Press one of the expand buttons to see the full text of an article. Later press collapse to revert to the original form. The buttons below expand or collapse all articles.
October 6, 2009 permalink
Remember that junk room where you store the torn mattress, the cracked plates and the broken chair? It will be photographed and presented to the court as evidence of the way you live. And that arthritic dog that you could not allow the vet to put down? His health will be an example of the way you treat your children. That spoiled food at the back of your fridge will be an example of your kid's diet. These are new policies in Britain reacting to the death of Peter Connelly (Baby P).
Social workers to check pets and fridges during suspected child abuse cases
Owen Bowcott, guardian.co.uk, Sunday 4 October 2009 18.28 BST
Social workers are to be instructed to check the contents of families' fridges, take pictures inside the home and ensure pets are healthy when investigating suspected child abuse cases.
Harrow council in north-west London is introducing a contract to make explicit the responsibilities of families and the duties of officials involved.
The paperwork, to be read out to the parents and signed by them, is thought to be the first of its kind in the UK.
It has been prepared in the wake of the Baby P case where multiple failures by various agencies failed to spot telltale signs of the threats to the toddler's life who died in Haringey, north London.
It also serves as a ticklist reminder for social workers to ensure they carry out a comprehensive survey of homes where children are suspected of being at risk.
Harrow's staff are instructed, for example, to check any recent changes to the make-up of the household, particularly if someone is occasionally present.
One of the problems in the Baby P case was the mother's boyfriend, later found guilty of causing or allowing the child's death, was not known to the police.
The letter states that social workers will check on "your parenting skills" and "your wider family and environment".
It also adds that during visits social workers will check "all rooms in your home to ensure there is nothing which may directly or indirectly place [children] at risk [and] inspect the sleeping arrangements and check there is adequate food in the kitchen cupboards and fridge".
It also specifies they will "check on the care and provision made for family pets and take photographs, if necessary".
The health of pets, the council believes, is an indicator of a family's ability to care.