Since 1739, Coram (formerly the Foundling Hospital) has been providing support to both children and their mothers when circumstance meant they could not remain together.
350 years after Thomas Coram, who campaigned for years to establish his charity, was born, the issues of violence, poverty and addiction remain and some children will need an alternative family in which to grow up safely.
Dr Carol Homden CBE, Chief Executive of Coram says:
Children who have been harmed or are at risk or whose parents cannot provide the necessary care to them, need to be protected and their futures secured. This is mostly provided through foster care but for some they need a permanent new home through adoption. Adoption is and always will be for the few and not the many and it has remained at similar levels throughout the last two decades.
Through our work with the Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC), Coram can show that intensive work to support parents experiencing issues such as addiction or domestic violence can make a significant difference to reunification but when issues are complex, and the timescales to change are long, decisions must be made in the timescale of the child.
Judges do, as they must, make the decision in each case on the basis of the welfare of each child since they only get one chance at childhood.Whilst austerity and pressures on local authorities is leading to escalation of problems, society must reconsider how and at what level support can best be given to mothers unable to care so they can gain the skills and stability that is needed but not confuse this with leaving children to bear the risk.
Coram’s report Respected and Protected, published on Monday 22 January is calling for specific additional support to be provided to first time mothers and young women from the care system involved in care proceedings about their child, including access to legal advice and therapeutic support to help to break the cycle of care and as well as a recruitment priority for more adopters and foster carers to meet the needs of children for whom time is running out.
You can read the full BASW Adoption Inquiry report here.