Siblings in care separated ‘too often’, says social work report

A meeting also heard 810 children in Glasgow are currently in care – and 75% of them are from the poorest areas.

Siblings in care separated ‘too often’, says social work report Getty Images

Vulnerable Glasgow children in care are “too often” being placed in homes outside the city and siblings separated from each other, a social work report has said. 

A meeting heard 810 children in the city are currently in care – and 75% of them are from the poorest areas – classed as SIMD 1 and 2. 

The numbers of kids on the Child Protection Registration fell from 421 in April 2020 to 285 in June 2021.

A chief social work report presented to councillors on Thursday said: “Children and young people from Glasgow are still too often placed out-with the authority.

“Brothers and sisters are still placed separately where that would be neither the plan nor the desired outcome.”

Councillor Graham Campbell said: “I have examples from my experience where brothers and sisters, siblings from the same family, are separated in foster care arrangements.” 

He asked for details on how often it happens and how long it goes on for.

Interim chief social work officer Jacqueline Kerr said the teams try if at all possible to ensure siblings are not separated when going into care. 

She said if they are apart they ensure contact between them is arranged. 

SNP Councillor Campbell, who has been in care himself, asked Ms Kerr to supply details of the ethnicity, age and any disability of children in care and other details. He said BAME communities are “overrepresented” in the statistics. 

Councillor Campbell also raised issues about children’s hearing panels -which is a legal meeting for young people in need of support or protection.

He said: “The parents feel disempowered by that process. Quite often at the panels the important staff who need to be there, in particular the police, are very often not present. Therefore these hearings continue, until eventually charges are dropped against parents and children are returned to their families.”

He added: “There is a pattern of this happening in African families, which is disproportionate.”

The Springburn/Robroyston politician asked for details on social workers getting training on being cultural aware. 

Referring to the huge drop in child protection registrations, Councillor Campbell also asked whether children at risk have been missed and what is being done to catchup following lockdown. 

The meeting heard the  Children’s Hearing Improvement Partnership (CHIP) is looking at ways to improve practice. 

Speaking at the Wellbeing, Empowerment, Community and Citizen Engagement City Policy Committee, Ms Kerr said: “The children’s hearing partnership work is in place now. It is looking at making sure the children’s hearings are representative and supportive to children and their families.”

She said work is underway nationally to look at the training of social workers to learn about supporting people from different cultures. 

Ms Kerr said the fall in child protection registrations is a national trend. 

She said the  child protection committee are looking at the drop to check if the team had missed anything during lockdown. She said initial signs indicate that is not the case – and a children’s service  transformation programme is helping families cope with resilience and support. 

Councillors praised the social work team for the work they have carried out during the financial year 2020 to 2021.

The chief social work report said: “The past 18 months have been the most challenging experience for our Children and Families Social Workers.

“Our residential staff have demonstrated a tireless commitment to our children, young people and their families. Our foster carers have also provided children and young people with opportunities to continue to see their own mums and dads, while responding to the challenges of home schooling and providing the nurturing homes needed for our young people to thrive and develop.

“While challenging, our staff have demonstrated the importance of supporting families, maintaining a focus on their strengths.”

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