Poorer parents have born the brunt of the government’s drive to increase adoption, a charity has claimed.
Legal Action for Women is an international organisation which, as the name suggests, helps women in need of legal assistance. In a new report, it cites research by social work professor Dr Andy Bilson of the University of Lancashire. He found a 65 per cent increase over the last 15 years in the number of children adopted from the care system or living with special guardians – from 87,090 to no less than 143,440.
Adoptions have increased by 40 per cent in just five years, the Professor added – but the number of children in care also went up by more than seven per cent over the same period, reaching 70,440.
These findings indicate, the professor claims, that the government’ focus on adoption over the last few years has not cut the number of children stuck in the care system but has instead simply increased the number separated from their parents.
“This is very unlikely to be due to an increase in abuse. The vast majority of this is about neglect or emotional abuse, often through witnessing domestic violence. Both of these can be better dealt with through family support and responses to poverty and deprivation.”
“We are more willing to spend money on someone else looking after these children than in making sure the parents make a good job of it.”
Bilson’s research and related material will be presented to MPs later today at an event in the House of Commons entitled Suffer the Little Children: Stopping the forced separation of children from their mothers & the privatisation of child protection.
Legal Action for Women will argue that the adoption drive disproportionately affects women in lower income households and urge an end to the “the unjust separation of children from their mothers.”
Statistics cited by the campaigners include that the fact that the number of children in the care system is now the highest it has been since 1985; that one in five children under the age of five will be referred to children’s services; and that more child protection investigations take place in Britain than anywhere else in Europe.
The vast majority of adoptions – more than 90 per cent – take place without the consent of the family.
Report author Anne Neale said:
“Charges of neglect are used to punish, especially single-mother families, for their unbearably low incomes. The fundamental relationship between mother and child is dismissed as irrelevant to a child’s wellbeing and development, and the trauma of separation, and its lifelong consequences, are ignored.”
Photo by Christian Scheja via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.