Preventive services are vital for families

For 15 years I and my family have been befriended and supported by the human-rights based anti-poverty organisation ATD Fourth World. I am now a member of the organisation’s monthly policy forums. Most of the participating adults were in care as children and many have had their own children placed in care.  They have a lot of knowledge that is typically never recognised or valued.

Parents often tell us they have repeatedly asked for help and been refused until a crisis occurs, when there is a child protection intervention. They have also been saying for some time that preventive services are getting harder and harder to access and support is very limited. Parents of younger children feel scared to ask for help as their children are very “adoptable” and they are aware social services have targets to achieve. Families feel the poorer they are the more chance they have of losing their children into care and the less chance of getting them back.  Perhaps now that the professionals are saying the same things, credence will be given to the views of these parents.

It is time the government took a long-term overview of the value of preventive social work done in partnership with the families. It may cost money but it could also save on the cost of paying foster carers, and other in-care services and would improve care leavers’ low educational achievement and a whole host of related problems.

All of these have life-long cost implications but this is nothing compared to the human and emotional cost paid by parents and children when a child is placed in care.
Moraene Roberts, family member, ATD Fourth World

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