Family judge warns on split in services

The splitting of adult and children’s services could lead to more children of parents with learning difficulties being taken into care, a senior judge has warned.

David Hamilton, a designated family judge for Birmingham, told a conference in the city last week there was a danger that the reorganisation could lead to less co-operation between social workers across children’s and adults’ teams.

He urged social workers who appear in court seeking care orders to ensure that the council speaks with a single voice. He said that sometimes departments from the same council came to court divided about what to do.

“When there is disagreement I order the director of the other department to come and give oral evidence,” he told the conference organised by Independent Social Work Associates. “The wonderful thing is I never get to meet them – the problem is always solved.”

He also said he often felt uneasy when dealing with care proceedings involving parents with learning difficulties because they did not appear to be receiving adequate support from social services.

His comments came just days after a damning report on the experiences of parents with learning difficulties in the care system (Children removed from parents who fail to qualify for support, says study , 11 May).

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