Derbyshire County Council Caught Lying about Disabled Parent Discrimination
After taking my children to a public event held in the local church hall, I was referred to social services. Why? Because I casually mentioned I home school. The previous time I had been referred (for being disabled!) I turned down their offer of 'help', telling them I didn't need any help. On learning I was refusing the 'assistance' of 'abled' social workers and that..shock horror...I was actually living independently on my own and had done since I was 16, they tried to insist that a child protection team visit us at home when they discovered that I school independently too.
That's what you get for turning up in public with a disability, your children and a mind of your own.
I refused to let them in. In order for any authority to come into your home they need a warrant and they were going to have to come up with something better than home schooling to persuade me to let them in. I went to my lawyer and got him to write them a letter, asking them to state what their child protection concerns were in writing. Home education and disability can't be a 'child protection' issue as both of those are legal (only just - not forgetting the long history of ugenics by the authorities against disabled people).
Derbyshire County Council wrote back to my lawyer, stating:
"I confirm that we received a referral raising concerns regarding the arrangements for the home tuition of (my name) daughter, (daughter's name). The referral also raised the question as to the potential that (daughter's name) is 'caring' in some capacity for her mother." (14th July 2008).
The paragraph about them supporting me was also false. I had been to a few mother and baby groups that were public events and my daughter attended a nursery that was in a Surestart centre, also the local public nursery. That was all. If you went to toddler group would you consider that 'support'? But everything is 'support' when you have a disability.
Letter from Derbyshire County Council to my Lawyer - Although it is blurred due to a cheap camera, the 2nd paragraph says 'caring' in some capacity for her MOTHER.
They Had NEVER Seen My Daughter Doing Any Caring Duties for Me
I hadn't let them in without a warrant because home schooling is legal so they didn't visit me or the children. In the referral prior, because 'you're disabled' (to use their words), I mistakenly let them in twice. Each visit lasted approximately 20 minutes so the social worker concerned saw us for a total of 40 minutes. On both ocassions I sat on the living room sofa while I talked to her and my children played with toys on the floor. One was a year old and the other was six years old.. She never saw my children other than that and had never observed me ask them to do anything.
Clearly, the idea that my daughter was 'caring' for me was based purely on my physical appearance, the fact that I had cerebral palsy and it was noticable in my legs.
When I complained to Derbyshire County Council about disability discrimination, they wrote:
"When (son's name) was first born, workers had reported that (daughter's name) was helping you with the new baby. It is now accepted unreservedly that this report was meant in the sense that (daughter's name) was taking on the big sister role that little girls will often take on when a new baby joins the family. There was no suggestion that undue burden was being placed on (daughter's name) or any evidence at all to support any suggestion that (daughter's name was taking on a carer's role in relation to you."
That clearly was a LIE given the letter to my lawyer said 'Mother', not 'baby brother'. Did they think I can't read?
Like the child that gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar, their pathetic excuse was almost embarrassing. It reminds me of the time my daughter started getting up early to play computer games on my laptop. She didn't know I was onto her. I logged all her internet searches. When I told her the gig was up, she denied it, saying the cat must have walked across the keyboard.. I said
"The cat must be amazingly clever because he's been playing 'Dragon Wars!".
There was an awkward silence as she looked at me sheepishly, wondering how to wriggle out of it without actually owning up to what she'd done.
Derbyshire County Council's attempt to make excuses in light of written evidence reminded me of a child who has been called up for bad behaviour and wants to do anything to avoid taking responsibility.
Derbyshire County Council Blaming it on the Baby - Their Denial. They said Daughter was 'Caring' for me even though it's in Black and White.
When I Didn't Accept this Blatent Lie, Here's What the Ombudsman Said:
"Some of Ms S's comments and the observations of her staff on which they are based do imply that assumptions have been made about you based on your disability. Ms S says in her email that '(My name) appears to rely on (daughter's name) to carry out some caring duties for her. " The fact that it appears that (daughter's name) was caring for you suggests that this is based on assumption and that nobody asked you whether this was the case. I also think that one possible interpretation of this statement is that it is based on prejudice because you are said to rely on your daughter for help, implying your need is greater than other parents. Some of the other things that were said during home visits which you reported to me also suggested a degree of prejudice and a lack of understanding by those involved." (provisional report, 2008).
He didn't mention what the comments were in his report, but one was 'I want you to send your daughter to school now, it must be so difficult with your disability, trying to cope and you're just making it harder for yourself."
This was before I was reported for home schooling. I pointed out to her that it was a legal educational option and we had made our decision as a family, that the child was mine and it wasn't up to her. I also said the disabiity wasn't difficult, it was just me and I didn't need help with anything.
She told me they could send workers in to put the children to bed at night. I said I could already put them to bed, that I'd already been a single mother for years and what did she think I did all these years?
She got aggressive after I refused to allow strangers to put my children to bed when I can do it myself anyway
After the public event I attended when I was reported again for home schooling, only a short time after this horrible meeting, I put my foot down and said no more. You aren't going to come into my house again.
The ombudsman continued:
"The timing of the (referral) was triggered by your refusal of services because this was the point at which Ms S was concerned that your children were out of contact with the local authority."
So basically if you make an educational decision for your children and you try to live a peaceful, private family life you will be reported for not accepting services you don't want or need and if you're disabled they will blame your individual ideas and family values on your disability. For disabled parents, there is no such thing as the right to a family life or the peaceful enjoyment of your home because in their eyes we aren't the same as everyone else.
Ombudsman Saying Derbyshire County Council were Prejudiced Towards Me because of My Disability.
However, he concluded 'I had concerns that some Council Officers had made unthinking and insensitive remarks based on prejudism and their assumptions about your ability as a disabled parent. ...'
'I share your passionate belief that this is wrong and needs to be addressed. The council apologies, taken in the context of its commitment to disability training satisfy me that it has taken this issue seriously and is actively working to ensure that other disabled parents receive a quality service....I am proposing to take no further action."
What?!? He admits that they did discriminate against me without actually admitting it and then does NOTHING. In the final report, nothing was mentioned about their prejudice towards me and the report - published by the government - found they did not discriminate against me even though they did and its all on paper.
Since he mentioned them updating their disability training I asked him to prove it by sending me copies of the course that council workers take. He refused, telling me to launch a freedom of information request. I took that to mean they didn't actually update anything or the course material would incriminate them even further.