Monday, January 30, 2012

Protecting Our Children: BBC Two 9pm tonight

Social worker Louise takes a call

Just a quick heads-up for an important new 3-part BBC documentary series on child protection, commencing at 9pm tonight on BBC Two and BBC HD. Created with the help of the Open University, Protecting Our Children "follows Bristol's child protection teams over the course of a year [or 18 months, according to the OU] to see frontline work first-hand".

The BBC were offered special access to film the series, through a protocol drawn up with Bristol Council and ratified by the family court. The Head of Bristol Children's Services has indicated that the Council agreed to the series out of a belief that there needs to be more accurate reporting of the challenges social workers face and what they do in practice, as was the case when Bristol agreed to the 2004 BBC series Someone to Watch Over Me, and that need is perhaps even greater post-Baby P. Whether the series does improve the public understanding of social work will of course remain to be seen, but it is encouraging that the OU describes tonight's first episode as "an unbiased observational film where we get to understand both the professionals’ and parents’ points of view both revolving around [the child] and his future welfare".

You can read more about the series here.

19 comments:

  1. Having watched tonight's programme I felt for the poor girl who basically never really stood a chance having no guidance in life from her parents she obviously got into a abusive relationship and seemed to be in a deep state of depression she needed help the medication for this was too late she had her only bit of love taken away from her the one who needed removing in my eyes was the useless piece of a boyfriend who dragged her down to his level it's easy to sit and criticise because she obviously was frightened of this man but she looked like she was in such deep depression she needed help to see the light and get rid of him surely social workers should have similar rights to sometimes get injuctions on men / women partners who they can see are the cause that woman just needed lots of medical help and parent skills and I'm sure she could have kept her little boy but given her the ultimatum she does it alone they could have still re housed and kept a track on her it was very sad to watch I have suffered with my health over the years and had five children

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for that. Social workers can't directly interfere in the relationship of two adults, but the mother could of course seek an injunction herself.

      Delete
  2. after watching this it was clear that both these parents had quite severe learning difficulties. It was clear that the child needed far better care, but to me it was also clear that the two social workers involved were resolved to removing this child from the beginning. Surely merely giving instructions to people who are clearly inadequate and hadnt got a clue how to improve the situation should have been provided with practical help, support and guidance and given parenting classes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No they don't have serious learning difficulties, their difficulties are mild to moderate. If Mike had been more compliant and Tiffany less in thrall to him, things may have worked out. There are many families in the UK like them who manage very well.

      Delete
    2. I do not agree, I think from the onset it was clear they DID have learning difficulties, they both reported they themselves had not spoken until approx 6 years old and had clearly both been neglectewd themselves as young children, what chance do people stand without help and training .
      They are of low intelligence and throughout meetings seemed lost and out of their depth

      Delete
    3. I agree that they both appear to have difficulties with which they should be supported with parenting classes & so on. I would also suggest that Mike has Asperger's, or another form of autism. He showed several signs of this in his eye contact as well as putting his finger in his ear when the police car drove past. Then later when the guy was watching them play in the office, Mike seemed at a loss as to how to interact with his son. He tried for a while, but soon appeared more interested in the toy than his son did. It's a shame this guy disappeared, he clearly needs support.

      Delete
  3. These 2 pathetic lost parents needed support and guidance, they both clearly had received no adequate parenting when they were children,they were clueless that they were doing anything wrong and Mike in particular had attitude. The social workers had no time for him. He played into their hands. I completely sympathize that Toby needed far better care. Where was the training for these parents, the parenting classes, the practical help and guidance. I completely agree with the comment that you cannot merely give instructions - these people were inadequate with learning disabilities and were let down by social workers

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. there was mention of a support worker, i think? but yes i agree with you

      Delete
  4. They were clearly told what needed to be done, but whether they were given practical guidance was not made clear, save that the mother did say that her support worker was helping her get her parenting skills up to where they should be, although that was after the interim care order had been made. It may be that social services did offer guidance and support - inevitably, a film such as this only gives a very brief picture of events over a long period.

    ReplyDelete
  5. however telling people who have no concept of parenting skills in the first place surely is niot good enough, they needed someone to work with them for a period of time in the home, training them and giving support. These people were clearly inadequate, could see no wrong in what they were doing and needed pointing in the right direction, the father,s hostile attitude admittedly did not help, but social workers should be trained to deal with this and show they are trying to help, he clearly felt threaatened.

    ReplyDelete
  6. No it was never made clear if the parents had a learning disability, although I suspect very strongly that Mike did. The support referred to, I would probably have been given in relation to the child rather than the parent. If the parents had a learning disability, given that a mild learning disability is someone who has an IQ of 70 or below, then they would have been entitled themselves to assessment and support from a Learning Disability Team. Often finding the right support for parents and the funding of that support is difficult. I felt very emotional after watching last nights programme, seeing a Mother who clearly loved her children having no other option than to give them up, would it be a better life for them? Having worked as a social worker for 20 years in Learning Disability services I'm forced to conclude maybe for the baby but as for Toby I don't think so. Why is it not possible to divert some of the money spent on fostering and adoption to look at models of care which aren't so emotionally damaging to the child and parent?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for that. Interesting (but not surprising) to read what you say about finding funding for the right support.

      As to your question, I don't know the answer, but (apart, obviously, from the issue of risk) funding may again be an issue. Even if such models were no more expensive than fostering and adoption, there is always the high chance that things will not work out and the child will still have to be taken into care, in which case those holding the purse strings may view the expenditure as wasted.

      Delete
    2. This confirms the theory that social work is now run as a business rather than being a caring profession with dedicated social workers. My father was a social worker many years ago, there was no 'out of hours' he would be called out day or night and be there for the child when necessary. Families were treated with respect and care rather than being patronizing as the two social workers were to Tiffany and Mike, but particularly unfeeling towards Mike, I agree he probably has autism but this was not picked up on. My father would be turning in his grave if he could see how social work is carried out these days

      Delete
    3. Antoher issue is that support services are fragmented, so it is often very difficult to get consistent, focused support. As some things will be 'bought in' the Local Authority has much less control - I can think of a case I dealt with where it was agreed that some practical support with basic hosuework was needed - the need was for someone who could assist mum so she could learn from watching and doing. Unfortunately this was something which had been privatised/contracted out. It took weeks to get it in place, and when it was, the workers were often unreliable, turning up late, on the wrong day, and with a different erson coming each time.
      We get similar problems where housing is an issue (either becasue the hosuign is itself sub-standard, or becaue there are issues regarding harassment from neighbours or an ex partner which are adding to the problems)Because the Local Authorit no loger controls housing, the family Social Worker cannot simply speak to the housing team and address the issues, at most they can write letters supporting applications for a move, try to arrange for a Social Worker to support the parent in any meetings with Housing, etc.

      My experience of Social Workers is that the vast majority of them are genuinely trying to help and support the families they work with. Unfortunately, they are often gong to be in the position of going over the same ground, time and time again with a parent, without seeing any change. I thought that the junior social worker came across as a bit awkward in dealing with Mike, but I didn't see her as patronising or unfeeling.

      Delete
    4. Interesting - thanks again.

      Yes, I'm sure most social workers are genuinely trying to help. I certainly wouldn't want to criticise the junior social worker, but if Bristol agreed to the programmes as a way of improving the image of social workers, it would be sad and ironic if the programmes have the opposite effect.

      Delete
  7. Social services have condemmed Toby to a life in care as it is highly unlikely he will be adopted, potential adopters are rare to come forward for a child with a disability. Tiffany was a poor lost soul who was crying out for help to be able to look after her children, but I suspect pressure was put on her to give her children up so they would have a better life.Mike definitely was a damaged angry at the world person probably due to his childhood and lack of help when he was younger but he really seemed unable to recognise that his parenting was of an extremely low standard. I agree it is more than probable he had a learning disability however I think social services handled this case badly.

    ReplyDelete
  8. the case tonight was doomed from the start it was all very messy, and was never going to have a happy ending. Both parents had an addiction which did not seem to be addressed.
    However in general the social worker seemed more genuinely interested and seemed less patronizing than the two last week. There was more genunine reason to be concerned for the safety of the child.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Most of the comments are focused on the parents and their feelings about the children taken away. Sometimes, no matter how much support/funding that is used to help parents with issues/problems is not always enough. If the children had not been taken away and she had been supported for a sustained period of time, there is still the possiblity of the children being abused/negelected by her or another toxic boyfriend that she finds herself in a relationship with.

    All of the comments on this page would be vastly different if Toby or the newborn had died as a result of being left in her care. Social services would be face with a montage of abuse as usual.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Quite. As the episode title said: "Damned if you do..."

      Delete

Thank you for taking the time to comment on this post. Constructive comments are always welcome, even if they do not coincide with my views! Please note, however, that comments will be removed or not published if I consider that:
* They are not relevant to the subject of this post; or
* They are (or are possibly) defamatory; or
* They breach court reporting rules; or
* They contain derogatory, abusive or threatening language; or
* They contain 'spam' advertisements (including links to any commercial websites).
Please also note that I am unable to give advice.