The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) has launched what they expect to be a year-long inquiry to consider the role of social work in adoption processes in the UK.
It comes in the aftermath of the landmark case of Soares de Melo v Portugal (2016) in which the ECHR asserted that the state has ‘positive obligations’ to keep families together. Judge Sajo in the leading opinion stated that
“…the rights of parents must be taken into account. The best interests of the child come into play when the obligations inherent in parental rights are not observed by the parent or that it uses its rights abusively. The requirements of the Convention are not fulfilled if one ignores the importance of the need for parents and their children to ‘be together’”.
This would appear to accord with the judgment to date in NA v Nottinghamshire County Council (2015) and the importance the court placed on family life within the context of a foster placement. Although the IICSA terms of reference exclude purely familial abuse it will consider the wider issues relating to adoption and foster care, as the Royal Commission has already done with its Out-of-Home Care case study.
The BASW enquiry will be led by Prof Brigid Featherstone and Anne Gupta supported by an advisory group representing key voices and interests, including a birth parent, adult adoptee, adoptive parent, a senior member of the legal profession, and expert social work practitioners and academics.
Written by Paula Jefferson, partner