Sunday, 8 December 2013


GIRFEC and the Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill has been criticised for interfering with the relationship between parents and children.
At its heart, the Children and Young People Bill orders the government to intrude into the privacy of every home with a child. By inserting the government into a mandated role of corporate parent, the natural relationship of trust and dependency that exists between parents and their children will be at best damaged and possibly obliterated.
The bill naturally follows from UN treaties like the CRC and CRPD.  Link to  HSLDA

The data gathering and privacy aspects of the Bill have also been criticised by home schoolers in Scotland as reported in the Express:

Under the "scary" legislation, known as Getting It Right For Every Child or GIRFEC, every child aged under 18 will have a 'Named Person' with the legal right to ensure they are raised in a government-approved manner. It will also mean that sensitve personal details about every child - even down to the names of their pets - can be recorded, stored and shared on a central database.
Incredibly, GIRFEC has already been adopted by almost every local authority in Scotland and yet most people - including some MSPs - have no idea of the full extent of its Big Brother-style interference. Alison Preuss, Secretary of the Schoolhouse Home Education Association, based in Fife, said: She added: "Hopefully MSPs will see sense and insist on a completely consent based system for the Named Person and any data processing without express informed consent (except in child protection cases).
"However, I wouldn't rule out a legal challenge to these specific aspects. "GIRFEC implementation by box-ticking bullies is already causing detriment to some families and frightening children, which is frankly scandalous." The Schoolhouse petition, which calls on MSPs to reject the Named Person and database sections of the Bill, has gathered more than 700 signatures in less than a fortnight.

There is another aspect of the Bill which has received less attention and that is the effect on decision making and child protection issues when the drive is towards early interventions on the basis of the wellbeing indicators rather than on the basis of significant harm to the child. There is evidence that early interventions lead to more children being removed from their families and placed into care.
It is emphasized in the Education and Culture Committee 10th report 2013 how important it is to listen to children. However, the committee admitted that they spoke only to a relatively small number of young people. Perhaps that is why there are some inconsistencies in the inquiry report. For instance there is this paragraph:
We have been told repeatedly about the importance of placing children at the centre of decision making and taking their views into account. A recurring message from many of the young people in care we spoke to, which goes to the heart of this section, is that they felt they had been left too long at home when they should have been taken into care earlier.

 This does agree with the push towards earlier interventions but on the other hand we have this:
When we met children and young people with experience of care, several felt very strongly that social workers and other authorities had failed to explain why they were being taken away from their family... Distressingly, the young people had blamed themselves for being separated from their family and had felt as though they were being punished.

So there are children who feel they should have been taken into care earlier and other children who feel they were punished when they were separated from their families. It is never wise to draw conclusions based on a small sample of the population as this report does but if we accept the findings at face value it does suggest that either way children are not being listened to, and social workers are getting things seriously wrong.

There is, in fact, a lot of evidence to support this in the report. It was explained by some witnesses that social workers cannot always distinguish those situations where parents can meet their children`s needs with additional help, and those where children require alternative care. They can be overly optimistic about a family`s ability to change on the one hand and lack confidence on the other. There were problems in communication especially with young people, and an inability to provide assessments backed by compelling evidence particularly for cases involving emotional neglect. Time was a factor because social workers did not always have time to properly assess families. There was difficulty in retaining experienced staff and questions about the Social Work degree. All of these inadequacies are particularly worrying given the following:
Universal services, alongside social workers, are increasingly helping to identify issues of concern that may require early intervention in families. This is particularly true in relation to neglect, where staff may be able to detect that relatively small issues are developing into more serious concerns. The further implementation of Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC) and the introduction of a statutory named person service‘ through the Bill is likely to increase this role further.

In other words GIRFEC is likely to mean that more young children are going to be taken into care which happens to be one of the aims of the Children`s Minister. But are social workers really going to be able to supply the compelling evidence that small issues are developing into more serious concerns when so far that has not been the case?  

Will joint training help?  It is easy to see what the answer to that is. Just get the various agencies to work collaboratively and do some joint training, share data and agree to a shared vision (collude) and there is the compelling evidence to present in front of the sheriff with confidence. The Minister`s target to double adoptions should be no problem at all. This is a system being stitched up to enable more children to be removed from their birth parents - but often they will be the wrong children. With the focus shifted in this way, what is to happen to the children all ready suffering significant harm?

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