Our client had been placed into care by a London-based local authority around 1989, when she was 4 years old. Her mother was suffering from serious long-term mental health issues and her natural father was a violent alcoholic.
She was placed in a Children’s Home, but social services continued to permit unsupervised contact with her parents. In May 1991 it was found that she had been sexually abused during a visit to her natural father’s home.
At the age of 8, she then suffered physical abuse at the hands of a Residential Social Worker at the Children’s home and her mother’s behaviour during unsupervised visits caused her psychological problems. Despite a psychiatrist recommending no further unsupervised contact with the natural mother, restrictions were never put in place.
During her time in the local authority’s care, from 1989 to 2005, our client attended two primary schools, four different Junior/Secondary Schools, three moves between Children’s Homes, one temporary foster carer and then eleven or so moves between foster carers and Children’s Homes.
Adoption was never arranged and because of the disruption she never had the chance to take her GCSE exams and was excluded from education for more than a year because the local authority failed to act on or fund Special Educational Needs teaching.
Because of social services failings and the abuse, our client had on-going psychological problems including depression, anxiety, trust issues, multiple failed relationships, relationship issues with her own child, a constantly unsettled adult life with multiple home and numerous low paid jobs.
From detailed analysis of social services records we discovered that the family was well-known to social services from January 1978 and sufficient concern was recorded at various times to merit the children being taken into care earlier than 1989.
The evidence also showed that the local authority had failed to undertake a proper assessment of parenting in relation to both natural parents.
We successfully argued four areas of failure/breaches of duty by social services, including failure to take into care before March 1989 to remove the client from the abusive home environment, failure to ensure the client was safe and protected from harm whilst resident at the Children’s Home, failure to protect the client from ongoing abuse by natural parents after being placed in care, and excessive movement between placements due to local authority failure to deal with adoption.
Records also showed that these failings occurred due to a shortage of social workers and lack of resources. Faced with these arguments in open correspondence and knowing that we would proceed with a formal social services expert report from a leading claims expert, the Defendant conceded liability and we reached a substantial settlement for our client.