Social Work Programs

March 4, 2012

Removing Kids From Home In The UK

Filed under: social workers and child removal — Tags: — admin @ 4:31 pm

social workers and kids When is it permissible to remove a child from its home in the UK? While the answer is unclear and clouded in actions that are carried out on a subjective basis, one case that highlights the pressures and decisions facing social workers is one illustrated by the social worker Ben Crang.

Workers like Ben are involved in almost 10,000 cases of children being removed from their home and placed into temporary or foster care while their previous situation is assessed, and it is determined what is to happen to the child in the meantime, as well as into the long term. Social workers and foster care issues can be an agonizing area. Work such as this almost exists in a no win situation; get it right and you save a child from harm but remove it from its home, get it wrong and the consequences are almost too hard to think about.

Ben Crang was involved in a situation that is, by his own admission “unconventional”, but illustrates the kind of time pressures that they work under. Having met the mother of the child less than an hour previously, Ben now found himself taking her child away. What led to this, and how could such a massive decision be made in such a short time?

The answers are, as always, desperately sad and chilling at the same time. The initial alarm was raised by a health worker who was concerned for the well being of a child living with his natural mother. The problem was that the mother was now living with a known abuser of children, and did so despite warnings from the police.

The involvement of the police in important because social workers do not have the power to simply remove a child but can, with their help, implement a police protection order.

In this instance, they agreed that there was no way that they could leave the child in situ. Ben had tried to reason with the child’s mother, but thought that alcohol was clouding her judgment, and the decision was made to remove the baby.

Key here was that belief that the mother was unable to protect the child from a known abuser, allowing him to change the child’s nappies on his own, with the foster team reporting that the child became upset later at change time.

Of course there are instances of removal going wrong, and later being proven so, with long term and sad consequences. It’s a desperately tough call. The role of pediatric social workers can be very difficult.

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