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FOSTERING VERY BAD HABITS; Boy sent to family with criminal records.

SOCIAL workers who took a boy of nine from his family handed him over to foster parents with criminal convictions.

The youngster was put in care after child experts decided his real parents were not capable of looking after him. One of the reasons was that his father drinks.

Yet his foster mother was jailed for three years for malicious wounding - and his foster father has a drink-driving conviction.

In the last nine months the youngster has been cautioned for attempted arson and trying to steal from motor vehicles. His parents have complained to Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Queen over his fostering.

But the laws on child care court hearings have kept the affair secret.

A court insider said: "You can't get a job guarding warehouses if you have a criminal conviction, but it seems it is all right to foster impressionable youngsters."

A friend of the boy's family said: "When they realised the extent of the carers' criminal past they went ballistic and have been trying to get him back ever since." In January, Andrew Dent, special assistant to the Queen's Private Secretary, passed on their complaints to the Government. Downing Street advised them to try the Local Government Ombudsman.

A social service insider said: "People with criminal records are not always banned from fostering.

"The important thing is they declare their past misdemeanours so their suitability to foster can be properly assessed.

"That's exactly what the couple in this case did."
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 19, 1998
Words:245
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