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Charity responds to Cafcass research

The Family Rights Group has responded to new research released by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass), which claims that local authorities are acting more quickly to process care applications.

Family Rights Group Chief Executive, Cathy Ashley, said:

“The removal of a child from their parents, is one of the most draconian steps the state can take. We know the care system is struggling to cope with record numbers, causing more children to be subject to multiple temporary moves and being split from their siblings.

“In some cases taking a child into care is the right action, reflecting the severity of abuse the child is at risk of suffering. But we know from research and the increasing number of calls to our advice service, that often families have been crying out for help before situations escalate, and that cuts to key early intervention and preventative services, such as refuge places for abused mothers, are putting more children at risk. Moreover, thresholds for intervention vary significantly between authorities and can reflect a culture of fear of blame and insecurity in some localities, since the death of Baby Peter Connelly.

“In many areas of the country, not enough is being done early on (through a family group conference, for example) to identify and assist wider family members such as older siblings and grandparents to take on the raising of children unable to live with their parents. More than 40% of English local authorities still do not have a family and friends care policy, over seven months after the Government’s deadline. Support for such carers and children is a postcode lottery, with ironically less help the earlier the family member steps in.

“Our recent survey of family and friends carers found 20% of the children have been in unrelated care before living with their kinship carer - in numerous cases this could have been avoided - which is in the interests of both the children and public purse.”

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