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HHJ WBQC opens - Do we make unnecessary use of care proceedings? What is worse than having your child removed from your care by the State. Since capital punishment abolished, the harshest order any court can make. #FCDebate
We have seen a rise in both care proceedings and private law cases - all have to be crammed into court lists of Judges stretched as far as they can be. Without more investment in the system we cannot cope with this continuing rise. #FCDebate
We have to decide what the social norms and standards should be in the society we create. Is the system the one we want? Why are there variations in care proceedings around the country? We cannot have a post code lottery. #FCDebate
We have to consider how we respond to research - for e.g. recent material from @IsabelleTrowler . It is not for me to consider answers. The most important part of the evening will be when the audience speaks. #FCDebate
This evening would not have been possible without organisation of Emma Whewell. HHJ WBQC sets out ground rules - feel free to tweet! #noted #FCDebate
Sadly Anthony Douglas cannot be with us as he is unwell. We wish him a speedy recovery! Remaining speakers are @HannahFShead and Helen, a former resident of @TreviHouse. Then Clive Diaz and me. #FCDebate
The speakers have been given a brief and their aim is to clarify issues and promote debate. #FCDebate
Now @HannahFShead - significant that we are in Bristol as we work with a number of families here, although @TreviHouse based in Plymouth. Opened 26 years ago as place where mothers could come with children when in treatment for drug and alcohol recovery. #FCDebate
Interesting to see change in profile over the years. We have capacity for 10 families but see more work in court arena. Families used to be referred BEFORE things reached crisis point. Mothers could engage in work around relationships, DV etc. #FCDebate
We recognise often there is a need to separate parent and children. Not advocating blindly keeping together at all costs. We do not accept every referral but wherever it is safe, we want to avoid separation. #FCDebate
If we can address underlying traumas in a safe environment we CAN break a cycle. Many of the mothers have had repeat interventions/removals. Try to offer the best opportunity for a family. 'Sliding Doors' - see the parallel universe for woman and children. #FCDebate
The alternative to Trevi is child in foster care with contact a few times a week. Often then see a mother relapse into substance use or reunite with violent partner. If they come to Trevi we can see a different outcome when families are placed together #FCDebate
Mothers when they come to us are traumatised by the system, arrive fearful and with no trust in professionals. Saw transformation in a mother with no belief in her capacity to parent, to believe she could be the best mother and seek the support she needed #FCDebate
We see the impact of the trauma of the system on the families. 'Success' is interesting thing to measure but we know 95% of women at Trevi successfully get off drugs and alcohol - because they have their child in their care to consolidate that motivation. #FCDebate
We need to give vulnerable and complex families the best conditions to succeed. We can look them in the eye and say 'you were given the best possible chance to have your child in your care'. #FCDebate
Now @HannahFShead interviews Helen, a parent at Trevi. She had 4 children. she had to push to get placement. It took five years ! It was horrendous. I kept fighting, the alternative was just to carry on using. I would have ended up dying. #FCDebate
I was classed as a 'functioning addict' - my children looked the part, went to school but at home I was still using and didn't have connection with my children. They didn't have a social life. #FCDebate
I went into detox about 4 times. Agreed I would go to Trevi but then they pulled it and said another detox without children. It was horrendous. I came out and used the same day. #FCDebate
What has made the difference for you now? I was broken. Didn't realise another way to live. Removing children reinforced what a bad person and mother I was. Now I support women at @TreviHouse - I see their fear of making a wrong step. #FCDebate
It is a block - lack of trust. Helping women through the trauma of their childhoods. One piece of advice for professionals - key thing that stands out are the people that empowered me. who got to know me and saw that I loved my children. #FCDebate
Q from audience - how many families a year can you help? What other family rehab places? ONLY Trevi and Phoenix Futures - thus seen as a 'niche' response but we should not be seen as niche! we do achieve good outcomes. we can work with about 20 families a year. #FCDebate.
I would like to see a Trevi House in every region in the UK. Its about giving families the best possible opportunities. #FCDebate
Q - but what about the men in this situation, where are they? Trevi House is women only. Most of women we work with have been subjected to male violence so women only environment is important. Sad reality, not an enormous amount of input from dads #FCDebate
Q - seems that some addicts use violence as an excuse for their addiction? Where would a dad go? If parents wanted to parent together and professionals thought this was a good outcome, we would refer to Phoenix who work with couples. #FCDebate
But reality in most of our cases is that father has not been assessed as being suitable OR he doesn't engage. (THIS IS VERY SAD AND REVEALING) #FCDebate
There was an FDAC in Plymouth and it worked well but sadly funding as not continued in Plymouth (THIS IS VERY SAD AND REVEALING) #FCDebate
Q - when people leave you what happens? We have an after care service in Plymouth funded by the Lottery for local people. Some mothers in Bristol chose to relocate to Devon in part for this ongoing support. Will depend on their own local area. That has diminished. #FCDebate
Now Clive Diaz speaking in FAVOUR of the motion. He was a principle social worker who has now moved into academia. He has seen a lot of cases where children were to be placed for adoption. In last 10 years we have seen exponential rise in care proceedings. #FCDebate
This is emotionally incredibly gruelling work and the pressures SW face have now, in my view, become impossible. Students working complex cases - like asking a junior doctor to do open heart surgery in 45 minutes. #FCDebate
We have a fundamentally broken system that is not given the attention it needs. A real sadness our society is in the mess. We judge a society by how they treat their most vulnerable people. It is a disgrace #FCDebate
You are much more likely to go through care proceedings if you are poor. Rates in some region triples. Why is there such a disparity in regions of number of children in care? In my view we have poor children removed when there are no services. I feel sorry for Judges. #FCDebate
How an ANYONE in the sector make reasonable and value based decisions in the current system? The quality of decision making is invariably poor. There is no support to offer families. Many charities have disappeared @FCDebate
So many moral reasons why this is really problematic situation. I looked at how SW work with families. Not one piece of research that gives evidence based reason for child protection conferences. it is an oppressive process #FCDebate
Parents feel eviscerated. Scapegoated. Blamed. And that is the starting point! and then we come to court. If alien came to Planet Earth he would say 'what the hell are we doing'
SP talk - don't agree that care proceedings are unnecessary. But CA has moved away from what its inceptors wished. #FCDebate
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