I have no faith in social workers, says Labour's family minister



I have no faith in social workers says Labour's family minister

By Steve Doughty

Steve Doughty is Social Affairs Correspondent. This article was previously published in the Daily Mail on October 20, 2000.



THE minister in charge of the Government's family policy launched a savage attack on the track record of social workers yesterday


Paul Boateng said social services had 'let down children year and year and year upon year'.

Mr Boateng - whose wife is a former social worker - added that he had no faith in their ability to help the young and vulnerable.

And he said of Government trust in social workers to carry out its policies aimed at children: 'The notion that we can just leave it to the social services is fanciful, frankly.'

The criticism from Mr Boateng, deputy to Home Secretary Jack straw, is one of the most stinging attacks ever made by a minister on the performance of social services departments.

It comes in the wake of repeated attempts by the Labour Government to improve the number of adoptions allowed by social workers in an effort to find secure families for some of the 50,000 children in council care.

Father-of-four Mr Boateng, 49, told the social workers' trade magazine, Community Care: 'If you are looking to me for a ringing endorsement of a

leadership role for social services in terms of meeting the needs of children and young people you ain't going to get it.


'They couldn't be relied on'

'They have a lead responsibility in relation to children in care. Of course they do. Would that they fulfilled that. They have let down children year and year and year upon year'

He added: 'I can remember it being a real issue to get social services, and those responsible for children in care, to attend parents' days. They wouldn't do it.

'Social services have not in the-past been capable of being relied upon even to do that.'

Speaking of the efforts of one charity to help families, Mr Boateng said: 'I know that while an organisation like Home Start was busy getting alongside parents who were going through a difficult time with their children, social services departments were busy withdrawing funds from Home Start.'

The Home Office tried earlier this year to remove adoption from the control of local council social workers. Mr Boateng is now making clear that the £450million Children's Fund set up by the Government to help the vulnerable young will not be channelled through social services.

Before Mr Boateng moved to the Home Office he was Health Minister in charge of social workers.

His wife Janet, 44, is a former social worker who went on to become a prominent Left-wing councillor in Lambeth, where as chairman of social services she pioneered the policy of banning white couples from adopting black children.

The idea that mixed-race adoptions are damaging still lingers in social services and adoption establishment thinking despite the dearth of evidence to support it.

Many black children have been denied adoptive families while social workers seek in vain to find for them adoptive parents of exactly the same racial background.

In 1998 Mr Boateng introduced new guidelines which warned that adoptions should not be blocked on grounds of race.


How to protect your family against social workers

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