The staff won’t be identified for fear of losing their jobs. Their concerns about failings and errors mirror those made by the original whistleblower. For service users, their reasons for not wanting to be identified are more fundamental. In a number of cases their child or grandchild is at the centre of the very issues they’re raising. But they feel afraid to either formally complain or be publicly named for fear of making their own domestic circumstances worse. It’s a Catch 22 which senior management within the Children’s Service and the wider States of Jersey must be concerned to resolve urgently.
In each of the accounts much of the information has been removed to avoid the risk of identification. In each case I do have the identities or contact details of the people involved and am satisfied by the validity of their accounts.
The fostered baby
The social worker who took our baby into foster care has repeatedly lied in meetings. When confronted directly, she admitted to making mistakes and laughed in our faces. We have raised concerns about the quality of foster care. Our child was moved to different foster carers over Christmas. When we saw him he looked awful, so tired. To be told I can’t cuddle or kiss him is so cruel. It’s an injustice to let us live a life of torture. No family is perfect. I am sure yours isn’t. But I wanted you to know the truth. I don’t like people who lie. We always own up and say sorry. Social workers should do the same.
The ever-changing social workers
I have spoken to several of the short-term social workers brought into the Island. On average, we have had two a year over the last six years. That compared to just one over the previous 12 years. They confirm the impossibility of working in the Children’s Service department with the numerous difficulties therein. One lasted just six weeks before she gave up her contract citing the impossibility of working there. I hope your investigation will, at last, bring some semblance of competence to the department before further damage is done to other children.
The failed parent
I have been shouting about these failings for a long time. In June, the social worker we had at the time questioned senior management in the Children’s Service about our case and was told to leave or be sacked. Our then social worker was ordered not to give us paperwork from a serious meeting we had attended. In another meeting the social worker was ordered not to minute what was discussed. This is starting to be a bad dream. Please keep my name anonymous for the sake of our children.
The forced-out social worker
I worked for the Children’s Service for many years. I spoke out about the bullying that was going on and the dangerous practices I saw. I felt forced out as a result. I am still in touch with a number of people who are there. They know and trust me and have shared concerns with me on many occasions but are too fearful to speak out themselves. People tried going to the Health Minister and Chief Minister in 2016. Their letters were passed straight to senior management and nothing was done. I think people have lost hope that anyone will listen. They saw what happened to me when I spoke up.
You may not realise that you have opened a massive can of worms with your report. There are a large number of families who have been affected by the aggressive, unprofessional short-term agency staff, with poor communication, no accountability and cover-ups, together with documenting factually incorrect information or, at worst, sheer lies. My partner and I found ourselves under their services after a referral was made against me. We are jumping through the hoops to make a complaint but it is not easy. I wish you to know that there are families that have been treated in the most appalling manner, with those social workers having left the Island leaving families to pick up the pieces.
The assaulted child
My child was the victim of a traumatic assault which became known to the school and the social worker. The social worker withheld the information from me, the parent. Since then, my child’s recovery from a major trauma has been significantly challenging through lack of care and inappropriate care from the Children’s Service. It appears to run without accountability. The culture is of bullying, intimidation and prejudice. There is a lack of will to investigate a situation properly. The agenda, as I have experienced it, is about power and control, losing sight of the child’s welfare. My child is an amazing young person, working towards getting life back on track. As a parent I am very proud of my child. Our experience demands that the Children’s Service be brought under scrutiny.
The angry grandparent
I have made numerous complaints to the Children’s Service. Most were ignored. One was finally investigated but that review was then given to the very person I was complaining about. The actions of the Children’s Service led to my grandchild being allowed to stay with another relative against our wishes. That relative is a drug addict who was only interested in being in his child’s life when he found out there was a financial allowance available. He was eventually jailed for another crime. The social worker involved has since been replaced and my grandchild is now the happy, responsive youngster she originally was.
As reported on Monday, the States of Jersey accept there are failings in how Jersey cares for and protects children and young people, and that improvements are needed. An improvement plan for the Children’s Service was approved last week. Among other plans being considered by the States for the wider public sector is the introduction of a whistleblower hotline for staff, however it is not yet in place.
In the meantime, anybody can contact me about their own experiences, good or bad, at email@example.com.