Sunday, July 22, 2012


You may have caught the reports at the weekend about the woman who is saying that problem families are having too many children. Her solution: “The mothers need to think carefully next time”.
I dare say I’m not the only Carer who thinks capping these families is a good idea. Severely incapable mothers need to stop having children. But does anybody really believe we can solve the problem by asking the mothers to think?
I don't. But even in my anonymity, I'm too sensitive to the awaiting backlash to pin up my views, as, I suspect is the author of the report. I'll pussyfoot, and say that I believe the time has come for a debate about intervention.


The woman who has drawn up the report, Louis Casey, doesn't usually mince her words. In fact she’s famous for telling it like it is: If No 10 says bloody 'evidence-based policy' to me one more time I'll deck them," she joked. "... and probably get unemployed."
The Guardian said “Those who know Casey said her speech had been intended to be ironic and was in character”
She became:
Deputy director of Shelter in 1992.
Head of the Rough Sleepers' Unit (RSU) in 1999.
Director of the national Anti-Social Behaviour Unit (ASBU) in 2003.
Head of the Respect Task Force in 2005.
Victims' Commissioner of the United Kingdom in March 2010, a role from which she resigned in October 2011.
Head of The Troubled Families Programme 2012


Obviously this is an issue that affects every Foster Carer more deeply than most of the rest of the population – although it’s worth knowing that the 150,000 troubled families in the UK are costing the country £9 billion a year.
The report looks at 16 case studies: real live “families” whose identities have been changed. Louise thanks them graciously for their openness.
I suspect that she has gone for the most extreme examples, as those probably harbour more insight, but give it a quick look yourself: almost every family reads like the average case we have to deal with. 
"Phil" is the most interesting to me, 9 children with another on the way, he and his partner both with learning difficulties.
I’ll put the link to the report here, I’d be interested in your thoughts.
I won't spoil it by pre-empting the causes of the families' troubles. If you're a carer reading it you'll just keep nodding your head, and muttering "yeah, yeah,yeah".
One or two titbits to be going on with: 
“Children in care or leaving care have repeatedly been shown to be at higher
risk of teenage pregnancy. One survey showed that a quarter of care leavers
had a child by the age of sixteen and nearly half were mothers within eighteen
to twenty four months after leaving care”

“Many of the families we interviewed had large numbers of children. 8 families
(half of those we interviewed) had four or more children – whereas in the
general population it is unusual to have four or more (only 4% of the
population do so).”

 “Many were in and out of care from early childhood. It is difficult to disentangle
which problems resulted from what happened at home and the impact of time
in care. In addition, there was always an ongoing relationship or contact with
the family. Sometimes, this was positive – but more than often it was not.” 

“And even if there were serious enough problems identified for a child to be
removed from their parents, few talked of being offered any professional help
to come to terms with what had been occurring. Stella identified how she had
carried problems from her childhood into adulthood, and what would have
The only problem with children’s homes, that I didn’t see back then that I see
now, was that I had no help with the abuse, I had no help with nothing. No
counsellor or nothing, I was just left to deal with my life. Because there’s this
thing that people seem to think that once a child is taken away from abuse,
they are okay. They are not, it sticks with them. And they grow into adulthood
with all this going on.” 

The Secret Foster Carer


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