Children living in homes marred by domestic violence are more likely to be taken into care following recent cuts to support services, a charity has claimed.
According to children’s welfare charity the Family Rights Group, many social workers now default to care proceedings when domestic violence concerns are raised. Chief executive Cathy Ashley said:
“Our data tells us … that the state’s way of dealing with domestic violence is often to end up with a child being made subject to child protection plans.”
Mothers victimised by violence are frequently told to leave their homes immediately or have their children taken into care, said the charity. Such women are then forced to move into substandard housing elsewhere, isolating them from their families and communities.
“What that tells the woman is you cannot report abuse to the police or you risk losing your children.”
Government spending cuts and benefit changes mean troubled families find it much harder to reach appropriate help such as refuges, outreach programmes and treatment for perpetrators, the Family Rights Group claimed. Local authorities now often do not become involved until the situation has deteriorated and the family qualifies for crisis intervention.
Polly Neate of Women’s Aid agreed with the claims, saying cuts in the funding of domestic support services meant that mothers were now “more at risk of losing their children than would have been the case”.
The Family Rights Group has seen an 803 per cent rise in the number of enquiries concerning domestic violence over the last five years, it said, with most calls coming from people on low incomes.