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Prolonged court delays scar children for life

The biggest intrusion by the state into family life is the removal of a child from its birth parents. So it is absolutely right that the courts should make the final decision, whether it is for a temporary or a permanent arrangement. However, it is paramount that there are proper checks because there are judgments to be made that are not always obvious.

Let's make allowances for the costs of fostering

Almost all of us love our children - even though they are occasionally difficult, temperamental or just obstreperous. We love them for what they are, whether that includes abilities or disabilities, and we would not have it any other way. Of all I have done, I am proudest of my children and what they have achieved - although, of course, it was not just me!

League tables can be a force for good if given more care

League tables appear to be flavour of the month. The Department for Education published local authorities' three-year performance averages for children in care against 15 indicators a fortnight ago. And then children's minister Tim Loughton last week signalled his support for league tables for youth services at the Confederation of Heads of Young People's Services annual convention, which would be scored at least in part by young people.

An end to adoption delay benefits all concerned

When I became a director of children's services, adoption was new to me. I spent time with social workers and a family court judge, and met several families going through the process. I was forcibly struck by the incongruity between the genuinely good intentions of all the professionals concerned and the lived experience of families and children.

End service barriers to give families a boost

There have been numerous government-sponsored reviews over the past few months: Graham Allen on early intervention, Frank Field on social mobility, Dame Clare Tickell on the early years and Eileen Munro on child protection.

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