Haringey say record rates of children in care not down to Baby P case
Haringey Council’s children’s chief has denied that social workers are taking record numbers of young people into care because they are fearful of another Baby P scandal.
Her comments come as new Department for Education figures revealed there were 615 children in care in the borough - the second highest figure in London and twice as many as neighbouring Camden.
Just 15 of these children have been adopted.
Some commentators had put this down to the “Baby Peter effect” as social workers lower the threshold for taking children into care following the death of 17 month-old in 2007 at the hands of his mother, her boyfriend and their lodger.
Peter Connelly had been on the council’s child protection register and had been seen repeatedly by social workers.
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But Cllr Lorna Reith insisted Haringey social workers followed the same guidelines as other authorities, and that the higher figures were instead due to the large number of siblings taken into care.
She said: “When I first took over as lead member for children I think we were picking up some cases where it was clear that children’s services should have intervened in the family earlier and hadn’t. We called them the legacy cases.
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“But we are probably passed that now.
“There are other factors at play. Very, very rarely do we just take one child from a family, if a family isn’t managing and children are at risk then all of them need to be taken into care.
“That is one of the nightmares of adoption – if you have a group of brothers and sisters you want them to live together as a family, but finding adoptive parents willing to take them all in is very difficult.
“At what point do you say that you need to start looking for an individual adoption for them?”
The figures come as the government launches a Green Paper setting out new “floor standards” demanding councils see a minimum number of children in care are adopted within a set time frame, or face having the service contracted out.
Just five children were adopted in Camden this year, while in Barnet this figure stood at ten, and in Haringey just 15.
But Cllr Reith said that a reluctance among prospective parents to adopt children older than six and court delays were the main forces slowing the adoption rate.
“You sometimes know a particular family won’t make a success of raising a particular child, but the court says it wants to wait a while longer,” she said.
“There are delays with courts making decisions about a child’s permanent removal from a home that have been detrimental to the child.”