20 comments

  1. Julia Crompton · July 14, 2016

    How do I access this programme – I am desperate…

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    • karenwoodall · July 14, 2016

      I’m afraid that the news piece is a bit misleading on that score, as far as I can tell CAFCASS do not yet have any such programme, the one being referred to is an old government pilot and sadly government pilots tend to disappear when the funding is finished. Sorry not to be more positive Julia.

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  2. CG · July 14, 2016

    Not so rare sadly

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  3. Everythinghappensforareason · July 14, 2016

    Mmmm….CAFCASS’ targeted support might engender a bit more trust and hope if they were prepared to expose past cases where they’ve ignored the nose on the face that they knew (at the time) was PA.

    Brings back memories of a talk radio conversation I had with the one and only Theresa May in 2002 when the Tory opposition was using paternal PA as a vehicle to engage with the disenfranchised voter (sound familiar?!) – “things will change when we get back into government but keep on doing what you’re doing (ie.fighting in court)”. The guff she spoke of yesterday (standing up for the underdog, etc.) will no more materialise than the many promises of Thatcher, Blair or Cameron…..”Where there is discord, may we bring harmony. Where there is error, may we bring truth. Where there is doubt, may we bring faith. Where there is despair, may we bring hope” – yeah right!!

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    • karenwoodall · July 14, 2016

      I am not holding my breath that there will ever be such a programme from CAFCASS EHFR and if there is I wouldn’t put any money on it being successful in terms of real outcomes if it is based on the TCCR model. The problem with such models is that when they fail the therapist blame it on the parents or CAFCASS does or both. (Not all CAFCASS people of course, I am being very careful here because there are some excellent Guardians with whom I have made great strides in cases very quickly). The problem is the culture within the upper management echelons of CAFCASS which tends to see parents as a problem rather than parents as people who are coping with problems.

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      • CG · July 14, 2016

        Karen – as you know, the additional problem with CAFCASS is that is says the power of understanding the dynamics and responding appropriately lies with the social workers/Guardians, but then has no effective management system of monitoring whether (or not) they have the requisite understanding and knowledge to identify PA. Social workers are left to make judgements that are not properly reviewed, moderated or even recorded against what checks, balances or tools there are. The culture within the upper management echelons of CAFCASS is that social workers should be autonomous, without there being an adequate framework of underlying knowledge assessment and case management.

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      • CG · July 14, 2016

        and into my inbox comes http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmeduc/201/20102.htm
        where the Commons Education Committee report of the pressures faced by social workers and presents its findings/conclusions which include:
        “it is critical to look at the role of children and families social work and what can be done to ensure the profession copes with ever-rising demand. Social workers have a crucial role in improving outcomes for children, young people and families, and it is in this context we examine the best ways to support and improve children and families social workers”
        “The primary way the DfE is planning to ensure the continuing professional development of children and families social workers is through the proposed Assessment and Accreditation programme.”
        “It is for employers to decide how they want to enable [CPD] to happen … One of the last things we want is social workers, two days before they need to comply with their CPD to get their re-registrations, to go online and do a quick multiple-choice test. We want it to be meaningful”
        “Sarah Maskery, a senior practitioner of child protection social work who has been involved in workforce development, said the money planned for accreditation should be “re-invested into social work CPD to develop the skills of workers, rather than score them.”
        “The current offer for CPD and post-qualifying specialisation is inadequate, variable and diffuse. We recommend that the Government work with the sector to create a robust, national post-qualifying framework to give a coherent shape to the continuing professional development of children and families social workers throughout their career. The Government should develop a rigorous endorsement process for the new post-qualifying framework in collaboration with the social work profession. Re-registration as a social worker with the regulator should be dependent on some current or recent participation in endorsed courses, rather than only generic CPD activity.”

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      • everythinghappensforareason · July 14, 2016

        100% spot on in every aspect (as experienced 1st-hand) – especially, the upper echelons bit…between ’03-’06), i saw, up close and personal, the manipulative way in which they “managed” my complaints (re. errors and lack of integrity) into the dustbin labelled “lessons will be learned” without ever, actually, intending to learn anything other than improvement of their houdini-like feats of escapology…ditto social services

        it’s a sad state of affairs when politicians, enthusiastically, adopt the use of poor vocabulary and mantras from inadequate public sector staff where once the opposite was more likely.

        you couldn’t make it up 🙂

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    • CG · July 14, 2016

      EHFAR
      I completely agree – we have an extensive dossier where we have tried to get CAFCASS to acknowledge the uniformed judgement of the children’s Guardian – the same with the HCPC – we need a class action

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      • Anonymous · July 15, 2016

        I wish they would try this in the USA. It is definitely a very good strategy. I just feel though there are much new developments in PA we still have a long way to go before it is recognized and actions plans are in place to deal with it in the court system.

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  4. Woodman59 · July 14, 2016

    Very welcome piece – except for that odd section in the middle in relation to Paul Fink – someone I’d not heard of before, and the choice of the use only of an example of a man alienating children from a woman…when that is not the majority situation at all.

    My concern is particularly for what I sense to be a vast pool of children, like my own, who though not the most severely alienated, have still been considerably damaged BOTH by the separation from one parent, AND by being left in the charge of the other. The process of separating, in and of itself, i.e. without saying anything at all – implies that one parent is not of particular worth, because if they were – then the separation would not be happening.

    For children, especially, I would suggest – the actions themselves speak even louder even than words. It doesn’t then take much in the way of words – to push them ‘over the edge’ into full-blown alienation.

    The reality is that in the last 30 years especially, separation has often been actively encouraged, but without even beginning to count the severe cost on the children…

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  5. Anonymous · July 14, 2016

    Excellent article Karen and we’ll done. You and I well know that P A is live and thriving in the U K. I was pleased to read that the cost to fight P A can be enormous as I was quoted £50,000 from an advocate and have met people who have not seen their child regardless of costs of over £100,000 which results in only the rich can fight P A.

    I wrote to the former Prime Minister and will now write to Teresa May although in her former job she must have been familiar with P A. I hope many Parents and Grandparents will write to the new Prime Minister with a view to make P A illegal.

    Having not seen my Granddaughter for five years my Son and I will do all we can to highlight the evils of P A and for anyone to say there is no such thing as P A I pray they never lose sight of a child in their family as it is the most painful situation one can suffer. I live on only for my Grandchildren as they are both wonderful.

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    • everythinghappensforareason · July 14, 2016

      feel free to mention our ’02 conversation and also to enquire what happened to her PA pledge

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  6. Dr Elizabeth Hersey · July 14, 2016

    Sadly, I am not seeing either of my children because of PA. I do not thing any court in the UK pays a bit of attention. Don’t give up and don’t stop trying I certainly won’t.

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  7. Anonymous · July 14, 2016

    Yes good article. Would it be possible for Amelia to interview Cafcass about how they are handling this problem today? Surely with the right kind of intervention it doesn’t have to be a £50,000 a go lottery in the family court. I agree that Cafcass tend to see persons as the problem, rather than persons who have problems that they need help in solving. The problem is in the family dynamic and/or, in extremity the progression into alienation.

    Kind regards

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  8. Susang · July 14, 2016

    P A is appalling. But there is also a very real danger that a parent who has ” lost” a long Family Court battle (for what used to be called custody) will start claiming alienation when the children are still seeing the now non-resident parent at the appointed weekends and holidays, and are still being emotionally abused, during contact, by the very parent who is falsely claiming alienation. For example, threatening to commit suicide because of the change of residence and telling the child it will be all his/her fault when the hospital phones with the news of the parent’s death, is emotional abuse from which the child will suffer however it’s handled. And the child begs the other parent not to tell anyone because that will just make things worse, via recrimination and unseen punishment during the next contact. How do you reconcile the need for children to see both parents regularly with the damage a severely disordered parent can cause? Such disordered personalities are very hard to recognise or diagnose, as they tend to be very skilled liars and brilliant at conning people, even Judges, doctors and social workers at all levels.

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  9. PapaMissingKids · July 14, 2016

    When my matter went to court, I got one if the worst ever CAFCASS reports in the history of CAFCASS reports. I don’t know how the other side solicitor did it., but she managed to manipulate CAFCASS in a way only a witch could. It was SO different to how the interview went that my first thoughts were that the wealthy other side had bribed the CAFCASS person.

    Three plus years later, after a couple of experts (with Karen being the secondary expert, unfortunately not the primary expert despite my best efforts (if only I knew then what I know now!)) and I got a sterling Guardian report described as one of the best any father could get. The report was written by Jane Biggs who is mentioned in the link in the Guardian article leading to the write up on the CAFCASS side.

    This Guardian officer actually meant well, but even then she just did not get it. That was more than 3 years ago. I’m still not convinced CAFCASS and the FCA do get it – th obstacles always seem to be funding. However, it does seem they’re going in the right direction even if that’s because they couldn’t go any more wrong.

    I wonder if the £360million/week saved from brexit can even partly be allocated to social services and PA? Oh wait – even the NHS won’t get all of that will they? Hold it, it wasn’t actually even £360m…. Something tells that if the European beaurocrats don’t eat the money, then the British beaurocrats will… Which means even if CAFCASS / SS get he mon, it’ll be eaten up somewhere anyway… Which means not much progress will be made anyway….

    I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again – until a senior legal person and or a senior social worker gets hit by Parental Alienation, then not much is gonna happen.

    I know it’s a bit negative, but you know …..

    Anyway, rant over…. Thanks for listening. Sorry for going on and on …

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  10. Nick 128 · July 21, 2016

    P.A on a pathway to becoming mainstream. Impossible to stem it’s flow yet it’s so slow! Institutions such as Cafcass/Family Courts or NSPCC dragging their feet. Why? Maybe blind-eyeing this form of child abuse saves resources? Recognition of past mistakes difficult , more so for an institution? Politicians? The undermining of genderbased stereo types a vote looser? Together creating the 30 years of it’s painful and slow adoption.

    Just like Savil or Hillsborough (rightly or wrongly) to revisit decisions made in the past is today common. The choices made by people holding positions of responsibility open to a critical eye. When P.A rightfully sits as an equal partner with physical or sexual child abuse how will these responsible people fair? The accumulation of thousands of childhoods affected by it, with knowledgeable adults seeking an explanation waits in the wings.

    Although not personally a fan of retrospective justice, the point that personal accountability for choices made today actively carries on into the future. The age of shorterm, blind-eyeing over? I hope so.

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    • karenwoodall · July 22, 2016

      I actually think that the lack of attention given to these cases by practitioners and others in the system will, in years to come be the scandal of yesteryear uncovered. For me, it will come when the world understands that emotional and psychological abuse, which is what PA is, is as bad if not worse than physical abuse. It will come when the world realises that asking children in the middle of a parent who is determined that they will not see a parent, either consciously or unconsciously and a parent who is rejected, to enter into therapy or as an alternative, to be left alone, is akin to leaving them with someone who is breaking their legs. Breaking a child’s mind so that they have to use psychologically splitting (which is an infantile coping mechanism) is abusive. Whether it is done consciously or not it has to be stopped. Stopping it requires action and the Judges and Guardians and mental health providers who do not act and do not give the help that is needed, leaving children where they are or worse, increasing the pressure upon them, is abuse in my view. For me if a child is showing complete rejection and there is nothing that a parent has done to cause that or contribute to that at a sufficient level – and it would have to be hugely abusive for a child to reject a parent wholesale – then investigation into the circumstances, the mental health of a parent and the other issues that may well be at play but hidden, is an absolute must. Those who do not go there, leaving children stuck and their parents lost to them, will, in years to come, be seen as those who contributed to the harm done. It will come – about twenty years hence in my view.

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      • everythinghappensforareason · July 24, 2016

        in my opinion, our real enemy here is man’s (and woman’s) capacity for denial

        “hand on heart”, how many of us can, honestly, say that we believe future scandals such as hillsborough, saville, rotherham, etc. (both turning a blind eye before the revelations and then subsequent cover-ups after) are not/will not be repeated in the forseeable? i, for one cannot – that’s what we’re all up against!!

        most troubling of all is our (collective) society’s willingness to dismiss the correlation between damaging a child’s mind by way of PA and, in adulthood, the increased potential for that child’s distorted mind to be “warped” in a myriad of ways whether through dysfunction turning inward (via depression, self-harm and addictive behaviour) or outwardly (via psycho/sociopathy and abusing/terrorising others).

        karen – for me the last paragraph was writ large when your Huffington Post piece on radicalisation received so few responses, despite your efforts to “join up the dots” in such a clear, reasoned and obvious manner.

        alas, the scandal (or a particular guise of it) may well surface within the next 20 years but the all-important question is (a la hillsborough, saville and rotherham) will there be any meaningful change from that point?

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