As children’s minister Edward Timpson today introduces the Children and Families Bill to parliament, BASW issues a reminder to government that social workers need more help to keep families together, and that an obsessive focus on adoption is not the cure to all of society’s ills.
Commenting on the Bill, which includes measures to set a 26-week deadline on care cases, and a range of measures aimed at “speeding up” adoption already outlined in An Action Plan for Adoption: Tackling Delay, BASW professional officer Nushra Mansuri said:
“The government is putting all its focus on adoption – taking children into care and speeding those processes up – yet seemingly gives no thought to helping to keep families together, or addressing the underlying causes of parental failure.
"Adoption is and always will be a valid option in some cases for offering young children a safe permanent home in which to grow up but it is not a universal remedy for every situation.
“The current ministerial obsession with the subject suggests a refusal to confront the difficulties associated with what social workers do best when properly empowered – supporting families in times of severe need and trying to transform lives.
"It isn't always possible to keep families together but continuing cuts to services designed to support families under severe economic pressures are only exacerbating the likelihood of children entering care.
"The government's solution at this stage is to press for speedy adoptions, yet without more resources the consequences include rushed assessments, the risk of unsuitable adopters entering the system, reduced scope for post adoption support and an increased likelihood of the worst possible outcome – adoption breakdowns.
"The complex subjects of family breakdown and child protection require prolonged and sophisticated work, not the sort of glib, simplistic and ideological approach we have seen over the past two years."