Haringey Council alarming failure to protect the borough's children have again been making headlines. The latest story concerns a two-year-old boy, Baby K, being placed in foster care with an 82-year-old blind widow. She died earlier this month at home where she lived alone with the boy. What an extraordinary placement. No doubt a risk assessment was carried out and all the health and safety boxes ticked.
This case also indicates a biase against adoption. Couples in their 50s coming forward offering to adopt are routinely turned down as too old. While the choice of foster carer may be exceptional another aspect of the scandal is more familiar. Baby K had spent 18 months in the care system amidst delay and muddle. Why had no arrangements been made for adoption? That would have given him the chance to thrive in a permanent, loving home as a member of a family.
One hopes that Haringey will now get on with it. Keeping children in care should be a last resort. Denying Baby K a permanent loving home would mean paying perhaps £50,000 a year for the next 16 years to keep him in foster placements. It would mean Baby K having social worker visits ever six weeks, having six monthly reviews. It would mean him growing up with a carer who couldn't agree sleep overs or school trips because she doesn't have parental responsibility. This is not something we should be contemplating for a two-year-old.
Councillor Alan Dobbie, of Noel Park Ward, a Conservative Opposition councillor on Haringey Council says:
"With confidence in Labour-run Haringey at an all-time low, reports like these are always concerning. Earlier reviews have made it clear where failings have occurred and the council needs to implement the necessary changes as swiftly as possible. I am hoping that the Council will send all Members an explanation of what actually happened. This, from what we know so far, is a deeply worrying story".