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(Family Division; Hedley J; 28 November 2007)
In a case concerning a child whose neonatal injuries had left severely disabled, in need of high level and long-term personal care, the court considered what care it would be reasonable to expect a parent to give in the context of a major and lifelong disability. A single parent did not expose herself to a compulsory state intervention in family life simply on the grounds that a particular childs needs were beyond the capacity of one parent, however assiduously she devoted herself to the care of the child (except where a child could properly be said to be beyond parental control). The mother in the instant case had had to deal with proper demands from her other children, housing difficulties, an inadequate trial of home placement that had not been a fair test of her capacity to parent, and had had insufficient support from the authorities. However, the threshold had been established: the mother had not been sufficiently cooperative with professionals, had not faced up to the true needs and demands of the child, lacked the requisite skills to stimulate the child, did not attach proper importance to meticulous hygiene, and did not appreciate that her failure to deal properly with issues of domestic violence exposed the child to risk. However, the court would view with skepticism and alarm any care plan that did not make provision for the fullest involvement of the family.
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