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Liam Fee RIP - how many more?

(24 Posts)
Yukduck Tue 31-May-16 22:24:15

From the BBC News Website:

"*Social services had been alerted to the Fees but had failed to take any action*". "*In the days before his death, Liam suffered a broken leg and arm. He was killed by a blow to his abdomen which was so severe that it ruptured his heart. In total, he was found to have more than 30 injuries*".

Could someone from fostering please explain to me how this little 2yr old boy could be "known" to social services and not taken into foster care....... even after a broken leg and arm?

3PurpleCrocs Wed 01-Jun-16 11:26:33


Social services in the UK are currently run on a shoestring. The Tory government do not prioritise children, especially poor children. My LA's social care budget is about to be cut once again - it's already been reduced by over 50%.

Hospitals, teachers, foster carers (and many more) regularly report concerns to Social Services. Social workers are as frustrated as we are that the money is not there to adequately protect very vulnerable children. The threshold for removing children is now ridiculously high and decisions to remove have to be referrd to those who hold the purse strings instead of social service managers.

That's how this little boy could be "known" to social services and not taken into foster care.

NoahVale Wed 01-Jun-16 11:29:17

i believe the social worker assigned went off sick,

Yukduck Wed 01-Jun-16 13:10:28

Thank you 3purple. There was another post going on Scotnet so I posted there.

As I said on that thread there was a representative from Social Services on Breakfast TV this morning saying it was the "system" that was at fault and not "individual SW's". This woman said that "individual doctors did not cure Cholera, it was down to changing the water pump handle and the public using the water hole washing their hands" (or something to that gist). I think she was trying to say that individual SW's cannot stop a child being murdered or child abuse, and it is down to the "system".
That would not grate on me so much if SW's were not paid well, given powers, and well trained and had the public bringing suspected child abuse to their attention (in this case from more than one source).

So the SW went off sick? Maybe little Liam could have held out until she felt better and returned to work?

Twopots Wed 01-Jun-16 17:11:39

Social workers are very often over ruled by management and courts when trying to take a child into care. Social workers have few 'powers' all they can do is reports that are presented to management and courts in the hope that they are backed up with their decisions.

TeaBelle Wed 01-Jun-16 17:13:09

What powers do you believe that social workers have please?

Yukduck Wed 01-Jun-16 18:32:23

TeaBelle. I am not sure so I looked on the Gov website and it says to report suspected abuse to children's social services of your local authority. I believe Liam's childminder, nursery worker, and neighbours all reported concerns. They did the right thing thinking someone in authority would have the power to investigate a vulnerable toddler.

These were two evil women who murdered this little boy, not SW's. But when you are made aware of evil, and do nothing, does not that make you in some way culpable?

What power you have is irrelevant if you do not exercise it correctly.

TeaBelle Wed 01-Jun-16 18:37:20

Social services have a duty to investigate but no power. If a parent doesn't comply then the local authority can apply to the court for an assrssment order but this is very rarely used. The police have the power to remove for up to 72 hours until a formal order can be sought but this is rarely mentioned. Social services cannot remove a child without an order or parental consent. It is much much harder to gain emergency court orders recently as they are seen as draconian and against the parents human rights

whatdoIget Wed 01-Jun-16 18:42:22

It's really easy to try and blame individual social workers rather than blaming the system they have to work within. You don't have to be an insane masochist to work in child protection, but it helps. And no, I'm not a social worker.

LunaLoveg00d Wed 01-Jun-16 18:48:47

Social services in the UK are currently run on a shoestring. The Tory government do not prioritise children, especially poor children. My LA's social care budget is about to be cut once again - it's already been reduced by over 50%

That may be true, but the Fees live in Scotland, where social work, education and health are all devolved and run by the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. Conservatives have nothing to do with it - SNP manage funding. (Although they would say that they are constrained by the Barnett formula and if Scotland were an independent nation etc etc etc)

Also it's worth pointing out that the SNP are pushing through controversial "Named Person" legislation which gives each child in Scotland a "named person" such as a health visitor, social worker or teacher to look out for their interests and "manage" them through childhood. This is happening whether the parents like it or not, whether the family cause concern or not. Everyone. SNP claim that a "named person" will prevent cases like Liam Fee because there will be a professional in charge who will pull together different agencies, stop children disappearing off the radar, stop these sorts of cases where children slip through the net and achieve their goal of Getting It Right For Every Child.

Fife was one of the areas chosen to pilot the scheme. Liam Fee had a "named person".

I think the problem is that worries were not followed up - people HAD raised concerns about the child, namely his childminder and nursery staff. They reported worries and this wasn't followed up. That is the key problem here.

Yukduck Wed 01-Jun-16 18:52:36

whatdoIget I am just an ordinary mum and nan. I have a 2yr old dgd so this has left me reeling. I am really not trying to lay blame. It was those two evil women who committed the murder, not the individual SW's.

All that said, but if we do not learn from our mistakes we become somehow less than human. Humans learn, improve, develop, grow.

I keep hearing "it is the system, not the SW's". But please explain to me WHAT system? It fails so often. It does not learn. We are going down the independent enquiry route again. This is our only tool/power/resource (call it what you will) between a child's life and a child's death.

TealLove Wed 01-Jun-16 18:55:14

The full story of this child's short life is one of the saddest things I have ever read. He honestly had the most tortorous existence. No one noticed? There were other children present too.

QuiteLikely5 Wed 01-Jun-16 19:01:19

Ok so the SW goes into the home, it is clean, the boy is well fed, the parents claim they are having a loving relationship, he attends his nursery regularly, is the SW wrong to let the boy stay??

You do not know the ins and outs

There needs to be firm evidence before the judge will grant an order, what evidence did SW have that there was abuse???

NoahVale Wed 01-Jun-16 19:24:42

So the SW went off sick? Maybe little Liam could have held out until she felt better and returned to work?

sw's case load should have been redistributed. somehow it was missed.
over worked over stretched social services. not funded properly by the government.
the parents killed the boy.

Yukduck Wed 01-Jun-16 20:17:32

QuiteLikely5 I or Joe Public, not SW's, go into a child's home, it is clean, the boy is well fed, we are not trained and have not the benefit of experience nor a university degree, nor do we have intelligence from other sources to be aware of possible abuse, so we leave and the boy stays.

Do you see the flaw in the plan?

fasparent Thu 02-Jun-16 23:24:45

There are Liams and baby P's., who do survive , but sadly require lots time and support too recover, But have too join the NHS Q , for treatment, many do not understand brain injury and trauma in baby's and children, and the development delays.
There is need for a national confidential support network. for learning and reserch for such baby's and infants.

MermaidCafe Sat 04-Jun-16 08:09:54

This case was tragic and is every social workers worst nightmare. I work part time in a child protection duty team. I have 25 children on my caseload, that's 25 sets of professionals/parents who want their concerns acting on. I work 2 days a week. I can't sign up to any training because that would mean giving up a day of seeing families.each case has more paperwork and forms to complete than you can imagine. We are understaffed and not paid to stay til 7,8pm like I have to do when placing vulnerable families in emergency b&b, or checking out every concern, or gut feeling, or making unannounced visits to check if parents are taking drugs, or that the children have been fed, or removing them to a foster home due to abuse and neglect.
The managers are not as supportive as they could be as they have pressures of budgets to adhere to. This case was tragic, but please do not blame the social worker. There's enough of us leaving the profession as it is. I wish you could spend a day shadowing us, I think that you might then understand how children can slip through the gaps.

Yukduck Sat 04-Jun-16 15:01:32

MermaidCafe No one yet has blamed the SW's. It was not the SW who killed little Liam. However, social services were the only agency that had access to the whole picture. SS had intelligence gathered from many concerned sources, the power to do home visits, enforce actions upon the parents, apply to court to remove the child. The failure to act caused Liam to "fall through the net". (Whose net?).
I am glad you posted as it gives an idea of how broken the system is. But WHY do you have unsupportive managers? WHY are so many SW's leaving? I have worked in mental health support, women's refuges, drug and alcohol rehab all my life and I know how onerous the paperwork is, and that has always been the case.
I hear so much about budget cuts but no one really says what that actually means. 3purplecrocs posted of 50% budget cuts. Are you paid 50% less? Do you do carry twice the caseload for the same money? Are there twice the children at risk of significant harm than there were before the budget cuts?
Saying "budget cuts" is about as meaningful as saying "good parenting" or "adequate food". It is all relative and can be translated/spun/argued any way you want according to what you are trying to convey/hide.
If budget cuts mean you are not employing enough staff, or there are not enough foster places, then I hope the death of Liam, Baby P and Daniel Pelka, give power to your elbow to get this sorted.
Otherwise the death of this little boy counts for nothing.

3PurpleCrocs Sat 04-Jun-16 21:25:45

Yuk duck, yes many people are doing almost double the amount of work they previously were. Most of us have taken pay cuts - not just social workers but family support workers, contact centre supervisors, foster carers, admin workers... It's not just wages that have been hit by the cuts though, contact centres have closed, supervision visits have stopped, sure start centres that were vital to parents who were only just coping all closed long ago.

The number of children at home on supervision orders has increased massively. The number of support workers and health visitors monitoring them has fallen significantly.

The whole "care" system is secretly being dismantled by a government who want to privatise it. Liam, Baby P and Daniel Pelka are the tip of the ice berg, the cases that hit the headlines. Sadly children die at the hands of their parents all the time. The BBC estimates it at one child death every ten days.

blueskyinmarch Sat 04-Jun-16 21:46:36

The SE who went off sick appears to have been involved in very early 2013. That is very much a red herring. SW were involved at later stages too. In not saying SW were blameless I am just pointing out that the SW who went off sick had no bearing on what happened to Liam.

Yukduck Sun 05-Jun-16 16:19:32

Hi 3purple. Privatisation as an aim is a worry. If the system does not work now then I do not see how it can work at all when it needs to be run by an accountable CEO and run for profit. What is going to attract in a private buyer?
If social care is practically bankrupt, understaffed, and not an attractive career prospect for new blood, then any CEO is not going to run the risk of being found corporately responsible when the next little Liam dies due to "falling through the net". Any CEO will have to fall on his/her sword and be publicly flayed by the media.
We are not talking delivering letters here, or running the trains. No one died (I hope) if a postcard did not arrive. These are the lives of vulnerable children in daily danger.
Child protection is not a business (fostered children do not pay to be fostered/families do not pay to have social services intervention). I do not see where any profit is to be found that would attract privatisation.
Royal Mail/the train service have customers that pay to use their services, so that is a business.
We cannot use our vulnerable children at risk of significant harm, and our vulnerable families as a "business proposition" surely? How can that be morally correct?

3PurpleCrocs Sun 05-Jun-16 21:54:19

Oldish article but still valid

EnglishIrishRose Mon 06-Jun-16 08:10:18 Private companies, investment firms and merchant banks are already making millions from foster care. And no, it makes no logical or moral sense!

fasparent Mon 13-Jun-16 00:16:08

WOW !!! ENGLISHIRISHROSE That is Explosive , Daylight Robbery of UK's Children's Services via Privatisation
No wonder LA's finances are overstretched. Consevative , fast tracking,Adoption, SGO, and Fostering fast tracking, EU Euro Bonds. Stock market aquisitions, sell off's payout's on and on.
Canadian Teachers Pension fund profiting from UK Adoption and Fostering by excess of £70million. this is just ONE. UK NHS and Social Care is such a soft target.
There is a urgent need for UK too take CONTROL. Fostering should become a public statutary paid profesion as in Nursing and Social Work this should do away with privatisation. Thought private fostering
and Adoption was illegal in the UK , But not for the commercial sector apparently.

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