The programme on 15 September 2015 dealt with GIRFEC and the Named Person scheme, the controversial aspects of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.
Why has GIRFEC and the Named Person caused so much controversy over the last few years?
To address this, Carolyn Scott interviewed Maggie Mellon who has had 35 years experience as a registered social worker but now works in a consultative capacity and is a spokesperson for NO2NP.
|Liz Smith MSP|
The Named Person began as a first point of contact for parents with a disabled child or child with special needs - something they asked for - so that they would not have to keep re-telling their story to different agencies who would invariably protect their own budgets and pass parents on to other agencies.
According to Maggie Mellon, although government officials keep `swapping their horses` the dominant concern has changed from children in need to child protection and in this highly risk averse culture it corrupts everything it touches. She mentioned in passing the report: A Marriage Made in Hell: Early Intervention Meets Child Protection (Brid Featherstone, Kate Morris and Sue White.)
As well as deciding child protection issues on the basis of `significant harm,` families must pass a `wellbeing test` but that is very subjective territory - "We all disagree with how others do it - people have all these criticisms about parenting." Now the system will allow Named Persons to impose their own values on families.
Mikaeel Kular was known to social services - he had a Named Person; he had been in care. We do not need to throw out a net around all children; there is plenty of legislation and powers to help protect children. "The bigger the pool you create the harder it is to find... Child protection is complicated; it needs more sophisticated, detailed work."
Maggie Mellon pointed to some of the drawbacks:
Young people will be less likely to take advantage of confidential services when they become aware that their personal information can be shared. Women suffering domestic abuse will be less likely to call the police when it is considered to be a child protection issue and there is a risk that they will be investigated for child abuse.
Already parents are being called to meetings where their partners` medical history is exposed - even about a historical matter the partner might have wished to keep private. "But it could be anything that might impact on a child`s wellbeing; say they were adopted or their mother had suffered from post-natal depression; it will all be added to this pot." In a small town the situation is much worse. "Where is confidentiality?" asked Maggie Mellon, " when private information is shared around the system ?"
The campaign came after the Children and Young People Bill was enacted. Many people could not believe it would happen. As an individual Maggie Mellon put in her response to the consultation outlining her concerns about it. Actually a whole lot of well informed organisations did as well, such as the Scottish Law Centre, the Scottish Child Law Centre and the Parent/Teachers Association. The majority of local authorities were against it because it would divert resources from children in need.
The problem was that the government treated each response with equal weight. Charities like Aberlour, Children 1st and Barnardos who rely on government funding pushed the button on protecting children. They did not represent the informed weight of evidence against the Named Person.