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Delays in courts damaging to children
Fri, 13 Aug 2010 11:36:09 GMT
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(photo:Alamy)
Leading children's charity, Barnardo, says vulnerable children are harmed by delays in family court proceedings for care and supervision orders.

Sky News has reported that some of Britain's most vulnerable children in England and Wales are stuck in abusive homes for over a year while awaiting decisions to be taken into the care. According to figures released by Barnardo, in 2009 children waited an average of more than 56 weeks before a court decision was made on care or supervision orders. Family court proceedings took an average of 45 weeks.

Additionally, the total number of unresolved cases increased to 12,994 at the end of 2009, 50 percent more than at the end of 2008.

The Guardian points out that the biggest single problem is the courts' unwillingness to trust social workers, branding it “a judicial culture of super-caution.” The unintended consequences are prolonged delays in the proceedings.

Barnardo is now calling for a 30-week limit for county courts to make a decision, according to the BBC.

Barnardo's chief executive Martin Narey stated, "The courts need urgently to reflect on the damage these delays are having on extremely vulnerable children," adding that a year of a child's life was "an inordinate amount of time for them to be trapped in desperate limbo, unclear of their future and very possibly at risk.

"During this time, these children might remain at home with neglectful or abusive birth families or be living in emergency foster care, expected to settle with families they may subsequently have to leave.”

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