A social worker has been praised by a judge for devoting hours to a family and providing “reliable and persuasive” evidence in care proceedings.
Judge Hess “wholly agreed” with the social worker’s assessment that three out of the four children should not remain in the care of their birth parents.
“She has plainly devoted many hours of her time in the last year to this family and I am satisfied that she has not in any way prejudged them and that she has given proper and full attention to the case,” Hess said.
The care proceedings involved four children. The local authority and parents agreed the eldest child should be placed in a residential home and school, but wanted their other three children returned to their care with support from the council.
Children’s services had a 10-year history of work with the family, and the judge said “it is in one sense remarkable that no proceedings were brought before this year”.
The local authority alleged the parents had not displayed insight into their child’s emotional needs, and that two of the children had displayed violent behaviour towards siblings, peers, parents and other individuals, leaving the children at risk.
Hess accepted the allegations, and said while the mother was “plainly a loving and caring person” she had limitations as a result of a childhood accident that left her with physical and mental impairments and frailties. The father was also found to be an unreliable witness.
Under cross examination, the parents had little knowledge or interest in serious incidents involving one of the children at school, where he had bitten teachers and been excluded, he said.
‘Absence of concern’
“I was struck by their neutral absence of concern as to what had happened or interest in doing anything to sort it out, despite the various serious significance of these events. This was a stark illustration of two parents simply not equipped to provide proper care or boundaries for their children” The three youngest children had all improved since moving into foster care and the child whose behaviour was of most concern before care had “radically changed” as a result of it.
“The fact is that over many years [the parents] have failed to [meet the children’s physical, emotional and other needs] and there is nothing in the course of the evidence that has shown me that there is any likelihood that they have changed to get to a position where they are likely to be able to bring this about. I agree with the social worker and the guardian that to send them back to their parents at this stage would be involving a serious risk of regression,” Hess said.
The judge made full care orders for all of the children in the case, and agreed with the local authority plan for there to be contact between them and their parents seven times a year.