place, they'll look to initiate child protection proceedings.' ...

Christine Spooner had two children removed from her care and placed for adoption by Birmingham Children's Services.
At the time her condition, Aspergers syndrome, had not been diagnosed.

She said: 'They didn't understand the person I was. They just seemed to look at the weakest parts, what I couldn't do. They didn't even try and think about what I could do'.

Support for learning disabled parents is available through organisations such as Citizen Advocacy South Birmingham (CASBA).

Specialist workers help to guide learning disabled parents through a complex legal process which can be emotionally draining.

CASBA serves the whole of South Birmingham but is staffed for only 58 hours per week.
Vice chair Sior Coleman said: "The harsh reality is that we don't have enough money.
'There is an understanding from the authorities that it's an important service, but it's seen as a luxury - as an add-on.'"


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