17th June 2010
Mr D.J. Clayton,
Directorate for Children’s Health
And Social Services
Welsh Assembly Government.
Your ref AT/GT/00264/10
Our Ref GPAUK/16610/FB
Dear Mr Clayton,
I have been asked by my colleague Mr Jimmy Deuchars of Grandparents Apart UK to reply to your letter dated 15th June 2010 as he was sure that we in Wales would have a better understanding and knowledge of the activities and procedures of the Welsh Social Services and Children Agencies.
We in Grandparents Apart Wales are not happy with the Children’s Act 1989 as it stands as some children who are in need of protection are being denied the right to see the people who they love and who love them.
Parents and grandparents are spending thousands of pounds on lawyers and courts and they still in many cases have no access to their children or grandchildren although the courts in many occasions have made decisions and issued court orders in their favour.
We have evidence of the Social Services accepting a step father’s word that he had DNA proof that he was a child’s father when the actual father accompanied with the appropriate certification of court orders for Parental Responsibility and Access was not recognised by the same authorities.
One would like to argue that is only one instance, but it is not and many children here in Wales are being denied the love of their family by the way the protection structures and management procedures of these structures are monitored and administered.
The biggest carers in Wales are grandparents who are devoting their remaining years to their grandchildren through love and a sense of duty to the family, but where is the support for the grandparents from the Social Services when they are denied access to their grandchildren when they know the children’s welfare is being neglected.
The Social Services do not have the resources to take the place of grandparents, so why don’t they support and work with the families for the protection of the children identified as being in need of scrutiny and protection.
Protecting children should be the fundamental responsibility of every adult and people have brought their concerns to ministers and Gwenda Thomas AM the Deputy Minister for Social Services in the Welsh Government is at this moment investigating such a case brought to her by our organisation and we look forward to her findings.
Questions about the protection of children have been raised in the Chamber of the Welsh Assembly many times and Mark Isherwood AM the Shadow Minister for Social Justice and Equality and Housing has written to the Deputy Minister more than once on the issue of child protection and the subject of a Charter for Grandchildren here in Wales.
Our charity is indebted to him for his continued support and interest.
It is obvious your letter was written to allay fears and promote confidence in your department for Children’s Health and Social Services as regards children needing protection but with respect we know your stated systems are just not working and I would go further and say some need investigating and quantifying so that you can have an accurate account of the position of children needing protection here in Wales.
The latest figures I have for the Borough of Conwy are 160 children in care which was reported in the local paper and across Wales the number of children in care has increased considerably.
Grandparents Apart Wales petitioned the National Assembly for Wales for a Charter for Grandchildren last July and the results of this petition are still ongoing so change and the charter is being discussed at the highest level.
In your letter you mention the National Assembly for Wales’ Petitions Committee as one element of the mechanism by which you engage in the debate to shape public services that best fits the needs of Wales and we wonder what other elements you connect with to improve outcomes and opportunities for children denied the love and protection of their loved ones.
We as an organisation will always be pleased to hear from you as discussion with the authorities in connection with the protection and welfare of our children is always welcome and we find extremely helpful.
We would not be a charity serving the people of Wales if there was no genuine need for us to exist, but unfortunately there is a need for us to campaign for the protection, and rights of children to see their loved ones so that they know their family members as well as their history, religion and culture.
Grandparents Apart Wales
Telephone Number 01492 874 39