TWO children spent months in care because a social worker believed they would not be able to adapt to the ‘culture’ in Yorkshire.
The brother and sister were fostered after being removed from their parents, but were stopped from moving 200 miles to live with their aunt after it was decided they would be left ‘isolated’ by their southern accents.
Their aunt - who cannot be named for legal reasons - had herself had been brought up in Hampshire but moved to Kirklees several years ago, along with other family members.
She has now finally been awarded custody of her niece and nephew following a nine-month legal battle with Hampshire County Council which started last August.
‘The children needed to be with their family at such a difficult time for them,’ she said. ‘I put myself forward as a carer. I work. I have a loving family close by. I thought that, together, we could show them what real family life was like. They had had a tough time at home.
‘However, their social worker decided that the children ‘had grown up within the southern region and couldn’t adapt to the change in area and culture’.
‘Apparently, speaking with a southern accent would cause difficulties and isolation.’
Nigel Priestley, senior partner with Ridley & Hall solicitors, in Huddersfield, who took on her case, said: ‘Choosing to put children into foster care because of the Yorkshire culture is one of the most bizarre social services decisions I have ever come across.
‘All sorts of obstacles can be put in their way by social services but thankfully, my client had a very sensible judge.’
In a statement the council said: ‘We would never let trivial considerations get in the way of securing the best placement for the children.
‘We are pleased the children were placed with their aunt.
‘Wherever possible, if children in care are unable to live with their parents, we try to find placements within the extended family.
‘An independent social worker, not one from Hampshire County Council, carried out an assessment regarding the placement of the children with their aunt but we felt it was incomplete.
‘A second one was commissioned and on its completion we supported the placement with the aunt which the court ordered.’