Case raises questions about cause of this delay

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We recognise that being a social worker is a tough job.

These people carry children’s lives in their hands every day and if something goes wrong, they and the social services department they work for carry the responsibility for that.

But at some point, common sense must be allowed to prevail.

And yet sadly, that doesn’t appear to have happened in the case that we report on today.

Two children who had already been through a challenging time in their lives, were being offered the chance to stay with a blood relative, keen to give them a fresh start.

What stood in the way wasn’t this aunt’s suitability, or any apparent concerns about safety. It was a question of geography that created a nine-month delay in the proceedings.

Kirklees is not a million miles away. Yes, it is in another county and a northern one at that. But is that really justification for an independent social worker to object to an aunt being allowed to look after her own nephew and niece?

Any move will require adjustment. But with the right support these children would have been able to adapt to their new surroundings, plus any differences they found in the local culture.

Plenty of people no longer live in the county – or even country – of their birth and getting used to a new accent is part and parcel of life.

We’re pleased to hear Hampshire County Council insist that they would never let ‘trivial considerations’ get in the way of what is best for children.

The council stresses that it supported this woman’s application to care for these children once a second assessment of its own commissioning had been carried out.

Sadly, that still resulted in a lengthy legal battle and we question whether that hold-up was in the best interests of these children.

While there can be no corner-cutting when the care of children is concerned, the county council must look again at why it took so long to bring this case to a close and learn from it in the future.