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Black Children Looked After - Ferns Associates

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					                                               Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                         Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                         Final Report



                            CONTENTS
    1.   Introduction                                     Page 3
         1.1 Aims of the project                                 3
         1.2 Setting up & limitations of the project             4
         1.3 Structure of the report                             5
    2.   Research context                                 Page 6
         2.1 Black children „looked after „                      7
         2.2 Substance abuse (drugs and alcohol)                  15
         2.3 Mental health                                        23
         2.4 Domestic violence                                    25
         2.5 Current debates in child protection                  32
    3.   Project methodology and process                 Page 35
         3.1 Timetable for the project                            35
         3.2 The methodology of the project                       36
    4.   Findings from the whole population              Page 39
         of black children „looked after‟
         4.1 Local context for black children                     39
                „looked after‟
         4.2 Local context for black disabled children          41
         4.3 Statistical analysis of the whole population       42
    5.   Findings from the sample of case                Page 50
         records
         5.1 Selection of the sample of case records                 50
         5.2 Factors for analysis                                    51
         5.3 Indicators of positive practice                         52
         5.4 Analysis of specific factors                            53
         5.5 Factors not included in the                   71
                28 factor analysis
    6.   Findings from one to one interviews Page 75
         6.1 Factors which we considered                             75
         6.2 Analysis of one-to-one interviews                       76
    7.   Findings from the focus groups                          Page 82
         7.1 Feedback from parents                                   82
         7.2 Feedback from service providers                         83
                (Children & Families Division)
         7.3 Feedback from social workers                            85
                (Community Services Division)
         7.4 Feedback from black young people                        87
    8.   Findings from project visits                            Page 90
         8.1 People & projects visited                               90
         8.2 Family support agencies                                 90
         8.3 Key themes from project visits                          93


    9.   Service development                             Page 103
1                                                  Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                             Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                       Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                       Final Report

          9.1 Developing effective services                      103
          9.2 Preventative services                              104
          9.3 Developing alcohol services                        109
          9.4 Developing drug services                           110
          9.5 Developing services to respond                     111
                 to domestic violence
    10.   Conclusion & recommendations                 Page 113

    11.   Bibliography                                 Page 119




2                                                Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                      Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                                Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                                Final Report



1.   INTRODUCTION
     Following expressed concerns about the over-representation of black children
     “Looked After”, in 1997, Liverpool Social Services Directorate commissioned a
     study to consider the factors which lead to black children and young people
     entering the care system.

1.1 Aims of the Project
     The aims of the project are:
      To help identify practice issues that may have an impact on decisions
       which in turn may lead to black children and young people becoming
       “looked after”.
      To identify any limitations in the services available for black children and
       young people which may affect the outcomes of their care.
      To gather the views of social workers, other professionals carers and black
       young people about these matters.
      To offer recommendations which may lead to a reduction in the number of
       black children and young people being looked after.

     The researchers commissioned to undertake this work were Melanie Phillips,
     Peter Ferns and Jabeer Butt. Between them they have over forty years
     experience in the field of social welfare practice and research.

     Melanie Phillips is a qualified black social worker with eighteen years
     experience in social work practice, research and training with children and
     their families. Peter Ferns is a qualified black social worker with twenty years
     experience in social work management and practice, specialising in work with
     disabled children and adults and work in adult mental health. Jabeer Butt is a
     qualified black researcher with over ten years experience in research in social
     welfare specialising in the provision of services to black and minority ethnic
     communities.

     This report of the research project outlines the way in which we approached
     the project, along with our findings, recommendations and conclusion. In
     writing this report we have also drawn upon a substantial amount of research
     material which both supports and informs our conclusions.

     Whilst much research is available in relation to issues at a national level, the
     findings from our research will also provide a more specific and localised
     picture. By providing this information, it is hoped that this project will ultimately
     help Liverpool County Council to address the issues for black children and
     their families in the locality from an informed perspective.

1.2 Setting up & limitations of the Project
     The researchers worked closely with a Steering Group and Task Group in
     completing the study. Several meetings were held to discuss and refine the
     original brief. The time-limited nature of the work required a prioritisation of the
3                                                         Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                    Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                              Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                              Final Report

    objectives that were initially stated by the Steering Group. It was agreed that a
    broad qualitative approach should be adopted as it would be more useful for
    the Department to have an insight into why there was an over-representation
    of black children in the „Looked After‟ system rather than continuing to debate
    the accuracy of the recorded figures and further statistical analysis of
    services.

    The case study analysis was viewed as the primary source of any hypotheses
    that would shed light onto the „pathway into care‟ for black children. The
    researchers emphasised that it was important not to enter into the study with
    strong, preconceptions about why black children and families required
    „Looked After‟ services in Liverpool as each area had a mix of factors which
    was specific to their locality and community circumstances. There was an
    awareness that the Liverpool area was unique in its history and traditions and
    the relationships within and between black and white populations had to be
    understood on the basis of an awareness of this local history.

    Consequently, the researchers agreed to take into account national and
    international research but not to restrict the derivation of their hypotheses to
    these wider findings. The researchers agreed to use the case record analysis
    to formulate some tentative hypotheses which would then be refined through a
    process of in-depth, one-to-one interviews and focus groups. By the half-way
    stage in the work it became apparent that further visits to local voluntary
    sector services were necessary to develop the initial hypotheses, and it was
    negotiated at that stage. The idea behind this approach was to be as sensitive
    as possible to the particular factors operating for black families in Liverpool
    and to represent the concerns of black children and families involved in the
    „Looked After‟ system.

    At the beginning of the Project it had been thought that the researchers might
    be able to select a small sample of care plans for white children, to provide
    some comparative material. However, on reflection it was agreed with the
    Project Steering Group that using a small sample would not have sufficient
    validity in research terms and that comparisons between practice with white
    and black families would require an equally large sample of black to white
    children, which was not feasible within the timescale. Instead it was decided
    that there would be a focus on practice with black families, which was the
    primary objective of the initiative.

    It had been discussed at the beginning of the project that the researchers
    could consider the ethnicity of the social worker as one of the          variables
    in the analysis of case records. However, it       soon became clear that this
    would not be possible to achieve, for a number of reasons. The first was that
    some children and young people had a number of social workers, both white
    and black and it would be difficult to isolate ethnicity as a single factor in the
    progress of the case. The second was that some children and families had
    key black people who were involved in their situation, whether these were
    relatives or professionals, and in these cases these people were often more
    important than their social worker as sources of support or guidance. The third

4                                                       Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                    Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                              Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                              Final Report

    reason was that ethnicity did not emerge as the main variable in determining
    the outcome of the case. Factors such as:
            the level of engagement with the family
            the amount of support offered
            the extent of involvement etc…
    were more important to the outcome and cut across boundaries of
    ethnicity and culture of the worker.

    The focus groups provided valuable but limited access to the views of social
    workers and service users. It would have been preferable to have conducted
    more one-to-one interviews, especially with black families, but the time
    constraints and funding for the piece of work did not allow us to do this. In the
    event there were problems in achieving sufficient attendance at the focus
    groups for black young people and families. The researchers were forced to
    rely on project visits and additional one-to-one interviews with smaller
    numbers of people than intended.

    The project visits were extremely valuable in helping the researchers to focus
    down on the key themes which were relevant to current problem areas in
    practice and the future development of services for black children and
    families. The area of prevention work with black families was highlighted by
    the Steering Group as being of crucial importance in considering the
    improvement of services. Hence, more consultancy time was negotiated and
    used to formulate a critical analysis of the service areas which were pertinent
    to the problems and concerns arising from the case record analysis, in-depth
    interviews and focus groups. There is no doubt that a more detailed analysis
    of the local services could be achieved, as only a sample of the key local
    services were visited. However, as stated earlier, the study was meant to
    focus on the process of black children coming into the „Looked After‟ system
    and the preventative measures which could be most effective in providing
    assistance to black families who are vulnerable to crises.




5                                                       Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                        Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                                  Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                                  Final Report

1.3 Structure of the report
       This report is divided into ten sections as follows.
1. Introduction

2. Research context
      Analysis of research findings to set the national context for the issues raised
      by our research study. We analysed the findings in relation to:
       Black children looked after
       Mental health
       Drugs
       Alcohol
       Domestic violence
       Current debates in child protection

3. Project methodology and process
       An outline of the methodology we used in the project and the process we
       followed in undertaking the research.

4. Findings on whole sample
       An outline of specific findings in relation to all black children “looked after” by
       Liverpool Social Services for whom we had care planning documentation.
       These findings are set out in diagrammatic form.

5. Findings from case record sample
       Analysis of 28 factors which we considered in looking at the sample of case
       records, plus commentary on specific additional factors.

6. Findings from one-to-one interviews
       Analysis of the findings from the sample of one-to-one interviews which we
       undertook.

7. Findings from focus groups
       Analysis of the findings from all of the focus groups undertaken.

8. Findings from visits
       An outline of findings from visits to local agencies providing support services
       to adults and children in difficulty. These agencies were selected on the basis
       that they provided key services to address the types of needs that were
       identified by our research.

9. Suggestions for service development
      Suggestions for improving and developing services to black children and their
      families.

10. Conclusion & summary of recommendations

2.     RESEARCH CONTEXT

6                                                           Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                     Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                               Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                               Final Report

2.1 Black Children „Looked After‟

2.1.1 The representation of black & mixed parentage children
       in the care system
      There are no nationally published statistics available on the ethnic
      breakdown of children in the care system, or identification of       the
      processes by which children have come to be looked after. We are therefore
      heavily reliant on research studies in    attempting to ascertain both the
      numbers of black children in       care, and more importantly the reasons why
      these children are in the care system.

      In turning to research, we need to be cautious about simply identifying the
      numbers of children in the care system, and      seeking to address this issue
      through a reduction in the figures.        Evidence from a variety of sources
      shows us that social work practice with black families is not just about
      over-intervention in the lives of families by removing children from home
      inappropriately, but is also characterised by under-intervention where black
      children have not been adequately protected from significant harm.

      In conducting our research on behalf of Liverpool Social      Services we
      have been mindful of other research data on black children and the child
      protection and child care system. This has helped us to identify key indicators
      for practice to draw upon in designing our approach and methodology for the
      project.

      These indicators have helped us to identify the extent to which intervention
      with black families is appropriate as well as areas for review and
      development. They have also helped us to look at the balance between
      investigative practice and family support practice, and therefore to link our
      research to national debates presently underway about the future of child
      protection work for white as well as black families.

      We outline below some of the key research material available in relation to
      child care and child protection practice with black families so that we can give
      a context to the issues identified for Liverpool Social Services Directorate.

       The concern about the over-representation of black children within the care
system expressed by Liverpool Social Services          Directorate echoes a number
of identified research studies    conducted over the last thirty years. These studies
have suggested
       that there has been an over-intervention in families resulting in
       inappropriate removal of black children.

      It was as long ago as 1954, in a paper entitled “The Problem of the Coloured
      Child: The Experience of the National Children‟s Home” (NCH 1954) that
      concern was first expressed about the presence of black children within the
      care system. Although concerns originally focused on problems which black
      children presented the care system rather than the problems which the care
      system presented to black children.
7                                                        Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                      Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                                Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                                Final Report


        Whilst studies from the 1960s to the present day have       highlighted the
over-representation of black children within the       care system, a particular
feature of almost all studies is the      number of children of mixed parentage
within the care system.

       In the 1960s a study conducted showed that children of
       “mixed origin” were eight and a half times more likely to come into care than
“white indigenous” and African Caribbean and Asian children. In 1975 a study by
Batta et al showed a similar      pattern, indicating that “the number of
Afro-Caribbean and          Asian children coming into care had increased much
faster than the two other groups since the study was done”. (quoted in
       Barn,1990).

       The Soul Kids Campaign in 1977 was a response to
       growing concern about the numbers of black children with one
       white parent and with two black parents coming into care.

              “The picture that gave rise to the steering groups‟ concern (was) the
              large number of black children coming into and remaining in care,
              usually growing up in a predominantly white, institutional environment. “
               (Soul Kids Campaign 1977).

       Two studies in the 1980s also reflected the high proportion of black children in
       the care of local authorities. Adams in 1981      selected a random sample of
       children in care and found that 49 of the 90 children were black. In 1982
       Wilkinson found that in Tower Hamlets over 50% of the children in their care
       were black.
       In 1989 Bebbington and Miles conducted a study of 2,500         children in local
authority care and found that black children of mixed parentage were two and a half
times more likely than       white children to come into local authority care.

       Also in 1989, a study conducted by Rowe et al showed
       that black children were over-represented in all six of the project authorities
studied. She also identified that of the care  population, of black children 44%
were of mixed parentage. (Rowe et al 1989)

      One particularly interesting finding in her study was that the rate of admission
      into care of children of mixed parentage seemed to be linked with the black
      population within the geographical area. Within areas of high black population
      the admission rate for black children of mixed parentage was under half of the
      black children within the care system, whilst in areas with small black
      populations children of mixed parentage were the majority of the overall
      number of black children in care.

      In 1991 Fratter et al studied the amount of contact that children within the care
      system had with parents. They found that        children with two black parents
      were more likely than mixed parentage children or white children to have
      regular contact with their birth families.

8                                                         Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                     Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                               Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                               Final Report


2.1.2 Studies of process & causation
     To date studies had focused on the numbers of black children within the care
     system but had not sought to explain the causes for this nor the process by
     which this occurred. In 1993 Ravinder Barn attempted to look beyond the
     statistics to try and establish some of the causes for this outcome. She began
     by looking at the profile of the care population of the authority studied and
     found that black children were over-represented and constituted over 50% of
     the care population. She also found that of this population of black children
     35% were of mixed parentage, and that there were fewer boys of mixed
     parentage (47%) than girls (55%).

     Barn identified key aspects of social work practice to ascertain if there was a
     quantifiable difference in social welfare practice with black families as
     compared to white families and concluded that there was a quantifiable
     difference in practice. She states;

      “It is evident that black and white children     experience a different
      reality in the care system”.

     Her main conclusions can be summarised as follows :
      An overwhelming majority of the black children in care were from single
       parent households, mostly headed by a mother.
      Black children were much more likely than white children to come from
       higher socio-economic groups.
      Both black boys and black girls were disproportionately represented in the
       care population, and such representation was not specific to a particular
       age group.
      The majority of black children entered care on a voluntary basis, this was
       not the case for white children.
      There were qualitative differences in the amount of social work help
       employed in the early stages of referral and admission into the care
       system.
      The police were more likely to refer black children than white children for
       delinquency.
      The health service was more likely to refer black children than white
       children for reasons of mental health.
      Black and white children entered care for different reasons. Black
       children were more likely to enter care for socio-economic
       reasons, relationship difficulties and mother‟s mental health.
       While white children entered care for reasons of parental neglect
       / inadequacy / failure to thrive, child abuse delinquency, non-
       school attendance and the child‟s behaviour.
      Black children were admitted into care twice as quickly as white children.
      Although black children entered care on a voluntary basis, once in care
       they were as likely as white children to be made subjects of compulsory
       care, and black children were more likely than white children to be made
       subject of a parental rights resolution.

9                                                        Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                      Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                                Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                                Final Report

       Black children experienced a higher level of parental contact than white
        children.

      In identifying these differences Barn was able to explode some       of the
      myths that had existed in relation to the reason for the over-representation of
      black children within the care system. These myths can be summarised as
      follows:

       Referrals
       There was not a great deal of difference in the numbers of black families in
comparison to white families referred to social services. The number of black
children referred by agencies      other than social services was only slightly higher
than that for white children and the number of black parents who referred
       themselves was equal to that of white families. However, there        was a
measurable difference in response to black children as to      white children
subsequent to the referral.

      Socio-economics
      There had been an assumption that the impact of racism on the
      socio-economic conditions of black communities had disadvantaged black
      families socially and economically and this had meant that it was more likely
      that black children would therefore come into the care system.

       Whilst it is true that black families are disadvantaged socially       and
economically by racism, and also that children in care           tend to come from
socially and economically disadvantaged             backgrounds, Barn was able to
demonstrate that the black            children in her sample came from higher
socio-economic         groups than their white counterparts. In fact 47% of the black
       children‟s mothers were in white collar and skilled manual       occupations
compared to 22% of white children.

      Route into care
      Up until her study there had been little analysis of the route that     black
      children had taken into the care system in comparison to         white children.
      Few discussions about black children‟s route into         care in comparison to
      white children, actually took place but an assumption was made that both
      black and white children entered care in the same way at the same rate.

       Barn was able to demonstrate that although black children were more likely to
       enter via voluntary care (under previous legislation: Section 2 of the 1980
       Child Care Act), they were as likely as white children to be made subject to
       compulsory care. She also found that that they entered care twice as quickly
       as white children and were more likely to made subject to a parental rights
       resolution, more likely to have parental contact and less likely to be
       rehabilitated,

       Barn also identified specific differences in practice in the early     stages of
the case with black families as compared to white.        She noted that there was less
help available to black families in         comparison to white.
10                                                        Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                       Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                                 Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                                 Final Report


        Referrals from other agencies
        Barn identified that it was not just social workers that were operating
differently with black children as to white. She noted that the police were more
likely to refer black children than white
        children for “delinquency” and the health service were more likely to refer
        black children than white children on the basis of the mother‟s mental health.

2.1.3 Lessons from research studies & inquiry reports for the
          Liverpool project
       A more recent study, which Barn undertook in 1997 entitled “Acting on
       Principle” reinforced some of her earlier conclusions as well as highlighted
       further issues. Amongst her more significant findings are:
        Parents of Asian and African Caribbean children were least likely to refer
          themselves to services.
        A significant number of white mothers of children of mixed parentage
          referred their children to social services.
        Proportionately more black children than white were subject to child
          protection investigations.
        Mother‟s mental health was significant in relation to referral of Asian,
          African Caribbean and mixed parentage children, although highest for
          children of African Caribbean origin (32%of referrals).
        African Caribbean children and children of mixed parentage were
          over-represented within the care population.
        Children of African Caribbean origin were more likely than white children or
          mixed parentage children to be accommodated within two weeks of referral.

       This study reinforces the message that black children are over-represented
       within the care population, and that children of mixed parentage are
       particularly highly represented. It identifies that a larger proportion of black
       children were subjects of child protection investigations, and again highlights
       the faster rate of admission into the system for black children, particularly for
       those of African Caribbean origin

       The study also highlights the number of black children who are            referred
       as a result of their mother‟s mental health. This research         also has to be
       connected with research into the involvement of black people in the mental
       health system which shows that black people, particularly of African
       Caribbean origin are over-represented amongst compulsory admissions to
       psychiatric hospital and under-represented in referral to and use of
       preventative services. With the larger number of child protection investigations
       of black children it is clear that black children are      often represented in the
       statutory end of children‟s service          provision, as is the case with adult
       mental health services.

        It is also interesting to note that a significant number of white        mothers
of children of mixed parentage referred themselves to              social services, and
clear that one of the main responses to this          request was admission into the care
system, evidenced by the over-representation of black children of mixed parentage.
11                                                         Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                      Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                                Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                                Final Report


      The research into black children in the care system provides some pointers as
      to why there is an over-representation of black children within the care
      system, and particularly highlights the need for research to be qualitative in its
      analysis and not just quantitative. The key to making positive changes for
      black children should not just be about reducing numbers, but effectively
      examining practice, which leads to black children entering the system.

      By considering the routes by which black children enter care so we can
      disseminate and consolidate good practice along with targeting specific areas
      of change from an informed perspective.

      There are also further questions to be asked about the nature of intervention
      with black families, and particularly in relation to the balance of risk and need.
      Whilst Barn‟s studies in particular have highlighted the need for early support
      and intervention there has not been much discussion within studies
      undertaken to date about how need should be assessed in relation to black
      families. Nor has consideration been given to the extent to which this may be
      similar of different to models used for white families, or where black families fit
      into the refocusing children‟s services in relation to family support debate.

        This is particularly evident when looking at significant cases of
        under-intervention in black families where children were not protected from
significant harm. A number of Inquiry Reports from the mid 1980s until the mid
1990s have highlighted specific situations where welfare services failed to act
appropriately to       protect black children.

      All Inquiry Reports profit from the opportunity to analyse social work practice
      with the benefit of hindsight, but it is worth learning from the lessons identified
      in these cases, particularly in relation to the way in which stereotyping of
      African Caribbean and mixed couples can impact on practice. The Reports
      also indicate that some white workers fear of accusations of racism can also
      have an effect on decision making in cases of black families.

      The two Inquiry reports which make specific comments about the impact of
      race on decision making are „Whose Child” An Inquiry into the death of Tyra
      Henry‟ (London Borough of Lambeth Social Services 1987), and „Sukina; an
      evaluation of the circumstances leading to her death.‟ (The Bridge Child Care
      Consultancy Service 1991).

      In Tyra Henry‟s case, the Inquiry Report makes a direct         connection
      between the stereotype formed of Tyra Henry‟s             Grandmother by social
      workers and other professionals in the case and the decisions made about
      Tyra‟s situation. In this     case, Tyra‟s Grandmother, Beatrice Henry was
      seen as capable        of providing protection for her Grand-daughter Tyra in the
      face of concerns about the care she was receiving from her mother and
      step-father, without adequate back-up being provided to         assist her in this
      task.


12                                                        Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                      Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                                Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                                Final Report

      The Report says
           “There is a “positive” but nevertheless, false stereotype in white
                  British society of the Afro-Caribbean mother figure as endlessly
           resourceful essentially unsinkable it may have been an unarticulated
           and unconscious sense that a woman like Beatrice Henry would find a
           way to cope, no matter what that underlay the neglect of social
           services to make adequate provision for her taking responsibility for
           Tyra.”

      In the case of Sukina Hammond, a child of mixed parentage with an African
Caribbean father and a white English mother living in Bristol, there are also direct
connections made between         practice in this case and race.

      The Report says

      “ We know from experience that agencies that are moving towards trying to be
            more sensitive and understanding towards the racial and cultural needs
            of their client group do risk failing to recognise the particular needs of
            an individual child. In addition, white professionals who have
            undergone anti-racist training can sometimes over-compensate out of
            fear of being accused of racism.”

      It is clear from the research that race and culture are significant      factors,
      which do affect the way in which social workers and other professionals work
      with black families. It is also clear that the picture is a complex one, and that
      single factor analyses are not helpful in providing us with detailed information
      to help us analyse these complex dynamics.




13                                                        Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                     Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                               Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                               Final Report



2.2 Substance Abuse (Drugs & Alcohol)
2.2.1 The nature of addiction
     Addiction is characterised by the abuse of substances such as drugs or
     alcohol despite adverse consequences. It is often defined as :

            “ chronic, progressive, and potentially fatal disease with
            characteristic signs and symptoms.”
            (Morse & Flavin, 1992 quoted in Kaplan-Sanoff, 1996)

     It does not reflect amoral behaviour or a lack of will-power. For instance,
     knowledge of the potentially harmful effects of alcohol and other drugs on the
     foetus does not stop most pregnant women with addictions from abusing
     these substances. Most addicted people are unable to stop their substance
     abuse without treatment and support regardless of the strength of their desire
     to prevent damage to their children or family.

     The getting and taking of drugs or other substances becomes the focus of all
     the person‟s waking activities. The family life of substance abusing parents
     may seem bewilderingly chaotic to workers but research shows that drug
     abusers often devise elaborate organisational strategies to obtain and take
     drugs but at the same time seem incapable of getting basic health care or
     education for themselves or their children. Evidence suggests that the very
     inability of people to stop abusing substances can often lead to extreme
     shame and anxiety leading to increased substance abuse to numb painful
     feelings. This has important implications for practitioners working in this field.

            “Professionals do not help families by judging parents‟
            actions; judgement merely drives them further away from
            treatment and results in increased drug abuse to escape
            the shame and guilt caused by their inability to stop
            abusing.” (Kaplan-Sanoff, 1996)

     People who are involved in heavy compulsive and dependent usage may
     even find that the risks and costs of stopping may be greater than continuing.
     Apart from internal rationalisations or the „buzz‟ of risk-taking, many users
     have extreme past and present traumas to contend with. Intoxication and a life
     of oblivion acts as an essential buffer against pain, failure, loss and grief
     (Griffiths & Waterson, 1996).



     For example, several studies demonstrate a clear link between past sexual
     abuse and problem drug or alcohol use in later life (Finkelhor et al, 1986).
     People may resort to intoxication to avoid feelings associated with stressful
     situations, poor self-esteem and the consequent sense of powerlessness
     (Peele, 1985). One study found that in response to an enquiry about
     childhood sexual abuse among women who were treated in an in-patient
14                                                       Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                    Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                              Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                              Final Report

     setting for substance abuse in America, 75% of the women reported having
     been sexually abused (Rohsenow, Corbett & Devine, 1988).

2.2.2 Abstinence & harm reduction
     The two basic approaches to substance abuse include „abstinence‟ and „harm
     reduction‟. The abstinence-oriented approach evolved out of a medical view of
     addiction as an illness. It is the basis to several approaches to dealing with
     substance abuse such as the AA movement. However, certain problems with
     this approach were detected in work with many substance abusers. Many
     drug abusers cannot relate to the goal of total abstinence at first, particularly
     in relation to recreational drug use and the issue of relapse, which is the norm
     for most recovering substance abusers. The abstinence model can lead to
     feelings of failure for the client and deskilling for the worker.

     Harm reduction models view relapse and recreational usage of substances as
     legitimate stages in the process towards abstinence. It is essentially a
     person-centred approach and aims to work with substance abusers on their
     terms. It takes into account the client‟s expressed needs as a primary goal in
     interventions. This approach is, of course, more risky and involves many
     conflicts and dilemmas for workers. Critics may even see this approach as
     verging on encouraging substance abuse but it is a valid method of working
     which has gained much credence in the UK and government backing since
     the advent of the HIV (Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs), 1988.

2.2.3 Links between substance abuse & child abuse/neglect
     Figures linking substance abuse and child abuse are variable but there is no
     doubt that a strong linkage exists. American research has reports of up to
     80% of cases of child abuse involving drinking before, during or after the
     incident. Approximately one half of all cases of reported domestic violence
     involve alcohol (William Gladden Foundation, 1989). In the UK, Childline
     looked at 90,000 calls that it received between April 1995 and March 1996
     and found that at least 5% of them mentioned misuse of alcohol by parents or
     carers. A report studied 3,000 of these calls in more depth and found that the
     children concerned often faced multiple problems, with over half reporting
     physical violence as well as substance abuse. Proportionately there was more
     concern about the mother‟s drinking (one third of calls) which is more than
     should be expected given the numbers of male and female problem drinkers;
     compared to the father‟s drinking, although over half of the calls involved the
     father‟s drinking.

     An NSPCC study about child abuse and neglect (Housten et al, 1997)
     mentioned alcohol abuse in the following proportions :

               23% of calls about neglect
               13% of calls about emotional abuse
               10% of calls about physical abuse
               5% of calls about sexual abuse


15                                                      Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                    Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                              Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                              Final Report

      Alcohol was mentioned far more frequently than illicit drugs. One social
     services review estimates that alcohol is involved in 20% of general child and
     family work and 30% of specific child protection work (Simpson et al, 1993).
     Powys SSD examined 31 child protection case conferences held in 1991 and
     found that alcohol played a role in 74% of cases of child mistreatment. In
     nearly half the cases in which alcohol was identified, no response was made
     to the alcohol issue.

     There is very little similar work done in relation to drug abuse with most large
     scale studies being done in America. Illicit drug abuse, particularly the
     introduction of crack cocaine in urban areas since 1985, has contributed to
     increases in both the incidence and severity of child abuse and neglect
     (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 1991). In some child welfare agencies in
     America, drug abuse is a factor in more than 70% of the new families served
     (American Public Welfare Association, 1989). Crack cocaine abuse in the UK
     may not have reached the levels of some areas in America but these studies
     indicate a probable future for many parts of the UK if drug problems continue
     to increase at their present rate.

     Data collection from several States shows that on average the connection
     between substance abuse and child maltreatment is 40% of substantiated
     cases (Jones & Acktaz, 1991). In 1991, 2.7 million cases of child abuse were
     reported nationally in America. A national sample survey found that 24% of
     substantiated cases of child abuse/neglect involved a carer whose primary
     substance abuse was alcohol and 18% involved abuse of an illicit drug.
     Among these substance-abusing families the drugs used were as follows :
             alcohol -     77%
             marijuana - 32%
             cocaine - 20% (not including crack)
             crack -        17%
             heroin -         4%

     The most harmful drugs by far in terms of child abuse were reported to be
     cocaine and „crack‟.

2.2.4 Local drug abuse statistics
             The North West Region of the Drug Misuse Databases, which
               includes Liverpool, has the highest rate of drug misuse per 10,000
               population at over 150 compared to the average for England at
               115.
             Liverpool has the third highest number of known drug users in the
               North West Region - 785 compared to 894 for Bolton & Wigan and
               1355 for Manchester.
             The number and percentage of „episodes‟ referred by agency type
               for Merseyside and Cheshire were as follows:
            ~ Statutory Community-Based Drugs Service1301 - 46%
            ~ GP NHS 621 - 22%
            ~ Non-Statutory Community-Based Drugs Service
              420 - 15%
16                                                      Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                  Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                            Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                            Final Report

          ~ Drug Dependency Unit (I/P)       246 - 9%
          ~ Non-Statutory Residential Rehab         138 - 5%
          ~ Statutory Hospital (O/P) 43 - 2%
          ~ Non-Statutory Hospital (I/P)     41 - 1%
          ~ MDC Probation 20 - 1%
          ~ Statutory Hospital (I/P)         3 - 0%
          ~ NHS Psychiatric           2 - 0%
          Total Number of Episodes - 2843

          NB/. An „episode‟ is where a person presents to an agency for the first
          time or after a break in contact of 6 months or more and has a recent
          drug problem of any kind.

           The total number of drug users in Liverpool was 785 consisting of
            560 men and 225 women.
           61% of male drug users were in the 20-29 years age group with 2%
            under 19 years of age.
           67% of female drug users were in the 20-29 years age group with
            7% under 19 years of age.
           In the North West Region as a whole 86% of drug users were
            unemployed and 48% of drug users had children
              (52% of these children lived with the drug user and 4%
              were in care, 22% of drug users were living alone).
           Heroin ( 70%) and Methadone (20%) account for the great majority
            of drug misuse in Liverpool with 4% Cocaine as the next popular
            drug. Other drugs used include Amphetamines (2%), other Opiates
            (1%), Benzodiazepines (1%), Cannabis (1%), Ecstasy (1%).
            NB/. It is interesting to note here that there is no mention of the
            North African herbal drug known as „qaat‟.
           53% of heroin users started taking this drug before the age of 20,
            90% sought help after the age of 20. These figures suggest that
            there are substantial numbers of young people using Opiates who
            are not yet in touch with drug services.
           In terms of the initial referral to reporting agencies , the overall
            figures show that 46% are self-referrals with 22% from GP‟s, Social
            Services refer approximately 1% of all „episodes‟.

2.2.5 Impact of drug & alcohol abuse on children & families
          “ Providers who work primarily with children often see the
           children as helpless victims of their mothers‟ addictions.
          They feel anger and disapproval toward the mothers and
          project those feelings onto the mothers, setting them up
          for failure. The mothers, in turn, sense the anger and
          disapproval and respond with shame, equal anger, and
          with attitude. Before providers can forge relationships with
          women or families, they must examine their own feelings
          about addiction so that they can meet the families where
          the families are in their addiction or recovery.”
17                                                    Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                     Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                               Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                               Final Report

            (Kaplan-Sanoff, 1996)

     Children of parents who abuse substances often have to learn to live with
     chaos and unpredictability in the family home. Children are likely to have to
     contend with „emotional unavailability‟ and periodic abandonment by a
     substance abusing parent which can have a powerful effect on their
     psychological well-being. Children may well learn to cut themselves off from
     their feelings or express their anxieties through rage and aggression. Children
     quickly learn to keep secrets and not to talk to helping professionals.

     Four key areas in the child‟s development are significantly affected by living
     with a parent who has an addiction - the development of trust and attachment,
     autonomy, self-esteem and „modulation of affect‟ or dealing with personal
     feelings (Beeghley & Tronick, 1994).

     The child‟s experiences of abandonment, loss, inconsistency and lack of
     boundaries within their families leads to problems of attachment. Children
     either attach themselves indiscriminately to all adults who pay attention to
     them or withdraw from all adults. Children will often internalise mistrust rather
     than form healthy attachments to people who care about them. Confusing
     messages about the role of children in their families where they are
     sometimes the primary carers when their parents are intoxicated can lead to
     feelings of guilt and failure in the face of these unreasonable demands.
     Children are vulnerable to developing low-self esteem and feeling unlovable,
     often creating a self-fulfilling prophecy by rejecting anyone getting close to
     them.

     Substance abusing parents often engage in addictive behaviours to avoid
     painful experiences or feelings arising from past or present traumas, as
     explained earlier. The avoidance of feelings by parents leads to a lack of help
     for children to understand and deal with their own feelings. Combined with
     their chaotic and unpredictable home environments, children are less likely to
     modulate their own feelings. Hence children of drug abusing parents will often
     present as volatile with unpredictable mood swings (there may also be organic
     causes for this presentation if a mother has been a long-term drug abuser and
     has used drugs through her pregnancy). Long-term exposure to damaging
     living circumstances in substance abusing families can result in Post
     Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for children. Children with PTSD can have
     poorer concentration due to intrusive thoughts and they can have attachment
     disorders. They can have a fatalistic attitude to life resulting in increased
     risk-taking behaviours (Lyons, 1987). Awareness of the causes of trauma and
     stress for these children is vital in any intervention plan if behaviours and
     responses are going to be dealt with appropriately.

     There is still significant disagreement about the precise effect of prenatal
     exposure to drugs through a mothers substance abuse. Most work seems to
     have focused on crack cocaine recently due to its increased usage in
     America. Overall the current view is that prenatal exposure to cocaine tends to
     be manifested in subtle functioning deficits rather than gross motor or mental

18                                                       Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                     Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                               Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                               Final Report

     development (Lester & Tronick, 1994). There is little doubt that cocaine does
     have some effects on „neurobehavioural‟ function of infants resulting in mood
     instability and hyperactivity (Lester et al, 1991). However, there is evidence to
     suggest that „lifestyle‟ of families can have a significant effect on the increase
     or reduction of risk of long-term damage to the child (Lester & Tronick, 1994).

     Early interventions with substance abusing families must take into account the
     possible problems for children with language delays, attention problems and
     motor problems but the child‟s behaviour must be considered within the
     context of a substance abusing family.

            “ The best way to help children, however, is not only to
            address their particular developmental and/or behaviour
            problems , but also to intervene to change the
            environmental influences that affect the child negatively.
            In other words, the best way to help the children is to help
            the family recover.”         (Kaplan-Sanoff, 1996)

     Findings in alcohol abuse studies are variable in their findings of behavioural
     problems in children of problem drinkers with some finding little difference in
     school behaviour but some problems in the home setting (Connolly et al,
     1993). A detailed study of 160 young people with problem drinking parents
     matched to a group whose parents had no drink problems, found few
     differences in their levels of alcohol or drug use. There were also little
     differences in self-esteem, life satisfaction, anxiety, depression and
     delinquency. They were some significant differences for young people where
     both parents were problem drinkers. However, it appeared that the crucial
     issue was the level of enduring conflict and disruption in the family home
     rather than the parents‟ problem drinking as such (Velleman, 1993).

     Studies done to elicit the child‟s own views shows that contrary to clinical
     reports, there was little evidence of children blaming themselves for their
     parents‟ heavy drinking, although some reported this as a phase which they
     went through (        Laybourn , Brown & Hill, 1996). The most common and
     most serious problem reported by children was drunken violence, mostly by
     men and mainly towards their mother or the home rather than themselves.
     Feelings of shame were very common amongst children as was a reluctance
     to talk about problems with people outside of the family. Children were often
     put into the role of caring for the drunken parent and were usually
     psychologically protective of their parents. Some children maintained a strong
     affection for the drinking parent, perhaps because there was a good
     relationship in periods of sobriety. Most often though, children were
     contemptuous or hostile towards the drinking parent. Many children took
     active steps to try and stop the alcohol abuse by pouring drink away, avoiding
     pubs with the parent and diluting drinks. The vast majority of children wanted
     the drinking to stop but some recognised that there were good times as well
     as bad with the drinking parent.



19                                                       Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                    Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                              Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                              Final Report

     A Scottish study investigated children‟s perspectives of growing up with a
     problem drinker as a parent (Laybourn, Brown & Hill, 1996). It found that
     children were aware of their parent‟s problem drinking from a very early age,
     despite parental attempts to hide the problem. Children did not blame
     themselves for parents‟ drinking. They wanted the drinking to stop and
     expressed worry, fear, anger and sadness about it. Drunken violence was
     seen as a big problem although it was not generally directed at the children.
     Indirect effects were very disruptive such as separations from parents, moving
     home and schools. Children often took over with running the household at
     times and some acted to protect the non-drinking parent or siblings and acted
     as a mediator or confidant.

     The study also involved talking to parents as well as children and found that
     non-drinking parents often made huge efforts to keep the structures of normal
     family life going . The drinking parents when sober often felt intense guilt and
     remorse (Laybourn, Brown & Hill, 1996). A Danish study based at a drug and
     alcohol service found that parents often go to some lengths to ensure that the
     physical needs of children are being met but are often emotionally neglectful
     (Thompson & Blennerhassett, 1996).

2.2.5 Family-oriented interventions
     Engaging substance abusing families in treatment and support services is a
     major challenge for practitioners, particularly with black families who already
     have a poor take-up of any social services. The key issue of maintaining a
     non-judgemental approach in any family intervention has already been stated
     as well as the importance of a family-oriented approach to helping children at
     risk. The fact that women remain the primary caregivers to children and the
     increasing incidence of one-parent families, particularly single mothers,
     means that services targeted at women must be developed further.

     Another major challenge is the current tendency to deal with alcohol and
     family issues separately (Collins, 1990; Alaszewski & Harrison, 1992). In drug
     abuse services, the primary focus of treatment is on the recovering addict
     (Harvey et al, 1992) and concerns about family or children can be interpreted
     as denial or evasion of the addiction problem. This approach is both
     unrealistic and impractical for most substance abusing parents. Research
     suggests that interventions aimed at breaking the cycle of substance abuse,
     child neglect and maltreatment are more successful when they are
     family-centred (DiLeonardi, 1993; Scannapieco, 1994). In particular, it is being
     recognised that capitalising on the mother -child relationship and the concern
     of parents for their children can be a powerful means of achieving
     improvements for the whole family especially at the time of pregnancy.

            “ Family-focused intervention for women who abuse
            substances and for their young children requires a
            balancing that delicately weighs and considers the
            needs of the mothers and those of their children.
            Treatment that focuses on either the mother or the
            child exclusively ignores the power of the mother-child
20                                                      Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                     Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                               Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                               Final Report

            dyad and the advantages of changing the family system.”
            (Kaplan-Sanoff, 1996)

     The birth of a child can provide a focus for a shared concern between parents
     and workers for the care of the new child. It can be an opportunity to engage
     substance abusing parents in a programme of treatment and not just a narrow
     assessment of risk for the purposes of making a decision whether to remove
     the child from the family. Interventions with new mothers should be tailored to
     the realities of a mother‟s life and , in the case of infants with feeding
     problems, should include specific and concrete suggestions to deal with
     problems. Establishing boundaries and setting limits on parental behaviour is
     also an important aspect of the work.

     The general approach of modifying the environment by suggesting drug-free
     activities that are pleasurable, setting limits for parents by reacting to their
     behaviours honestly and appropriately. For example, ensuring appointments
     are kept, dealing with relapses openly and finding out what caused them, not
     seeing parents for therapeutic sessions when they are drunk or high. Finally,
     responding to „out-of-control‟ behaviours by providing support, respite care or
     temporary placements for children until parents regain some control of their
     lives without endangering the well-being of their children (Kaplan-Sanoff,
     1996).

     Children of alcohol abusing parents have expressed a desire to meet with
     others in a similar position to themselves (Laybourn et al, 1996). Alcohol
     Concern and Childline have found that children need a chance to talk about
     their concerns and fears and to get support and advice about coping. Childline
     also recommends a change of approach in child protection issues :

            “ We have to make such protection [temporary protection
            while a parent is drunk] accessible to children without
            always rolling out the child protection process in a way
            which increases stigmatisation and reduces people‟s
            willingness to ask for help.” (Housten et al, 1997)

     We feel that this statement is applicable to many of the new developments in
     services necessary to deal with substance abuse in a family-oriented way.

2.3 Mental Health
     There is little doubt from research evidence that childbirth increases the risk of
     severe mental health problems for women (Kendell et al, 1976; Oates, 1994).

2.3.1 Parents with mental health problems
      Women with chronic schizophrenia do not show elevated risk of relapse
       following delivery compared with those with affective psychosis (Kendell,
       Chalmers & Platz, 1987). However, if mothers stop taking their drugs during
       pregnancy their risk is similar. Women with episodic, paranoid
       schizophrenic illnesses face similar risks to those with affective disorders
       (Davies et al, 1995).
21                                                       Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                    Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                              Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                              Final Report


      A Nottingham study estimated that 10% of all new female referrals aged 15
       to 60 have a child under the age of one and 25% have a child under the
       age of five (Oates, 1988).
      A community study of adults with schizophrenia found 26% living in
       households with children under 16 years old (Gibbon et al, 1984).
      In Lambeth, 60% of women with serious, chronic mental illness have
       children under the age of 16, and 25% have children under the age of five
       (Iddamalagoda & Naish, 1993).
      One study involving black children in local authority care found that
       80% of black women with children in care were referred for mental
       health reasons compared with only 20% of white mothers (Barn, 1990)

2.3.2 Child abuse & mental health problems
     Severe child abuse and homicide in particular occurs mainly in families rather
     than with strangers. Out of all homicides, 25% involve children and it is
     estimated that 60% of all child homicides involve a child under the age of five
     (Gibson, 1975). Overall men are more likely to kill an infant, however in the
     first three months, the perpetrator is more likely to be the mother. Men and
     women are equally likely to be culpable of non-accidental injury but mothers
     tend to predominate with younger infants. In a study of parents convicted of
     serious child abuse in Boston, USA, more than half of the parents had been
     admitted to hospital with 42% of mothers found to suffering from either a
     major depression or schizophrenia (Taylor et al, 1991).

     The “Preliminary Report of the Confidential Inquiry into Homicides by Mentally
     Ill People” (Royal College of Psychiatrists, 1994) found that one third of their
     sample were women and 85% of their victims were their own children. A study
     commissioned by the Department of Health of parental psychiatric disorder
     and fatal child abuse found that 25 % of the perpetrators were mentally ill. A
     further 10% of mentally ill partners made the total of mentally ill parents 35% ,
     the majority were mothers (Falcov, 1996). In contrast the majority of
     non-mentally ill perpetrators were male. The most common psychiatric
     diagnosis for women who injure their children is “a mixture of mild depression
     and anxiety associated with personality dysfunction” (Oates, 1997).

     Deliberate self harm in mothers of young children has been shown to be
     associated with child abuse (Hawton et al, 1985; Falcov, 1996). Mental illness
     is not a feature for men who injure their children where an association exists
     with “a history of criminality and a diagnosis of sociopathic personality
     disorder” (Oates, 1997). Overall “there is little evidence that patients
     suffering from severe mental illness are more at risk than the general
     population of physically abusing their children” (Oates, 1997). These
     risks may increase where there are associated factors of personality
     disorders, substance abuse and social adversity. However, a significant
     proportion of those parents who murder their children involve people who are
     seriously mentally ill, particularly mothers.


22                                                      Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                      Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                                Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                                Final Report

     In terms of psychological harm to children of mentally ill parents, this
     appears to be associated more with the discontinuities of care due to frequent
     hospital admissions and separations from parents (Rutter & Quinton, 1984).
     Serious mental illness is most significant in child abuse and neglect when it is
     associated with marital discord, social adversity and multiple changes in
     care-takers on a consistent basis (Oates, 1997).

     As in substance abuse services mentioned earlier, there is an unhelpful
     separation of child care services and mental health services. For instance,
     this is demonstrated in the publication of a handbook on mental illness by the
     Department of Health in 1994 which makes no reference to parents with
     mental health problems. This group is also not featured at all in the Children
     Act or its guidance (Rickford, 1996).

            “MIND is currently campaigning for a government review
            of services for people with mental health problems and
            their children, and for child care to be explicitly included
            in all mental health assessments.” (Rickford, 1996)

2.4 Domestic Violence
     Earlier in the report we analysed the evidence in relation to the impact that
     parental abuse of drugs and alcohol has upon children in their care. In our
     research, domestic violence was a feature of a large number of cases in our
     case sample, often linked to alcohol abuse, although there were cases of
     domestic violence where alcohol does not feature.

     It is only within the last few years that domestic violence has been treated very
     seriously by child welfare agencies. In the relatively recent past it was
     considered of relevance only to dealings with adults, but an increasing body of
     research has highlighted the impact that domestic violence has on the
     development of children, and the emotional trauma that children who grow up
     in households experience as a result of witnessing incidents of violence.

2.4.1 Incidence of domestic violence (national & local)
     The starting point in disseminating the research on children and domestic
     violence is to identify the national extent of domestic violence within families. It
     is difficult to establish the actual incidence of domestic violence as it often
     takes place within the home, and within a relationship. As such it remains a
     hidden and under-reported problem. There are many reasons why women do
     not report the violence which they receive from male partners, however, the
     national statistics which are available to us are telling:

      1in 4 women may experience violence in their relationships
        with men (Women‟s Aid Federation (England) report 1992);
      Severe and systematic violence occurs in at least five of every hundred
       marriages in Britain;
      Between 40-45% of murdered women are killed by their male partners;
      Between 1 and 2 women are murdered by their male partners every week
      25% of violent crime is domestic violence;
23                                                        Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                   Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                             Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                             Final Report

      41% of women victims of murder were killed by the current or former
       partner;
      44% of assaults mentioned by women were domestic violence.
     (British Crime Survey 1996)

     In the Liverpool context, there were 9,055 incidents of domestic violence
     reported in 1997. These figures do not record the number of children who may
     have witnessed domestic violence. The Liverpool Child protection Unit
     recorded that in a 6 week period, out of 65 child protection conferences, 8
     were triggered by incidents of domestic violence, and in 11 additional
     conferences instances of domestic violence was background information. This
     means that in 29% of child protection conferences in Liverpool, domestic
     violence was a factor.

     In Liverpool in 1997, there were 302 children involved in families who were
     accepted as homeless by the Family Homelessness Centre. A high
     percentage of children accepted as homeless due to domestic violence are
     pre-school children (up to 48%), of these up to 84% were below 12 years old
     (Interim report to ACPC from Liverpool Domestic Violence Working Group,
     1998).

     Domestic violence was known to have occurred in approximately 2% of
     current health visitors caseloads in one Liverpool, General Practitioner‟s
     Practice (Interim report to ACPC from Liverpool Domestic Violence Working
     Group).

2.4.2 The link between substance abuse & domestic violence
     The link between substance abuse and domestic violence is not a direct one.
     Domestic violence is not caused by the abuse of drugs or alcohol,
     despite the fact that many abusers cite the use of drugs or alcohol as a
     reason for their abusive behaviour. The abuse of drugs or alcohol is not an
     explanation for abuse. There are families in which adult males abuse drugs or
     alcohol, and there is no domestic violence and there are families in which
     there is domestic violence and no abuse of alcohol or drugs.

     However, research suggests that the abuse of alcohol, in particular, can play
     a role in the abuser‟s pattern of violent behaviour. A recent Task Force on
     substance abuse in Boston, North America found that 83% of alleged
     perpetrators had a drug or alcohol problem. A national study in 1995 found
     that alcohol was a significant factor in incidents of violence but that an
     individual‟s attitude towards violence was also a contributing factor. The Task
     Force recommended court ordered drug and alcohol treatment for offenders in
     conjunction with counselling for domestic violence. (Source: Boston Globe
     21.7.97.)

     A further source also states that approximately 80% of all persons in
     domestically violent situations are involved with some form of substance
     abuse (Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalition). It also suggests that

24                                                     Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                    Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                              Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                              Final Report

     there are similarities between the nature of substance abuse and that of
     domestic violence:

      Both are cyclical, progressive and will escalate in their severity unless they
       are treated.
      Both may be passed from generation to generation
      Both affect all aspects of a person‟s life, such as family, friends, job, home
       and future happiness.
      Both tend to involve isolation of the family.

     It is important therefore to take an inclusive approach to any analysis of the
     impact that drugs, alcohol and domestic violence may have upon the abuse of
     children. Whilst the presence of domestic violence does not automatically
     mean that the abuser abuses alcohol or drugs, the pattern of the abuse itself
     may be linked to the abuse of substances. Where this is a significant factor, it
     needs to be taken into account in any treatment plan for the offender.

2.4.3 The effects of domestic violence on children
     International research studies also provide compelling evidence of the link
     between domestic violence and child abuse:

      In a national survey of 6,000 American families, 50% of the men who
       frequently assaulted their wives also frequently abused their children,
       (Straus, M.A. and Gelles. R.J. Eds. Physical violence in American Families.
       New Brunswick, NJ, Transaction Publishers 1990)

      Child abuse is 15 times more likely to occur in families where domestic
       violence is present. (Stacy. W and Schupe, A. The Family Secret, Boston,
       MA Beacon Press, 1983)
      Men who have witnessed their parent‟s domestic violence are three times
       more likely to abuse their own wives than children of non violent parents,
       with the sons of violent parents being 1000 times more likely to become
       „wife beaters‟ (Straus. M, A, Gelles, R.J. and Steinmetz, S, Behind Closed
       Doors, Doubleday, Anchor, 1980).
      Children who witness violence at home display emotional and behavioural
       disturbances as diverse as withdrawal, nightmares, self-blame and
       aggression against peers, family members and property (Peled, Inat, Jaffe,
       Peter G. and Edleson, Jeffrey L.. (Eds) Ending the Cycle of Violence;
       Community Responses to Children of Battered Women. Thousand Oaks,
       California; Sage Publications 1995).
      A comparison of delinquent and non-delinquent youth found that a history
       of family violence or abuse is the most significant difference between the
       two groups. (Miller, G. “Violence By and Against America‟s Children”
       Journal of Juvenile Justice Digest XV11 (12) p6 1989)

     A study in the London borough of Hackney in 1994 identified that one in five
     cases allocated to a social worker cited domestic violence as present in the
     family, and one third of the children on the child protection register had
     mothers who were also abused. These were documented even though most
25                                                      Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                     Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                               Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                               Final Report

     social services directorates do not require the collection of statistics on
     domestic violence.

     NCH Action for Children carried out in depth research on the affects of
     domestic violence to children (The Hidden Victims, Children and Domestic
     Violence 1994). They found the following:
     Short term effects
      Almost three-quarters of the mothers in the survey said that their children
        had witnessed violent incidents, and almost two-thirds of children had seen
        their mothers beaten by violent partners.
      A quarter of the mothers said their partners had also physically assaulted
        their children. Several said that that their partners had sexually abused their
        children.
      One in ten of the mothers had been sexually abused in front of their
        children
      Three-quarters of mothers said their children had been frightened, half
        thought their children became withdrawn and a third said their children
        developed bed wetting problems. More than one in ten said that their
        children had responded by running away from home.

      A quarter of mothers said that their children became aggressive toward
       them and a third said that their children had become aggressive toward
       other children or had developed problems at school

     Long term effects
      A third of mothers thought that their children had become violent,
       aggressive and harder to control. Almost a third thought that children had
       become resentful and embittered, and a fifth thought their children lacked
       respect for them.
      Almost a third of mothers thought that their children lacked self-esteem in
       the longer term as a result of domestic violence. A quarter thought their
       children had developed problems in trusting people and forming
       relationships.
      There was no evidence in the study to support the theory that drink and
       drugs “cause” domestic violence or to suggest that the violence was due to
       relationships being in terminal decline.

2.4.4 Domestic violence & child abuse
     Alongside this research evidence, there is also a strong link between domestic
     violence and child abuse provided by inquiry reports into child deaths:
      In at least half of the 35 inquiry cases analysed by Peter Reder, Sylvia
        Duncan and Moira Gray, recurrent domestic violence was present (in
        “Beyond Blame, Child abuse Tragedies Revisited”1993).
      Lester Chapman‟s mother had previously had a miscarriage as a result of
        physical assault by a male friend.
      Lucie Gates‟ mother was the victim of a serious physical assault by her
        partner.
      Kimberley Carlisle‟s mother had relationships with two violent men before
        she met and lived with Nigel Hall, who also a violent man.
26                                                       Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                    Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                              Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                              Final Report

      Liam Johnson‟s father had a history of violent relationships with women,
       characterised by violent shifts of mood (Liam Johnson: Islington Child
       Protection Committee 1989).

     As well as violence in white families where children were killed, a number of
     inquiries into the deaths of black children cite the presence of domestic
     violence:
      Jasmine Beckford‟s father, Morris Beckford regularly assaulted Jasmine‟s
        mother, particularly if she did not maintain standards of tidiness in the
        house which he demanded. (Blom-Cooper 1985)
      Tyra Henry‟s father had a history of violence to children and had been
        convicted of assaulting adults, (Lambeth 1987)
      Sukina Hammond‟s mother experienced regular and recurrent violence
        from her partner. (Bridge Child Care Consultancy Service 1991).

     In “The Emotionally Abused and Neglected Child” (1995) Dorota Iwaniec‟
     states :

     “ Numerous studies have linked child abuse and neglect with certain parental
     and family characteristics and behaviour…Poor, and often violent
     relationships between parents is a common feature. Frequent quarrels,
     physical spouse abuse, cruelty, and an atmosphere of permanent anxiety and
     fear characterise the home environment, which in turn distresses the children.
     …Being exposed to frequent parental violence and abuse, the children pick up
     the same model of behaviour and show aggressive reactions when dealing
     with siblings and peers.”

     Some of the recent studies into child abuse commissioned by the Department
     of Health also cite domestic violence as a feature in many families in which
     children are subject to abuse:
      In “Operating the Child Abuse System” (1995) Gibbons Conroy and Bell
        stated that domestic violence was a feature in 27% of the cases of cases
        which they looked at.
      In “Paternalism or Partnership: Family Involvement in the Child Protection
        Process” (1995) Thoburn, Lewis and Shemmings stated that in a quarter of
        the cases a parent or partner was known to have a history of violent
        behaviour.
      In “Decision Making, Intervention and Outcome in Child Protection Work”
        (1993) Farmer and Owen state:

     “ in 59% of the cases of children subject to physical abuse, neglect or
     emotional abuse there was concurrent violence in the family, usually inflicted
     from men to women. The associated risks and the fact that many of the
     children witnessed frequent violence to their mothers was given little attention
     by social workers. Yet domestic violence was a feature of most of the cases in
     the worst outcome groups.”

     The substantial weight of evidence provided by national research studies as
     well as Liverpool-based evidence that domestic violence is a common feature
27                                                      Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                    Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                              Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                              Final Report

     of many cases where children are subject to physical, emotional or sexual
     abuse. It is clear that in many cases social services have not in the past taken
     into account the impact that violence between parents (usually from the male
     to the female partner) has on the general emotional social and behavioural
     development of children, even where the children themselves may not be
     subject to physical violence themselves.

     The links between domestic violence and substance abuse also suggest that
     a co-ordinated multi-agency response to the problem is required. The
     resources offered by drug and alcohol support agencies as well as
     programmes of intervention with the perpetrators of violence and therapeutic
     input with adults and children who suffer the consequences of violence are
     required to address the causes as well as the consequences of domestic
     violence.

     Liverpool recently set up a sub-group of the ACPC to tackle this issue, and
     produced an Interim Report to the ACPC. The report acknowledges the need
     for a multi-agency approach to the issue of Domestic Violence and outlines
     some Good Practice Guidelines.

     The Report makes the following recommendations:
      That the ACPC recommend those children living with domestic violence
       should be included as a category of "Children in Need” according to the
       Children Act 1989.
      That the ACPC recommend additional services and resources (as listed in
       the report) are a necessary minimum to enable women and children to be
       protected from domestic violence.
      The ACPC support the working group in conjunction with the Liverpool
       Domestic Violence Forum in compiling a directory of services and
       resources.

     RECOMMENDATIONS
     R1. We would endorse these recommendations (Interim Report to the
     ACPC on Domestic Violence), but would also suggest that the Working
     Party pay specific attention to the needs of black children and their
     families in relation to the need for protection. It appears from our
     research that domestic violence is a real threat in 32% of the cases in
     our sample. We would therefore recommend that in developing
     multi-agency initiatives to tackle this issue the needs of black women
     and children are specifically addressed.




28                                                      Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                     Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                               Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                               Final Report



2.5 Current Debates in Child Protection
     Our findings in Liverpool in relation to the balance of child protection and
     family support services can be located within a wider contact of the national
     debate on the future of child protection work.

2.5.1 The development of child protection work
     It was as recently as the 1960s that child abuse was “discovered” by Henry
     Kempe in America. He was the first to coin the term ”battered baby syndrome”
     in an attempt to describe the injuries to children that he was seeing which
     appeared to be linked with the parents as the possible source of the injuries.
     Kempe‟s work laid the foundations for current Social Services policy in child
     protection. For the last 30 years there have been increasingly more complex
     debates about the way in which statutory agencies should intervene in
     families to protect children from abuse.

     Following the death of Maria Colwell in 1973, the resultant public and media
     outcry focused attention to social services‟ responses to situations of child
     abuse. There were criticisms of the lack of a co-ordinated response to deal
     with the issue, and in 1976 the DHSS issued a circular which provided a
     review of the workings of Area Review Committees (now ACPCs) and clarified
     arrangements for child abuse registers setting out “minimum requirements” to
     be satisfied by all register systems.

     In 1980 the circular “Child Abuse Central Register Systems” broadened the
     definition of child abuse to cover emotional abuse as well as physical injury
     and neglect, and specified the way in which child abuse registers should
     respond to those children subject to “non accidental injury”, or at risk of
     abuse, and detailed the categories for registration.

     In 1988, the DHSS published “Working Together” A Guide to Arrangements
     for inter-agency co-operation for the protection of children. This brought
     together earlier guidance, which had been largely in the form of circulars, into
     a more comprehensive document.

     Also in 1988 the DOH published “Protecting Children: a guide to social
     workers undertaking a comprehensive assessment.”. The purpose of the
     guide was to provide an assessment framework for workers undertaking child
     protection assessments, and was intended to address the problems resulting
     from the lack of structured assessments work being done by social workers.

     It was the fall-out from the Cleveland Inquiry that spurred local authorities to
     begin to develop investigation procedures. The political, media and public
     response to the criticisms of social services and the media laid out in the
     Cleveland report (Butler Schloss 1988) meant that no local authority could
     afford to ignore such advice.


29                                                       Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                       Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                                 Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                                 Final Report

        In 1989 came the introduction of the Children Act in 1989, and its
        accompanying guidance, followed by publication of “Working Together under
        the Children Act 1989 in 1991.

        In 1989 The Police and Criminal Evidence Act had taken investigation a stage
        further by extending the use of video links in courts and by introducing
        video-recorded interviews into courts to represent the evidence in chief of the
        child as the main witness to the abuse. In 1992 Department of Health
        guidance in the form of the “Memorandum of Good Practice” followed, which
        set out the principles and procedures to be followed in video recorded
        interviews.

2.5.2 Balancing risk & needs
        From the 1970s to the 1990s, guidance to local authorities as to how to
        respond in situations of potential child abuse developed and expanded
        beyond all recognition. Underpinning this dramatic increase in guidance and
        legislation was a complex debate about the nature of child protection fuelled
        by conflicting views about the balance of needs and risk. Whilst there was
        pressure to tighten investigative procedures in line with the requirements of
        Criminal Evidence, there was also a corresponding need to provide informal
        and preventative support for families. By 1995, there was concern that the
        pendulum had swung too far in favour of investigative responses, and that
        there was a need for a stronger family support focus.

This was evidenced by “Child Protection Messages from Research” (DoH 1995)
      summarising the main findings of 20 research studies commissioned by the
      Department of Health. One of the findings of the studies undertaken was that
      “too much of the work undertaken comes under the banner of child
      protection.” The authors emphasised the need to provide a wider-ranging
      childcare service, which offered support to families in need, as well as
      protection for children at risk.

Since 1995, local authorities have been urged to “re-focus” services through a
      re-allocation of resources to offer support to families. They have also been
      urged to provide a co-ordinated and multi-agency approach to this issue. At
      present “Working Together” is being re-drafted to incorporate a family support
      focus. In emphasising the need for a family support approach the

Department of Health has also taken on board the impact that family problems have
      on the capacity of parents to provide appropriate parenting to children.

The Consultation Paper entitled “Working Together to Safeguard Children New
     Government Proposals for Inter-Agency Co-operation” (DoH 1998) says:

     “Research has (also) given us a clearer understanding of          those factors in
        the family context which mean that the child   is likely to be in need of
        services to safeguard and promote       their health and development.”



30                                                         Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                       Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                                 Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                                 Final Report

It goes on to list factors such as social exclusion, domestic violence, the mental
       illness of the parent or carer and the misuse of drugs or alcohol as specifically
       relevant to the provision of services in need.

Findings from our own research are consistent with the national picture, in that all of
      these factors are the ones which we found to be significant in our own study.
      Whilst being mindful of the local picture, we have also made our
      recommendations for the future development of services to the black
      communities in Liverpool within the context of national debates on the balance
      of risk and need.

Whilst current child care and child protection policy and practice guidance does seek
       to address a more holistic response to family problems, it largely fails to
       explicitly address the needs of black families within the debate on risk and
       need. There is a “same for all” approach which is reminiscent of the 1970s
       “colour-blind” approach to service delivery within much of the written material
       on this issue.

      Given the research we have already identified in relation to over-intervention
      and under-intervention to protect children from abuse the debate as to the
      balance of risk and need is particularly relevant to black families. We are
      already aware that black families are under-represented in support and
      preventative services. (Butt, J and Box, L. Family Centred: A Study of the Use
      of Family Centres by Black Families 1998) with this in mind the need for
      initiatives to specifically target the needs of black children and their families is
      particularly salient.




3.     PROJECT METHODOLOGY & PROCESS

3.1 Timetable for the project
       Stage 1: Collation of information from care plans
       Collation of information available from care plans on all
       black children looked after by Liverpool Social Services.
       Completion deadline:        27.2.98

       Stage 2: Analysis of case records
       Selection of a random sample of case records
       Analysis of case records using pro-forma
       Collation of information from case records
       Formation of initial hypotheses based on case record material
       Completion deadline:        12.5.98
       Interim report: Deadline 1.6.98
       Stage 3: Individual interviews



31                                                         Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                    Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                              Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                              Final Report

     Individual interviews with children/young people, parents/carers and social
     workers identified from a small selected sample of cases looked at in Stage 2
     to
     test out hypotheses identified at Stage 2
     Completion deadline:        5.6.98

     Stage 4: Project Visits
     This stage was not contained in the original proposal, but as the project has
     progressed we have decided that visiting specific resources which offer
     specific support services to children and adults is a vital part of the overall
     picture.
     Completion deadline:        26.6.98

     Stage 5: Focus Groups
     4 separate Focus Groups:
     Group 1      Black children and young people
     Group 2      Black parents
     Group 3      Social workers
     Group 4      Black foster carers
     Completion deadline:       26.6.98

     Stage 6: Collation and Evaluation of material
     Collation and evaluation of material, development of final
     hypotheses and conclusions
     Completion deadline: 14.8.98

     Stage 7: Draft report
     Completion deadline:   end of August 1998
     Stage 8: Final report
     Completion date: end of September 1998




32                                                      Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                   Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                             Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                             Final Report



3.2 The methodology of the project
     Stage 1: Collation of care plans
     Whilst there are an estimated 196 black children looked after by     Liverpool
     Social services the card index information system      based on information
     collated from care plans contained        information on172 children. The card
     index system was made anonymous with unique number codes allocated to
     each child. We have collated some basic information from the care plans,
     which is analysed in Section 4 of the report and presented as a statistical
     description of the whole target population.

     Stage 2: Analysis of case records
     Our random sample for Stage 2 was a selection of 34 case
     records, which represents approximately 20% of the total number
     of black children “Looked After” by Liverpool. We analysed each
     case record using a standardised proforma to order and structure
     our data collection. We also discussed key issues and emerging
     themes as we went through the case records.

     Interim report
     On the basis of our initial case analysis we produced a draft report on 1.6.98,
     which was circulated to the Planning Group and Project Management Group
     and presented to the Project Task Group on June 2nd 1998. We presented
     our amended methodology involving Project visits and our approach to
     undertaking the final stages of the work.

     Stage 3: Individual interviews
     We selected 4 cases for individual interviews. They were selected on the
     following basis:
      They were representative of the sample as a whole.
      The child was still within the care system
      The child was old enough to be interviewed
      The parent was available and willing to be interviewed
      In the four cases selected, we interviewed the child or young person, the
         parent and the carer and the social workers involved.

     Stage 4: Visits to local support services and community
     organisations
     Although we had originally intended that representatives from specific local
     support resources would be invited to attend one of the focus groups. Our
     initial hypotheses suggested that some types of support services were
     significantly more important in preventing black families from entering into
     crises. Therefore, we decided that we needed to re-allocate time to visit some
     of these organisations so that we were able to obtain more specific and
     in-depth information about the services which they provided. This reflects our
     original intention to identify the way in which family support is being provided
     for families who may be in need as well as reflecting specific needs of children
     who may be at risk.
33                                                     Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                   Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                             Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                             Final Report


     The agencies which we selected to visit were either those who were providing
     services to people with problems with drug dependency, alcohol abuse or
     mental health, as these were key factors which had contributed towards
     children‟s‟ admission into the care system. We also targeted resources which
     were providing family support services to children and families in need. A list
     of these agencies and a summary of the main findings from these visits is
     contained in Section 8 of this Report.

     Stage 5: Focus Groups
     We held three focus groups, one for field social workers (Community Services
     Division) in which we had representatives from North and South Division, one
     for representatives from the Children and Families Division including;
     Resources Division, Family Placements, Young People‟s Resource Team,
     Black Young People‟s Resource Team, Youth Justice, day care and the
     Family Support service and one for black foster carers.

     In advance of each focus group we asked representatives to consult with
     colleagues on three questions outlined below. These questions were based
     on themes emerging from the analysis of case records.
      The Directorate has expressed a concern about the over-representation of
        Black children “Looked After” by Liverpool Social Services. Are there any
        specific factors which you think have contributed to this situation?
      Are there any changes to Departmental Policy which you think would help
        social workers to work more effectively with Black Families to prevent Black
        children being “Looked After”.
      Are there any factors in relation to multi-agency or inter-agency working
        which are relevant for us to consider in relation to Black children entering
        the care system?

     Stage 6: Consultation with Black Young People
     As well as talking to the young people from the case record sample in
     one-to-one interviews, we had originally intended to have a focus group of
     young people, in practice this proved to be impossible. We did however meet
     with some Black young people on an individual and a group basis to obtain
     their views about the issues highlighted above. A summary of the issues
     which were raised by them is contained in Section 7 of this Report.

     Stage 7: Consultation with Black Parents
     We had also intended to have a focus group of Black parents as well as the
     one-to-one interviews with parents in the case sample, but this proved
     impossible to arrange. We did however talk to a parent who was not part of
     the original case record sample and who was able and willing to give her
     views about the issues raised above. A summary of these comments are
     contained in Section 7 of this Report.

     Stage 8: Final report



34                                                     Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                     Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                               Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                               Final Report

      This has incorporated comments from the draft report and will be circulated to
      the Steering and Task Group members for comments. The final version of the
      report was presented to the Task Group on 14th October 1998.

      Dissemination of the Report
      It was intended that the report would be disseminated to members of the
      Black Children Looked After Task Group and the Child Care Co-ordination
      Group in October 1998. In November 1998 a conference was to take place for
      other relevant and interested agencies. A revised dissemination plan is to be
      negotiated with the Department.

      The purpose of the proposed Conference would be twofold:
       To present the main findings and conclusions of the research Project
       To involve members of the Department and key local agencies in
        developing and contributing to an action plan for the way forward based on
        the findings and conclusion of the report.

      It is hoped that all parties who contributed to the Report will have access to
the Report or to an Executive Summary of the Report.




35                                                       Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                         Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                                   Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                                   Final Report



4.   FINDINGS: WHOLE SAMPLE.

4.1 Local context for black children looked after
     There were 166,371 children and young people under the age of 25 in
     Liverpool in 1995, over a third of the total population of 470,826.
      0-4 year olds represent 6.7% of the total population
      5-16 year olds represent 16.0%
      17-24 year olds represent 12.6%

     There was some work done a few years ago to compare the levels of
     deprivation for children in Liverpool using the 1991 Census figures. The tables
     below summarise the findings in terms of black and white children.

     Deprivation by Age Bracket : White Children in Liverpool

                  (Age)    0-5      6-10     11-15           N                  %

     Low            39.9         43.9      47.3    807                 43.2

     Medium         24.9         27.1      30.7    508                 27.2

     High           35.2         29.0      22.0    553                 29.6

     All            770          576        522           1868                100


     Deprivation by Age Bracket : Black Children in Liverpool

                  (Age) 0-5         6-10     11-15           N                  %

     Low            10.0         28.9      34.5      27                23.7

     Medium         30.0         26.7      27.6      32                28.1

     High           60.0         44.4      37.9      55                48.2

     All             40          45           29                 114          100

     (Moore R., 1993)

     These figures show that there was 48.2% of the sample of black
     children in the „high‟ level of deprivation category compared to
     29.6% for white children.

     The Children‟s Lifestyle Indicator used to measure poverty in the 1991
     Census, showed that in Liverpool, 26 out of the 33 wards were below the
     national average in relation to these factors. The figures showed that the most
     disadvantaged children and young people are those living in inner city wards
     e.g. Everton, Abercromby, Vauxhall, and Granby, and those outer city wards
     with a high proportion of council housing e.g. Speke, Clubmoor, Dovecot and
     Valley.

36                                                               Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                     Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                               Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                               Final Report

         (Source : Towards Joint Planning Services for Children and Young People
         in Liverpool, 1998).

      In the city as a whole5.6% of the 0-24 year old population is classified as
      „black and other racial minority groups‟. This is less than the national average
      (based on England and Wales) of 8.9%. In five wards (Abercromby, Arundel,
      Granby, Picton and Smithdown) the proportion of the 0-24 year olds
      population classified as „black and other racial groups‟ is above the national
      average. Abercromby, Arundel and Granby having proportions more than
      twice the national average, ranging from 20.0% to 37.3%. The source of this
      data is the 1991 Census. It is widely accepted that the 1991 Census
      under-enumerated the population of „black and other racial groups‟ in
      Liverpool.
      (Source : Child Care Plan - 1996)

      A recent study undertaken for Liverpool SSD by Doug Feery
      (1998) outlined some key areas of difference between white and
      black young people „looked after‟ by the local authority.
       There was a higher proportion of black children in the mid-age ranges of 8
         and 12 years in comparison with white children.
       The needs of black children were recorded as not being met as consistently
         as white children across the sample as a whole (62.22% white and 47.61%
         black).
       Plans for adoption for white children were 8.88% compared with 4.76% for
         black children.
       A greater percentage of plans for black children involved living with family /
         relatives (26.19% black and 11.11% white).
       A greater percentage of black children were recorded as having an
         impairment affecting their health (23.8% black and 13.33% white).

      There are roughly 196 black children looked after by Liverpool      Social
Services Directorate out of a total of 1103 children „looked
      after‟ (this represents 17.77% B&OR children „looked after‟). Care
      planning information is available on 172 of these children.
      Information on all 172 cases has been put onto a database for the
      purposes of analysis. We present the information in bar chart form
      below with tables outlining the numbers of children and frequencies
      involved, under each category of information contained in the card
      index.




4.2 Local context for black disabled children
      The following information was provided by the Family Child and
      Education Advisory Centre.

      There was a total of 33 disabled children being looked after in June 1988, 5 of
      whom are black. This represents 15%, the reasons for being looked after were
37                                                       Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                     Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                               Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                               Final Report

     directly linked to the family‟s difficulties in caring for a child with „severe
     learning difficulties‟. Other services had been made available before the
     decision to accommodate was reached.
     “ There will be a few others known to the area teams, but we still have
     difficulty counting this figure accurately because social workers have not
     always been clear about the criteria used to categorise a child as disabled.
     The LAC system will improve this, since the question asked is specifically
     whether the child is on the Disabled Children‟s Register.”

     The Disabled Children‟s Register has 764 complete entries (i.e. after a social
     work visit and discussion). 704 children were described as British white; 6
     were „other European‟ groupings; 4 were „not known‟ or „not completed‟; 50
     were from black or other racial minorities (26 of whom are described as
     „British black‟ and 6 „Chinese‟). This figure represents 7% B&OR children on
     the Register.

     Other services for disabled children include :
      Portage early years support team
        3 black children from 43 on current programmes ~ 7%
      „Choices‟ play and leisure project
        12 black children from a total of 196 ~ 6%
      Care packages and other home-based support
        9 black children out of 112 ~ 7%
      Family-based short-term breaks
        4 black children out of 83 current links ~ 4.8%
      Prescot Drive short-term break unit
        7 black children out of 60 ~ 11.5%




38                                                       Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                                                        Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                                                                  Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                                                                  Final Report

4.3 Statistical analysis of the whole population

                                                         Age Distribution
     num ber of children




                           16
                           14
                           12
                           10
                            8
                            6
                            4
                            2
                            0
                                0-1 1-2 2-3 3-4 4-5 5-6 6-7 7-8 8-9 9-1 10- 11- 12- 13- 14- 15- 16- 17- 18+ NR

                                                              ages of children




Age                         0-1      1-2      2-3      3-4      4-5     5-6       6-7     7-8     8-9     9-10

Nos. of                         4      4        9        6        5      10        12      10      10       4
children

Age                                  10-11             11-12            12-13             13-14           14-15

Nos. of                                  11               15               10                13                  13
children

Age                                  15-16             16-17            17-18             18+                N/R

Nos. of                                10                 12                  9              4                    1
children


Age Range                            0-5               5-10             10-15             15+

% of                                 16%               27%              36%               20%
sample




39                                                                                          Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                           Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                                     Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                                     Final Report


                             Child Protection Register
                          N/ R (1 6 )
                                                                  Yes (5 2 )




                   No (1 0 4 )


Child Protection        Yes             No            N/R
Register
% of                    30%             61%           9%
sample




                                        Disability

                                                Disabled (1 3 )
                      N/ R (4 0 )




                                                     Non-Disabled (1 1 9 )



Disability              Yes             No            N/R

% of                    8%              69%           23%
sample




40                                                             Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                                                          Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                                                                    Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                                                                    Final Report


                                                                  Gender
                                                          N/ R (1 )



                       Fem ale (8 3 )

                                                                                                        Male (8 9 )




                                                     Number of Moves
  number of children




                       20
                       18
                       16
                       14
                       12
                       10
                        8
                        6
                        4
                        2
                        0
                            0   1    2    3      4        5   6       7   8    9     10   11       12   13    14 15+

                                                     number of movements




Number                          0        1           2            3       4         5          6         7          8   9
of moves

Number                          12       12          15        19         14        7          6         7          3   5
of children


Number                          10       11          12        13         14        15+                  N/R
of moves

Number                          4        3           3            2        1        13                       46
of children




Number                          0         1- 4                5 -10       11 - 14         15+                 N/R
41                                                                                                 Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                                                         Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                                                                   Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                                                                   Final Report

of moves

% of                                   7%          35%           19%            5%              7%          27%
sample




                                                            Type of Placement
     num bers of children




                            90
                            80
                            70
                            60
                            50
                            40
                            30
                            20
                            10
                             0
                                 res.sch. sup.acc l.a.res. non-la r f/carer fo.in fa with par m&b fo. s-indpt.     n/r

                                                              ty pe of placem ent




Type of                                residential       supported         local authy.      non-loc.auth.        foster
Placement                                school          accommodn.        residential       residential          carer

Nos. of children                            2                    4                         11                              15
          90

% of sample                                 1%                 2%                          6%                              9%
52%



Type of                                fostering             placed          mother &     semi-indpt.             n/r
Placement                              in family         with parents      baby fostering     unit

Nos. of children                            21                  21                              2                          2
         4

% of sample                               12%                   12%                  1%                  1%        2%




42                                                                                                  Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                                                          Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                                                                    Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                                                                    Final Report


                                                                 Religion
     num bers of childr




                          80
                          60
                          40
                          20
                           0
                                R.C.          C of E     Muslim Baptist            none     Christian     n/r
                                                              stated religion


Stated                             R. C.          C. of E.                Muslim       Baptist None       Christian     N/R
Religion

Number                             37               39          10                   3           7                  1         74
of children




                                                               Legal Status




                140
                120
                100
                 80
                 60
                 40
                 20
                  0
                               interim c.o.           secn. 20 accom.         care order                n/r




Legal                                Interim               Section 20                     Care                N/R
Status                             Care Order            Accommodation         Order

Number                                        6                      34                   128                  3
of children




43                                                                                               Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                                              Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                                                        Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                                                        Final Report


                                              Social Work Office
     50

     40

     30

     20

     10

      0
          long lan millban central   south    FAC wavertr wellingt rodney granton speke fernlea spellow vauxhal




Social Work           long lane              millbank         central dist.          south                     FAC
Office

No. of cases                  6                  15                     2                          1                     6

% of sample                   3.5%               9%                     1%               0.5%           3.5%


Social Work           wavertree              wellington       rodney               granton           speke
Office

No. of cases                32                    47                         13                 13                6

% of sample                 19%                   27%              8%                   8%                        3.5%




Social Work           fernlea                spellow          vauxhall
Office

No. of cases              9                       9                13

% of sample               5%                      5%                          8%




44                                                                                  Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                                         Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                                                   Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                                                   Final Report


                                  Time in Current Placement




     40
     35
     30
     25
     20
     15
     10
      5
      0
          u1 yr. 1 yr. 18 mo. 2 yrs. 2 yrs. 3 yrs. 4 yrs. 5 yrs. 6 yrs. 7 yrs. 8 yrs. 9 yrs. 10+yr n/r




Amount of       u1yr.             1 yr.        18 mo.     2 yrs.   2 yrs. 6 mo.        3 yrs.   4 yrs.
time in current
placement

Number of             39           35               5               26                2                        9     6
children


Amount of       5 yrs.            6 yrs.         7 yrs.   8 yrs.         9 yrs.           10+yrs         n/r
time in current
placement

Number of               4            4              3        6                6                     7          20
children


Amount of               less than           1 year to          2 to 4          5 years                         N/R
time in current           1 year           18 months            years        & over
placement

Percentage                  23%               23%                25%          17%                  12%
of sample




45                                                                                Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                                                                      Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                                                                                Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                                                                                Final Report


                                                                        Cases by Ward
                           50
                           45
     numbers of children




                           40
                           35
                           30
                           25
                           20
                           15
                           10
                            5
                            0
                                chilwar. dov gil. olds spe aigb pirr tue. o-li pic. gra. aber ken brec smi aru mel gar. club cou. vall chu br.g n/r

                                                                                       wards



Ward                       childwall              warbreck                dovecot gilmoss old swan

No. of                            1                         1                      2                    1                       3
Cases


Ward                        speke                 aigburth                pirrie                 tuebrook               outside liverpool

No. of                            2                         5                      5                    7                      12
Cases


Ward                        picton                granby                  abercromby             kensington             breckfield

No. of                          17                     47                          17                              12                        9
Cases


Ward                        smithdown             arundel melrose garston                         clubmoor

No. of                            7                     7                          3                     3                          2
Cases


Ward                             county              valley               church                 broad green                        n/r

No. of                                 2                              2                     1                         1                               1

Cases




46                                                                                                             Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                      Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                                Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                                Final Report



5.     FINDINGS: CASE RECORD SAMPLE .
5.1 Selection of the sample of case records
       We had originally thought that we would select a structured sample of
children to represent particular aspects of the care   population such as age,
gender, ethnicity, age etc, but we soon became aware that the information which
was available to us to
       construct the structured sample was insufficiently detailed, incomplete or in
some cases inaccurate. An effective       structured sampling requires that the initial
information on which        the sample is based is accurate, and therefore we
decided ...... that a random sample would be a better form of selection for our
       purposes.

       We therefore selected a random sample of 34 cases to analyse, based on a
       figure of 20% of looked after children for whom information is available. This
       represents a good sized sample in research terms.




47                                                        Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                   Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                             Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                             Final Report



5.2 Factors for analysis
     Based on previous research along with our own experience from projects
     undertaken elsewhere we considered the following 28 factors in our case
     analysis.

                 FACTORS IDENTIFIED FOR CASE ANALYSIS

        Age
        Ethnicity
        Gender
        Disabled/non disabled
        Length of time in care
        Legal status
        Geographical location
        Date of referral
        Reason for referral
        Who referred?
        Nature of family problem
        Which agencies are involved with the family?
        What is the level of involvement?
        Whether the child‟s social, emotional, educational and behavioural needs
         are identified
        What support is offered to meet these needs
        Are risks to the child identified? What are they?
        What is offered to address those risks?
        Chronology of pathway into care
        Date of admission into care
        The plan for the child at the time of admission
        Has a care planning document has been completed?
        What is the plan for contact/rehabilitation?
        Are the needs of the family as a whole identified?
        What is offered to meet these needs?
        Is there evidence of partnership?
        Is there information on/contact with the wider family network?
        What resources are offered to meet the needs of the family?




48                                                     Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                    Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                              Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                              Final Report



5.3 Indicators of positive practice
     Before going on to analyse in detail the factors we considered in reviewing
     case records we have outlined, there were a number of positive indicators
     about the standard of practice that we identified, which were characteristics of
     many black and white practitioners working with black families.

     These are summarised below:
      A high level of commitment to families in a number of cases.
      A great deal of evidence that social workers were engaging
       with families to discuss their concerns about the children.
      A commitment on the part of most social workers to work in partnership and
       to be open and honest with families about concerns about perceived risks
       to children.
      A great deal of effort put into maintaining contact with most parents.
      A general commitment to keep children within their families or wider family
       networks where this was considered possible.
      A general commitment to place children in racially and culturally
       appropriate placements where this was possible.
      A commitment to refer most children who had been sexually abused for
       therapeutic help.
      Clarity about the nature of actual or perceived risks to the children.
      Child care and child protection procedures were generally adhered to.
      A commitment to work with other agencies, in particular the police, health
       and education for the protection of children.
      Attention paid to children‟s physical health and educational needs.
      Consideration of racial, cultural and linguistic needs in some cases




49                                                      Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                   Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                             Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                             Final Report



5.4 Analysis of specific factors
     We have detailed our findings below in relation to the analysed the 28 factors
     which we looked at in our analysis of the 34 case records.

5.4.1 Age
            Age range           Numbers of children

            0 - 1years                        0
            1-2                               1
            2-3                               1
            3-4                               0
            4-5                               0
            5-6                               3
            6-7                               1
            7-8                               1
            8-9                               3
            9 - 10                            3
            10 - 11                    0
            11 - 12                    5
            12 - 13                    3
            13 - 14                    5
            14 - 15                    1
            15 - 16                    2
            16 - 17                    2
            17 - 18                    1
            18+                               2


     The number of children under 11 years of age in the sample is 13 which
     represents 38% of the sample of case records.

     Most of the black children “looked after” by Liverpool Social Services are
     under the age of 11. Whilst this is of some statistical significance, the more
     important issue for Liverpool Social Services is the provision of services for
     under 11‟s. Most of the services which are specifically geared to direct work
     with black children (Black Residential Child Care Team, Residential Child
     Care Resource Team) are for the over-eleven age group and for children who
     are already “looked after” by Social Services.

     Children begin to develop their sense of identity and self-worth from birth
     onwards. There is research evidence that from the age of three children can
     identify differences in terms of racial origin, and are already forming views
     about the relative status of racial groups in relation to each other (Horowitz
     1939, Clark 1947, amongst others). By the time children are eleven years old
     their views about identity race and culture are already well developed .

     RECOMMENDATIONS
50                                                     Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                     Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                               Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                               Final Report

     R2. There is a need for specific services to be developed which meet the
     identity and development needs of black children under the age of
     eleven, to include both “looked after” children and children who are
     living within their own families.

5.4.2 Ethnicity (language, religion)
     It was difficult to establish the exact ethnic breakdown of our          sample
     for two reasons. The first is that the system of ethnic recording that is used
     by the authority is not very helpful in      determining ethnicity. For example,
     35% of the children in our sample were defined as “Black UK”, which defines
     their race, but it was not always clear what their ethnic origin was or the origin
     of their parents.

     It became clear from reading the records that a significant number of the
     cases we saw (approximately 50%) were children of mixed parentage. There
     was no way of determining this accurately from the system of ethnic record
     keeping, as children of mixed parentage were defined both as “Black British”
     or as “Other” or categorised by the ethnic origin of one of their parents.

     It is important that the ethnicity of children is recorded accurately, as there is
     no possibility of addressing the racial and cultural needs of children unless
     this information is available. In a number of cases, particularly where the child
     was of mixed origin, it was impossible to determine the ethnic origin of each of
     the child‟s parents from reading the case files. This information is important
     for a number of reasons, not least that of being able to identify when a black
     child of mixed parentage may be living in a white family. There were a number
     of cases in which the language and religion of the child or of the child‟s‟
     parents was not recorded.

     RECOMMENDATIONS
     R3. We would recommend that the Department reviews its system for
     recording ethnicity in order that more accurate and consistent records
     of the child‟s race, culture, language and religion can be kept, along with
     that of the child‟s parents.




51                                                       Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                    Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                              Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                              Final Report



5.4.3 Gender
     Our case record sample consisted of 14 males (41%) and 20 females (59%).
     There appears to be a slight bias towards females in our sample compared to
     the whole population of black children “looked after”, however, there was no
     evidence from our analysis of case records that this was significant in practice
     terms.

5.4.4 Disabled/non disabled
     There was one disabled child in our sample. This child was also chosen for
     more in-depth one-to-one interview work. Many of the issues for disabled
     children are included in Section 5 of the report outlining the data from the
     one-to-one interviews.

5.4.5 Length of time in care

     Time in care               Numbers of children

     0 - 1 years                              1

     1 - 2 years                              5

     2 - 3 years                              5

     3 - 5 years                              5

     5 - 10 years                       11

     10 - 15 years                     4

     15+ years                                3


     Most children in our sample had been in care between five and ten years. A
     smaller number had been in care for more than ten years. We did identify
     some differences in practice pre-Children Act 1989, such as less formalised
     arrangements for contact, fewer attempts at rehabilitation in the early stages
     of the case and less clarity about reasons for entry into the care system. For
     the children who had been in care less than ten years, mostly post Children
     Act 1989, we found that although there were more formalised arrangements
     for contact, attempts at rehabilitation and in family placement and clear
     reasons for admission into care there was a large variation in practice as
     highlighted by the factors considered below.




52                                                      Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                     Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                               Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                               Final Report



5.4.6 Legal status

     Legal status                Numbers of children

     Section 31 (Care Order)                    28

     Section 20 (Accommodation)                   6


     The overwhelming majority of children were subjects of Care Orders rather
     than accommodated. This reflects the fact that most of the children in our
     sample were in care as a result of concerns about significant harm resulting
     from their parenting. It is interesting that the number of black children on Care
     Orders is so high, particularly as risks were evidenced in the majority of
     cases. It clearly indicates the need to reduce the risk to black children through
     targeted intervention to address the parenting difficulties, as highlighted later.

5.4.7 Geographical location
     Postal Code                 Numbers of children

     Liverpool 8                        12
     Liverpool 4                        4
     Liverpool 5                        2
     Liverpool 15                2
     Liverpool 7                        1
     Liverpool 9                        1
     Liverpool 11                1
     Liverpool 12                1
     Liverpool 13                1
     Liverpool 14                1
     Liverpool 18                1
     Not Recorded                       7

     As anticipated, the largest number of children “looked after” reside in Liverpool
     8. This again suggests that resources need to be targeted in this area as this
     is where most of the black and mixed race families are currently living.




53                                                       Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                   Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                             Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                             Final Report


5.4.8 Date of referral to date of admission into care
     Time elapsed               Numbers of children
     between dates

     0 - 3 months               13
     3 - 6 months               3
     6 months - 1 year                 6
     1 year - 18 months         1
     18 months - 2 years        2
     2 - 3 years                       1
     3 - 4 years                       3
     4 - 5 years                       2
     5 years +                         3


     These figures indicate that in the majority of cases there is a relatively short
     time which elapses between the date of referral and the date of admission into
     the care system. Given the rapid admission rate into the care system for a
     significant number of black children this indicates the need for early and
     focused intervention in the early stages of the case. This need is also borne
     out from a range of other factors considered in our sample, and represents
     one of the recommendations of this report.

5.4.9 Reason for referral
     The main reasons for referrals have been represented in the table below:


     Type of Referral           Percentage of sample

     Drugs                                    41%

     Alcohol                                  38%

     Mental Health                            21%

     Family Relationship Problems             15%

     Schedule 1 Offender                      13%

     Physical Health Problem of Carer 15%




54                                                     Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                      Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                                Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                                Final Report


     In almost all cases the reason for referral was clear, with an identified source
     of concern. By far the overwhelming majority of cases were referred because
     of concern about the mother and/or her partner‟s use of drugs and/or alcohol,
     and the consequent impact that this had on their ability to parent. Out of drugs
     used „crack cocaine‟ was particularly featured, with heroin also significant.
     There was also one case in which abuse of solvents by the mother was the
     cause for concern, because of its effect on the parenting of the children.

     The second most common reason for referral was concern about one or other
     carer abusing alcohol or drinking heavily, and the consequent effect that this
     was having on their parenting. In most cases neglect or lack of supervision of
     young children was the primary source of concern.

     The third most common reason for referral was the mother‟s mental health. In
     most cases this was depression but in some it was delusions as a result of
     schizophrenia. Even where mental health was not the predominant feature of
     the case there are suggestions in a significant number of cases that a parent,
     usually the mother, was suffering from a “low level” depressive illness, which
     may not have been significant enough for them to be referred to psychiatric
     help but caused sufficient concern about their parenting ability. There was
     often a long history of abuse or trauma connected with the more depressive
     illnesses of mothers and, in most cases, there had been little or no direct work
     done with the women concerned.

     The most striking issue in relation to the overall picture was the amount of
     drug and alcohol abuse. There were few cases in which this did not feature,
     even when it was not identified as the presenting problem. The interlinking of
     drug abuse, alcohol abuse and mental health problems was also significant.

     We are not in a position to comment on the nature and reason for referrals of
     black families in comparison to white families. Although it is our understanding
     from practitioners that drugs and alcohol related problems are a significant
     feature of practice with white families along with domestic violence and past
     experiences of abuse of parents, particularly mothers. However, it is clear
     from the overwhelming nature of the drug and alcohol related referrals in
     relation to black children and their families that there is a need for planned and
     co-ordinated intervention on a multi-disciplinary basis to address this issue
     within the black community. For this to be effective it will also need to be
     undertaken in partnership with communities, and be targeted at the specific
     needs of black families.

     Domestic violence was also a feature in over a third (35%) of the cases which
     we looked at. It was often linked to alcohol abuse, although there are cases of
     domestic violence where alcohol does not feature. Whilst these figures show
     that domestic violence is a significant issue for black children and families, it is
     likely that the actual incidence of violence is higher than the figures show. This
     is due to a number of reasons.


55                                                        Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                        Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                                  Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                                  Final Report

     The first of these is that domestic violence is itself a hidden problem, as it
     occurs within the home environment and often within a relationship. The
     second is that there is a great deal of under-reporting on the part of victims
     themselves, who are often fearful of the consequences of reporting this to the
     police or child welfare professionals. The third is that professionals themselves
     do not always discuss this issue with families and do not always record
     domestic violence in their case records.

5.4.10 Who referred?
     Source of referral            Numbers of children

     Self referral                         4

     Probation                             4

     School / Nursery                      3

     Police                                2

     Hospital                              1

     Voluntary Agency                      1

     Unclear from records                  19


     Most of the self-referrals were from families who had come to Social Services
     with other difficulties or problems, (such as financial problems, requesting
     accommodation for a child, etc) and where child care and child protection
     concerns were subsequently identified.

     From reading the case records it was difficult to ascertain the source of the
     initial referral in the majority of cases, either as a result of time (initial referrals
     had been made some time in the past, sometimes to another local authority)
     or as a result of a lack of chronology on the file.



5.4.11 Nature of family problem
     Identified problems                   Percentage of sample

     Drug abuse                                    47%

     Alcohol abuse                                 38%

     Domestic violence                             35%

56                                                           Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                   Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                             Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                             Final Report

     Mental health problems                  29%

     Past trauma of abuse                    18%
     for parents

     Financial difficulties                  15%

     Physical health problems                12%
     of parents

     Poor accommodation                      12%
     or living environment

     Criminal activities                     12%

     Poor parenting skills            12%

     Difficulties in caring                     9%
     for a disabled child

     Relationship problems                      9%

     Homelessness                               9%

     Social isolation                           3%


5.4.12 Which agencies are involved with the family?
     In all cases workers had fulfilled statutory responsibilities and guidance
     through multi-agency involvement. As expected, Education, Health and the
     Police featured in almost all cases. The Probation Service were also involved
     in a large number of cases. However, it was links with the voluntary sector
     and with other parts of the Social Services Department, which were more
     variable.

     Due to the nature of the cases in our case sample, a large number of cases
     featured the involvement of drug support agencies, usually the Drug
     Dependency Unit, although alcohol support services were less represented
     which was surprising given the high incidence of alcohol related problems in
     our sample of parents. Monitoring of family situations often involved Health
     Visitors and sometimes GP‟s. There were a few cases of excellent support
     and intervention by committed GP‟s.

     In most cases there was some involvement from psychiatric (mostly
     Community Psychiatric Nurses) or psychological services (involving
     assessments, anger management and family therapy), which was to be
     expected given the high instance of mental health problems in our sample.



57                                                     Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                    Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                              Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                              Final Report

     There were only a four cases in our sample which had been referred to the
     Black Residential Child Care Support Team.

     There were very few cases which had been referred to the Family Support
     Service, only one in the sample we saw (this will also be due in part to the fact
     that this service is relatively new), although two further cases had been
     referred for domiciliary support. In one case a family had been referred to the
     Black Sisters‟ Project.

5.4.13 What is the level of involvement?
     The level of involvement from Education, Police and Health seemed to be
     dependent on two factors. The first was the nature of the family problem, and
     the second was the way in which the case was being worked with. In some
     cases the involvement of other agencies was limited to attendance at case
     conferences, review conferences and statutory input with families, whereas in
     other cases the social worker involved had been very proactive in
     co-ordinating multi-agency activity and had achieved a useful inter-agency
     partnership with the family.

     Where there was involvement from the voluntary sector this tended to be to
     either to provide specific assessments (such as the NSPCC in providing child
     protection and risk assessments), or less often, for support services. There
     were four cases in the sample in which there had been a more supportive
     element to voluntary sector involvement. The first was a case in which a
     Family Centre had worked with a parent on anger management, another two
     were where a parent had been provided with help in parenting skills and one
     in which a referral had been made to the Black Sister‟s Project.

     It appeared from our case analysis that there was an under-use of available
     resources, particularly preventative and support services offered by the
     voluntary sector. We were aware from more informal discussions with workers
     that they are often unaware of services that exist in Liverpool, and would
     recommend that a directory of support services be compiled to provide
     comprehensive access to this information.

     It was of concern that so few cases had received the support provided by the
     Black Residential Child Care Support Team. There were cases of children
     over 11 who had not been referred to the team, and who we think could have
     benefited from their services. This in part appears to reflect a lack of
     understanding and acknowledgement by workers of the importance of racial
     and cultural identity for children, commented on later in the Report.

5.4.14 Whether the child‟s social, emotional, educational &
           behavioural needs are identified
     Physical needs
     There was evidence that urgent physical and health needs which children
     had were identified and addressed promptly    and that children were
     receiving appropriate medical attention. However, the extent to which
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                                                    Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                              Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                              Final Report

      children‟s medical and health        information had been recorded was not
      clear from the information which we had access to. The health information
      which we saw, tended to come from Review Forms and it was therefore often
      fairly general or incomplete. We are aware that the recording of information on
      children in general is the subject of      other research within the
      Department, and it is hoped that any gaps which do exist at present will be
      rectified by the introduction of the “Looked After Children” Forms.

       Education
       There was evidence that children‟s educational needs were being considered
in almost all the cases we saw. However, in   reading files we became aware of a
number of black children who were excluded from school.

      The records to which we had access did not always give full details on the
      educational background of the children and      therefore we are not in a
      position to specifically comment on the number of children in our case record
      sample who had been excluded from school. We were concerned about
      school exclusions in the context of national debates about the high level of
      exclusion and suspension of black pupils from schools. We feel that there
      should be greater consideration by schools of the emotional traumas that
      have been experienced many children in care and the possible consequences
      for the children‟s behaviour.



      Emotional needs and behavioural development
      The emotional needs and behavioural development of children were issues
      which were usually identified in the case records that we saw. However, this
      was seldom as a result of a comprehensive assessment of need but more
      usually as a comment on the file about areas of concern in relation to a
      particular child. There were several cases which involved emotionally
      traumatic events for children where the child did not receive prompt or expert
      help when needed. Energies of workers tended to focus on problem
      behaviours rather than attempting to discover and understand the underlying
      causes for these behaviours. Consequently interventions tended to be
      negatively focused for some young black people.

      There were several cases where loss or bereavement was not addressed
      through therapeutic work directly with the children concerned. In general,
      assessments of the emotional needs of children tended to be skimmed over
      or considered in a superficial way with comments such as “the child appears
      to be happy where she is”.

      Identity
      There was some mention of racial and cultural needs in the majority of cases
      but the depth of analysis of these issues was not great. Culture tended to be
      considered more readily than racial identity. There were instances where a
      child had undergone some form of racial abuse either by family members or
      white peers and there was little evidence of any support or help being offered

59                                                      Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                      Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                                Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                                Final Report

     directly to the child concerned or actions taken to address the problem at its
     source.

     There was an example of one case file of a child who had been placed
     trans-racially before the introduction of the Children Act 1989. In this case the
     worker involved at the time wrote a number of racist statements on the file,
     which did not appear to have been challenged.

5.4.15 What support is offered to meet these needs?
     Education
     In some cases there had been active attempts to address problems with
     Education, through involvement of ELIMU (A black educational resource) or
     through The Youth Liaison Officer for Education. In others there was less
     work done to address educational problems, either by the Education
     Department or by Social services.

     It is our view that the introduction of the “Looked After Children” Forms will
     help to provide a better tool for the recording and monitoring of school
     progress for children in care in Liverpool.

     RECOMMENDATIONS
     R4. We would recommend that the Department takes this opportunity to
     tackle the issue of school exclusions for children in the care system,
     and in particular for black children and young people who often suffer
     the effects of racism in terms of educational under-achievement.

     It should also be stressed at this point that it is the responsibility of the
     Education Department to address this issue in liaison with Social Services,
     and that social workers themselves often have great difficulties in finding
     appropriate resources for children with educational needs. There was also
     evidence in a number of cases of social workers in both field and residential
     settings who had put a lot of effort and time into finding educational support
     for young people. But it must also be recognised that children in the care
     system often under-achieve educationally, and that black children who are not
     in the care system often fail to achieve their full educational potential. As a
     result black children who are “Looked After” can be doubly disadvantaged by
     Education and Social Services systems.

     Whilst it did not fall within our remit to look at the policy and practice of the
     Education Department, we think that Education (and later on Employment
     Schemes) does have a key part to play in helping to create positive change
     for the future. This should not only be for children and young people in the
     care system, but also in a preventative capacity.

     Identity
     We were concerned about the number of cases in which the child‟s racial and
     cultural identity was insufficiently addressed. In very few cases was there an
     assessment of how the child saw themselves in terms of their racial and
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                                                      Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                                Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                                Final Report

     cultural identity, but there were a number of cases where the child had
     expressed negative views about their racial and cultural identity. In one case
     in particular the children had suffered extreme racial abuse from a white carer
     in their family, which did not appear to be addressed by the workers
     concerned.

     The only black disabled child in our sample was assessed without
     consideration of race or culture as the carer felt that it was not significant. This
     attitude is quite common for black disabled children who often get seen in only
     terms of their disability. There was evidence that some workers also felt that
     race and culture was not an important issue for black disabled children,
     particularly if the child is seen as being „severely disabled‟. This is a common
     stereotype for black disabled people who are often provided services which
     caters for their disability (often based on a medical model) but does not view
     their needs as black people in a serious way (Begum, 1992). Black people
     with learning disabilities are particularly vulnerable to having their racial
     identity ignored but are also likely to be subjected to racial abuse and
     discriminatory behaviour from staff and other white service users (Black
     People First, 1994).

5.4.16 Are risks to the child identified? What are they?
     In all cases the child protection risks to children were clearly identified, and
     clearly stated on the file, with supporting evidence for concerns.

     The risks to the child primarily arose from concerns about abuse which the
     child had already suffered from their parents or carers. It was only in 6% of
     the cases that we saw that there was no evidence of abuse to the child. The
     types of abuse which were represented in our sample are shown in the table
     below:


     Type of Abuse        Percentage of the Sample

     Parental Neglect                    65%

     Physical Abuse                      41%

     Sexual Abuse                        18%

     Emotional Abuse                       9%

     No Abuse                              6%


5.4.17 What is offered to address those risks?
     In some cases these concerns were stated almost as an inevitable
     consequence of the parent‟s lifestyle, substance abuse, mental health or
     behaviour, and it is in these cases that a poor prognosis tended to be
     envisaged for the outcome of the case. In very few cases was there any
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                                                     Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                               Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                               Final Report

      evidence of a comprehensive assessment of risk, need and likely or actual
      significant harm. This is mainly due to the lack of holistic assessment models
      and tools in current social work practice for examining risks and needs in
      relation to both children and parents using a family-centred approach.

      In the few cases where the level of risk assessment in relation to both child
      and adult was well identified, and where appropriate and planned intervention
      was made by a multi-disciplinary team to try to address the identified
      problems, it was much clearer when the children were removed into care that
      they were no longer safe within the home environment, and that removal was
      the only option.

      However, where there was no structured assessment of the danger that drug
      or alcohol dependency posed to the current and future parenting capacity of
      the parents intervention was less systematically planned and in many cases
      did not address the underlying difficulties which caused the risk. It should be
      stressed, however, that risk assessment is not the sole domain of the child
      and family social worker, and that it requires a high level of skill and
      co-operation from other professionals in drug, alcohol and adult mental health
      services.

5.4.18 Chronology of pathway into care
        It is evident from the cases which we analysed that most of the      children
within the care system were there with good reason, and we did not see evidence,
on the whole of heavy-handed         and inappropriate intervention to remove black
children from           safe environments.

      The picture which did emerge, however, was more one of crisis
      management of cases with a great deal of social work            intervention at
      particular stages of the case (often representing further mini-crises). It was
      clear that intervention was focused on addressing the presenting crisis, or on
      monitoring the level of risk to the child. There was less evidence of a
      pro-active response to assess the whole situation, and address the problems
      identified in a systematic way, or to provide specific and practical support for
      families addressing the roots of the presenting crisis.

      In line with the national picture for both black and white children, and recent
      research summarised in “Child Protection: Messages from Research” (DOH
      1995), there was evidence that practice was more influenced by an
      investigative and procedural response than a family support focus.

      We know from research evidence, such as “Patterns and           Outcomes in
      Child Placements” (DOH 1991) that once both black and white children have
      been in the care system beyond six weeks it is likely that they are destined
      for a long stay in care.      We also know that intervention in the early stages
      of family crisis is key to a more successful outcome.




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                                                    Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                              Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                              Final Report




      RECOMMENDATIONS
      R5. It does appear to us, therefore that more targeted intervention
      including practical help and support to families at an early stage in the
      case, based on an in-depth and holistic assessment         of needs may
      prevent some black children from being admitted into the care system. It
      is our view that a more effective approach in both human and financial
      terms would be achieved by early targeting of resources based on a
      planned response to child and family needs as well as risk.

      In other words there is a relatively small window of opportunity to
      engage with black families in a preventative and empowering way.
      Social workers and other practitioners must be enabled by their
      organisations to take advantage of this window of opportunity if black
      families are going to receive appropriate services which genuinely meet
      their needs at the same time as protecting the interests of children.

       We would imagine that social workers would themselves be in        favour of
such a response as we saw plenty of evidence of       workers working very hard to
deal with complex family situations    with little apparent access to supporting
resources.

5.4.19 The plan for the child at the time of admission
      In nearly every case in the sample there was a plan to maintain contact with
      parents of children being „looked after‟ (only one case appeared to have no
      plan for some contact with parents). In 26 cases we felt that this plan had
      been pursued but in 7 cases we felt that there had been very little attempt at
      maintaining contact with parents despite this being the stated aim in the plan.
      There were two cases where we found that there was no real plan at all. We
      have set out below the initial courses of action mentioned in the sample plans.




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                                                   Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                             Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                             Final Report




     Course of action                  Numbers of children

     Long-term foster placement               14

     Short-term foster placement              7

     In-family placement               7

     Adoption sought                          1

     Supervision at home                      1

     Residential unit                         1

     Mother & baby family placement 1

     No plan                                  2


     Has a care planning document been completed?
     In every case record examined in our sample a care plan had been
     completed.

5.4.20 What is the plan for contact/rehabilitation?
     Contact
     In all cases there was a plan in relation to contact with parents, with
     arrangements being made for children to have regular contact wherever
     possible, excluding cases where the child was to be adopted. In some cases
     a great deal of effort had been made to ensure that contact with parents or
     carers took place.

     Rehabilitation.
     The viability of rehabilitation was an issue which was considered in all the
     cases that we saw. Our sample indicated that the criteria on which decisions
     about rehabilitation were made were very inconsistent. In some cases the
     viability of rehabilitation seemed to be dictated by the success or problems
     with contact whilst in other cases rehabilitation was attempted too soon after
     the child became “Looked After”.

     From our analysis of case records we conclude that rehabilitation often took
     place without much pre-planning. In a number of cases, particularly those
     involving problems with parents who were substance abusers rehabilitation
     broke down because the underlying problems which had led to the child
     coming into the care system had not been addressed and therefore the same
     problems re-emerged once the child was at home. Furthermore, we detected
     some negativity of the outcome from workers involved where drug or alcohol
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                                                    Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                              Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                              Final Report

     abuse by parents was present. We feel that in complex and stressful
     situations for workers, this negativity can easily be translated into a
     „self-fulfilling prophecy‟ which leads to failures and breakdowns in
     re-unification work with these families.

     RECOMMENDATIONS
     R6. It is our view that a more structured approach to planning and
     intervention would help to address this issue. If a comprehensive
     assessment of needs and risk focusing on the causes of risk to the child
     was undertaken, followed by work done with the family to address those
     causes for concern and to identify the capacity for change before the
     child is placed back with the family, it is more likely that the outcome
     would be successful.

5.4.21 Are the needs of the family as a whole identified?
     The needs of families arising from our reading of the case records were as
     follows:

     Type of Assistance Required               Percentage of the Sample

     Drug dependency work                                     44%
     Alcohol abuse work                               32%
     Domestic violence prevention                             32%
     Mental health work                                       26%
     Specialised individual counselling               24%
     Housing assistance                               21%
     Financial assistance                                     15%
     Relationship counselling                                 15%
     Regular respite care for child/ren               12%
     Anger management                                 12%
     Parental skills training                                   9%
     Social contact                                             6%
     No proper assessment of family needs                     21%


5.4.22 What is offered to meet these needs?
     We estimate that there was inadequate preventative work in at least 23% of
     the cases we investigated. There were examples of very good preventative
     work in a few cases and others preventative work was done but there was not
     enough specialised input at the right time. Poor engagement and low
     expectations of parents or low level of service involvement prior to a crisis
     tended to create a „self-fulfilling prophecy‟ of poor outlook for eventual
     re-unification of families (as mentioned earlier).

     In a number of cases where there was a drug or alcohol abuse problem
     identified, contact was made with a relevant treatment agency, but there was
     often no co-ordinated plan as to how this problem was to be tackled. There
     was very little evidence of a joint and co-ordinated approach to problems
     where adult support and child protection services working effectively together.
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                                                    Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                              Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                              Final Report


     Whilst is clear that the social worker‟s priority and focus should be the child,
     and there have been many criticisms of social worker‟s over-involvement with
     needy parents at the expense of the child (such as in the Tyra Henry and
     Jasmine Beckford cases quoted earlier in the report).Where parents‟
     parenting capacity is affected by dependency on drugs or alcohol, it is unlikely
     that any intervention will be effective until the drug, alcohol or mental heath
     problem is itself assessed and a planned programme of intervention is
     implemented to address the problem.

5.4.23 Is there information on/contact with the wider family
         network?
     The involvement of the extended family is often a feature of any work
     examining the response of services to black families. We found that there was
     significant involvement of the extended family in 35% of the sample. Where
     there was involvement it was often of a very high standard and displayed
     strong commitment to support and help the children concerned.

     We did not detect any consistent proactive attempts by services to involve
     extended families and there was little active support for extended families
     once they did get involved. In some cases we found that extended family
     members who were assisting in the situation were themselves struggling
     financially to care for the extra child/ren, sometimes with basic amenities such
     as cookers not being provided by services.

     In situations where there was extended family involvement we found that the
     degree and frequency of monitoring of the children‟s carers by agencies and
     service contact with natural parents was often reduced.

     It is our view that contact with the whole family network is an issue that needs
     greater consideration. This is particularly relevant in black and mixed families
     where contact with family members provides support for the child as well as
     helping them to keep them in touch with their culture, and in some cases with
     the language of their family of origin. There are, of course, inherent risks to
     involving extended family members where there has been a long history of
     abuse in the family concerned (this is discussed elsewhere in this report).

5.4.24 Is there evidence of partnership?
     In the majority of cases, there was evidence that workers had discussed
     concerns about the children with families and that often workers had
     attempted to work in partnership with families, in particular with the mother.
     There was evidence that in some cases actual or threatened violence on the
     part of a family member (usually a male family member) which had prevented
     partnership occurring.

     It was normally the female carer with whom most contact was maintained,
     often the male partner or carer did not feature significantly in social services‟
     contact with the family. Whilst research evidence suggests that social services
     work much more with female carers than with male carers, there is evidence
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                                                     Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                               Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                               Final Report

     that this is particularly the case with black families, especially when the male
     partner is of African Caribbean origin. From Inquiry Reports (Tyra Henry,
     Jasmine Beckford, Sukina Hammond, we have a number of
     specific instances where there was a lack of engagement with the African
     Caribbean male in the family, and evidence from our research also suggests
     that where there is an African Caribbean male in the family there is unlikely to
     be a productive partnership between him and Social Services.

     There were also some instances of families where both partners were
     uncooperative and rejecting of any help offered. There were also examples of
     a lack of “engagement” with families, where workers had been clear with
     families about concerns but not sought to enlist their co-operation in solving
     difficulties in a proactive way.

5. 5 Factors not included in the 28 factor analysis
     There were three factors which were not included in the original 28 factor
     analysis, but which emerged as significant through our analysis of case
     records. We thought that these needed further consideration by the
     Department and have suggested recommendations to address these issues.

5.5.1 Case recording
     As highlighted in other research being undertaken by the Department, the
     format and nature of recording on case files is very variable. We have already
     identified that recording of ethnicity is not adequate in helping to address the
     racial and cultural needs of children, earlier in the report. There is also a need
     for information on case files to be more accessible and more detailed. At
     present there are often gaps in basic information, and it is difficult to find
     factual information from the current structure of files.


     RECOMMENDATIONS
     R7. There needs to be more accurate recording of the race, ethnicity,
     preferred language and religion of children „looked after‟. We are using
     the term „race‟ here as a social concept based on skin colour and
     physical appearance as signified by the terms „black‟ and „white‟.
     Ethnicity would be defined as a social and cultural concept relating to a
     group identity based on shared culture, language, religion, history and
     tradition (as signified by the terms African, Irish, Somali etc…). We
     would suggest that practitioners are encouraged to record the child‟s
     perceived sense of racial and ethnic identity as well as the ethnic origin
     of their parents.

     RECOMMENDATIONS
     R8. We would recommend that the department reviews its case
     recording in line with findings of other research undertaken by the
     Department. We would also suggest that the Department institutes a
     frontsheet for files, containing all of the basis information on the case
     (name, address, ethnicity, ethnicity of parents, etc along with

67                                                       Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                        Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                                  Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                                  Final Report

       information on the date, source of referral, nature of concern,
       registration and category and critical incidents.). This would be in line
       with recommendations of Inquiry Reports, in particular the Sukina
       Hammond Inquiry (Sukina, An evaluation of the circumstances leading
       to her death 1991).

5.5.2 Direct work with children
       Although this was not an issue which formed part of our 28 factor analysis, in
       undertaking Stage 2 of our research, it became clear that there was very little
       direct work being done with children. There was a significant number of
       cases, particularly those in which a child had been sexually abused, where
       referral for therapeutic help was made but was very slow in producing
       practical assistance.

        In most cases there were very few direct quotes from children            about
their views, wishes and feelings on the file, particularly         before entry into the
care system. After being placed in care there were usually comments from children
on the Child Care Review Forms. Given the high numbers of cases in which
        neglect features, it is of concern that there was little actual evidence directly
        from the child recorded on the file about their home situation whilst living with
        their parents. It was usually once children were with foster carers or in
        residential care that the true nature of their lifestyle while at home emerged.

      It is often a feature of cases of neglect as well of those of physical injury to
      children that children are not directly asked about their home situations. This
      is evidenced by a number of Inquiry reports on both black and white children
      such as „“A Child in Trust” The Report of the Panel of Inquiry into the
      circumstances surrounding the death of Jasmine Beckford‟ (London Borough
      of Brent 1985), „”A Child in Mind” Protection of children in a responsible
      society; The Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Circumstances
      Surrounding the Death of Kimberley Carlisle (London Borough of Greenwich
      1987) “Paul; death through neglect” (Bridge Child Care Consultancy Service
      1995) and the Report already quoted earlier in this report “Sukina; and
      evaluation of the circumstances that lead to her death” (Bridge Child Care
      Consultancy Service 1991).

      There is also plenty of evidence that social workers do not routinely
      ascertain or record children‟s‟ views, as evidenced by the Children Act Report
      1993 (DOH 1993), amongst other             sources;

              “It was not general practice of staff to ask children how
              they felt about decisions affecting their daily life or their future, and their
              views were not routinely recorded on
              case files”

      RECOMMENDATIONS
      R9. It is our view that it is not possible for social workers to have a truly
      accurate picture of the family and their situation if the majority of their
      information is supplied by parents or other professionals.
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                                                     Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                               Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                               Final Report


     It is particularly important for black children to feel that they can discuss their
     concerns and worries about their home situations with social workers,
     particularly as black children can remain unprotected if social workers are
     fearful of intervening in the lives of black families or have unrealistically
     positive views about the potential of black families to protect (as evidenced by
     the cases of Jasmine Beckford, Tyra Henry and Sukina Hammond).

5.5.3 Placement of black children
     This was not one of the 28 factors considered in our analysis of case records.
     However, it did emerge as a crucial issue in relation to the cases which we
     analysed. There were three main issues in relation to the placement of black
     children on which we wish to comment.

     Residential placements
     We were aware that in many of the residential placements there were small
     numbers of black staff, and in some cases no black staff. We feel that this is
     an issue for the Department to address, as black children who grow up in an
     environment where they do not have easy access to role models will suffer in
     terms of their self-esteem as a consequence. This is well documented in
     literature that has considered the relationship between race culture and identity
     (See Ahmed. S. et al, Social Work with Black children and Their Families
     1986,Batsford).

     In-family placements
     In-family placements are often to be welcomed, as they provide the opportunity
     for a child to remain within their family, whilst being protected from the risks of
     their home environment. However, we did have some concerns on reading
     files that criteria for assessing and monitoring these placements are not always
     as stringent as for other foster placements. We did see some examples of care
     given to children within in-family placements that we do not think would have
     been accepted in other placements.

     RECOMMENDATIONS
     R10. We would urge the Department to review its procedure for
     approving in-family placements to ensure consistency in standards of
     assessment and monitoring.

     Placement availability
     The majority of the children in our case sample were placed in racially and
     culturally appropriate placements. However, we are aware that that there are
     difficulties in getting appropriate family placements for some black children as
     there are not enough black foster carers, particularly in some areas of the
     authority.

     RECOMMENDATIONS
     R11. We would urge the Department to address the issue of lack of
     appropriate racial and cultural family placements for black children in

69                                                       Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                               Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                         Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                         Final Report

     some areas of the city, through more targeted recruitment of black
     foster carers across the whole Department.




70                                                 Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                        Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                                  Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                                  Final Report



6.     ONE-TO-ONE INTERVIEWS
       We selected four cases in which to do one-to-one interviews, and which were
       also representative of our sample of case records. In one case we were
       unable to directly interview the child because of her level of disability, and in
       another case the parent contacted us to say that she was too distressed
       about her child‟s removal to discuss her situation with us. A project consultant
       visited the disabled child, interacted with her and observed her in her usual
       living environment. Residential staff providing care to the disabled child were
       interviewed.

6.1 Factors which we considered
      We selected 7 key issues to consider, which had been pertinent in our case
      record analysis, and we designed a questionnaire based on these factors. We
      asked the child, parent, carer and social worker questions on each of the 7
      issues.
1. Support for the family prior to entry into care
What support was offered prior to entry into care, whether this helped?
Whether anything else could have been offered that was not offered.

2. What was discussed with the child and parent before the child came into
care?
Whether concerns about the child were discussed.
Who discussed this with the child and parent and what was said.

3. Why the child was in care
What was the reason for the child being in care?

4. Family contact
What contact did the child have?
With whom? How often?

5. Identity
What the child‟s identity was.
What the child‟s racial and cultural needs are.

6. The Placement
What the child, parent carer and social worker think about the placement and
whether or not it is meeting the needs of the child (particularly in relation to race
culture, religion and language).

7. Plan for the future
What the plan for the future was.
What their views were about this were. With whom it had been discussed.


6.2 Analysis of the one-to-one interviews
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                                                    Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                              Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                              Final Report


6.2.1 Support for the family prior to entry into care
     What support was offered prior to entry into care?
     Only one parent that we interviewed said that they had not been offered any
     help or support prior to the child coming into care, although in this case there
     was evidence from elsewhere that support had been offered this parent prior
     to the removal of the child. We heard from other sources that one other parent
     in our sample had not been offered any real preventative support prior to their
     child coming into care.

     Two of the children said that they remembered the social worker visiting to
     talk to them about their home situation prior to them coming into care. The
     disabled child was not consulted directly as her level of understanding of
     verbal communication has not been properly ascertained up to the present
     time.

     There was evidence that social workers had attempted to provide some
     support to families through offering resources, using written agreements,
     offering parenting classes etc. However, the success of these initiatives was
     dependent on the motivation of the carer and this was not always present.
     The carer of the disabled child was offered domiciliary support but she felt that
     the arrangements suggested did not provide the requisite continuity for the
     child and was overly intrusive for her.

     One worker remarked on the fact that the resource offered was an all white
     service and that the service user may not have felt comfortable using it.

     Whether anything else could have been offered that was
     not offered
     This was a hard question for parents and children to respond to; indicating
     that they were generally not aware of what support was available to them.

     One parent said that they thought that there was a lot more that could have
     been done. This parent said that it would have been helpful to have more
     feedback from workers. They said that they felt that workers spent a lot of
     time sitting in meetings and making recommendations but not offering much
     practical help. They said that they would have liked some help on a daily
     basis when things started to go wrong rather than further down the road when
     there were problems.


     One child did say that the service that he was offered („respite care‟) he did
     not want, and that it was at his parent‟s request and not his. „Respite care‟
     was also offered to the disabled child‟s carer but this proved to be unsettling
     for the child although it is not clear what other options were offered such as
     „respite care‟ in the family home or a Family Link Scheme approach to
     providing a short -term break.

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                                                     Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                               Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                               Final Report

     The social workers generally felt that everything had been done that could
     have been done to prevent the child being placed in care.

6.2.2 What was discussed with the child & parent before the
          child came into care
     All parents spoken to said that their child being placed in care had been
     discussed with them. The disabled child‟s natural parents were not in this
     country at the time of her placement into are and they were not directly
     involved in the decision at all. The child‟s carer was fully involved in the
     decision.

        Why the child was in care?
     Only one parent said that they did not know why the child was in
     care, and one parent blamed the Children Act for her child being in care. All of
     the children that were talked to had an explanation as to why they were in
     care. The social workers had all talked to child and to the parents about why
     the child was in care.

     The main reason for the disabled child being in care was that the carer was
     not able to maintain the level of physical care necessary for the child due to
     her own ill-health.

6.2.3 Family contact
     What contact did the child have?
     With whom?
     How often?
     Two parents saw their children on a regular and informal basis, although
     contact with other family members was more ad-hoc. Contact with a parent
     was an issue for one child who did not see their parent on a regular basis. In
     this case it appeared that more could be done to encourage and facilitate this
     contact.

     One child had regular contact with a number of family members because this
     child was in an in-family placement. The disabled child had some contact with
     her natural family abroad through several trips in the past undertaken by the
     carer. The child‟s parents have now entered the country permanently and
     have daily contact with the child when she is not in the residential unit which is
     many miles outside of Liverpool.

6.2.4 Identity
     The child‟s identity
     One parent identified a particular concern in relation to the child‟s identity in
     that the child thought he was white. The parent said that she had done what
     she could to discuss this with him, but that he was really confused about his
     identity. Another (white) parent was very clear that their child was black.


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                                                    Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                              Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                              Final Report

     Two of the children identified themselves positively in terms of their skin
     colour and one child described themselves as white. This also seemed to be
     related to the fact that this particular child was very fair skinned.

     The disabled child response to language and culture is not yet fully known as
     mentioned earlier. Since her parents have been in this country, she is being
     exposed to Islamic culture and her family‟s language more at present.

6.2.5 The Placement
     What the child, parent carer and social worker think about the placement
     and whether or not it is meeting the needs of the child, particularly in
     relation to race, culture, religion and language.
     Two of the parents were unhappy with where their child was placed. One
     because the establishment was in an all white area with only white staff. The
     other because she felt that staff changes and rotas did not provide the
     necessary continuity of care for her child.

     We felt that the disabled child was not appropriately placed as she was
     physically quite fragile, having brittle bones, and was placed with children with
     challenging behaviours. Several residential staff commented on this problem.
     On a psychological level, the child was also quite sensitive to her living
     environment, particularly in relation to noise and people‟s voices. She was
     sharing a bedroom with another child who was noisy at night on some
     occasions, and her living environment was, understandably, quite noisy at
     times.

     There were also difficulties in obtaining the proper equipment for this child
     partly due to some disputes between health authorities about payment for the
     equipment required.

     One of the parents was happy where their child was placed because it was an
     in-family placement. Another parent was very distressed about their child
     being in care in the first place.

     Only one of the parents said that they thought that the needs of the child were
     being met in terms of the child‟s racial and cultural identity, and this was the
     child who was placed in an in-family placement. Although this placement was
     with white family members, the parent felt that the carers were in touch with
     the child‟s racial and cultural needs and were able to respond to them.

     Two of the carers (one of whom was black) were clear that the child they were
     caring for was black, although the white carers said that they would welcome
     help and support to help them to work positively with the child on this issue,
     as there were things that they had not considered about the child‟s identity
     prior to this interview with them. The residential staff at the unit for the
     disabled child were not engaged in focused efforts to expose the child to her
     cultural heritage, partly because the carer had informed them that the child
     was Christian.
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                                                     Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                               Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                               Final Report


     The workers working with the cases were all clear about the ethnicity and
     cultural identity of the children, although they had not, in general, talked to the
     children much about their identity, and it was variable the extent to which they
     had discussed this issue with parents.

     It appears that workers might benefit from the opportunity to receive further
     training and support on this issue to help them to identify ways of working
     more confidently with the issues of race and culture. There is a specific need
     for workers involved with black disabled children to receive more focused
     input on the interaction of race and disability for this group of service users.

6.2.6 Plan for the future
     What the plan for the future was?
     What their views were about this were?
     With whom it had been discussed

     Most of the parents that were spoken to said that they knew what was
     planned for the future, but they saw this in terms of education, holidays etc…
     rather than long term plans. They also said that plans for the future had been
     discussed with them. The parents of the disabled child were not certain what
     the authorities had planned for the future. Although they were adamant that
     they wished to have their child back to live with them if they were assisted in
     getting adapted accommodation for her. It was evident that because they
     could speak very little English it was proving difficult to communicate their
     wishes more forcefully. They did not have an independent interpreter as, a
     family member who has been the child‟s carer over many years, was
     interpreting for them at meetings.

     One child said that they did not know what the plan for the future was, and
     another that they were to go home (although this was not possible for this
     child in the current circumstances).

     The social workers all expressed a clear outcome for the child in terms of
     adoption, rehabilitation etc, but it was not always clear how this decision had
     been reached or what steps would be taken to achieve this outcome.

     The carers generally expressed the same view as the social worker as to the
     plan for the future and the carers that we spoke to said that the social worker
     had discussed future plans with them.

6.2.7 Summary and Conclusion from one-to-one interviews
     The one-to-one interviews confirmed that communication in relation to
     concerns about children from professionals to families is generally honest and
     open. They also confirmed that attempts have been made to try to prevent
     children coming into care.


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                                                     Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                               Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                               Final Report

     The areas for development centre more on the need for early intervention to
     help families in the early stages of difficulties. One parent specifically raised
     this point in discussions with us, and another parent remarked on the lack of
     support available when it is required. In terms of support for carers of disabled
     children, a wider range of support offering flexibility and continuity is essential
     to provide effective preventative services.

     The one-to-one interviews also confirmed the need for more structured
     planning. It was not always clear how decisions had been reached in relation
     to particular cases, even where these decisions were appropriate ones. We
     think that it would help children families and workers a great deal if there was
     more structured assessment and planning in place so that decision making
     could be done on a more co-ordinated basis. There is a specific issue arising
     for parents who do not have English as their first language. We feel that the
     involvement of the child‟s natural parents in the decision making process has
     been affected by their lack of English.




     RECOMMENDATIONS
     R12. It should be standard practice to offer parents an independent
     interpreter rather than relying solely on family members, especially if
     that member has been involved directly with the child.

     The one-to-one interviews also highlighted the need for more attention to be
     paid to issues of race culture religion and language in work done with families,
     especially where there is a disabled child. Whilst workers acknowledged the
     importance of ethnicity in casework, they seemed in need of more support
     and guidance in how they should work effectively with these issues. From our
     interviews we also identified that carers would also benefit from this support

     One other area, which requires attention, is the placement of black children. It
     seems that there are some difficulties in obtaining appropriate placements for
     black children.

     RECOMMENDATIONS
     R13. Black disabled children, and disabled children in general, appear to
     have much fewer options in finding suitable residential placements
     within Liverpool. We would urge the Department to look at this issue and
     take steps to address this difficulty.




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                                                    Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                              Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                              Final Report



7.   Focus Groups.

7.1 Feedback from parents
     We were unable to have a focus group of parents because of the difficulties in
     finding a group of parents who were able and willing to talk to us. We did
     however, interview parents in our one to one interviews and also conduct an
     interview with a parent who was keen to talk to us about their experiences.
     Whilst the experiences which this parent had were particular to their situation,
     the interview did raise a number of general issues about the user‟s experience
     of child protection services, which we thought were important to highlight. The
     pertinent issues are grouped under headings below:

7.1.1 Support
     This carer felt that they were not offered much support in the early stages of
     their difficulties. The carer talked about their difficulties in caring for the
     children and the amount of pressure that they were under but said that they
     did not have the opportunity to share the feelings with anyone or to get help.
     One parent said that they did have a social worker at the time that was honest
     with them, and that they appreciated this honesty.

7.1.2 Information
     This carer felt that they did not get much information from anyone about what
     was happening during their involvement with Social services. This particular
     parent had a literacy problem and found that this worked against them in
     obtaining information from the Department. The carer also said that it was
     extremely difficult for them to participate in meetings that they found very
     stressful, and that they did not feel that Social services appreciated just how
     difficult this was for parents.

7.1.3 Practice with Black Families
     One parent said that they felt that there was a real difference in practice with
     black families as compared to white families. The parent said that they felt if
     they had been white that they would have had the children back much more
     quickly and that they would have been treated differently. The carer said that
     they also thought that there was more of a stigma for black families in having
     children removed and that other people had judged them because their
     children were in care.

7.1.4 Rehabilitation and contact
     In talking to this carer about the reasons why their children were in care, and
     what the position was about them being returned to them, the parent was
     unable to identify what needed to happen before they would be returned. The
     carer seemed unclear about social services‟ plans and expectations of them
     as a parent.

7.2 Feedback from service providers
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                                                    Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                              Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                              Final Report

        (Children & Family Division)
7.2.1 Racial & cultural identity of black children
     Service providers came up with several instances of black children in the
     „looked after‟ system who were struggling with issues of racial and cultural
     identity. It was felt that mixed parentage children were particularly vulnerable
     to have their black identity ignored, especially if they were lighter skinned or
     could „pass as white‟. An example was given by one foster carer of how she
     discovered that a child who was „passing as white‟ had a black grandparent
     who had never been mentioned by the child or social worker. Several foster
     carers said that a child‟s ethnicity was not always made clear to them with
     information often „getting lost in the system‟. It was made clear that by
     providers that assumptions about culture should not be made based on the
     appearance or ethnicity of a child but it was recognised that mixed parentage
     children often lost contact with their black cultural heritage.

     Most of the foster carers said that they had been the main source of
     assistance for black children in strengthening their cultural heritage, some
     expressed the feeling that they needed a lot more help and information to
     access cultural resources for the children. There was a suggestion that foster
     carers should receive more training on this issue. There was a particular
     concern about a few mixed parentage children who held very racist views
     about black people and the best ways of working with these children. There
     was a strong feeling that schools should be doing more to deal with racist
     behaviour in school and greater awareness of the effects it has on black
     children in care.

7.2.2 Working with parents
     The experiences of working with families where there was a problem with drug
     or alcohol abuse suggested that there was very little and sometimes no help
     given to parents to deal with their substance abuse. Providers commented on
     the poor living conditions of these parents and reasoned that part of the
     problem was due to money being spent by parents on „feeding their habit‟. It
     was also commented that black drug abusers tended to be rejected by their
     extended families due to the stigma attached to
     substance abuse, mixed parentage families were thought to be most
     susceptible to this kind of rejection.

     Providers felt that there were instances when children were placed back into
     the parental home too quickly before the parents had addressed their
     substance abuse resulting in further abuse or neglect of the child. This was
     seen as being both an unfair and dangerous practice which amounted to
     „setting the parent up to fail‟. There were reports from foster carers that
     children of drug abusing parents had been used to deal drugs as well when
     they had been in the parental home.

     Some foster carers expressed concerns about parents who were substance
     abusers, or who had mental health problems, coming to their homes to visit
     the children. One foster carer described how the police surrounded her house
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                                                    Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                              Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                              Final Report

     once to arrest a parent and another foster carer told of continuous abusive
     phone calls from a parent. A foster carer gave an example of information
     about a drug abusing mother not being recorded on the LAC form or the carer
     being informed of drug abuse. The foster carer agreed to supervised visits by
     the mother to take place in her home but she found that the mother was using
     her bathroom to take drugs during the visits.

7.2.3 Joint work between foster carers & social workers
     Foster carers felt that they were not always given the full picture by social
     workers which was though to be a barrier to proper joint working. One foster
     carer complained that a social worker had asked her to fill in several LAC
     forms for children that she had looked after because „he was too busy‟. Foster
     carers felt that social workers did not have enough time to do more direct work
     with children and that too much of this responsibility was put onto foster carers
     who were nor properly trained for this task. There was a particular concern
     that social workers were not keen to do life story work which was a useful
     technique for many children.

     Foster carers would like to have a more equal partnership with other
     professionals involved with children „looked after‟. They feel that they should
     be more involved in decision making about the child as they are often the
     most consistent worker with the child, social workers tend „to come and go‟ a
     lot. Foster carers would like to receive more support from a team like the
     Black Children‟s Residential Care Team to get more information about a black
     child‟s culture and develop more skills in direct work with black children about
     cultural and racial identity.




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                                                    Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                              Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                              Final Report



7.3 Feedback from social workers
       (Community Services Division)
7.3.1 Organisational problems
     Several social workers felt that there had been a culture in the past where
     some Area Offices had ignored race and culture issues. A lack of expertise of
     working with black families was felt to exist in the Department and this kind of
     expertise was not being commissioned by the Department from the
     independent sector.
     Social workers commented that their roles were changing towards becoming
     more like resource managers with less time to undertake direct work with
     children.

     It was noted that all the issues to do with black families seems to be routed
     through the Central Division when it is acknowledged that black families do
     live in other areas of the city as well. There needs to be a greater
     understanding of the impact of institutional racism on black families. In the
     Liverpool context this means there are some areas where black families are
     not readily accepted. There is less choice in services for black families, for
     example if a black family wanted a black social worker it is likely that they
     would have to be referred to Central Division. Help to families in Liverpool
     seems to be Child Protection-led when in many problems could be dealt with
     at a lower level of response.

7.3.2 Practice problems
     There appear to be problems for social workers in assessing the needs of
     black families in an appropriate way. Assessments tend to lack real direction
     without enough analysis of why problems are occurring and there is also a
     lack of preventative work. Many of the crises involving black families are with
     people who are already known to the Department. The lack of early
     intervention leads to a crisis where options for action become restricted and in
     effect it becomes too late to do anything creative.

     The „Early Years Project‟ (Family Support Services) does not appear to be
     used appropriately by workers. The hardest group to cater for was felt to be 9
     -12 year olds, boy especially. There appears to be a number of placement
     breakdowns with this group and it was felt that more work should be done
     study the reasons why this happens. There tends to be a lot of „ad hoc‟
     arrangements for the under-tens group and there is a need to have packages
     of care with more varied resources available.




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                                                     Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                               Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                               Final Report


7.3.3 Direct work with black children
     It was recognised that the level of direct work with black children was not
     satisfactory. Reasons offered for this included lack of real commitment by
     workers and a lack of skills in this area. It was agreed that foster carers do
     more direct work with black children than social workers. It was suggested
     that the importance of a black child‟s racial and cultural identity was not fully
     appreciated by workers and problem behaviours in black children was not
     being linked to this issue. Most black children in care are of mixed parentage
     and the impact of this on black children is not fully understood by many social
     workers especially when it comes to the power dynamics that exist between
     black and white extended families.

7.3.4 Carers of black children
     There are problems caused by the distribution of carers of black children in
     the city. They seem to be mostly concentrated in one small area in the Central
     area with very few numbers scattered around elsewhere. The Central Division
     also appears to be managing all carers of black children across the city. There
     is a need for the Department to review this situation and investigate how
     carers of black children are being recruited in other areas of the city outside of
     Central.

7.3.5 Inter-agency working
     A comment was made that innovative and skilled resources are there in
     Liverpool but they do not seem to be used appropriately and they are not
     working well enough together. Inter-Departmental working relationships within
     the local authority itself are not good enough either and so existing knowledge
     and expertise is not being used effectively.

     Barriers to effective inter-agency working were identified as :
             A problem of „ownership‟ - who is responsible for what?
                  i.e. sorting out roles, responsibilities and boundaries.
             Agencies feeling that they are being picked on if bad practice is
                exposed in a particular agency.
             Poor channels of communication which are not structured properly
                and no communication strategy.
             Social workers do not get enough information themselves and do
                not always absorb it when it does get through to them.




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                                                     Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                               Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                               Final Report


7.3.6 Policy & procedures
     Race and culture issues are still not a high profile issue in legislation which
     then influences attitudes of child protection practitioners and local authority
     procedures. It is not clear to what extent child care practitioners know about
     Departmental policy and procedures and then implement them. There needs
     to be an increase of awareness what constitutes race equality practice in
     children and family work and stronger links with policy statements forged. The
     sanctions for not following policies are not clear in the Department. There
     were examples of where blatantly discriminatory statements in the workplace
     were not dealt with. Black families experiencing racism in their homes were
     often moved away while perpetrators stayed put. It was felt to be extremely
     important to show that racist behaviour would not be tolerated and for the
     local authority „to get its own house in order‟.

7.3.7 Training
     There is a lack of sufficient training in the Department on working with black
     families. It was reported that training does not focus enough on the real issues
     for social workers working with black families and the training that does
     happen is not mandatory. It was felt that there needs to be more consultation
     with practitioners about training courses. More skills training in communicating
     with children could improve practice.

7.4 Feedback from black young people
     We spoke to a small group of black young people about their experiences of
     services and conducted some individual interviews. We feel that the following
     quotes speak for themselves.

     “Social workers don‟t talk to children. They only talk about them.”

     “If the social worker finds that the child‟s food and where they are living is OK,
     they don‟t bother finding about anything else like the child‟s feelings.”

     “Social workers have to find out what the child thinks about being in care and
     what they want.”

     “ Its good to be in a place where there are black staff who understand your
     experience as a black person.”

     “Children are just like pawns in some big game that workers are playing -
     they‟re not really interested in you - just what you represent in the game.”

     “They quite liked it when I went crazy because when I suddenly got better and
     came to my senses , they could turn around and say what a good job they had
     done on me.”

     “SSD‟s ought to get together with the whole family at times of trouble and talk
     to them - not just threaten to take their kids away.”
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                                                      Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                                Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                                Final Report


     “They just tell you that you are no good all the time - in the end you end up
     becoming no good.”

     “I went through a phase of hating white people. They were so racist towards
     me where I was living. I just used to attack them.”

     “Staff never really talked to me in a positive way. In the end they just drive you
     towards your mates on the streets - at least they care even if they are into
     drugs and crime.”

     “Black people in the community need to help out each other more.”

     “It‟s hard enough for white people coming out of care. So for black young
     people it‟s twice as tough.”

     “We‟ve never been shown the value of education and we are not encouraged
     to develop skills.”

     “I said that I wanted to be a singer and they just told me to be „realistic‟ but
     when they came to my gigs they say - we told you that you‟d make it.”

     “They didn‟t take into account my needs as a black young women. For
     instance, I was given the same allowance as the other white young people for
     toiletries and hair-care when it costs twice as much to get the right products
     for my hair and skin.”

     The messages coming from staff working with many of these black young
     people were :

      Social workers need to understand the importance of cultural identity and
       heritage for black young people.
      Just because children look alright or appear to be happy, it doesn‟t mean
       that they are not feeling confused, unhappy or traumatised.
      Trauma, over time, gets overlaid with layers of painful emotions which are
       much harder to deal with years down the line.
      All children need to be given an explanation of why they are coming into
       care and helped to make sense of the situation at whatever level of
       understanding they have.
      If no explanation is given to children about what happened, the
       rationalisation which they come up with may well be damaging to their
       self-image.
      It may take a lot more effort and need more intensive work to do a good job
       during crisis situations but it can save an enormous amount of pain , misery
       and expense further down the line.
      Specialised counselling for black young people at the appropriate time can
       do an awful lot to avoid future psychological problems.
      Children are very resilient and they learn to put on a mask of normality in
       the most stressful situations.
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           Liverpool Social Services Directorate
     Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                     Final Report




84             Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
                                                    Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                              Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                              Final Report



8.   PROJECT VISITS
     We identified specific agencies to visit which were either providing family
     support services or were providing services for people with drug or alcohol
     problems

     It appeared to us that although there are a large number of projects and
     resources offering services to children and their families in difficulties in
     Liverpool, that these services were not very well co-ordinated. We had a great
     deal of difficulty in finding out about available resources, as there was no
     central place in which information of this nature was located.

     RECOMMENDATIONS
     R14. It is our view that there is a need for better co-ordination of
     information about services, and we would recommend that a directory of
     available resources be set up.

8.1 People & projects visited
        FSU Outreach Worker
        FSU Manager & Project Workers
        Merseyside Family Support Association
        Merseyside Drugs Council
        Merseyside and Cheshire Alcohol Project
        Social Services Family Support Services
        Black Young Person‟s Resource Team
        Mary Seacole House - Black Mental Health Project
        Ann Conway House - Black Young Person‟s Project
        Family Advisory Centre at Chatsworth Drive
        Head of the Children & Family Services Division (SSD)
        Strategic Planning & Review staff
        SSD Substance Misuse Team at Rodney St.
        Merseyside Racial Equality Council Officer
        Integrated Care Team (Substance Misuse)
        Drug & Mental Health Development Worker


8.2 Family support agencies
8.2.1 Family Support Service
     The family support service is a relatively new service, run by Social Services,
     having only been operating for one year at the time that the research was
     undertaken. The service has 50 sessional workers to call upon and 7 full time
     workers; it can offer about 120 hours a week sessional work per Division plus
     a share of full time workers. The service is mainly provided for children under
     10 years of age.

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                                                    Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                              Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                              Final Report

     The main area of work that the service undertakes is on parenting skills and
     working with parents on children‟s behaviour.

     Although the service was originally set up to provide a preventative service to
     families who are in need, it has transpired that the referrals are for families
     who are in severe difficulties and where there are child protection concerns.
     This seems to be a result of the fact that referrals come mainly from Social
     Services, who are bound to refer cases which are of the most concern, but it
     means that the amount of preventative work which can be undertaken is
     minimal.

     It appears that this service would be of particular benefit to both black and
     white families who were in the early stages of identified difficulties and where
     work could be done to help to alleviate their problems.

     RECOMMENDATIONS
     R15. We would suggest that the criteria for the service be evaluated and
     reviewed and that the service be expanded to meet the needs of families
     at an early stage of intervention. We would also suggest that referrals
     from Health visitors, teachers, etc be encouraged in line with efforts
     already being made by the service to increase its impact.

8.2.2 Family Service Unit
     The Family Service Unit works primarily with families where children are not
     yet in the care system. It provides family support work, an under-8‟s project,
     counselling and a social work service for black and white families, with
     approximately 46% of its service users being black. The FSU has good links
     with the black community where it is currently undertaking outreach work.

     It is interesting to note that a number of its preventative services are accessed
     directly by families themselves and not referred by Social Services (They have
     a 47% self-referral rate). There is a tension between the demands of funding
     authorities such as Social Services, whose clients have a pressing need for
     services and agencies that are trying to provide a self-accessed system.

     We would suggest that the FSU becomes a part of the planning initiative
     about the way forward for the improvement of services to black families
     co-ordinated by Social Services following this research.




8.2.3 Black Sisters Project
     Liverpool Black Sisters is a voluntary project providing a range of services to
     Black women in Liverpool. It provides the following services:

      Personal development training including assertiveness training
      Advice and counselling for victims of domestic violence
      Advocacy and career development
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                                                    Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                              Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                              Final Report

      After-school provision for 5-12 year olds
      Computer training
      Business development training

     The Project currently operates from very unsuitable premises in a damp
     basement, but hopes to move to a purpose built Centre of Excellence for the
     development of Black Women by the year 2000. They are also hoping to start
     a group for women whose family members have a drug problem.

     In our contacts with social workers and other professionals we were became
     aware that few people knew of the Project or the services which it offered. In
     the light of our research the kind of support offered by the Project to women,
     in terms of support for victims of domestic violence, and for families with drug
     problems is exactly the kind of community preventative resource which is
     required to meet the needs of families who may be in difficulties.

     We would therefore recommend that Social Services provides support
     for this service as a part of an initiative to tackle the problems which we
     have identified are prevalent with families in difficulties in the black
     community.

8.2.4 Merseyside Family Support Association
     We also visited this project which provides advocacy for families who are
     involved in court proceedings. They do not have ethnic monitoring so had to
     estimate the number of black families who use their service. It was clear that
     the number of black families who use this service was low, and that their
     contact with black children was primarily through mixed partnerships.

     This project was staffed by white workers, and did not appear to have any
     close links with the black community. Advocacy is an important service for
     families who are involved in care proceedings, and black families in particular
     are in pressing need of services which represent their interests.




     RECOMMENDATIONS
     R16. We would recommend that advocacy services are made available to
     black families, and that there is some central co-ordination of advocacy
     services which are available to and appropriate for black families.

8.3 Key themes from project visits
8.3.1 Domestic violence
     Due to the time limitations of the research project we were unfortunately not
     able to visit services providing direct support to women and children who had
     suffered the consequences of domestic violence. However, we did identify this
     as an important issue to be tackled in addressing the needs of children and
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                                                    Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                              Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                              Final Report

     their families in Liverpool. The work of the Working Party on Domestic
     Violence has identified the way forward in relation to the co-ordination of
     services under the auspices of the Area Child Protection Committee, and we
     would strongly support their recommendations. It is clear that specific services
     which meet the needs of women and black children who are victims of
     domestic violence will need to be supported, and that professionals working in
     the field of child welfare will need to develop a greater awareness of the
     impact that violence in families has on women and children.

     RECOMMENDATIONS
     R17. We recommend that the recommendations of the Working Party on
     Domestic Violence be taken on board by the Department and that
     specific attention is paid to the needs of women with black children who
     may be subject to violence in developing a strategic way forward. We
     would also highlight the need for child welfare professionals to have
     training to enhance their awareness of the impact that domestic violence
     has on family functioning.

8.3.2 Emerging problems of substance abuse &
       mental health
     Several agencies reported an increasing problem of substance abuse
     amongst black communities in Liverpool, whether the problem had been there
     over a longer period of time and had just begun to be detected by services
     was not clear from our research. An reported increase in the use of „crack‟
     and heroin was particularly disturbing as these drugs are known to be
     extremely damaging to the lifestyle of families and the consequent quality of
     parenting of children. (as highlighted earlier). These anecdotal could be
     verified to some extent by examination of the Health Authority Drug Abuse
     Register if it contains an ethnic breakdown of referred cases.

     Several of the examples of emerging drug problems which were given
     involved the Somali community where young men are increasingly becoming
     active in the drug dealing scene. There was also a reported increase in
     tensions and violence between Somali young men and other „Liverpool born
     blacks‟. The use of an African herbal drug called „qaat‟ was widely
     acknowledged as becoming more problematic for African families.

     The main challenges of substance abuse cited by agencies referred to the
     increasing use of „crack cocaine‟ due to the degree of stress, anxiety and
     paranoia that drug users experience. It was often difficult for services to keep
     track of people as they moved around a great deal (there are service delivery
     reasons for this as will be explained here later). In common with other drug
     users, there are constant and time-consuming activities aimed at fulfilling their
     drug needs. The erratic nature of contact with this group seemed to be best
     suited to a „drop-in‟ centred type of service delivery.

     Another major challenge identified was the growing problem of „poly-drug‟
     abuse where a variety of drug „cocktails‟ (often in conjunction with alcohol)
     was being abused by one or more adults in the family. The overall effect of
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                                                    Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                              Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                              Final Report

     „poly-drug‟ abuse was even harder to predict and led to more erratic and
     dangerous behaviours. There was concern amongst drug agencies about
     „dual diagnosis‟ abusers who had underlying mental health problems, either
     prior to or induced by their drug abuse. Treatment programmes for this group
     are more complex and require an even higher degree of inter-agency working
     than for other groups of substance abusers.

     Concern was expressed about the apparent failure of the Criminal Justice
     System to deal constructively with black drug abusers. On release from
     prison, black drug abusers often lack any support in the community. There are
     unlikely to be allocated a social worker, have no accommodation, often
     rejected by their families and have little or no probation officer contact. This
     situation inevitably leads to a drift back into a drug culture on the streets and
     further criminal activities.

     Mental health problems in black communities in Liverpool appear to affect
     black families in similar ways to black communities elsewhere in the country.
     There appears to be a lack of good access to preventative mental health
     services for black families and a crisis-oriented and statutory intervention
     focus on mental health services for black people. The black mental health
     resource centre visited seemed to be providing a great variety of basic
     support, treatment and advocacy services to a number of black parents. This
     variety also suggests that black parents are not getting proper access to a
     range of potentially helpful services in mainstream provision. Again the Somali
     community was highlighted by some agencies as showing signs of emerging
     mental health problems, particularly amongst young men.

     The general process representing the interaction of mental health problems
     and child-care problems is outlined below.


     A downward spiral of mental health & child-care problems




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                                                               Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                                         Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                                         Final Report


                     Moderate, untreated &
                     unrecognised mental
                     health problems.

                                                                Reduced ability to
           More severe mental                                   care for children.
           health problems.

                                Less chances of family
                                re-unification with children.

                                                            Concern about the care of
     Increased stress on                                    children & child protection
     parents due to loss                                    intervention by statutory services.
     of children.
                                  Children become
                                  „looked after by the
                                  local authority.




8.3.3 Inter-agency working
          Drugs, alcohol and mental health services generally reported that they had
          little or no contacts with child protection services. A few years ago there was
          an initiative to improve inter-agency communications between child protection
          services and substance misuse agencies but many of the recommendations
          arising from this project do not seem to have been implemented. This initiative
          came about as a result of some high profile deaths of young children in
          families involved in drug abuse. Merseyside Drugs Council provided a
          representative on this initiative and a report with recommendations was
          produced. The little involvement that substance abuse services have had
          have been on a very ad hoc basis around a few specific cases. The alcohol
          service spoken to reported only one referral of black parents with an alcohol
          problem from social services in the past year and they felt that this referral
          was inappropriate in any case as there was no real problem with alcohol
          abuse.

          All the agencies visited agreed that inter-agency work was essential for an
          effective response to substance abusing families where there was concern
          about the care of children. Preventative approaches were seen as particularly
          important as were issues of confidentiality and the crucial early work of
          engaging substance abusing parents in support services.

          It was also generally agreed that a movement towards better inter-agency
          working will only come about with a senior management commitment in the
          services concerned and a strategic level of co-ordination. A lack of
          co-ordination of services at an early stage of engagement with black families
          tends to lead to a narrow focus on their problems which revolves around
          either substance abuse or child protection and results in a patchy response

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                                                   Liverpool Social Services Directorate
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     from services. Confidentiality emerged as a major consideration in closer
     inter-agency working. A worker commented that it would be :

            “useful to get advice about child protection
             issues without having to divulge the names
             of drug abusers”.

     Another respondent commented on the lack of inter-agency working in the
     following way :

            “Drugs services will not deal with mental health
             problems and mental health services will not deal
             with drugs problems.”

     There was one example of effective inter-agency working found in the
     Integrated Care Team which involved health, probation, social services and
     independent agencies in drug abuse work. This team was set up within the
     past year and was already beginning to have an impact in their co-ordinated
     approach. They have found that inter-agency work is much more effective and
     they have succeeded in helping people to access a wide range of service
     more efficiently as well as cutting down on duplication of efforts. The team is
     based around a few specific GP practices and they have found that GP‟s are
     clearer about the range of drugs services available with their inputs. The team
     only spends the equivalent of one day per week on Integrated Care Team
     work and further improvements can be achieved with a development of this
     pilot scheme. We believe that such initiatives have the potential to
     provide the basis for high quality integrated services focused around
     child protection and family support services in the future.

     Inter-agency approaches may also help with inconsistencies in practice within
     certain professional groups. For example, drug agencies report very different
     approaches to prescribing Methadone for known drug abusers. The personal
     values of GP‟s shapes their practices in prescribing with some GP‟s refusing
     to prescribe this drug at all. Consequently drug abusers move to areas where
     there are sympathetic GP‟s who will prescribe Methadone, resulting in
     frequent changes in addresses for some drug abusers adding to their chaotic
     lifestyles as well as making it difficult for agencies to keep track of them.
     There is an increased risk of drug abusers manipulating the „system‟ as well
     as potentially being confusing for some of them trying to access appropriate
     services. Inter-agency approaches can help to define boundaries of
     professional responsibility, provide a more structured framework for
     practice between professional groups and iron out inconsistencies of
     practice within these groups.

     It was felt that inter-agency working leads to a more proactive approach which
     can avert crisis situations. An example was given of joint working between
     drug service workers and probation staff which resulted in the delay of court
     appearances for drug abusers to enable them to attend the drug rehabilitation
     programmes which had been arranged for them. The need for better sharing

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                                                    Liverpool Social Services Directorate
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                                                                              Final Report

     of valuable skills was also apparent from our research as there were specialist
     counselling and family therapy skills which could have been shared much
     more widely. It was felt that better support could be offered to black families,
     especially to the constructive members of drug abusing families. Overall, we
     felt that social workers would benefit greatly from having a point of
     access to information and expertise about substance abuse as well as a
     means of co-ordinated support for drug abusing parents.

     In some teams we found a lack of awareness of the connections between
     substance abuse and child protection issues for black families. A worker
     made the claim that very few black families have any drug or alcohol
     problems. Another worker believed that very few black children had entered
     the „care system‟ because of drug and alcohol problems in their families.
     There was also a lack of awareness about the problems emerging in practice
     such as the inconsistent prescribing of Methadone and its effects on drug
     users described above. Currently, it is difficult for drugs workers to get access
     to child protection training and for child care workers to get specialised
     information about working with substance abusing parents.




     RECOMMENDATIONS
     R18. We feel that this is evidence of the need for a wide-ranging,
     inter-agency training programme to raise general awareness of the
     findings outlined in this report.



     Improved inter-agency working will require the development of new systems
     and procedures between agencies. For instance, at present, adult Care Plans
     are not properly co-ordinated with Child Protection Plans. Information held on
     the Child Protection Register is not readily available to substance abuse
     workers and in most cases these workers would not even see or talk about
     the children in the family under present ways of working. There are obvious
     issues regarding confidentiality which have to be worked out and agreed
     across a variety of agencies involved with a particular family. We understand
     that an initial protocol was suggested by the Drugs and Child Protection
     project mentioned earlier and that currently an inter-agency data base is being
     discussed. In the case of substance abuse in black families, it appears to be
     essential to have systems which involve GP‟s at an early stage in the initial
     response, assessment and the treatment programme. GP‟s also appear to
     hold a lot of useful information which is not always shared with other
     professionals. Drugs agencies may also need help in implementing ethnic
     monitoring as some found this a difficult area of their practice.

8.3.4 Preventative services
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                                                     Liverpool Social Services Directorate
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                                                                               Final Report

     Access to preventative services dealing with substance abuse appeared to be
     an important issue for black families. Some agencies placed a great deal of
     emphasis on their preventative role in working with potentially abusive
     situations in black families. The Family Service Unit, working with a lot of
     black families, had a 47% self-referral rate (as mentioned earlier) and this was
     felt to be extremely important for a preventative approach. The Integrated
     Care Team working closely with GP‟s quoted that they working with 110
     people across four GP‟s, 86 of whom were not in contact with any other
     service. Given the low take-up of services by black people generally, it can be
     deduced that black families with substance abuse problems are even less
     likely to have contact with preventative drug and alcohol services. Indeed
     several agencies quoted that there was a very low take-up of these services
     by black families from their experience.

     Engaging black parents with substance abuse problems will not be easy as
     they are likely to be unwilling to approach local authority services (as with
     other black people) and they are likely to be fearful about losing their children
     (as with other substance abusing parents). However, we have detected from
     our research with young black people and with agencies that there is often
     considerable „leverage‟ with these parents once there is clearly expressed
     concern about the care of their children. Other research has also shown that
     parents have a much greater motivation to do something about their situation
     when faced the prospect of their children‟s removal. It is legitimate for
     services to capitalise on the
     family‟s concern about their children to engage substance abusing families.

     We came across a few positive efforts to engage substance abusing parents
     which could be developed further for black families. The Merseyside Drugs
     Council had a drop-in approach to their counselling service which offered an
     immediate appointment. An effective diversion scheme was operating for drug
     offenders which helped them to access treatment programmes. In situations
     where parents have mental health problems, there are free nursery places
     available to them and the psychiatric services are considering new ways of
     supporting psychiatric patients with children.

8.3.5 Advocacy, information & advice
     The need for advocacy was seen as being particularly relevant to black
     parents with mental health problems both in relation to their treatment within
     the mental health system and their rights as parents. As one worker put it :

            “Black families need to feel that someone is
            on their side.”

     Drugs and alcohol services commented on the lack of awareness and
     information about substance abuse in black communities. There is no
     outreach work being done on drug services in black communities and
     informational materials on drugs often have little relevance to black people in
     their language and imagery. There is also a need for community education

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                                                    Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                              Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                              Final Report

     about mental health issues to increase awareness of needs and to counteract
     the stigma attached to this issue in many black communities.

     Mental health workers felt that black parents often want advice about legal
     issues to do with rights or housing. There is also a demand for welfare
     benefits advice with several black families. Advice and information about
     drugs and alcohol was seen as essential for family members who were
     supporting someone who was abusing these substances. Lack of knowledge
     about the nature of addiction can lead to collusion and unnecessary stress in
     families. For instance, giving the person money for food or clothing which then
     gets spent on drugs or assuming that giving the a drug abuser alcohol will
     help them to deal with their drug addiction. The importance of improving
     general communication with black families was apparent from our work. One
     worker said of services :

            “They talk about black families but not to them.”



8.3.6 The need for a holistic approach
     A narrow approach to substance abuse with black families leads to an
     inappropriate response which is focused around either substance abuse or
     child protection rather than a holistic approach which takes into account the
     interconnected nature of the family‟s needs. Any response to black families
     also needs to be culturally appropriate. An example was given of a Somali
     young man with very disturbed behaviour which had become the primary
     concern of services. However, there had been no appropriate service offered
     to the young man who had recently lost his father, such as bereavement
     counselling in his first language.

     Substance abuse workers emphasised the importance of having services
     available immediately at the point of crisis or at the point of request by
     potential service users. An example involving the prescription of Methadone
     was given where some GP‟s were very effective at sorting out the prescription
     within a week of the initial assessment. Whereas with people going through
     the Drug Dependency Unit there was a long wait of up to six months to get a
     full assessment and treatment programme before receiving any practical help.
     The „drop-out‟ rate for the latter route was consequently much higher.

     Follow-up work was also seen as essential as substance abuse work is often
     very long-term with a need for ongoing support and monitoring of the family‟s
     situation. More flexible approaches to drug abuse may have to be developed
     where stabilisation of drug use is seen as a valid medium-term goal and not
     just total abstinence which is often a much longer-term goal for many people.
     This will require shifts in values and practice of other professional groups
     involved with these black families. All workers will need to understand the
     nature of drug abuse and the drug culture which is integral to the living
     environment of some black families. Greater flexibility of intervention goals is
     necessary where the situation is changing more rapidly and is more volatile.
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                                                    Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                              Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                              Final Report


     Straightforward prescribing of Methadone is not enough in itself to deal with
     the problems facing black parents who are abusing drugs. Social workers
     engaged in child protection with these families will have to consider wider
     factors such as the reduction of any criminal activities of the parents, reducing
     illegal drug use, facilitating a healthier lifestyle for the family, establishing
     proper eating habits, improving the family‟s social situation, encouraging
     parents to keep appointments and to engage with therapeutic activities and
     programmes. In short, to be effective, workers have to understand and
     engage with the whole lifestyle of the family and not just maintain an exclusive
     and narrow focus on either drug abuse or child care.

     The prevalence of domestic violence within families where children are subject
     to abuse or neglect also means that violence within families needs to be
     discussed with parents, whether or not it is linked to drug or alcohol abuse.
     The first step in undertaking preventative work with these families is often an
     acknowledgement that violence is taking place within the household. Women
     are often unable or unwilling to discuss this with outside agencies, out of fear
     of the consequences for themselves and their children, and so it often remains
     a hidden problem. Many women express the view that they are able to protect
     their children from the impact of the violence, however, on more detailed
     reflection and discussion will sometimes acknowledge the impact that the
     violent partner‟s actions have on the behaviour of their child.

     RECOMMENDATIONS
     R19. We recommend that all agencies involved with child protection and
     child care give serious consideration to domestic violence in their
     contact with families, and in particular to the impact that such violence
     has on the health, well being and development of children in families
     where such violence is present.

8.3.7 Empowerment & partnership
     The whole basis of substance abuse work with black families from this
     research requires services to build trust with potential service users and
     engage families on an equal basis in tackling their problems. The issue of
     child protection can complicate this process of working but a similar
     partnership approach is possible with skilled intervention. The process of
     engaging black families is the most important aspect of intervention where
     substance abuse and child care concerns are present. The initial stages of
     engagement may well have to be on the family‟s terms and at a pace which
     they feel comfortable. Confidentiality is a big issue for black families with
     substance abuse problems at this early stage, as mentioned earlier.

     Independent agencies have an important role to play in prevention work and
     in engaging black families in support services. They have a unique position
     where they do not have statutory duties, like social services departments, and
     they have the potential to build trust and undertake developmental work with
     damaged families. The lack of statutory powers enables them to develop a

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                                                   Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                             Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                             Final Report

     more equal partnership with substance abusing parents which may not always
     be possible with statutory agencies.

     To work in an empowering way with black families, services must examine
     their own structures and procedures. For example, there are very few black
     workers in specialised substance abuse services. There are also fewer first
     language workers in areas such as counselling, advocacy and advice work; or
     indeed in children and family work. This reduces the opportunities to work in a
     culturally appropriate way such as involving Islamic law in the form of the
     Shariya in dealing with family problems in Islamic communities. Interpreters
     are used by some agencies but there are significant problems with
     confidentiality to overcome in this approach.

     The most effective strategies for empowerment would have to involve the
     black communities directly taking some responsibility for dealing with
     substance abuse and child abuse in their communities. A recent survey in
     Liverpool 8 showed that 48 out 60 black people asked about the most urgent
     problems in their community said that drugs was the most worrying. Services
     could be mobilising public concern in black communities to help tackle the
     growing drugs and alcohol problems now emerging. There are already
     examples of „grass-roots‟, community based initiatives on dealing with the
     effects of drugs on families such as the Walton Family Support Service.
     These types of services can provide useful models of working with black
     communities in the future.

     RECOMMENDATIONS
     R20. We recommend the development of intensive family support
     programmes within black communities run by families themselves as
     they can make a very powerful addition to current substance abuse
     services.




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                                                    Liverpool Social Services Directorate
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9.    SERVICE DEVELOPMENT

9.1 Developing effective services
     In broad terms, research suggests that services for substance abusing
     parents must assist families affected by substance abuse to attend to their
     basic survival needs in terms of food, clothing and accommodation. Services
     must also combine drug and alcohol treatments with child development
     and family support through a recognition of the importance of children and
     the parenting role as a strong motivator for recovering substance abusers.

     The most effective services will involve a an inter-agency approach with a
     one-stop entry to a range of services being the most ideal model. Agencies
     that provide drug and alcohol treatment must work closely with child-care,
     early intervention, health services providing for paediatric and women‟s health
     care, education and housing agencies. In order to achieve an inter-agency
     approach, training must also be provided on an inter-agency basis on this
     issue.

     Recovery from substance abuse is often a life-long process. Services will
     have to be prepared to provide a consistent and sometimes continuous
     framework of support over a long period of time with room for learning from
     failure and relapses, especially in early interventions. Re-unification work with
     families affected by substance abuse has to be planned even more carefully
     than in other situations. More gradual steps may have to be taken to enable a
     substance abusing parent to re-engage with their parenting role. Children may
     be resentful and difficult in their behaviours and parents may be unrealistic in
     their expectations of successful parenting in a new non-abusing family
     situation (Kaplan-Sanoff, 1996).

     Reliance on extended family members must also be tempered with
     acknowledgement and careful assessment of risks where parents may have
     been abused by their own parents with whom their children are now being
     placed. This is a particularly significant issues where substance abuse spans
     more than one generation in the family.

     The need for targeting services for women at risk of substance abuse has to
     be acknowledged and responded to by services. Evidence shows that
     treatment programmes which are comprehensive, co-ordinated and holistic
     are better at engaging pregnant and parenting women and have better
     outcomes. A black woman‟s substance abuse also has to be addressed not
     only in the context of her health, but also her relationships with her

     children, other family members, her community and her position in wider
     society as a black woman. In this approach, services which relate to women
     and children as families and as members of the community become an aid to
     recovery (Van Bremmen & Chasnoff, 1994).


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                                                   Liverpool Social Services Directorate
                                             Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                                                             Final Report

9.2 Preventative services
     There are several suggestions and pointers for service development
     contained in the review of relevant research, the analysis of case records, the
     results of the project visits and feedback from the focus groups. There will
     always be a percentage of children who are too great a risk from their parents
     or carers to be safe within their home environment. For these children removal
     to a place of greater safety is the inevitable consequence of statutory
     intervention. However, a large number of children in contact with statutory
     services, and the majority of children whose names are on the child protection
     register remain at home.

9.2.1 A model of preventative services
     In this section there are some suggestions for further development of
     preventative children and family services will be made with particular
     reference to the needs of black families where children are liable to become
     „looked after‟ by the local authority. We have adapted a model of preventative
     services formulated by Hardiker, Exton & Barker (1989) as a basis for the
     development of preventative services for black families. The table below
     outlines the preventative model of services which we feel provides a useful
     framework for service development.

     LEVEL 1 - COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
     Community development through education, information and empowerment
     activities. Work to develop more inclusive communities which accept a variety
     of families with difficulties and which value cultural diversity. Strengthen
     existing supportive networks within communities and enable them to take
     action to tackle local problems through self-help groups and „grass roots‟
     initiatives.

     NEEDS & PROBLEMS
     Social conditions which increase a family‟s vulnerability to physical and
     psychological stress, health problems and poor child-care e.g. poverty, poor
     housing, unemployment, drug dealing etc…




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     LEVEL 2 - STRENGTHENING SPECIFIC FAMILY NETWORKS
     Strengthen existing personal relationships and support networks for specific
     families which are experiencing difficulties. An emphasis on short-term,
     focused interventions which are broadly therapeutic, supportive and practical
     in nature using non-statutory, community-based services. A primary aim to
     maintain minimum standards of health and safety while preventing entry into
     more formal child protection services.

     NEEDS & PROBLEMS
     Specific families with emerging problems of poor child-care, unstable home
     environments or families affected by substance abuse and mental health
     problems. These problems will become more serious without intervention.



     LEVEL 3 – FOCUSED INTERVENTION AT THE POINT OF REFERRAL TO
     STATUTORY AGENCIES
     Holistic assessment of risks and needs of children and families which is still
     empowering, anti-discriminatory and maintains partnership with parents.
     Intervention should be address the specific concerns and needs for both
     adults and children identified by the holistic assessment. The causes as well
     of the consequences of family problems should be addressed. Use of more
     specialised therapeutic and remedial services as well as the community based
     services in Levels 1 and 2. Services should be family-oriented with access to
     a range of inter-agency supports designed to restore safe and healthy living
     circumstances to children and their families.
     Inter-agency initiatives should consider the range of family problems, including
     alcohol, drugs and mental health problems of parents as well as the causes
     for concern in relation to the children. The approach should be proactive in
     addressing and resolving difficulties rather than identifying and monitoring the
     level of concern.

     NEEDS & PROBLEMS
     Specific families where there is a significant risk of serious harm or abuse of
     children or where neglect / abuse has occurred recently. These problems will
     require statutory interventions.




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      LEVEL 4 –LONG TERM INTERVENTION
      Ongoing support, over a long period of time if necessary, and risk
      management which enables families to take more responsibility for their
      living circumstances, and to minimise ongoing risks to children as a result of
      parental difficulties. The formulation of long term planning and contingency
      plans for future crises and relapses with work to limit any damage caused as a
      result of parental crises. A primary aim to maintain healthy functioning of the
      family or to work towards its re-unification. The focus of work will be to reduce
      or minimise the causes as well as the consequences of parental difficulties
      which affect good parenting. Families will require access to the services at the
      other Levels as well as Level 4 services.

      NEEDS & PROBLEMS
      Specific families with well-established serious problems of child-care who will
      probably need support over a long period of time. These families are ones in
      which risk is very evident but manageable with statutory support. These
      families will need long-term usage of statutory services often involving a range
      of specialised inputs.


9.2.2 Suggestions for support services for black families
      This framework can be used to identify a range of integrated preventative and
      support services for black families. We have set out some examples of
      services which have been suggested by participants in this study and from
      research into effective family-oriented services.


      LEVEL 1 - COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
       Community-led drug prevention support groups.
       Health education programmes on drugs and alcohol.
       Advisory service for black families in substance abuse.
       Support services for women and children experiencing domestic violence
       Community based child care, such as parent and toddler groups,
         playgroups, childminding, day nurseries after school clubs etc.
       Community based education on parenting, child development etc.




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      LEVEL 2 - STRENGTHENING SPECIFIC FAMILY NETWORKS
       Support groups for black families affected by substance abuse and
        domestic violence.
       Practical help in the home from black family aides.
      
       Support groups for parents experiencing difficulties in parenting
       Culturally appropriate family mediation service.
       Family Group Conferences with Black Family Group Conference
        Co-ordinators.
       Telephone counselling services for black people in their first languages.
       Black family link schemes.


      LEVEL 3 - FOCUSED INTERVENTION AT THE POINT OF REFERRAL TO
      STATUTORY AGENCIES
       Inter-agency family assessments with intensive inputs early on.
       Specialised health services for women and children affected by substance
        abuse.
       Specialised treatment units for substance abusing mothers and their black
        children.
       Targeted services for substance abusing black women who are pregnant.
       Specialised programmes for perpetrators of domestic violence.
       Support services for victims of domestic violence.
       Culturally appropriate family therapy services and counselling services
        provided within the black communities.
       Black mental health services for black parents dealing with problems in a
        family-oriented way.
       Parenting groups for black families experiencing difficulties in parenting
       Day care services for children and young people




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      LEVEL 4 – LONG TERM INTERVENTION
       Support group for black mothers who are recovering substance abusers.
       Support group for women who have experienced violence.
       Therapeutic support for children who have experienced violence in the
         home.
       Parenting skills training.
       Black affirmation groups for black men and women.
       One-to-one counselling service for black people in first language where
        necessary.
       Employment projects providing work training and job finding services.
       Educational and personal development programmes targeted at black
        people.
       Day care services for children and young people
       Extension of “social aunt and uncle” scheme for young black parents in
        need of support.
       Development of flexible and supportive respite care services for black
        children and their families in crisis or experiencing difficulties.
       Inter-agency co-ordinated strategies for managing risk in violent households
       Development of family support services and residential social work input to
        keep children at home during times of difficulty or crisis.


      There is still a great deal of work that is needed to educate black communities
      about the effects of drugs and alcohol on children and their families. Black
      communities are often unaware also of the extent and nature of child abuse,
      and do not know how to deal with concerns that they may have about children
      in the community. Black people are often fearful of the repercussions of
      making referrals to statutory agencies and there is a great deal of evidence
      that black families often see social services as destructive of rather than
      supportive to black communities.

      It will take a great deal of work and time to change the attitudes of black
      communities to statutory intervention. However, there is evidence that where
      there is commitment and action on the part of social services and other child
      welfare organisations to make links with the communities and to provide
      appropriate and required services then black children and their families do
      make use of services provided.



      We are also encouraged by the number of self-referrals in our research, a
      factor which is consistent in other research studies looking at black children in
      the care system (Barn 1993). This suggests that there are black families who
      are able and willing to approach social services for help families. We would
      suggest that this is built upon through more targeted support initiatives and
      through proactive information sharing with black communities about the
      services which they can access. There are some piecemeal efforts already
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      being made by independent sector organisations to run information events on
      drugs issues for voluntary agencies in general.


      RECOMMENDATIONS
      R21. We would recommend that an initiative is taken to co-ordinate a
      broad based health education campaign to inform and advise black
      communities on the issue of substance abuse and their effects on
      children and families.

      RECOMMENDATIONS
      R22. We would also recommend that work is done with the black
      communities to educate them about child abuse and protection and to
      inform them about the support services available to families in
      difficulties.


9.3 Developing alcohol services
      The problem of low take-up of alcohol services by black communities has
      recently been examined by the Confederation of Indian Organisations and
      Alcohol Concern (Alcohol Concern, 1994). The report identified the following
      barriers for black communities in accessing mainstream alcohol services :

       Community denial of the existence of alcohol problems due to cultural and
        religious prohibitions.
       Religious, cultural and gender backgrounds of workers often created
        barriers in accessing communities and groups with different backgrounds.
       Low priority given to addressing alcohol problems by community
        organisations made networking and raising awareness through local
        organisations difficult.
       Local politics of existing community organisations often spill over to the
        detriment of projects wishing to set up services within these black
        communities.

      Appropriate alcohol services for black communities were described as having
      the following characteristics :
       targeted services e.g. women only etc…
       services in languages spoken by the local communities e.g. bi-lingual
         counselling, telephone advice line
       flexible timings of services such as evening sessions, drop-in facilities
       availability of services outside the centre e.g. satellite clinics, home visits,
         detoxification at home
       alternative approaches such as complementary / alternative therapy /
         stress management
       support for partners, friends and relatives e.g. family therapy

      RECOMMENDATIONS

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      R23. We would recommend that a pilot project is set up to identify the
      level of need for alcohol services in black communities in Liverpool and
      provide a limited one-to-one and family therapy service to black parents
      who are problem drinkers to identify key practice issues. Expertise for
      such a service may already exist in the independent sector in Liverpool.

9.4 Developing drug services
      Drug abuse services have to be targeted, holistic and family-oriented to attract
      and engage black families. This involves attending to the basic survival needs
      of black families which tend to be over-represented in terms of poverty. It
      means effectively combining drug treatments with child development and
      family support services which address the realities for black families and
      communities in Liverpool. It also means targeting services at black mothers
      and children who are affected by substance abuse, especially at the birth of a
      new child. At a fundamental level services have to be able to deal with
      different stages of drug use ranging from experimental, to recreational and on
      to dependent / compulsive usage. The type of use also has to be determined
      to ensure accurate risk assessment of family situations. Substance abuse
      services for black families will require co-ordinated, anti-discriminatory care
      management across children and adult services.

      RECOMMENDATIONS
      R24. We would recommend that a working group should investigate the
      possibility of establishing a „family assessment‟ process which
      incorporates adult care management plans and child care plans. This
      process should be holistic in nature and be capable of carefully
      weighing up the risks and needs of children and parents.


      Empowerment approaches will require black support groups for men and
      women as well as transcultural one-to-one counselling. Parenting skills
      training will have to be appropriate for non-European families as will family
      therapy services. Family mediation and practical help in the home may require
      more black staff for services to work sensitively with the cultural and religious
      issues involved. Education and work training initiatives may have to operate
      positive action approaches to redress past discrimination that black people
      have faced in schooling and employment. Legal and advocacy services may
      need further development to deal with
      institutional racism that black people face in the Criminal Justice and mental
      health systems.

      Engagement of black families is a crucial stage in the process of intervention.
      Early, intensive intervention to take advantage of the window of opportunity in
      the first few weeks also seems to be important. The first few weeks are critical
      in substance abuse work as well as in child protection work. Moreover, a child
      who is in care for more than six weeks is likely to remain in care for a long
      period of time according to research studies. Therefore intensive and focused
      efforts at family preservation in this time-frame would appear to be extremely
      desirable. This rapid and intensive response would require a high degree of
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      inter-agency working and flexibility in drawing in the necessary expertise to be
      able to make an accurate assessment of needs and risks in a holistic way.

9.5 Developing services to respond to domestic
       violence
      As stated earlier in the report, time limitations restricted the extent to which we
      were able to have contact with services that support children and families who
      are subject to domestic violence. However, it is clear from the work that we
      undertook, that violence features in a significant percentage of the families of
      black children looked after in Liverpool. As with drugs and alcohol initiatives,
      there is a need for a co-ordinated and multi-agency response to deal with this
      issue if any real impact is to be made. This response needs to occur at a
      number of levels.

      The Report of the Working Party makes comprehensive recommendations in
      relation to a multi-agency response to prevention, diagnosis and action in
      relation to domestic violence, and therefore the writers of this Report would
      strongly endorse these recommendations. In addition, we would also suggest
      that a greater awareness of the impact that domestic violence has on women,
      black children and black communities needs to be fostered.

      The victims of this crime; the women and black children who witness and
      experience violence will need support to help them to deal with their
      experiences. Black and white men who perpetrate violence need to have the
      opportunity to recognise the impact of their behaviour on their families and to
      work on changes to their violent behaviour. It is particularly important that the
      stereotype of the “aggressive black male” does not mask or cloud judgements
      about the unacceptability of domestic violence within black communities.

      RECOMMENDATIONS
      R25. We would recommend the setting up of a pilot project to test out
      the viability of an inter-agency early intervention team where expertise
      with substance abuse, domestic violence and mental health problems
      are present along with child care concerns. This pilot could build on the
      experience of the Integrated Care Team which is already operating on an
      inter-agency basis in one part of the city.




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10. CONCLUSION & RECOMMENDATIONS
      The aims of this research study were stated earlier they were as follows :
       To help identify practice issues that may have an impact on decisions
        which in turn may lead to black children and young people becoming
        “looked after”.
       To identify any limitations in the services available for black children and
        young people which may affect the outcomes of their care.
       To gather the views of social workers, other professionals carers and black
        young people about these matters.
       To offer recommendations which may lead to a reduction in the number of
        black children and young people being looked after.

      The main practice issues and limitations of services which we found relate to
      the need for the development of more holistic forms of service delivery for
      black families. This particular approach is more likely to be culturally
      appropriate and avoid any collusion with institutional racism within services. It
      has been clear from our findings that a narrow child protection approach to
      meeting the needs of black families leads to stigmatisation of families, less
      likelihood of black families to approach services for help and often results in a
      descending spiral of dependency on formal services.

      It has become apparent to us in conducting this study the most effective
      approaches to tackling the problems of drugs, alcohol abuse, mental health
      problems and domestic violence must fully involve communities in taking a
      lead and self-help initiatives for black families where possible. It appears that
      practical forms of help are most useful in engaging black families in services
      initially and this help should be readily available in the communities concerned
      and on the streets where problems occur. Many of these services may not
      require highly trained or professional staff to establish a community support
      network but knowledge of the communities concerned and skills in community
      development would be essential. There is a need to create a spectrum of
      services with a preventative basis which increases the resilience of
      communities to these common problems, diverts black families from crisis as
      much as possible, provides targeted short-term intervention where required
      and ongoing longer-term support for those families with enduring difficulties.
      To achieve such a spectrum of services, it will be necessary to re-evaluate the
      balance which services maintain between reducing risks, protecting from
      abuse and meeting needs. It would also be necessary to develop more
      family-centred assessments on a multi-agency basis at an early stage in the
      detection of serious problems.

      We have emphasised the importance of engaging black families in services
      particularly where there are drugs or alcohol problems. The study suggests
      that there is a small „window of opportunity‟ to engage black families in a
      positive way with services at an early stage in contact with them or when they
      first request help. Research has demonstrated the importance of a parental
      role in the recovery process for parents with mental health, alcohol or drugs
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      problems. This may require a change in professional assumptions about poor
      prognosis and „bad parenting‟ when substance abuse is present in families. A
      major challenge for services in this approach would be to make available the
      various elements of expertise required to make an effective multi-agency
      assessment of the needs and risks of black families in crisis.

      An area of practice which we touched on but is of deeper significance is the
      difficulties surrounding the placement of children with extended families where
      drug abuse and forms of child abuse have occurred across generations. The
      use of placements in the extended family is more common with black families
      and is often preferable to other alternatives but standards on good child care
      practice must not be overlooked or reduced in importance in such placements.
      We would also highlight the need for more careful and planned efforts at
      re-unification of black families as we detected several lost opportunities for
      family re-unification in our study. We would support the formulation of more
      specific objectives for re-unification in the child care plan with a time frame.
      There was certainly room for further improvements in the supports offered to
      black parents whose children were being „looked after‟.

      We have found that there has been insufficient direct work on cultural identity
      and general counselling work with black young people. There were some
      individual examples of where children who had been sexually abused in the
      past or had experienced other traumatic events had not been given enough
      opportunities to talk about their experiences with skilled practitioners. This had
      often resulted in behavioural disturbances which further alienated these
      children from those caring for them and served to add to the problem of
      labelling and stigmatising the children concerned.

      The difficulties for staff have been increased through a lack of representation
      of black staff in some key areas of practice in child protection, mental health,
      drugs and alcohol work. The availability of black foster carers on a more even
      basis across the city has also resulted in poor availability of services for black
      families in some areas and a lack of incentive for some areas to actively
      recruit black foster carers.

      Black disabled children need to have a wider range of options for culturally
      appropriate services in residential services and short-term breaks. We found
      that it was particularly important to involve parents of disabled children who
      did not speak English as their first language in all important decisions being
      made about the day-to-day care and long-term welfare of their children. It is a
      common research finding that black disabled children are not seen in terms of
      their cultural and racial identity particularly if they have what is perceived as
      „severe learning disabilities‟.


Summary of Recommendations
      R1. We would endorse the recommendations made in the Interim Report
      of the ACPC sub-group on Domestic Violence. We would also suggest
      that the Working Party pay specific attention to the needs of black
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      children and their families in relation to the need for protection. It
      appears from our research that domestic violence is a real threat in 32%
      of the cases in our sample. We would therefore recommend that in
      developing multi-agency initiatives to tackle this issue the needs of
      black women and children are specifically addressed.

      R2. There is a need for specific services to be developed which meet the
      identity and development needs of black children under the age of
      eleven, to include both “looked after” children and children who are
      living within their own families.

      R3. We would recommend that the Department reviews its system for
      recording ethnicity in order that more accurate and consistent records
      of the child‟s race, culture, language and religion can be kept, along with
      that of the child‟s parents.

      R4. We would recommend that the Department takes this opportunity to
      tackle the issue of school exclusions for children in the care system,
      and in particular for black children and young people who often suffer
      the effects of racism in terms of educational under-achievement.

      R5. It does appear to us, therefore that more targeted intervention
      including practical help and support to families at an early stage in the
      case, based on an in-depth and holistic assessment of needs may
      prevent some black children from being admitted into the care system. It
      is our view that a more effective approach in both human and financial
      terms would be achieved by early targeting of resources based on a
      planned response to child and family needs as well as risk.


      In other words there is a relatively small window of opportunity to
      engage with black families in a preventative and empowering way.
      Social workers and other practitioners must be enabled by their
      organisations to take advantage of this window of opportunity if black
      families are going to receive appropriate services which genuinely meet
      their needs at the same time as protecting the interests of children.

      R6. It is our view that a more structured approach to planning and
      intervention would help to address this issue. If a comprehensive
      assessment of needs and risk focusing on the causes of risk to the child
      was undertaken, followed by work done with the family to address those
      causes for concern and to identify the capacity for change before the
      child is placed back with the family, it is more likely that the outcome
      would be successful.

      R7. There needs to be more accurate recording of the race, ethnicity,
      preferred language and religion of children „looked after‟. We are using
      the term „race‟ here as a social concept based on skin colour and
      physical appearance as signified by the terms „black‟ and „white‟.

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      Ethnicity would be defined as a social and cultural concept relating to a
      group identity based on shared culture, language, religion, history and
      tradition (as signified by the terms African, Irish, Somali etc…). We
      would suggest that practitioners are encouraged to record the child‟s
      perceived sense of racial and ethnic identity as well as the ethnic origin
      of their parents.

      R8. We would recommend that the department reviews its case
      recording in line with findings of other research undertaken by the
      Department. We would also suggest that the Department institutes a
      frontsheet for files, containing all of the basis information on the case
      (name, address, ethnicity, ethnicity of parents, etc along with
      information on the date, source of referral, nature of concern,
      registration and category and critical incidents.). This would be in line
      with recommendations of Inquiry Reports, in particular the Sukina
      Hammond Inquiry (Sukina, An evaluation of the circumstances leading
      to her death 1991).

      R9. It is our view that it is not possible for social workers to have a truly
      accurate picture of the family and their situation if the majority of their
      information is supplied by parents or other professionals.



      R10. We would urge the Department to review its procedure for
      approving in-family placements to ensure consistency in standards of
      assessment and monitoring.

      R11. We would urge the Department to address the issue of lack of
      appropriate racial and cultural family placements for black children in
      some areas of the city, through more targeted recruitment of black
      foster carers across the whole Department.

      R12. It should be standard practice to offer parents an independent
      interpreter rather than relying solely on family members, especially if
      that member has been involved directly with the child.

      R13. Black disabled children, and disabled children in general, appear to
      have much fewer options in finding suitable residential placements
      within Liverpool. We would urge the Department to look at this issue and
      take steps to address this difficulty.

      R14. It is our view that there is a need for better co-ordination of
      information about services, and we would recommend that a directory of
      available resources be set up.

      R15. We would suggest that the criteria for the service be evaluated and
      reviewed and that the service be expanded to meet the needs of families
      at an early stage of intervention. We would also suggest that referrals

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      from Health visitors, teachers, etc be encouraged in line with efforts
      already being made by the service to increase its impact.

      R16. We would recommend that advocacy services are made available to
      black families, and that there is some central co-ordination of advocacy
      services which are available to and appropriate for black families.

      R17. We recommend that the recommendations of the Working Party on
      Domestic Violence be taken on board by the Department and that
      specific attention is paid to the needs of women with black children who
      may be subject to violence in developing a strategic way forward. We
      would also highlight the need for child welfare professionals to have
      training to enhance their awareness of the impact that domestic violence
      has on family functioning.

      R18. We feel that this is evidence of the need for a wide-ranging,
      inter-agency training programme to raise general awareness of the
      findings outlined in this report.

      R19. We recommend that all agencies involved with child protection and
      child care give serious consideration to domestic violence in their
      contact with families, and in particular to the impact that such violence
      has on the health, well being and development of children in families
      where such violence is present.

      R20. We recommend the development of intensive family support
      programmes within black communities run by families themselves as
      they can make a very powerful addition to current substance abuse
      services.

      R21. We would recommend that an initiative is taken to co-ordinate a
      broad based health education campaign to inform and advise black
      communities on the issue of substance abuse and their effects on
      children and families.

      R22. We would also recommend that work is done with the black
      communities to educate them about child abuse and protection and to
      inform them about the support services available to families in
      difficulties.

      R23. We would recommend that a pilot project is set up to identify the
      level of need for alcohol services in black communities in Liverpool and
      provide a limited one-to-one and family therapy service to black parents
      who are problem drinkers to identify key practice issues. Expertise for
      such a service may already exist in the independent sector in Liverpool.

      R24. We would recommend that a working group should investigate the
      possibility of establishing a „family assessment‟ process which
      incorporates adult care management plans and child care plans. This

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      process should be holistic in nature and be capable of carefully
      weighing up the risks and needs of children and parents.

      R25. We would recommend the setting up of a pilot project to test out
      the viability of an inter-agency early intervention team where substance
      abuse and / or mental health problems are present along with child care
      concerns. This pilot could build on the experience of the Integrated Care
      Team which is already operating on an inter-agency basis in one part of
      the city.




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115                                                       Melanie Phillips and Peter Ferns
            Liverpool Social Services Directorate
      Black Children Looked After Research Project
                                      Final Report




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