Saturday, 9 February 2008

Well Done Bedfordshire Social Services!

One of the problems with a media driven world, is that only bad news makes headlines. Celebrating good news doesn't have a very high agenda. So, please allow me to fill your day with some good news, about an excellent social services department, and their Very Good Work.

Mr B is an older father, with multiple disabilites. He's been severely phsycially restricted for over two decades, and hase been suffering mental health problems due to the physical disability. His 2 and a half year old year old son Child D, is still breastfeeding vigorously, and is a happy and settled child. However, the past year has seen some very stressfull times for the family as a whole, in relation to Mr B's mental and physical state, and social services and medical services have been heavily involved.

Mrs B took the decision, to fill in a special form, that is circulated among all care professionals concerned with children, stating that the family needed extra support for Child D.

This was a scary thing for her to do, as she was approaching Children's Services herself, and stating she had a two plus year old still actively breastfeeding and bed sharing.

So, she spent a long time with her Health Visitor, making sure the right message was being sent, and making sure of the research, so that if any objections came up, the HV would be the one to answer them. Mrs B was adament that she would not be put in a position to lie to Children's Services about her child breastfeeding, neither would she defend herself. If comment was made, the HV, as the professional, must respond. The HV agreed.

After much trepidation, the form was submitted, and a Children's Social Worker visited the family home, to assess their extra needs. The social worker listened carefully and agreed that Child D did need extra funding to allow him to be outside the home when Mr B returned from gruelling physical therepy sessions at the local hospital, which took place twice weekly. Mr B needed calm on his return, to recover. Child D did not need to see his traumatised father crying in pain as he was unloaded from the ambulance.

The breastfeeding was not mentioned.

The social worker phoned back that afternoon, and asked Mrs B to find a suitable Nursery, and get back to her with the costs.

The breastfeeding was not mentioned.

The next week, the social worker phoned to say the team had decided to fund the Nursery place until Child D was 3 (and got normal funding) out of budget, which meant it would not be going to panel. If it went to panel, it would mean Child D would have to be in the system, have a permament social worker and lots of reports and visits. This was a huge waste of resources for a happy and well adjusted child, just needing a bit of support for a few months.

The breastfeeding was not mentioned.

Two weeks later, with Child D settled in a Nursery of Mrs B's chosing, and a lump sum to pay for the care in advance so there was no hassle over bills etc, Bedfordshire Children's Services signed off the case, and bowed out, with the understadning that if the family needed anymore support, to phone them immediately.

The breastfeeding was not mentioned.

I can't tell you how delighted I am to be able to report all this. ironically, of course, because eveything went so well, there's no one to write to and congratulate! Asking you to write to the appropriate people, would only cause confusion, as how would they track down a perfectly smooth case, which had run like clockwork, and eveyone was happy? Says something, about our world, doesn't it?

It also says something about fear, and not acting appropriately, from fear. And that although there may be pockets of social work departments, under resourced, badly managed, stressed, who are making inappropriate decisions and then refusing the accept they have been hasty... there are also well resourced, well run, excellent social service departments doing exactly what they should be doing - taking extra care of our vulnerable children.

So take a bow, Bedfordshire Social Services! *round of applause*

Never been happier in my life, that no one mentioned breastfeeding. :-)

If you know of any other Good News stories, let me know. Only by empowering those who do their job well, can we help support those trapped into doing their job badly.

1 comment:

Jane said...

Hmmmmm, Glad to hear it went well for them. However - did you hear the one about Bedfordshire SS threatening to put a child protection order on an unborn baby because it's Mother was reported to them by another agency for planning a homebirth (yes recently, this was 2008)? I kid you not. Of course it went nowhere and Mum had another lovely homebirth, but it was a horrible time for the family involved as you can imagine.