Section 20 of the Children Act 1989

Interesting post from Winston Smith:

[People think teenager Sammie] probably had a tough and challenging childhood. Well,let's consider that. Was she physically or sexually abused? No. Was she being neglected? Judging by her weight when she arrived no. Is she from a poor or underclass background as so many people presume all kids in care are? No, in fact her parents are middle class and not at all poor.

Winston Smith is the pen name of an anonymous “support worker” working for an unidentified urban welfare department somewhere in the UK.

So, just how did the likes of Sammie end up in care? Well, its all down to section 20 of the Children's Act 1989 which allows for parents to voluntarily put their children in care should they not be able to cope with them.

You learn something new every day. The specific bit of the Children Act 1989 is:

(1) Every local authority shall provide accommodation for any child in need within their area who appears to them to require accommodation as a result of — (c) the person who has been caring for him being prevented (whether or not permanently, and for whatever reason) from providing him with suitable accommodation or care.

I feel belatedly relieved my mum and dad never knew about this. Winston continues:

Now, in the case of Sammie her parents were unable to [discipline] her or set her any boundaries as a young child and when she became a teenager she was uncivilised and bullied and hit her parents, unable to cope they turned to social services. As a result of Sammie's parents inability to parent her, you the taxpayer are paying 4,000-5,000 pounds a week to provide Sammie with care (if you could call it that). Meanwhile, in a few weeks time Sammie's parents are jetting off to India with her little brother, where they go every year, as well as at least one other foreign holiday. Sammie is jealous because this is the first year she can't go. Sammie, despite her horrific behaviour is still a child and feels very rejected by her parents. Being dumped in a care home has made her behaviour worse not better.

[…] There are thousands of kids under section 20 care orders who should not be [accommodated] and spoilt (as [opposed] to cared for) with taxpayer's money. Many of them are dumped in care homes when Mummy or Daddy meet a new partner and the teenager can't cope with the new step-parent […]

An exception, not the rule surely?

The figure for children in Bristol cared for under voluntary protection orders in Bristol doesn’t seem to be immediately available. An old reference from 2005 suggests that there is a statistical return about Section 20 orders to the relevant central government department but I can’t find a specific product at National Statistics relating to Children cared for under voluntary orders.