‘They’ve failed me and my girl’

LET down as a child and now fighting to save her own baby from adoption, Kay – not her real name – is the latest to speak out about Calderdale’s scandal-hit children’s service.

The 19-year-old has been known to social workers since childhood in the north-east.

She suffered for years there in a violent household instead of being taken into care.

Now in Halifax she faces losing her two-year-old daughter, even though her own volatile relationship with the baby’s dad ended nearly a year ago. “I’ve moved on with my life,” she said. “I’ve done everything they’ve asked of me but they’ve given me nothing in return.”

Her little girl was born in January 2010. Just days after the birth, a social worker visited her in hospital to break the news: her baby might be taken away.

“All I’d ever wanted was a baby to love and to love me back because I never felt I’d been loved,” she said.

She said the next few months were chaotic and confusing with social workers constantly changing their minds.

Eventually she and her boyfriend split and her little girl was taken away in December. She is now awaiting adoption and Kay is only allowed to visit her once a week. Said Kay: “I could cope. I was caring for my baby perfectly well.”

Kay believes the children’s service is letting down both her and her daughter, plus Calderdale’s foster carers.

Yesterday the Courier reported on Coun Megan Swift’s assurances that all Calderdale’s children in care had now been allocated a social worker.

But Kay says that’s not the case for her little girl. “She doesn’t have her own social worker. She has only been seen by one three times, for 15 minutes at a time,” she said.

Kay has also made a formal complaint about her own social worker, who she claims would cry about her own problems during their appointments and ring her while out with her friends on a Friday night. The day after Kay complained, the social worker went sick and did not attend the court case to decide whether Kay’s baby was to be put up for adoption.

“This woman has written all these reports about my little girl and she wasn’t there to be cross-examined by my barrister at the final care hearing,” said Kay.

She is now lodging a legal appeal in what could be her last chance to get her daughter back. Reports of the crisis in Calderdale’s children’s service have now given her some hope.

“When I read all those stories in the newspaper I thought ‘finally, someone is speaking up about it.”