Tyne & Wear
B e f o r e :
| Newcastle upon Tyne City Council
|- and -
The children (3)
(by their Children's Guardian, Aileen Firth)
Crown Copyright ©
Mr A may be clinically depressed as a consequence of his serious health problems. Mrs A has a history of recurrent depression. Although there is some low mood and anxiety now, this is not at clinically significant levels. Mr A has a mild degree of learning disability that will affect his ability to care for the children without support. Mrs A probably functions in the lower end of the low average range of cognitive ability. The parents would benefit from alterations to usual modes of information delivery, including more visual materials, reduced use of specialist language and offering opportunities for repetition. It would be best if workers assumed that both parties had a degree of learning disability. Mrs A's parenting ability significantly outstripped those of her husband notwithstanding his evident love for his daughters. Their respective parenting skills will probably be best manifested in the context of their marriage. Their abilities together are probably better than if they were apart.
That is dealt with further in paragraphs 8.21 to 8.23. Dr Mosher reported that the parents' understanding and acceptance of the local authority concerns is poor. That is dealt with further at paragraphs 8.24 to 8.26 in his report.
• AI's poor weight gain and associated poor physical health;
• The long term impact of AI's lack of nutritional intake will have upon her physical and developmental wellbeing;
• The parents' insight into their children's need and AI's special needs given her developmental delay;
• The validity of the information provided by the parents in terms of the quantities of food eaten by AI is questionable, but does not reflect her weight gain;
• Parents inappropriate methods used to feed AI;
• Parents' acceptance and understanding of the concern of professionals;
• Parents' ability to consistently and adequately follow the advice offered by professionals in terms of feeding and suggestions made by health professionals;
• Parents' ability to instil boundaries and exercise control over the children and their inability to follow professional's advice in relation to this;
• AR was observed to be eating less and could be picking up on AI's eating patterns;
• RA's anxieties and the impact this is having upon the children;
Given the extent of these concerns, a grave outcome was contemplated for AI if the necessary changes were not made. In the light of the lack of progress achieved during the two year period of involvement of the local authority, legal action was then considered necessary by all professionals involved in the care of the children.
It is my professional opinion based on the work that I have completed with both parents to date, that both MA and RA have struggled to meet the physical, emotional and educational demands and needs of their children. However I have observed both parents showing a willingness and ability to make positive changes in respect of their children. Both parents interact with the children at an appropriate level most of the time, and they have worked hard to understand and meet the needs of their children prior and during contact. Therefore I recommend that within an intensive tailor package of support in place to meet the appropriate needs of the family then they could be reunited.
AI is a small slim girl with a small head circumference. Review of her chronology reveals a history of severe failure to thrive. AI also has evidence of developmental delay. Whilst genetic factors and a history of prematurely and low birth weight are likely to have contributed to her small stature and developmental delay, environmental factors and parenting difficulties are more likely than not to have impacted on her feeding, faltering growth and development. AI is a girl who requires more than good enough care with consistent positive parenting and good levels of stimulation if she is to achieve her potential in terms of physical, emotional and cognitive developments.
AR has lived in an environment where her parents have struggled to provide consistent care and routines in terms of feeding, language and play skills. AR is a small child who displays some delay in her language and play skills. This may reflect multi-factorial issues such as genetic factors affecting growth and development but importantly also the environment in which she has lived. The improvement in her development and self confidence and also an upturn in growth velocity support environmental factors as a cause of her difficulties. AR needs to live in an environment where there is consistency of care, routines and boundaries and a good level of stimulation. It is essential that carers are able to work in partnership with professionals to ensure that her needs are met.
We hereby certify that this judgment has been approved by Her Honour Judge Hudson.