Page last updated at 01:47 GMT, Sunday, 25 January 2009

Call for 'more' children in care

Martin Narey
Martin Narey believes there are many arguments for taking children into care

The head of children's charity Barnardo's has called for more children to be taken from problem families and placed into care.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Martin Narey said social workers should remove more children from their parents if they were believed to be in danger.

He said: "The emphasis is - too much in my view - on fixing families."

His comments follow the case of Baby P, who died in August 2007 from injuries inflicted by his mother and two men.

The case of the 17-month-old led to calls for a review of the "received wisdom" that children are better off with their parents.

Mr Narey made reference to Baby P and also to the case of Shannon Matthews, whose mother Karen Matthews was jailed on Friday for eight years for kidnapping her.

"It is important not to overreact in the aftermath of Baby P's tragic death, the horror of Shannon Matthew's dreadful childhood or the recent concerns over Doncaster.

The orthodoxy that says that care is always to be avoided but that when it is resorted to, care needs to mean foster care, leaves me feeling very nervous
Martin Narey

"But I wonder whether we need to reassess our approach to care, and to residential care in particular.

"The orthodoxy that says that care is always to be avoided but that when it is resorted to, care needs to mean foster care, leaves me feeling very nervous."

Mr Narey also called for an "honest debate" about the potential for residential care, and said there were "as many arguments for taking more children into care as there were for getting more children out of care".

He added: "The reality is that when the wake of Baby P has disappeared we shall return to a status quo where social workers who intervene to remove children from parents face vilification.

"Social workers cannot continue to be vilified when that fixing breaks down, sometimes tragically."

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SEE ALSO
Mother jailed over Shannon kidnap
23 Jan 09 |  West Yorkshire
What happened to Baby P?
18 Nov 08 |  Panorama

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