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Facebook: A Useful Tool To Be Used To Search For Missing Parents
Social workers should consider using Facebook to track down missing parents in order to inform them of care proceedings, according to a family court judge.
The cancellation of a court hearing for the adoption of a four year old boy, brought the importance of social media to the attention of Justice Holman.
The mother of this specific case was no longer residing in the UK, and despite social services’ attempts to track her via the relevant embassy, she was untraceable. However, the partner of the child’s father, had been in contact with the mother via Facebook just days before the hearing. It was noted that the council had made no other efforts to track down the mother, other than via the embassy which the judge deemed as “deeply regrettable”.
The judge said it was “absolutely mandatory” that the mother was given chance to participate and that Facebook should be used in future to trace a parent whose whereabouts are unknown.
“There is absolutely no doubt that even though a placement order was made, the mother, who retains parental responsibility for her child, is someone to whom notice of this adoption application was required to be given,” Holman said.
Both Manchester City Council and Cafcass had doubts surrounding the claim that the mother could easily have been found on Facebook, as they had also tried to track her via the social media site, but had no luck in finding her. The father’s partner responded to this claim, saying that this was due to the mother changing her name just days before the hearing.
The judge said: “If the account by the partner is a true one, it seems to follow that each of the local authority and the guardian could, in fact, relatively easily themselves have established a line of communication with the birth mother through Facebook.”
In response to this, Manchester City Council said that has no rules in place that prevented social workers from using Facebook in this way.
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