Social workers in Brighton and Hove will learn the lessons from an adoption case described as “tragic” in the High Court.
The judge, Alison Russell, criticised Brighton and Hove City Council and four social workers involved in the case.
They sought to finalise the adoption of a two-year-old girl in the face of objections from her father who wanted to raise her with her brothers and sister.
The council’s executive director of children’s services Pinaki Ghoshal said: “We will reflect on this judgment and learn from it.
“We are committed to trying to improve our child protection work wherever possible. Where lessons need to be learned, we will learn them.
“Our prime concern continues to be to support the child. However, we are committed to doing everything we can to support all parties in this difficult situation.
“Confidentiality rules and the prospect of further legal proceedings with regard to this case mean that it would not be appropriate for us to comment further on this case.
“The safety and welfare of vulnerable children is always our top priority and our primary focus. All our child protection work is done with children’s best interests at heart.
“Our social work teams work very hard behind the scenes, often in very difficult circumstances, protecting hundreds of vulnerable children and helping families who are experiencing difficulties.
“We believe families should be able to stay together wherever possible, with appropriate support if necessary.
“The vast majority of the work of our children’s services team is dedicated to helping families stay together.
“When it comes to ensuring the safety and welfare of children we work to the principle that ultimately the rights of the child outweigh the rights of a parent.
“We have to weigh potential risks to a child against the stated interests of their birth parents, particularly in instances where children may have spent considerable lengths of time living outside the birth family and have thrived as a result.
“This is often a very complex process.
“Legal action to take children into care and/or pursuing adoption for them is strictly a last resort for us and is only pursued when we have serious concerns about a child’s welfare.
“Care and adoption orders can only happen when a judge believes that it is not safe for a child to continue living with its parents.
“The evidence we present to courts is always based on professional judgments made by highly trained staff and signed off by managers as the best way forward for a child at the time in question.
“Judges arrive at verdicts regarding a child’s future based on all the evidence before them, not just ours. Quite rightly, we ultimately have no control over this process.
“We always take court judgements with the utmost seriousness and act appropriately upon them.”
The council has agreed to fund an independent social worker to work with the family in the future.
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