Negative support for the Charter for Grandchildren

4th Jan 2006

There must be very few MSPs who have not been contacted by members of their constituency asking them to support making the Charter for Grandchildren legal, yet the response was very negative. In fact zero from the Labour party.

Imagine the shock when our group had 3 Labour MSPs as honorary patrons and the justice minister herself supported us strongly before becoming a minister plus another minister who pledged us his full support. In fact we had quite a few Labour MSPs supporting us.

They have all reneged. What makes it so galling is they were to vote on such an important issue on their own initiatives.

At the 2nd debate the Justice Minister gave Rosemary Byrne MSP the assurances she was looking for on putting the Charter for Grandchildren on the bill which was cancelled by her deputy.

It appears all this is empty words from the Labour party who obviously put politics before the welfare of children and the wishes of their constituents. They dropped their support at the last moment.

At least the other MSPs who did not support us were honest enough to say so rather than being told not to.

By our reckoning, if it was a conscience vote, without the labour party whip intervening we would have been successful.

It is obvious that grandchildren/grandparents will never have legal contact while a Labour government is in power.

Government says it’s none of our business

Government’s policy;-

“We are reluctant to interfere in family life…We have no answer to non compliance of contact orders”.

‘It’s none of our business’   is what the government’s policy is meaning when they say we will not interfere in family life. Fine when all is well, but not according to the latest reports of 60,000 children in drug related homes in the UK and the NSPCC are advertising heavily about the need of protection of children, in their worthwhile well known, Full Stop programme. Children are being abused in their own homes in secret with the full protection of the government’s policy and they will not relent. Yes this policy is protecting abusers.

At the rate NSPCC are advertising their must be a vast amount of children in this situation. So if you doubt us, ask them. It’s your money and they could help more children if grandparents had the right to contact their grandchildren and possibly spot problems earlier on. Can you think of any one else that could best fill this position.

The government’s policy of refusing to enforce compliance of grandparental contact orders made by a court in the best interests of the children compound the situation. They are preventing an army that possibly could, if given the right, get protection for an awful lot of these abused children.

“We demand the governments review this policy.”

Governments are failing to protect abused children.

Immediate. 12.30pm 23rd September 2006

The NSPCC are bombarding us with their adverts. The child has to get his own supper again, or he goes home to a fist. If the NSPCC claims of abuse in the home are correct then all the governments of the UK are turning a blind eye to their findings and are colluding in child abuse.

The governments stance is grandparents having a right of contact is not in the best interests of the children. Is this stance justifiable when NSPCC is constantly advertising on television about how much children are abused in their own home? Contact can simply be by phone, letter, email etc. or visits. Contact to make sure they are safe.

Grandparents agree that a mother is usually the best person to care for her children when all is well. What happens when it is not?

Mothers have the protection of the law and the government at their beck and call. Could this be the problem? It is the children that should have that protection, with grandparents able to support them by seeing what’s happening and to help them in these circumstances.

The majority of children are well looked after, but too many are not. These children are left out, maltreated and unnoticed until they end up in hospital or the abuse is so far gone that neighbours report it to social services and they take the children, scarred for life, into care. This is a huge emotional and financial expense that could be avoided with early intervention.

Government figures say 60,000 children are living in drug related households in the UK. They are not helping them or letting anyone else help them either.

Grandparents are asking for a legal right of contact, not parental rights. They ask for the right to contact their grandchildren a couple of hours a month or by negotiation through mediation, letters and birthday cards, presents and phone calls. Children need this right unless their safety would be in danger by doing so.

But the governments are closed to this idea and allow more and more children to be abused in their own homes when it could be spotted earlier if grandparents were allowed that right of contact.

The governments adamant stance is not in the best interests of children. We need them to wake up to the very strong advertising of the NSPCC that there is wide spread of abuse of children in their own homes.

Or is the Governments assuming the NSPCC are telling lies?

Grandparents to care for children on the cheap.

Grandparents and extended family are to be used as a cheaper alternative to foster carers. Does it not cost the same for grandparents to look after children as foster carers? We know grandparents have a special magic with children, but this is going too far.

Presently grandparents are being penalised for looking after their grandchildren because of love and to keep them in a home environment, often with no financial help or a mere social service handout and we have already reported of children living in poverty and grandparents running into huge debts to make ends meet.

Renfrewshire Director of Social Work Recommendations:

2. 2.1 Payments for Fostering Allowances is £345 rising to £353 per placement per week.

Renfrewshire Council admits (letter to community and Family Policy Board on 20th December 2005) Revised Operational Guidance : Kinship Carers.

3.2 “it is predominately grandparents who take on the care of children.”

3.3 Over time this arrangement has proved to be successful in supporting children coming into the care of the Local Authority. The revised scheme continues on these bases as it fulfils the requirements of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995. that the council support families to discharge their parental responsibilities. It also avoids the Council in the far greater expense of accommodating a child in foster care or a residential setting which is considerably more expensive.

3.7 The level of payment made to carers who benefit from the schemes operated by Renfrewshire and other Councils has been subjected to challenge. Renfrewshire Council rates are age related and range from £ 21.89 to £43.78 per week. Renfrewshire Social Work (complaints Review) Appeals panel dealt with a complaint where the key argument concerned whether related carers should receive the same level of allowance as a foster carer would for caring for a child.

A similar argument was presented in judicial challenge to South Lanarkshire Councils Scheme. Neither challenge was successful and the proceedings have confirmed that the status of related carers is different from that of foster carers.

The Scottish Executive have written in the “Charter for Grandchildren” grandparents are to be recognised for the role they can play in their grandchildren’s lives. But! Still, our children lose out on the legal protection of their grandparents. This is reflected in the way we are treated. Like second class Citizens.

Older people now have the voting power to be listened to. The authorities are saying nice things about grandparents just now (Lip Service) don’t be taken in by smooth talk. Demand rights to our grandchildren. Demand equal payment as carers. Demand the respect the authorities robbed you of. Threaten to withdraw your grey vote. So write your MPs or MSPs for that recognition we deserve now!