Childless Parents

PINS member, Hazel Whitters, reflects on the difficult circumstances that surround the removal of several siblings from parents, and the ongoing needs and rights of both children and adults.

The topic of multiple removals is accompanied by intense emotion and a sense of failure mixed with success. The term describes circumstances which lead to several brothers and sisters in a family being adopted. The SHANARRI indicators support Professional’s decision-making in such circumstances. For birth-parents, however, there must be hope at every stage that changes can be made and the removal of children averted. Such circumstances are difficult, but we must champion the rights of the child.

All human beings have rights. Rights contribute to our understanding of ourselves, and our roles in the world. Rights grant us freedom of choice. Rights allow us to be all we can be. Children in the 21st century have a right to experience childhood within a birth-family culture, but society has the responsibility to assess and decide if the circumstances fulfil the child’s human right to achieve potential – the human right to enjoy life’s journey.

Research by NSPCC (2016) shows that 60,000 UK children were recorded on the child protection register, or had a child protection plan in 2013.  In Scotland in 2015, 2,700 children were on the child protection register. Statistics tell us that children who experience a childhood in the care-system are four times more likely to have mental health difficulties, and seven times more likely to have behavioural issues than their peers.

Practitioners are well aware of the inter-generational cycle of families who are involved with services, time and time again. Today’s support mechanisms are multiple, and child protection is everyone’s responsibility – health, education, social work, voluntary sector, housing, police, and local community embrace vulnerable families. The Family Nurse Partnership, New Orleans Model, Mellow Parenting, Solihull Approach, Positive Parenting Programme, and the therapeutic relationship are approaches used throughout the country by professionals who are determined to make an impact upon the cycle of deprivation. We want parents to succeed, but we have to action the rights of the child, and we have to recognise and accept that every mother and father cannot achieve active parenting within their child’s formative years.

Colin Morrison reflected upon the work of PINS in a previous blog. He identified the driving force as needs and rights, and describes a practitioner’s “burden of responsibility.” But empathy and compassion have always been in abundance in the third sector. We are vocational workers and responsive caring is what we do best, and this liberates practitioners to recognise that there are several vulnerable human beings in a context of multiple removals: the child, and the childless parents. The mother and father whose child has been adopted still require our help, in a different category of need, as vulnerable adults.


Hazel G. Whitters

Senior Early Years/Child Protection Coordinator in a Glasgow Voluntary Service.

Education Governance Review

The Education Governance Review is about how education is run in Scotland.

If you are working with children and young people in any capacity, you can have your say as part of the Review. You can also help others to take part and give their views; including children and young people, parents and carers.

The Review is interested in some big issues and challenges and there are a number of questions posed by the Review. You don’t have to have an opinion on them all, but many are of huge importance to the children, young people, families and communities that PINS Members work with. Questions like:

  • What services and support should be delivered by schools?
  • How can children, parents, communities, employers, colleges, universities and others play a stronger role in school life? What actions should be taken to support this?
  • How can the governance arrangements support more community-led early learning and childcare provision?
  • How can effective collaboration amongst teachers and practitioners be further encouraged and incentivised?
  • How could the accountability arrangements for education be improved?

Visit the PINS Education Review page to find out more about how you can have your say:
http://www.pinscotland.org/theme-education-review.html