Policy on failed applicants blamed as councils take babies into
care Newborn babies are being taken into care as a result of a
government policy that makes their failed asylum-seeking parents
destitute, it was alleged this week.
Midwives say infants are being removed because families whose
claims have failed are denied benefits and help if they fail to
take up a government offer to voluntarily return home.
Under the policy, children are being removed by social services
because their parents do not have the money to look after them.
Community midwife June Walker said that she had worked with a
woman whose asylum claim failed and who had her baby, which was
born in Lewisham Hospital, south east London, removed and placed in
foster care after she was found to be living in squalid
Charity Maternity Alliance told Community Care sister title 0-19
that it was aware of midwives who have dealt with several cases
where mothers have had their babies taken away at birth and placed
in foster care.
Only single adult asylum seekers were affected by the policy
until last December when it was extended to about 120 families
under section nine of the Asylum and Immigration Act 2004.
It is being piloted for this group in north west England and
several London boroughs before being rolled out nationally.
Outrage greeted the announcement of the policy last spring. But
immigration minister Des Browne said that he was “satisfied that
the purpose of the Asylum and Immigration Act 2004 is not to take
children away from their parents”.
British Association of Social Workers director Ian Johnston said
the cases “confirm our worst fears” about the policy.
A spokesperson for Lewisham Council said that it was not the
authority’s policy to receive children into care on the grounds
that their parents had been made destitute through the Act and, to
the council’s knowledge, they had not done so.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “The policy is not designed to
make families destitute and we do not believe in practice that
many, if any, parents would put their children in this position. It
is designed to act as an incentive to return voluntarily before
removal is enforced.”