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LETTER TO 'INTERNET TWINS' AUTHORITY PRAISES WORK OF STAFF

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The drama and passions aroused over the adoption wrangles of the so- ...
The drama and passions aroused over the adoption wrangles of the so-
called 'Internet Twins' was a distressing time 'for anyone who places a
high value on the welfare of children,' according to Association of
Directors of Social Services' president Moira Gibb.
But, in a letter to Flintshire's director of education and children's
services Keith McDonogh - and released to councillors in Flintshire
this week - she says that the way staff in the county handled
the affair was a tribute to social work at its very best.
According to Mrs Gibb, 'the fact that Flintshire kept a cool head
throughout, acting clearly and firmly on behalf of the two babies, was
an enormous credit to the authority and the social work principles on
which social services in the UK are built.' This in view of the intense
media pressures that were brought to bear on the county council and its
decision-making procedures.
Noting that it is often only mistakes by social services departments
that are reported, she goes on to hope that her letter will help redress
the balance, 'particularly in the extent to which you were able to
protect the children from the intrusive, and by and large prurient glare
of the media's spotlight.'
Full text of letter follows:
Keith McDonogh,
Director of Education, Children's Services and Recreation,
Flintshire County Council,
County Hall,
Mold,
CH7 6NN.
May 1 2001.
Dear Keith,
Now that the twins that were fostered recently by Flintshire County
Council have gone back to America, I thought I would take the
opportunity of writing to you on behalf of the ADSS formally to
congratulate you on the way you and your colleagues represented social
work and social services at their best, throughout the episode.
The intense national and international publicity that the case received
was such that, had you or your colleagues in the Council made the
slightest error of judgement, put one foot wrong or made a single
injudicious remark, you would have been subject to the most withering
criticism imaginable.
That sort of pressure itself can easily lead to the very mistakes that
have to be avoided. The fact that Flintshire kept a cool head
throughout, acting clearly and firmly on behalf of the two babies, was
an enormous credit to the authority and the social work principles on
which social services in the UK are built.
I know that many of our staff and colleagues feel that it is only
mistakes that attract the attention of our media. The absence of any
criticism of the fostering, legal and media decisions Flintshire took
cruelly underplays the amount of praise you deserved and should have
received - particularly in the extent to which you were able to protect
the children from the intrusive, and by and large prurient glare of the
media's spotlight.
I hope this letter helps to redress that imbalance. It was a most
distressing incident for anyone who places a high value on the welfare
of children. Colleagues in Flintshire helped to remind us how important
maintaining those values are.
Yours sincerely,
Moira Gibb,
President,
Association of Directors of Social Services.
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