beth greeneBeth Greene hopes we can look again at the Named Person provisions in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act.

 

I’m keen to see how much discussion the Named Person Bill gets at Scottish Conference.

Though supported by some child agencies, the bill is condemned by others and also Police Scotland. Named Person was announced at a time when the Scottish Government were discussing plans to “tackle child poverty”; that in itself gives rise to concerns about what areas of society the bill will have most impact on. The frightening thing is, many Scottish families are still unaware of what named person actually is, what it can do and that their child/children may well already have an appointed Named Person.

The Scottish social work system is failing children and ripping families apart, taking children into care for the most absurd reasons. When smaller children are removed and later returned it can have dramatic effect on parent child bonding.

There’s a substantial number of babies who have been removed from their families in Scotland, passed from pillar to post sometimes going to four or more foster homes before they reach the age of one year. If social workers get it so badly wrong what will happen with Named Persons?

Many children placed at risk come from families where one or both parents is suffering depression or some other mental health problem usually caused by low wages, unemployment, poor housing etc. Allegedly 10 babies under the age of three months were taken from mothers in one particular mother and baby unit within the space of one month. Four of the babies were reportedly returned to their family within a couple of weeks. Many claim the drop in kinship care awards is down to factors such as bedroom tax and unemployment/low income. Families have requested kinship care and been rejected without valid reasons.

A head of a social work department commented “we are acting in response to public regarding baby P and Calb Ness.” Social workers are now overzealous, not least because of the tragedies but also because their workload now consists of more paperwork than hands-on work. The Scottish Government see Named Person as the solution appointing teachers, health visitors, nursery nurses and anyone else within the spectrum to “observe” the children and families reporting back to social workers.

The issue is none of them get to know the whole story or the complete ins and outs of the families they sit in judgement on. The fact is it is the working class families, the unemployed families and last but not least disabled parents who are most likely to have their children removed. Successful middle class families rarely become the focal point of social work interest yet some of the most disturbed adults have emerged from such backgrounds.

According to Scottish Government statistics updated in March 2015 some 17,000 plus children were in care with a 3% decrease of children looked after by kinship carers. There was an increase of 9% of children on the child protection register.

Rather than tackle the issue of child poverty it would appear the solution is to remove children. This ‘Big Brother’ attitude is not dissimilar from the days when children were taken from poor or struggling families and sent to Canada and elsewhere. Everyone it seems is missing the bigger picture. Long-term emotional affects on fostered and adopted children taken from loving albeit struggling families, and what lasting impact is there on the older children robbed of their younger siblings?

If appointing a Named Person not only safeguarded children but ensured they have the right support to remain within the family then it just might be a viable thing, but that’s not the case. The alarming increase of children in care doesn’t reflect the number considered ‘at risk’. The cost of undertaking Named Person is confounding, money and resources that could and should be spent making families better stronger and more secure. I personally see Named Person as a threat to the very fabric of our communities, an insult to all the loving attentive families out there and an attack on the working class.