The misery of children finding nothing under the tree on Christmas morning while their mother slept off a hangover upstairs is just one of the heart-rending cases to feature in the latest batch of reports from the Child Care Law Reporting Project (CCLRP).
One of the children, a young girl, whose mother hit her and called her “a scruffy little knacker”, had run away from home to live with her grandfather but continued to fret about the welfare of her younger brother.
In a letter to the court she wrote: “I’m scared for my younger brother. Who is getting him dressed and bringing him to school?”
She told her social care leader that she wanted to live in foster care “because most of the time at home I’m being hit by my ma, she calls me a ‘scruffy little knacker, a disgrace and a scumbag’.”
The girl told her that for Christmas last year she had asked for new shoes, but when she got up at 9.30 “there were no presents under the tree”.
Her little brother got very upset because he thought that Santa had not come.
Their mother got up and told them to go back to bed, then they heard noises in the attic and when they went downstairs “there weren’t as many presents as we’d hoped for”.
Her mother had been out all of Christmas Eve night.
The girl said that her mother “drinks in the house all the time, there were always loads of parties”.
At one party, an adult sat on the sofa beside her, and then “touched her in her private parts and asked if she was ok”, the social care leader told the court.
She said her friends were “telling me to call Childline”.
She had last seen her father four years ago. He had sent her a Communion card which she thought her mother had ripped up.
The judge granted a full care order saying the child “has nowhere else to go”.
Recurrent themes of intergenerational substance abuse, deprivation, learning disabilities, sexual and physical abuse and serious mental health problems feature prominently in the 37 latest cases published by the CCLRP.
In one case the parents abandoned their opposition to an application for a care order when the court heard the children had been living in a house where there was no heating or food, a young girl ate baby formula from the tin because there was nothing else, and the floor was covered in rotten food and dog faeces.
Rats had been seen in the house. One child stank of urine. After three days of evidence the parents’ barrister conceded the Child and Family Agency case was “unassailable”.
Social services had been involved with the family for three generations.
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