The research is a survey of Cafcass social workers involved in 343 (61.0%) of the 562 care applications received from 83 Local Authorities during the period 11th -30th November 2011. The research was interested in finding out what happened for children in care proceedings but commented on their family circumstances in passing. For example in answer to questions about how quickly the courts dealt with care proceedings the report includes these two quotes from the Cafcass social workers:
'The start of the parenting capacity assessment was delayed because ... father in prison, released then disappeared, oldest child a constant absconder so almost impossible for assessment to commence, third older sibling due for release from criminal secure unit will have to be involved in the family assessments and may become a third child in the proceedings.’
'Mother’s psychiatric assessment could not be completed as she turned up for the interview heavily under the influence of alcohol’.Clearly these are families in crisis and under enormous stress. The report provides some information about the parents of the children:
|Parents today||Parents when under 18|
|Drugs & alcohol||60.9%||62.1%|
|Mental ill health||51.4%||57.3%|
|Victim of domestic violence||60.1%||71.0%|
|Perpetrator of domestic violence||40.3%||45.2%|
The average age of the parents was 31 (mothers 29, fathers 33.5). The column headed 'Parents today' gives the percentages of parents affected by 4 different circumstances, clearly many were dealing with more than one substantial problem. The column headed 'Parents when under 18' refers to the percentage of parents who were receiving local authority services when they were children and for what reason. These tell a truly awful story of adults trying to be parents in the wreckage of their own upbringing.
Children North East offers help to families by very experienced staff who can spend several hours a day with families every day for 6 to 8 weeks including times when it really counts like getting the children up in the morning and into bed at night. The staff get to know every member of the household very well, what they fear, what they want to be different, what works well in the family, what could be better; they make an action plan with the family and help and encourage the family members themselves to make and sustain changes. The effects can be dramatic, so that children can remain safely at home well cared for by their parents.
Children North East also offers continuing support to families either before they reach crisis point or to maintain the progress made. We do this through volunteers who befriend parents. All our volunteers are recruited specifically, trained and supported by our staff. If you would like to know more please visit our 'Supporting Families, Protecting Children' pages on our website.