An investigation of legislation, services and provision involved in a selected case study

Case study three raises many issues including neglect, short-term foster care, long term depressive illness, siblings, separation from them, and ethnicity. I will also be looking into social services and the rights of the father. I will be discussing the legislation, services and provisions relating to the case study.

Foster care is a main issue in the case study, more specifically short-term foster care. Local authorities, voluntary and independent agencies that are providing foster care should use the national Standards to audit their service. A statement of values and principles which complies with the UN Convention on the Rights of the child and UK child care legislation informs the National Standards. The key objectives of the National Standards are to give the children better outcomes in life that is cared for outside of there home. To underpin the provision of good quality foster care for the children. Also the foster carers will be assessed to ensure that the standard of services are being met and to devise strategies to improve services in any area that is not of a good standard. From 2001 police checks on people over the age of ten will take place in foster care.

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Sam is in short-term foster care. Short-term foster care is for children whose parents haven’t signed the release forms for the child to be adopted. The aim of short term fostering is to return the child/young people to their own family as soon as possible. It can last from a few weeks to several months. While the child is in short term foster care the family and their social worker may resolve any problems so they are able to return home. However sometimes the court decides that the child cannot return home and therefore must stay in short term foster care until other arrangements are being met.

As Sam becomes older problems may arise, as there may be less chance of him being fostered. As Sam reaches the age of sixteen he is legally allowed to leave his foster home, however those that do leave at such an early stage in their life suffer from difficulties of poverty, isolation and depression. (Stein and Carey 1986; Garnet 1992;biehal et al. 1995).

Teenagers should have three main factors from their carers. (Triseliotis et al.1995). They should have a feeling of belonging and trust e.g. feeling part of the family. They should have autonomy e.g. to suit themselves when they come in and when they leave. Carers should also aid in helping them to change if there are any problems, e.g. return to school or bring the children off drugs.

Neglect otherwise known, as ‘omission’ was the reason into which Sam was taken into care. This is defined as adults who fail to meet the basic needs of the child, such as food, warm clothing, being left alone, lack of medical care and so on. Sometimes the adults can fail to give their children love and affection, this is known as emotional abuse.

Child Protection. What is Child Abuse? Handout

If neglect effecting a child’s then an Emergency Protection Order from section 44 of the Children Act 1989 can take place. This is where in situations of a crisis where a child needs immediate protection, under Section 44 social services can take the role of the parent for the duration time of the order, which 8 days, however can be expanded to 15 days.

Section 46 of the Children’s Act 1989 states that if children are likely to suffer harm, the child may be removed or steps taken to ensure that they are in a safe place. Voluntary societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children were established in New York, London and Glasgow. Legislation was passed which gave penalties for ill treatment and authorised removal of children as a result of it. (Heywood 1979; Hill et al.1991; Hendrick 1994)

Thorpe (1995) stated that child abuse should not be applied to neglect cases involving impoverished and stressed parents. The signs to look out for neglect are the growth and development of the child. I.e. is the child too small for their age. The general appearance of the child, for example, does the child have ill fitting clothes. Eating problems such as the child always been hungry, relationships with parents such as the child been frightened of the parent. There are also other factors such as bruising in strange places that would not usually occur with a fall such as on the upper arm or the ear lobe, the child suddenly becoming aggressive or withdrawn or wetting the bed. However the most important factor is the child’s own statement. A child would hardly lie about abuse.

The police, social services and NSPCC have the power to intervene in family life, however should not do so unless there is clear evidence of harm or possible harm to the child. The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 restates the common law power of the police to enter and search any premises for the purpose of saving ‘life or limb’.

Over the last 30 years Britain consists of arrangements and agencies that help with suspected family abuse. Law gives local authorities the primary role for taking action, however they should be in close contact with the health profession and other professionals.

Article 19, The Convention on the Rights of the Child says “State parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent (s), legal guardian (s) or any other person who has care of the child.”

Sam’s mother is suffering from a long-term depressive illness. The World Health Organisation refers to health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” (Downie et al. 1990). His mother’s long-term depressive illness could relate to Sam’s neglect. Poverty may be an issue arising from this. In the case study there is no mention of Sam’s biological father, therefore his mother may have been finding it hard to work and look after Sam at the same time.

Poverty produces stress and which causes frustration and then leads onto violence or in Sam’s case neglect. (Browne 1995). Poor families are also less able to pay for support such as a child minder. Major depression can cause severe effects on physical and social functioning. Unfortunately according to the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research depression is under diagnosed and under treated by primary care and other non-mental health practitioners. McGrath et al., 1990 stated that high levels of depressive symptoms are most common among those with lower socioeconomic status. Also those who are undereducated and unemployed are at a higher risk of depression.

In the case study it does not state the ethnicity of Sam’s mother. Women of colour are more likely than Caucasian women to suffer from depression due to factors such as racial/ethnic, discrimination, poor health, larger family sizes and single parenthood. Women’s risk of depressive symptoms is of a higher level with mothers of young children and increases with the number of children in the house.

NCH is one of the most UK’s leading charities. More than 480 projects are worked on with over 98,000 vulnerable children, young people and their families to ensure that they reach their full potential.

There are a wide variety of contributors from all relevant agencies towards helping families and children this enables cover for the social, medical and developmental factors of the family. In Sam’s mother’s case a social worker may undertake the assessment. They may take information from those who know her to devise a written plan. This may include working with the parents and families together, support for the family at a family centre, weight and health checks for the child and reports on the child’s progress.

Under the UN Convention it states the carers of the children must have primary responsibility to provide the children with an adequate standard of living. States have a duty to assist parents in giving their children a good standard of living. This support can either be materialistic or through support programmes. (Article 27 (1)). Previously support and services that are available is linked to the near removal of the child from the home or having to appear in court. Now more help is offered so those problems can be stopped at an earlier stage. Burden, T. (1998) Social Policy And Welfare Pluto Press. London

Issues arise about Sam’s race and ethnicity. He is of mixed race and identifies himself as Black British. The review of revenue grants distribution group formula review sub-group looks into foster care costs and ethnicity. An executive summary is written on the issue. The paper focuses on the current foster care adjustment (FCA) within the children’s Personal Social Services Standard Spending Assessment (SSA). It looks at fostering ethnic minority groups and the increase in costs that is experienced. Extra cost can occur through children been provided with food in regard to their cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds.

Expectations of clothing, personal requisites are supported due to cultural, ethnic and religious expectations. Also the home to be decorated in accordance to their cultural and ethnic background. Although their may not be extra cost for these items individually, there is a cost to the authority as a need to meet these standards reduces the supply of suitable foster carers for ethnic minority children. The Children In Need survey shows that the population of ethnic minority groups in care is 16%-18%, which is higher than the ethnic minority group population of 9%-11%.

There is a shortage of ethnic minority adopters, therefore results in a limitation of options for children out of care. A reduction in suitable carers could be due to ethnic minority groups having additional needs that the local authorities have to provide for. There have been a number of publications that illustrated the fact that there is an additional need of foster care for ethnic minority children. It was discovered that the local authorities did not meet these needs. This could be a reason in which Sam did not stay in his foster care for a long period of time. The Social Services Inspectorate Report “Fostering for the Future” stated “Worryingly, most of the councils, with one notable exception, were not recruiting sufficient numbers of carers from black and minority ethnic communities”.

White paper, “Adoption: A New Approach”, DoH, December 2002 looked at much of the available literature on looked after children. Part of it’s summary showed that the adoption rates of white and non-white children showed a big difference. 17% of children in care being from an ethnic minority group but only 10% of these children were adopted.

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