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(Court of Appeal; Longmore, Moore-Bick and Wilson LJJ; 16 July 2010)
The children were placed in a short-term foster home as the mother had learning difficulties and there was evidence of neglect and some concerns about accidental physical harm and risk of sexual abuse. After leaving the heroin addict father, the mother started a new relationship. The guardian proposed two assessments of the mother: one a psychological assessment, the other a specialist parenting assessment. The judge permitted only one assessment and the guardian opted for the psychological assessment. A pessimistic parenting assessment was conducted by an allocated social worker.
There was evidence that the mother was refusing professional support and the local authority argued that it was unrealistic to consider that the children could return to live with the mother and proposed the adoption of all three children together. At a late stage the mother's advisers raised lack of specialist parenting assessment as an issue. An expert acknowledged that she would have recommended such an assessment and that the mother had been prejudiced by its absence. The judge made a care and placement orders. The local authority did not oppose mother's appeal.
Appeal allowed. The adoption required all avenues towards rehabilitation to have been reasonably been explored.
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