Make Brighton & Hove CC & All LAs Cease Unlawful Section 47 Social Services Investigations
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Too many LAs are conducting unlawful S47 child protection investigations and traumatising families, wasting public funds and taking resources away from families that need those interventions. Brighton & Hove City Council recently conducted at least one such an investigation, against my innocent autism family (autistic parent with autistic children), which indicates a pattern of behaviour is highly likely, as it wouldn't be a one-off incident. Brighton & Hove City Council conducted this investigation on the basis of malice (instigated 15 days after parent was successful against the LA at SENDIST), entire autism ignorance (towards parent and children) and unlawful disability discrimination. How can an autism parent perform their usual superhero job whilst being put through this trauma?
All LAs behaving unlawfully must be stamped out and we need to make a strong example of this one, to send a message out to all of them!
This the law in a nutshell (based on the Children Act 1989 et al):
https://suesspiciousminds.com/tag/section-47-investigation/ (relevant judgment here about a case where another LA behaved the same way: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2013/416.html
"1) That unless there is urgency, or an assessment based on evidence that a home visit would endanger the child, it is unlawful to commence a section 47 investigation without visiting the child and speaking with the parents (that process would instead be an initial assessment)
2) Seeking background checks without parental consent would be unlawful UNLESS a legitimate s47 investigation had been formally convened and was taking place (and frankly, even then, one ought to try to get parental consent)
3) A breach of (1) or (2) above, can result in financial compensation."
Autism families are particularly vulnerable to being targeted wrongfully by SS and these laws were NOT followed in this instance. Autistic parents are victimised this way because of their differences. It has gone on far too long:
"Asperger's Syndrome - Who is Being Abused?" Archives of Disease in Childhood 1991; 66: 693-695
Six case histories of children referred and admitted to a psychiatric inpatient unit at a tertiary referral centre because of concerns about poor functioning and possible emotional abuse are presented. On initial assessment the children appeared to be well functioning and the impression was confirmed that their emotional needs were not being met by their parents. After detailed inpatient appraisal the diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome was made in all six cases..."
"Blaming mothers: a disability perspective"
"In the Book "Conducting Effective Conferences with Parents of Children with Disabilities" by Milton Seligman, two studies on this issue are referenced: "Blaming parents for their child's disability is another concern. A couple of studies affirm that a major factor related to conferences is the extent to which parents are blamed by school officials for their child's problems (Witt, Miller, McIntyre, & Smith 1984; Petr & Barney, 1993). Therefore teachers and other school professionals need to be alert to inadvertently making observations that can be construed as blaming."
"When Mental Health Professionals Blame Parents for Child’s Mental Illness"
"Mothers And Autism: The Evolution Of A Discourse Of Blame"
"Parents accused of fabricated illness"
BBC article "Autism parents hit by abuse claims"
(start at 5 Feb 2003 : Column 300 and see particularly Column 316)
Discrimination Against Autistic mothers:
"Human Right Violations Against Parents That Are Autistic, Have an Autism Spectrum Condition"
"Despite there being no cogent evidence to suggest ASC women are unable to competently mother their children, there are personal reports from both women and practitioners that mothers may risk being judged and misunderstood on the basis of their ‘non-typical’ responses or characteristics or even just preconceived misinformation about the nature of autism. Parents that cannot home school and are aiming for inclusive education within the education system can find their autistic differences and unmet disability needs in accessing the system to be wrongfully interpreted as character flaws."
"Sarah Hendrickx in her book ‘Women and Girls with Autism Spectrum Disorder’ reiterates this point in context of family life. “Women with autism who had a child with autism spoke of a special bond with that child and of having the intuition to know what their child needed even when it was different to what all the books and advice stated”. Sarah elaborates on the positive benefits of shared neurotype (child and parent being autistic) “the heritability of autism can be a blessing for some girls growing up with autism in families where similar characteristics may be inherent in parents”.
"Parents on the autism continuum: Links with parenting efficacy
Group 1 consisted of 109 parents (29 fathers and 80 mothers) with ASD clinically diagnosed in both parent and child.These parents all had a clinically-confirmed ASD diagnosis and at least one child who also had been diagnosed with ASD. Mothers in Group 1 did not have low parenting efficacy relative to other groups, despite being comparable in AQ scores to their male counterparts. Our experience is that mothers of children with ASD are often more accepting of the personal impact of ASD, are frequently highly active in pursuing resources and support for their child ("The Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome" Attwood, 2007), and more open to studying and developing their skills as parents (based on the couple/family literature, this is generally more characteristic of females than males even in non-clinic families). Mothers attention to detail, logical thinking, and persistence, combined with a tendency to approach rather than avoid family problems, may increase the chances of parenting successes and therefore build a stronger sense of parenting efficacy."
"Positive and Negative Experiences of Mothers with Autism"
"Disturbingly, approximately 1 in 5 mothers of a child with autism, regardless of maternal diagnosis, were assessed by social services; of those, 1 in 6 had their child compulsorily placed for adoption. Finally, rates of allegations and investigations of suspected fabricated illness amongst children with autism and their siblings were two orders of magnitude higher than the known incidence the UK."
"Allegations of fabricated illness, and high rates of surveillance by social services suggest there may be discrimination towards mothers with autism.”
It is well-established by organisations such as the National Autistic Society and Ambitious About Autism that CAMHS and schools are failing thousands of autistic children with devastating results and that parents are forced to battle services. Cerebra has produced documentation about services labelling SEN parents as 'difficult' and other negative labelling. Parents are sometimes maliciously referred to social services as a result. Once an LA receives a referral, they must assess it honestly, ethically and fairly for validity and conduct any subsequent investigation the same way ~ but conduct it lawfully to avoid wasting vast sums of public money and avoid traumatising families or face heavy penalties including the weight of the law (https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/apr/15/rise-in-referrals-social-services-trauma-families-child-protection
Penalise LAs for conducting unlawful S47s and harassing and bullying innocent parents who already do a sterling job as parent-carers to their disabled children. This issue doesn't only affect autism families, but families with CFS/ME, Ehlers Danlos syndrome and other invisible disabilities. Penalise LAs for illegal discrimination against autistic parents. Stop them behaving utterly unlawfully and wasting public money to do so.
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