Fairly often, when a child is in care, there will be an adult in the birth family who the professionals involved in the case deem to be “OK”.

It could an older sibling, aunt, grandparent or (more often than is sane) the father. It is very rarely the mother.  This relative will present as reasonably articulate, concerned for the child in question and, often, onside with social workers and other professionals.

Almost without fail they turn out to be very far from OK and, in fact, turnout to be manipulative bullies.

Let’s look at the father:  Most likely he has been absent (if he hasn’t then he will be directly responsible for the circumstances in which his child came into care – which must have been pretty grim circumstances because contrary to popular belief social workers do not take kids into care for no reason. And even if they wanted to they would have to obtain a care order from a judge and have to prove the child was being abused or was at significant risk.

The reality is that one of the reasons the child if in care is because the mother, who is herself vulnerable (although this does not absolve her of responsibility), will have had a series of abusive relationships with men. The father of the child will be one of them. I don’t care how reasonable he might present.

Now, let’s look at the grandmother (usually maternal): Whatever the debate about nature and nurture the simple truth is we are by and large the product of our upbringing, especially the first three years of it. So, the mum, who looked after her child so badly that it had to be removed by the state, is very very unlikely to have had an upbringing was up to much…Hence the grandmother is unlikely to be the solution to the child in care’s problems.

And really this applies to all the significant family members in a child’s life…. dysfunctional families are exactly that.

Children are in care for a reason.

This is one reason why the “20 mile rule”, where kids are meant to be placed within 20 miles of their home town, is basically nonsense…but more on that another day.