Are Family Law Judges Fit For Purpose?

My answer is No!!!

Researching Reform

One of Researching Reform’s interests is judicial bias – the extent to which judges allow their personal sentiments to dictate the way they handle their cases – so the recent furore over Justice Pauffley’s remarks about hitting children and cultural norms fascinated us.

Judicial bias is a very real, and present problem. All of us are prone to bias, and research suggests that even judges are not immune, regardless of how bright or how well educated.

Last year, one of our favourite judges, Baroness Hale, observed that judges lead sheltered lives and that this could in turn jeopardise their ability to adjudicate impartially, and with the necessary kind of life experience.

Justice Pauffley’s remarks, in which she told the court that foreign families who hit their children should be made allowances for due to cultural norms, seem odd given that hitting a child is still not illegal, and…

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Pre-Birth Endemic on First Time Mothers

Imagine finding out you are pregnant for the first time, the emotions you feel, scared, excited, curious, wander. Two weeks later just as you are sort of getting your head round the news you have a phone call or a knock on the door, it’s social services, they know you are pregnant, they want to assess you to undertake a pre-birth assessment, your emotions change at that instant;

scared becomes petrified

excitement becomes dread

curiousness becomes doubt

and wander becomes fright at what might be

So Social Services want to assess, more than likely a young, petrified hormonal pregnant female who is now full of doubt and dread, fair? I think not.

So what does a pre-birth assessment entail?

It includes a social worker asking questions (some see this as interrogating, to which from my own experience cannot say is an over exaggeration) to a young woman who has had no previous children, has probably little or no experience on how she deals with certain tasks of looking after a baby.

Now for the most part from my own experience, its easy to answer with a bit of common sense and maybe a little bit of help from the work done on child development. However that is my own experience. I passed my pre-birth assessment with flying colours and with nothing but a referral to a Children’s Centre my case was deemed closed.

So what the assessment is based up on in your mental knowledge of child care, how can this be the basis of an assessment when you have no previous experience of having your own child.To me this is but a pointless and worthless exercise which does nothing but puts stress and strain on the mother during pregnancy.

My own experience led to me being unable to bond with the small miracle growing inside of me because I was petrified of losing her at birth. They never made it clear to me why they were doing the assessment and only told me a few days before I gave birth that they were supposedly closing the case, it later transpired they never did, instead they turned up to the hospital the day after I gave birth but were sent away as I was in no fit state to see them after spending the early hours in theater.

Imagine being one of these mothers that have to endure this. No drink problems, no drug problems, no criminal record, no other reasons for concerns, other than you were awaiting to be housed but yet being told you have to be assessed, reason given because you were in care as a child!!!

S

What is your perception of Children in Care and Care Leavers?

In my lifetime I have heard so much about the perception of the public about children in care and care leavers, some of which are actually hard to believe but they are common perceptions. The media do not help either.

Some of the more ludicrous perceptions I have heard include;

“Children in care are there because of their own fault”

“Children in care and care leavers are all delinquents”

“They are third class citizens”

“I would never employ a care leaver”

These perceptions are hard to digest but this is the views of not just one or two people. We are all to aware of the negativity of the press, when someone who has been in care does something negative the media never fail to mention that they have been in care. But when it comes to the figures that have been released in relation to care leavers it is easy to understand where these perceptions stem from.

Joe Bloggs from the general public does not know and is unaware of people who have been in care and are now famous people who have made successes of their lives, many are idols to millions of people. Just to name but a few;

Marilyn Munroe

Mike Tyson

Eddie Murphy

Catherine Cookson

Kriss Akabusi

A fuller list can be found here http://www.thewhocarestrust.org.uk/news.php/119/list-of-famous-care-leavers-helps-dispel-negative-stereotypes

What these people have achieved is by no means an easy feat especially when the odds are stacked up against care leavers, the figures say enough to me to show we are failing children in care leavers.

Figures obtained from the Who Cares Trust at http://www.thewhocarestrust.org.uk/pages/the-statistics.html

Care Leavers are more likely to have problems with crime, drugs and mental health than their peers.

  • When they leave primary school, 43% of children in care will have reached the national curriculum test level expected for their age – compared with 74% of all children.
  • Almost one third of children in care leave school with no GCSEs or vocational tests like GNVQs.
  • Only 13.2% of children in care obtain five good GCSEs – compared with 57.9% of all children.1
  • Only 6% of care leavers go to university – compared with 38% of all young people.2
  • One third of care leavers are not in education, employment or training – compared with 13% of all young people.3
  • More than one in 10 children had three or more placements in 2010. 4
  • 23% of the adult prison population has been in care and almost 40% of prisoners under 21 were in care as children (only 2% of the general population spend time in prison).
  • A quarter of young women leaving care are pregnant or already mothers, and nearly half become mothers by the age of 24.5

http://www.education.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/SFR/s000930/sfr08-2010.pdf

http://www.education.gov.uk/researchandstatistics/datasets/a00196857/children-looked-after-by-las-in-england

http://www.education.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/SFR/s000960/sfr27-2010v2.pdf

4 http://www.education.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/SFR/s000960/sfr27-2010v2.pdf

http://www.communitycare.co.uk/Articles/2008/01/23/107036/teenage-pregnancies-among-children-in-care-research.htm

The figures currently provided currently come from information about other parts of the system, there have been no information collated based purely on the outcomes of all Care Leavers, although this is currently being undertaken by the National Audit Office,

http://www.nao.org.uk/work-in-progress/care-leavers-transitions-to-adulthood-2/

These figures show that there can be a negative affect on a person’s whole life, compared to children who live at home with their parents, these figures do not add up to the system’s claim that it provides a better chance for children, being in care not only affects a person’s childhood but impacts on their whole lives. We need to change the outcomes  for children in the system before we can even think of trying to change the public’s general perception.

Finding your feet in the world

It has taken me a long time to piece together my life, and the person I am today. I think I may have finally found a purpose and my place in the world.This is by no means an easy feat for anyone, not least for care leavers.

I have spent the last decade trying to pull myself through some very hard, difficult and trying times, there have been days in my life when I had all but given up hope.

After being in the care system for over 10 years I found myself thrown out on the other side with little or no understanding of life and in particular my own life. Over the past five/six years I have finally found out why I ended up in they system and why I had found adult life so difficult to become accustom to.

I am now in a different town to where I was brought up and away from all the people I have known all my life, family and friends included. I do not regret moving, it was something I had to do to be able to find myself as a person and to deal with what has happened.

I think that although I still have a very long way to go I have finally found my feet in the world.

So much passion and drive

Well its been 5 crazy days since the conference and everyone is still hard at it pushing and discussing the next steps from the conference, to say the least the passion and drive of the people who attended the conference is immense. I don’t think some of the people involved sleep anymore!!!

We have so much to do and so much to say, the conference for next year is already in the planning stages and we already have the hash-tag #CPConf2016. If you haven’t already see what happened at the conference on 1st June 2015, check out #CPConf 2015 on twitter.

I am excited to see what comes of the next 12 months, which seems a longtime from now. I would be happy to help in anyway that I can and am trying to do my own little bit. I am meeting with a few VIP in the next 2 week. I will be keeping everyone up to speed on the development of my own stuff and would love to hear of the progress of others.

Multi-Disciplinary Child Protection Conference

Never in my life did I think it could be achieved, I had tried but failed on numerous occasions, but Monday 1st June 2015 was a monumentous day, We had a conference with every single side of the system sat in the same room all wanting the same thing, all singing from the same hymn sheet, we all wanted to change the child protection system for the better.

Everyone was apprehensive and nervous at the start as we did not know how the day would go but it could not have gone better, the information and the speeches people gave were absolutely amazing and showed how much we are all wanting the same thing.

I could write and write about this conference but you did have to be there to see how amazing it was, however you can get a taster for yourself, look up #CPConf2015 and @seethrujustice on twitter.

There will be many amazing things to follow on from the conference and I will be keeping this blog up to date with the progress of these. Please do follow us and get involved in making the Child Protection system a system which people can trust and believe in, one that is a true child protection system.