Wednesday, 23 September 2015

No help for parents

"County Council v G & others [2005] UKHL 68 involved an appeal by a local authority on a matter of principle. In the course of care proceedings, they had been compelled to pay about £200,000 to provide a therapeutic residential placement for a family pursuant to section 38(6) of the Children Act 1989."

"The case had a happy ending; the family stayed together. But the local authority wanted to make it clear for the future that this had been an improper use of section 38(6) of the Children Act 1989 and argued that the court could not compel a local authority to pay for therapy for parents under a statutory provision directed at assessments of the child. The House of Lords – as they then were – agreed. However, they went further than simply restating the purpose behind section 38(6). Lord Scott is emphatic (see para 24):"

...There is no article 8 right to be made a better parent at public expense.

"There appears to be no way to compel the state to fund treatment for mental health problems. The Children Act does not identify on whom the cost of compliance with its directions falls. A judge in care proceedings cannot compel either a local authority or NHS trust to provide any particular treatment for a parent. Medical or psychiatric treatment of parents would ordinarily be funded by the local NHS Trust but waiting lists can be very long (and thus well outside the timetable for the child) and the particular therapy a parent needs may not be available locally.. "

"I have two fundamental problems with this position. First, how do we square that with our Article 8 obligations? Second, who is conducting a proper cost/benefit analysis of the consequences that flow from failing to provide mental health services to parents? Not all cases involved residential placements and many thousands of pounds. Many cases revolve about who will fund a six month course of therapy in the region of £5,000... "

"How do we square that circle? What are we saying to vulnerable parents who are unable to access support or treatment for their mental health difficulties and/or drug abuse, who are thrown into stressful care proceedings and expected to engage constructively with professionals picking apart every aspect of their lives? In particular, what are we saying to parents who are vulnerable because of their experiences as children, often as children in the care of the state? "

Sarah Phillimore specialises in family law at St Johns Chambers in Bristol.

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It`s a bit of a racket too.

As well as the problem of waiting times, Borderline Personality Disorder is a label that is often used by dodgy family court experts for which there is NO treatment available on the NHS.

Parents then find it impossible to provide evidence of `change` in order to satisfy the courts that they can `safely` parent their children.

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