Thursday 9 July 2009

Just Another Burden on the Welfare State

Lately, I've needed some extra money and I also felt the urge to be verbally abused and perhaps even assaulted by a feral teenager, so I asked my agency to get me some extra work with teenagers in care whilst still working in Supported Housing for young adults.

I was sent to a home I've been to many times and where I'm not very popular with the girls that live there, on account of the fact that I try and enforce boundaries and discipline to the best I can within such a constraining system. One of the girls, Sammie(see one of Aprils posts for more on her), 14, was particularly verbally abusive and aggressive when I arrived for a twenty four hour shift the other day. I walked in to the lounge where she was ensconced on a beanbag in front of a large plasma T.V. flicking through the hundreds of channels available for her entertainment. There was a new member of staff that I hadn't met before and who got up and introduced herself to me as I entered the lounge. We sat and chatted quietly whilst Sammy gnawed on some turkey twizzlers or some other kind of junk food, all I know is that she definitely wasn't eating fruit or vegetables and judging by how even more obese she was since the last time I was here it's plain to see she is still being allowed to self destruct whilst ostensibly being cared for. This goes on in many, many care homes, this is not an abberation.

Anyway, after about five minutes of talking to Jenny, the new care worker, Sammie became enraged and threw her shoe at her and screamed, "Stop flirting with Winston you fat f**king slag Jenny, he'd never f**k a dog like you." Just for the record, Jenny was in no way flirting with me. Of course, like so much verbal abuse like this nothing ever happens and there are no consequences beyond asking the teenager to not speak like that in future or holding back the daily one pound bribe for good behaviour, it's not called a bribe though, it's called an incentive and you can also get them for 'choosing' to go to school or cleaning your room etc. etc. However, as there are no real conseqeunces for verbal abuse it is incessant but it's not as upsetting as being spat on or hit. That's definitely worse. More about that another time.

Now, many people will say when hearing this anecdote about Sammie that she probably had a tough and challenging childhood. Well,let's consider that. Was she physically or sexually abused? No. Was she being neglected? Judging by her weight when she arrived no. Is she from a poor or underclass background as so many people presume all kids in care are? No, in fact her parents are middle class and not at all poor.

So, just how did the likes of Sammie end up in care? Well, its all down to section 20 of the Children's Act 1989 which allows for parents to voluntarily put their children in care should they not be able to cope with them. Now, in the case of Sammie her parents were unable to discpline her or set her any boundaries as a young child and when she became a teenager she was uncivilised and bullied and hit her parents, unable to cope they turned to social services. As a result of Sammie's parents inability to parent her, you the taxpayer are paying around 2,500 pounds a week to provide Sammie with care (if you could call it that). Meanwhile, in a few weeks time Sammie's parents are jetting off to India with her little brother, where they go every year, as well as at least one other foreign holiday. Sammie is jealous because this is the first year she can't go. Sammie, despite her horrific behaviour is still a child and feels very rejected by her parents. Being dumped in a care home has made her behaviour worse not better.

There are thousands of kids under section 20 care orders who should not be accomodated and spoilt (as oppossed to cared for) with taxpayer's money. Many of them are dumped in care homes when Mummy or Daddy meet a new partner and the teenager can't cope with the new step-parent and the relationship becomes conflictual. I have no problem with the state offering counselling and support to families to help them communicate better or improve parenting techniques but the state should not be giving parents an opt out clause because they either have no idea how to discipline their child or because they've met a new partner and their teenager is jealous. The only people whose interests this serves are the private sector care homes (paid for with tax payer's money)and the well paid social services bureuacracy that maintains and monitors this system. The one group of people who don't benefit from any of this are the teenagers suppousedly being looked after. The state is complicit in assisting parents to abandon their children by keeping section 20 of the care order on the statute books and it is costing the taxpayer millions every year.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this. I had no idea. Please please continue to blog and get a book out. I would look forward to this. If the newspapers were doing their job we would know about these things.


katrina said...

Winston, I've been wondering about this sort of abuse for a while. I'm pretty sure I know what would happen if a carer or social worker or support worker spat at a client or called them names or threw things at them. Doesn't anything ever happen when clients do that to the people working for them? Could you have them charged with assault? Would you ever have them charged with assault?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps if the parents were made to pay a substantial amount of the costs it would make them more likely to stand up to their spoilt brats.Hit them where it hurts.It is disgusting that they can swan off and leave everything to the taxpayer.Perhaps these people should be outed locally too,perhaps peer pressure would force them to get tough.
You end up hating the kid when it's not really the kids fault.

Alistair said...

I agree with Rachel - It came as a shock to me to find out that parents had the option of handing their children over to state care if they tired of them. Please keep up the good work.

WinstonSmith33 said...

Hi Katrina,

Most care companies try and encourage us not to 'criminalise' the teenagers. If you have any awareness of the uselessness of the Youth Offending Service, which actually bribes and rewards youth delinquency then you just couldn't be bothered having the teenage scamps charged. I will be writing about Youth Offending Teams at a later date and how useless they are and how they work contrary to common sense. There is a reason that youth offeneders have a very high rate of re-offending and it is because most of them recieve very little in the way of consequences or deterrents for their anti-social and feral behaviour.

Jimbo said...

Hi Winston,

I'm currently training as a mentor for the Yoof Offending Service and I've read your posts with great interest. It's going to be interesting to try and see if I can influence these kids in a positive direction.

Please keep posting! It's very important to have an understanding of what's actually going on and I'm going to have my shot at making the world a better place. Only this morning I got a yoof off of my sofa and into a proper house. Here's hoping....

katrina said...

So, anyone who works with these clients just has to put up with verbal and physical assault?

halojones-fan said...

Of course, that's the grim irony of modern times...that being overweight is a sign of neglect and poverty!

Louise said...

I was wondering whether 'Sammie' had been tested for Prader-Willi Syndrome.

sebastiandangerfield said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
North Northwester said...

From top to bottom, personal responsibility has been nationalised and as such is as well provided for and cherished as all the other nationalised products.

Many of my clients - on Job seeker's Allowance or Income Support - regularly fail to sign on. That's all they have to do once a fortnight to keep their income coming in and the roof over their heads and thier families' heads is to spend ten or twenty minutes a fortnight telling the state they're alive and in the case of JSI that they've read the jobs section of the local paper in the last few days.

And they still muff it.

So we in the welfare business have to expend a great deal of energy and time getting their tiny minds back on the dead straight tram tracks of signing on and getting their giros cashed and their rent paid if they're drunken or disorderly or unco-operative enough not to have a council home or a housing association place.

We could be spending longer looking after the temporarily workless or homeless and the genuinely incapable - but we have to deal again and again with the lazy sods who can't set their expensive mobile phones' diaries to beep every two weeks to tell them to sign on.

Keep on blogging - you are not alone.

Hogdayafternoon said...

I too thought this sort of child minding service had passed. In 1975 there was a female of 15 in a childrens home I used to work part time in, that was so lodged. Her parents were both well established school teachers but apparently `couldn't cope with her`. She was a pretty good kid as far as we were concerned and I always wondered how the hell she ended up in there amongst some real prize horror-cases.

neil said...

Where have you gone? I visit your blog every couple of days in search of some words of wisdom - they are very good.
Please keep it going. What a tremendous insight. Why is the press not covering this sort of thing?

WinstonSmith33 said...

Hi Neil,

Ill be back very shortly. I've had a lot of stress and had to take some time off work. I couldnt even bear writing about things lately as I just had to detach. I'll be posting an excellent 2 or 3 parter over the coming days.