I undertook a survey on the affects of the involvement of social services on families who have children with SEND. The survey ran for just over a month and I received 113 respondents. Overall, 33% of those surveyed were threatened with child protection and 30% were threatened with removal of children. However only 38% of those threatened with removal of children suffered actual court proceedings seeking to remove children. Within those surveyed 19% suffered court proceedings seeking to remove children.
A significant point I would like to share from the results of the survey is that 30% of those surveyed originally asked for help. Out of those who approached child services for help and support; 25% were threatened with child protection proceedings 32% were threatened with removal of children 41% were directly accused of FII 66% were indirectly accused of FII (concerns raised for seeking 2nd opinion seeking diagnosis or knowing medical terminology for example) 31% of those that approached child services for help and support had their children removed. The long term consequences for those approaching child services for help are overwhelmingly negative. 34% of parents asking for help developed mental health problems due to child services involvement 43% of children in those families developed mental health problems 38% of those families developed financial difficulty due to child services involvement 31% experienced relationship breakdown 38% of children experienced a worsening of their condition Only 6% of families asking for help found that their child's condition improved and only 3% experienced an improvement in family circumstances Other consequences for the families who asked for help from child services were, isolation, stress, long term fear and mistrust of professionals for both adults and children and worrying, forced contact with abusive non resident parent.
For the 41% of families directly accused if fabricated and induced illness, a concerning 75% had adults with special educational needs, disability and/or chronic illness. 39% of those directly accused had a child with EDS (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome), 11% had a child with ME, 22% had mental health problems, 35% had SEN, 13 % had ADHD and a very worrying 43% had autism. 58% of those directly accused of fabricated illness felt proceedings were a direct result of complaining about services. There has been many recent news articles about how services like school and health are failing our SEND children. It would seem that the consequence of daring to complain about poor provision is to face accusations if child abuse and fabricated or induced illness.
Only parents who have been accused of fabricated and induced illness can really say how far reaching and completely devastating these accusations are. Within those families accused of fabricated and induced illness; 51% of parents developed mental health difficulties including PTSD 52% of children in those families developed mental health difficulties 48% suffered financial difficulties 26% experienced relationship breakdown 52% saw a worsening in their child's condition 39% saw a worsening if adults condition 59% felt it was difficult to access medical care due to previous FII accusations Other consequences included, collapse of business, loss of house, lost career, children scared of professionals, fear of attending appointments, distrust of professionals and children terrified they will be removed from their parents, being "bullied" into treatment that they felt was inappropriate or told to reduce use of services. 21% of those accused of fabricated and induced illness had their children removed. The scale of this problem is huge, compared with the estimated scale of fabricated and induced illness, which I spoke about in a previous blog.
Even within those families not directly or even indirectly accused of fabricated and induced illness, the outcomes of involvement of child services are less than positive. 32% I f those not directly or indirectly accused of FII developed mental health problems 18% of children in these families developed mental health problems 18% of families suffered financially 23% suffered relationship breakdown 27% saw their childs condition worsen 27% saw an adults condition worsen Only 9% saw an improvement for the child Only 14% saw an improvement in family circumstances and only 5% saw an improvement in housing. Other negative consequences for those families was isolation, fear of professionals and family stress.
The survey was shared on twitter and many non geographical Facebook groups. Most local authorities featured only once. However some seem over represented. Northamptonshire accused one family directly of fii and 4 indirectly. Hampshire accused 2 families directly and 3 indirectly. Nottinghamshire accused 3 families of fii and indirectly accused one other family. Warrington accused 2 families indirectly and 1 indirectly. Rochdale accused 2 families directly and one indirectly. Lancashire accused 2 families directly and 1 family indirectly. Conwy, Durham, Leicestershire and Hertfordshire all accused 2 families directly of fii. This is a very small survey, but I think there are some significant "hotspots" where families with children who have SEND are more likely to find themselves facing accusations of fii. Whether this is due to poor services which result in more complaints, or attitudes in the local authority and health trust I couldn't say.
If you are experiencing direct or indirect accusations of fii please join Fiightback Closed Group on Facebook or look at my list of resources for help.
Originally published 3rd May 2018