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Mother, 24, who fled to Spain allowed to keep her daughter

Mother, 24, who fled to Spain allowed to keep her daughter

Postby mac1 » Wed May 23, 2012 8:58 am

Vindicated: Mother, 24, who fled to Spain when social services ruled she was 'unfit' to bring up child is allowed to keep her daughter

* Suffolk Country Council deemed Megan Coote, 24, who suffers learning difficulties unfit before baby was even born
* Miss Coote and her mother fled to Alicante where she gave birth to Olivia
* U-turn: Council have now allowed Miss Coote to keep her daughter whom they said was making 'excellent progress'
* Coote family 'furious' council has not issued an apology
* Spent three months in Spain and £12,000
* MP John Hemming backs family and brands experts used in family courts as 'unreliable'

By Andrew Levy

22 May 2012

The family of a young mother who fled to Spain to stop social services taking her baby demanded an apology yesterday after health workers confirmed the girl was thriving under her care.

Megan Coote, who has mild learning difficulties, was told she would have to hand over her child because of concerns over its emotional development.

Instead, she moved to Alicante where she gave birth to her daughter, Olivia.

She returned only after her parents were granted a court order allowing them to share her parental responsibilities – meaning she was certain she could keep her baby.

Now Miss Coote, 24, wants to highlight what she says are the dangers posed by social workers who wield the power to tear families apart.

‘I have proven the social workers wrong,’ she said. ‘They made the wrong decision.’

Her father Dale, a 47-year-old businessman, said: ‘We have just had Olivia’s two-year check and a health worker said she was well advanced and interacting with everyone perfectly. They were absolutely over the moon with her.

‘That made me think that social services had made a mistake and hadn’t apologised.

Unsettling start: Miss Coote pictured with her days old daughter and parents Dave and Lorraine in Alicante, Spain in April 2010

‘They haven’t apologised to my wife, who lost three stone when she went to Spain with Megan, or to my daughter for what they put her through.

‘They made her feel like dirt and she was talking about taking her own life if they took her daughter away.’

Miss Coote, who was diagnosed with learning difficulties as a child, became pregnant in 2009. Suffolk social services carried out an assessment which flagged up concerns about her low IQ and inability to show emotion, which it said meant she could not look after a baby.

Child protection officers also claimed Olivia’s father – from whom Miss Coote had separated – had a bad record with social services, but refused to give further details. Miss Coote’s father and mother Lorraine, 45, offered themselves as potential foster parents but realised staff did not favour their application after a report criticised the fact Mr Coote had smacked his three children to discipline them.
Proud grandparents: In January 2011 Lorraine and Dave Coote were granted a residence order meaning they could share parental responsibilities of Olivia with their daughter

Proud grandparents: In January 2011 Lorraine and Dave Coote were granted a residence order meaning they could share parental responsibilities of Olivia with their daughter

Happy family: Miss Coote said she would tell other mothers in her situation that they have to believe in themselves and know they are a good mother

In February 2010, Miss Coote and her mother drove to Spain, where she gave birth a week later. The family spent £12,000 on accommodation and other costs until they were assured mother and child would not be separated.
Backing: Birmingham Yardley MP and chairman of Justice for Families, John Hemming, claimed social workers are removing children from families for 'spurious reasons'

Backing: Birmingham Yardley MP and chairman of Justice for Families, John Hemming, claimed social workers are removing children from families for 'spurious reasons'

A five-minute court hearing in January last year confirmed a ‘residence order’, meaning Miss Coote would live with her parents in Kesgrave, near Ipswich, and Olivia could be taken off the at-risk register. Mr Coote, who owns three companies involved with the construction, container and motor industries, said: ‘When Megan came back from Spain an independent team of social workers were assigned to her.

‘They eventually apologised for interfering in our lives and said there was never any need for them to be involved.

‘I have phoned the council nine times to discuss the case and get an apology but they will not have a meeting with me.’

His daughter added: ‘I would tell other mothers in the same situation to keep fighting. You have to believe in yourself and know that you are a good mother.’

Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming, the chairman of campaign group Justice for Families, accused social workers of removing children from families for ‘spurious reasons’ and said experts used in family courts were ‘unreliable’.

He added: ‘They remove babies from people who are never given the chance to prove they are good parents – and even when there are good grandparents around. The Government should stop being complacent and take action.’

Suffolk county council said it was ‘delighted that everything has continued to go well’ for the family. A spokesman said: ‘When concerns about the wellbeing of a child are brought to the attention of children’s services, we have a duty to investigate.

‘Over the past two years, childcare professionals have had a very positive working relationship with the family.’

Asked about apologising for the Cootes’ treatment, they added: ‘We are more than happy to speak with the family when they feel the need to contact us.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... ghter.html



If it were the other way round and this young child did suffer abuse, people would be furious that she was not taken away, blaming social services... social services do have a job where they protect children and do what THEY think is the best...

- none, england, 23/5/2012 7:46
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Lizzie as requested I have red arrowed you. My reasons are as follows. You stated 'If only people could see the positive side of social work'... This comment clearly shows a one rule for social workers and one rule for parents. An example is given in this case reported by the Daily Mail where upon the social services failed to acknowledge how much this baby was loved and cared for and also had a strong family in support. Sadly this family is one of thousands destroyed on a daily basis by social service departments. I also find your comment 'dammed if you do or dammed if you dont' quite disturbing. Child abuse is quite obvious and should not be confused with idealist views on child rearing by a govenment department. When that problem is realised by the departments more children at serious risk will be saved and there will be less ferral children and broken families paying the price of the real abusers.

- Sheila Oneill, Chichester, 23/5/2012 6:21
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Once again we are only hearing one side of the story. Would love to hear Social Services side before feeling sorry for this woman.

- Alex, London, 23/5/2012 5:35
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Seems like if you are a decent person, social services go after you - an easy target, yet look at chavs walking the streets of Britain with many children who allow them to roam in filth, live in filth and have so many 'uncles' they have no idea who is dad. Social workers should be employed from the older generation, and one criteria, must be married and have children of their own. These political left social workers are a disaster, and have been for many years.

- Karen, ex pat USA, 23/5/2012 4:27
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I am "absolutely over the moon with her" too! What a beautiful little girl...well done Mom!

- kim, usa, 23/5/2012 3:01
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Where's the baby daddy?

- Bananas, London, 23/5/2012 2:55
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I remember when this story first came out and it was outrageous. Best wishes and congrats to the wonderful family who would not accept nonsense from care workers. There is nothing like a mother's love (bio or adopted) to bring a child to her most wonderful potential.

- Clarice, Hanover, MA, USA, 23/5/2012 2:51
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I wonder why Social Services 'backed down' instead of admitting they were wrong.

- Phillip, London, 23/5/2012 0:31
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While i completely agree that Social Services were completely in the wrong, this is what always happens after a massive scandal. The case of Baby P has led to a massive increase in the number of applications for children to be taken into care, because they are scared of it happening again. And too often they act too quickly and a child is taken away unnecessarily. But while its easy to blame social services entirely, its the fault of the courts as well. Family courts are one of the only sealed courts we have left, and while they argue that it is to protect the identities of children involved, its also just to cover up the corrupted practices that have been occurring for years. Experts are frequently wrong, and the judges normally side with the state representatives unfortunately. Even CAFCASS, who is meant to be an independent party on behalf of the children, signed an agreement to co-operate and work with the courts. The system is just too corrupt now.

- Elle, Bristol, 22/5/2012 23:43
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Well I have contacted the Ss no more then 9 times and the director of Suffolk social services haven't got the decency to speak to me and we haven't had a social worker on this case for over 14 moths so they haven't work close with us the team we worked with when we come back was very good at they job they did all the assessments on us and we past them so this must mean that the fist lot got it wrong so just say sorry to us for what you put us through Dale grandad

- Dale Coote, Ipswich, 22/5/2012 23:35
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Dyslexia or not. she looks a charming young girl. A credit to her devoted parents. Social sevices should go hunting for babies in our high streets. There are plently of unfit mothers there to pick on, I see them every day.

- Mrs A , LEEDS, 22/5/2012 23:35
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and if the soical workers did not raise these questions and something then happend to the child, you would all be blaiming the social services for doing nothing and allowing the child to be hurt. Dammed when you do and double dammed hwhen you dont

- leighwade, NZ, 22/5/2012 23:27
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Take the Council to court in a civil suit and get the money spent going to Spain refunded.

- Just, Saying, 22/5/2012 23:25
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Who gets paid when a child in the care of Social Services get to be adopted??

- Susan, Morecambe, 22/5/2012 23:12
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I feel sorry for the social workers because no matter how good they are, identifying risks to children BEFORE they any damage is done is never going to be an exact science, and the alternative to getting it wrong and removing too many children is getting it wrong and leaving them in damaging or abusive homes which isn't OK either. It really highlights the urgent need for more monitored accommodation units where families deemed 'at risk' could voluntarily live under surveillance for a period of time to demonstrate that they are capable of raising their child properly. Surely it would be cheaper than the long term costs of taking children into care with all the payments to foster carers, legal bills and social worker hours involved in removing a child from the parents?

- Emma , London, 22/5/2012 22:17
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So very glad this story had a happy ending.

- off-piste, London, 22/5/2012 21:25
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The individual social workers need to be sued by this unfortunate woman in a civil court for compensation.

- john heppell, Lingwood, 22/5/2012 21:15
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Social workers are damned if they do, and damned if they don't. I'm not disputing they were wrong in this case but, how on earth do you PREDICT which child will be ok and which one will suffer? And social services are being cut to the bone, so the remaining workers are stressed and possibly make bad decisions due to excessive case loads. I would hate to be a social worker - who among us would want hat kind of responsibility? Yet we all agree that *somebody* needs to protect vulnerable children.

- Freya, UK, 22/5/2012 21:11
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What a beautiful happy child and a credit to her mum.So mum has mild learning difficulties...that doesn't say she is a bad mother. Social Services should be giving support to mothers like this not trying to take their children away from them.

- Jenny, cheshire, 22/5/2012 20:51
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What a beautiful happy child and a credit to her mum.So mum has mild learning difficulties...that doesn't say she is a bad mother. Social Services should be giving support to mothers like this not trying to take their children away from them.

- Jenny, cheshire, 22/5/2012 20:51
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Well, Suffolk Social Services had to try and meet their targets somehow, otherwise they would miss out on their bonus......useless bunch of "head in the clouds" do gooders without an ounce of sense between them.....

- Old Rog, In the shed, 22/5/2012 20:32
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I have had experience of Suffolk's Social Services. They proved to be thoroughly dishonest. When challenged they became threatening. Bullies through and through!

- Tony, Lowestoft, 22/5/2012 20:25
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Dr George Hibbert, Dr Anthony William Baker, Dr Ruth Coppard, Dr Iain Kirkland Weir, Dr Karl Michael Eia Asen, ... - The list is endless. Since Phil Carter began to report on so-called "expert witnesses" in family court proceedings for Channel 4 News in March 2012, several papers have finally taken up this issue which has caused untold damage and pain to thousands upon thousands of innocent parents and children across the UK. England is allegedly the only country in Europe where your own flesh and blood can be taken away from you permanently on the basis of "emotional abuse" which "could take place some time in the future". The two major groups targeted for this are a) vulnerable women (unemployed, socially deprived, drug or alcohol addicted, unable to tie bonds with abusive partners) and b) foreign academic women and mothers (bright, outspoken, but with no social network or support in the UK). If all MPs would sign John Hemming's Early Day Motion, things could change for the better.

- nevergiveup, mothers-for-justice.net, 22/5/2012 20:10
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Her daughter has her ears pierced, sure social services were completely wrong, but still putting holes in a small kids ears is a bit uncalled for.

- ANON, Cambridge, 22/5/2012 20:06
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Yet another story of the terrifying powers that social services seem to wield. - Steve Cahill, Sandy, Beds, 22/5/2012 14:09 I strongly agree with you. SS have too much power and take too little responsibility. I am a carer and the person for whom I care receives social 'care'. I can say for fact that the care plans and other documents that I have seen, are not accurate. There are not just a few 'mistakes' but many. One of the SS managers in my LA described the social workers report as being 'shoddy' after I had said that it was incompetently filled in. Good luck to the family and the little girl.

- Care, Not careless, 22/5/2012 19:32
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No council should take a mother's baby away. It should be the court witH at leats 3 judges agreeing and when it is proven that a chid is being abused or at risk because the parents are violent towards their child.

- john span, london, 22/5/2012 19:27
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How do social services even know your pregnant - it must be the doctors/midwives who reccomend 'help'. If I even get pregnant I'd be worried about seeking any medical advice at all. Alsothe part about them having lined up a family 5 months before birth is likely true. Looks good on their adoption figures because everyone wants a baby. Glad the family are back together and happy.

- Youngster, Essex, 22/5/2012 18:54
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The council have allowed her to keep her daughter? How very generous of them...

- Mum of 2, In a quiet room, 22/5/2012 18:31
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Social services are evil they would fit up mother Theresa if it suited them no conscience or common sense. If they have it in for you they will throw the full force of their agency at you. My son has exactly the same problems are this young lady yet he's independent and currently studying for A levels. God help anyone who's says he won't make a fit parent!

- Jen, London, 22/5/2012 18:31
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The real problem could be that most experts are not expert humans!

- redkesh, London uk, 22/5/2012 17:53
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ummm £12,000 in 3 months?

- Jane, Herts, 22/5/2012 17:48
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@ Lizzy - I have first-hand experience of the way SS operate,both recently and when I was a child.The reason they never improve is because they never admit getting it wrong,and they are only concerned with covering themselves,even if that is in direct conflict with the welfare of the child.Don`t take my word for it,read the Munro report.Or look at the work of John Hemming.Or Charles Pragnell.......

- will, Cornwall, 22/5/2012 17:44
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I am so happy for the woman but this should never have happened . Since when did having learning difficulties make someone an unfit parent. Surely those who do drugs and such are more unfit? I would disown my kids if they ever became social workers, which are the scum of the earth .

- poppy, here in the uk , 22/5/2012 17:36
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The reason that social services departments are willing to snatch babies from mothers, who have mild learning difficulties, or who they think might 'emotionally' harm their child, is due to the fact that they have been given financial incentives to increase the number of adoptions. - Emma. D, The Land of Make Believe +++ Judging by the stories I keep reading where social services keep making spurious objections to stop people adopting (too white, too middle-class etc) it seems that they aren't very good at this either...

- Mark C, Ashbourne, UK, 22/5/2012 17:33
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I do wonder what the criteria are for deciding that someone is going to be an unfit mother. - Alice, Oxfordshire, 22/5/2012 14:48 I'd turn that statement on its head and ask "what the criteria is for deciding that someone is going to be a rational social worker"

- mike, alicante, 22/5/2012 17:22
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Sounds to me that its the social workers at Suffolk Country Council who are the ones with 'learning difficulties' and not even an apology saying sorry we got it wrong.

- mike, alicante, 22/5/2012 17:19
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These SS workers are despicable. They don't have a brain-cell between them. They haven't got a clue what they are doing. The only time they are "concerned" for the children is Monday to Friday, when they are working. But on weekends and holidays, they are conspicuous by their absence. Get rid of the lot of them, and set up a different service. These people do far more harm than good to these children.

- jj, Wales, 22/5/2012 17:19
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Well done to the parents for supporting their daughter and grand daughter through this ordeal. For your information Social Services.... THAT is good parenting!

- Lori, West Sussex, 22/5/2012 17:17
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It is a shame that social services seem to provoke such negative comments, it is a pity those who have been helped and supported don't speak out to show the positive side of the work that goes on 365 days a year. Only when ALL the facts are known in a case can a fair judgement be made and opinions such as those on here be just and relevant. There are many sides to consider......as i said before damned if you do and dambed if you font......go on red arrow me again!

- Lizzy, East Anglia, 22/5/2012 17:02
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I am so glad she has her daughter and will keep her- what is wrong with social services these days? they leave obviously battered babies to their abusive parents and take a well cared child away from her mum cos she has dyslexia? it's all wrong.

- FrenchGirl, MK, 22/5/2012 16:51
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Social workers are unbelievable, aren't they? A few years ago when I had a joint residency order for my two children, I was asked by them to 'take responsibility' and look after my children full time for a while because my ex wife was 'going through a hard time’ (ie drinking). Despite working full-time, I did so, and I said they could stay as long as they needed to. A week later the same social worker phoned up complaining that my ex-wife had contacted them to say I hadn't dropped the children off as normal and was breaking the joint residency order. Honestly, you couldn't make it up, although they do, as they go along.

- Kevin, Nottingham, 22/5/2012 16:32
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What on earth has dyslexia got to do with bringing up a child? And if she had her mums support what's the big deal! They should pick on the people that actually harm their children and wouldn't put up a fight to keep their child! If it was me I would do what she did

- Rachel, Hull, 22/5/2012 16:24
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@Lizzy,no they are not.All they have to do is follow procedures,and they don`t.They lie in reports, manufacture evidence and ignore evidence.We were victims of SS because our daughter had Asperger`s and SS insisted we were "making it up",despite numerous expert opinions and the fact that it was obvious to every single person who met her.Except SS.They put her through hell and not once did they show the slightest concern for her welfare.I despise the whole corrupt lot of them.@Joe Burns,You are spot on,there are thousands of cases like this,unknown to the public and unreported.John Hemming is nothing short of a hero for his work to stop these evil practises. - will, Cornwall, 22/5/2012 14:39 ------------ Spot on. I was a victim too. I was asked how I punish my son (with Asperger's syndrome) and told them that I send him to his room, adding that I didn't need to do this very often. It appeared on the SS file as 'Mum punishes him by locking him in his room'.

- Mum, England, 22/5/2012 16:23
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I do wonder what the criteria are for deciding that someone is going to be an unfit mother. - Alice, Oxfordshire, 22/5/2012 14:48 ---------------------------------------- I think it is broadly 'not bright enough to get A Levels' and 'not middle class enough'. I know of two women who fitted into this category, both of whom had partners and loved their children, who never appeared neglected in any way to me, who were fighting the system to stop their children from being taken from them - which was difficult for them.

- Mum, England, 22/5/2012 16:16
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I remember this story... thanks for the update. As for the "damned if they do/don't" argument, it has no bearing in this context.. it was nanny-state stupidity in the first place.

- tony reay, durham, 22/5/2012 15:15
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Joe Burns, you and John Hemming are absolutely right, as I know from my own experiences with social workers and so-called 'experts' they employ to help to win their cases for them. Never mind "Social Services are damned if they do and damned if they don't." Sorry, but these people know exactly what they are doing and make things up (about parents) to take their children away, especially babies who they are vying to put up for adoption. Notice these social workers already had a family in mind to adopt Olivia. If social workers etc have to lie and twist the truth to take children from their parents then it shows that otherwise they would have no case at all. This lady was an easy target - or so they thought - and that is what they go for; they don't deal with or tackle parents of children they know really are at risk, it's too much like hard work, only those they can lie about and get away with it. The family courts are complicit in this and so also have a lot to answer to.

- Bridget Doman, Sheffield, UK, 22/5/2012 14:50
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I do wonder what the criteria are for deciding that someone is going to be an unfit mother. It sounds as though it wasn't the mother's fitness to be a parent was so much in question as the 'proven' record of the father with the SS (how appropriate those initials can be in certain cases). I'm glad that Ms Coote has a good family to back up her and her daughter. Nothing can replace that. Not even the officiousness of some jobsworth who thinks they know best - or is too afraid of the worst when there is no need.

- Alice, Oxfordshire, 22/5/2012 14:48
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@Lizzy,no they are not.All they have to do is follow procedures,and they don`t.They lie in reports, manufacture evidence and ignore evidence.We were victims of SS because our daughter had Asperger`s and SS insisted we were "making it up",despite numerous expert opinions and the fact that it was obvious to every single person who met her.Except SS.They put her through hell and not once did they show the slightest concern for her welfare.I despise the whole corrupt lot of them.@Joe Burns,You are spot on,there are thousands of cases like this,unknown to the public and unreported.John Hemming is nothing short of a hero for his work to stop these evil practises.

- will, Cornwall, 22/5/2012 14:39
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That is is why I dropped my application to do a masters in social work not worth it.

- lola, somewhere in the uk, 22/5/2012 14:37
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social services, a contradiction in terms.......... what is required is a loving stable family. Not for a child to be placed in some council run hole that lets the kids walk the streets to become victims of the sex trade!!!!!!!!!

- comfortably numb, cambridge, 22/5/2012 14:34
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I am really pleased for her. Children's services and the shyster psychiatrists that they use as so called expert witnesses are not fit for purpose and should be fully investigated just like most other government departments.

- Cazzerole, Bedfordshire, 22/5/2012 14:27
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I agree with Lizzie. Damned if they do. Damned if they don't.

- Emma B, somewhere over the rainbow (with any luck!), 22/5/2012 14:19
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Yet another story of the terrifying powers that social services seem to wield.

- Steve Cahill, Sandy, Beds, 22/5/2012 14:09
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The reason that social services departments are willing to snatch babies from mothers, who have mild learning difficulties, or who they think might 'emotionally' harm their child, is due to the fact that they have been given financial incentives to increase the number of adoptions. Plenty of potential adoptive parents don't want to adopt children in care, who have had bad starts in life & who might have behavioural issues. Instead, potential adopters want to adopt babies. Instead of helping mums, who have mild learning difficulties, social workers go out of their way to snatch the baby/older child. Social workers are prepared to keep families together, where the parents have been cruel to the child(ren).

- Emma. D, The Land of Make Believe, 22/5/2012 14:04
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A big thank you to John Hemmings for speaking-out regarding the 'injustice' being practiced, in many cases, within the very secret family courts and family justice procedures' We all know that child protection in practice can never be a perfect science but the present situation within 'the system' is totally unacceptable. It is the children who are being made to suffer. They are having 'mistaken' 'false' judgement calls made for them, which are going unheard, unseen and unchallenged. Tim Loughton (Children's Minister) needs to EXAMINE the situation and he MUST be seen to be making a real EFFORT to redesign 'the child protection system' from bottom to top, so that it is made enabled to work. and is made the very best that it can be......................For The Sake Of The Children.

- Darnthesafetynet, London W11 1NR, 22/5/2012 13:59
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My beautiful vivaceous 4 year old princess was described by the NHS as an unviable baby half way through pregnancy. She needed a hormone that cost £ 12 that we had to get in Poland as its not available here. Everytime i see her I think about the thousands of women who thought the experts knew better and terminated the best thing that would ever happen to them. If a council cannot organise buses to run on time why should they play God with peoples lives. Good on you girl. Even with your learning difficulties you have shown more common sense than your local council

- A Parent, Edinburgh, 22/5/2012 13:57
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How many more times do we keep having to read these stories? Why dont social workers concentrate on the violent and abusive parents and leave the others alone. How manu children have been removed on this farcical potential future risk of emotional harm (who isnt?) but who are being damaged by being put into a failing state care system. Keep up yor good work John Hemmings!

- me, here, 22/5/2012 13:51
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£12000 in 3 months? Where did she stay the Hilton?

- glossyflower, Cambs, 22/5/2012 13:50
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This madness has to stop. When will people who adopt children realise that they are being lied to? Adoption boards are being lied to, Politicians and the Public are being lied to. There are many thousands of people like this whose children have been stolen to meet quotas, stolen on the basis of testimony of "Hired Gun" Psychologists and Social Workers prostituting themselves to Council Managers who are practicing Eugenics. It would all sound like a massive conspiracy theory if it wasn't all documented on official Government websites. There will be retribution for all this and the taxpayers will foot the bill yet again. Mutipy this case by at least 1000 a year for the last decade and you have some idea of the scale of the problem.

- Joe Burns, Dublin, Ireland, 22/5/2012 13:41
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Social services are damned if they do and damned if they don't, either way the press will make a story out of it

- Lizzy, East Anglia, 22/5/2012 13:37
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http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... ghter.html
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