Looked after Child??

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confusedinfrance
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Looked after Child??

Post by confusedinfrance » Sat Feb 16, 2013 9:41 am

Due to yet another round of time wasting tactics displayed by the intransigent, deceitful and underhanded local authority I am dealing with, I am seeking advice as to whether my granddaughter would be deemed as having been a "looked after child" before she was placed with us.
Basically, following a heated argument between my son and his partner, at which the local police were in attendance, and at which it was alleged that his partner grabbed my granddaughter on her upper arm, causing bruising and marking, my son took her to the local hospital casualty department. He was of the opinion that "B", my granddaughter, had self harmed herself and then claimed that his partner had inflicted the damage, somewhere along the line the Social Services became involved, and to precis the rest of this chapter, I got the trick phone call saying that either I took custody of her or she would be placed in care, as I was unable to leave from France on that particular day, it was agreed that I would pick her up several days later, and Social Services would arrange for her to be detained at the hospital until I could collect her, in the meantime my son could visit her but was prohibited from taking her out of the hospital, on whose authority I am a little unsure of at this moment as I await sight of her hospital notes perinent to that period. Personally I am sceptical as to whether the hospital staff could impose such a restriction, so I am of the opinion that it must have been instigated by Social Services, and if that was the case, and they have taken her "under their wing", does that constitute her being a LAC.
The reason I am asking this is during the two plus years she has been with us, and the ensuing uphill struggle to obtain financial assistance, I have constantly been told, that as she was not a LAC there is no obligation for the Local Authority to offer any financial support, they are merely paying me "out of the goodness of their hearts". Many thanks in advance if anyone can clarify this point.

confusedinfrance
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Re: Looked after Child??

Post by confusedinfrance » Sat Feb 16, 2013 8:24 pm

There has recently been a change of management at my L.A., and it appears that the new head of department is basically a right bloody tyrant. As we live in France the system for schooling, medical care etc is rather different. For example we have to pay, approximate figures, 80 euro a month, top up medical insurance, 1200 euro a year school fees, 800 euro a year transport to school costs, and a myriad of other small expenses, such as third party liability for students, if you don't pay she doesn't go to school, but that is currently only about 30 euro a year. So basically in 2011 the L.A., under the previous manager paid me something like 2000 euro, to cater for these extra expenses, which was noted to be reviewed on a yearly basis. In the meantime and subsequent to grandmother X's appeal court success, I managed to negotiate an increase in the weekly allowance up to age related at foster care rate, which was peppered with conditions of no further one off payments. It gets a bit complicated but in essence I never agreed to their terms and conditions, they just forged ahead and paid the increase, with a degree of back pay, which yet again they paid to an incorrect date, and that will be my next line of grievance with them. So come August 2012 I am thinking should I be looking for my annual review, so I approached the new wicked witch and asked if she could sort things out. It really started to go downhill from thereon in, I can't abide inefficient organisations and discourteous staff, who don't even have the decency to acknowledge correspondence that you send them, and this is now what I am dealing with. Instead of an e-mail response some three weeks later I receive a letter by snail mail, saying that possibly the best alternative is a financial review, so since October 2012 I have answered all their questions, submitted various forms, detailing extra expenses I incur here in France, then the social worker who was collating all the facts ups and leaves, so I am left in limbo once again.
Having made some tentative e-mail enquiries to the witch, unanswered again, I then receive a letter from one of her minions, telling me what the age related allowances are. Again cutting it short again I make telephone contact with her and am basically told that's it mate, peppered with detrimental comments such as " she's not there to pay the mortgage", when I ask about the precedent set in 2011 by them appreciating and paying extra expenses, I am informed, that was a one off, how can that be the case if they have told me it will be reviewed yearly. I think that this was a time wasting exercise they had no intention of coming up with any further assistance whatsoever.
On the court paper regarding the residency order there is mention that she is supposed to maintain contact with her parents, which until now I have financed, both parents unemployed, you all know the scenario, no money. I raised this matter with the minion who informed me that if I put £10 a week aside from the allowance I am receiving, "surely that would cover the costs of bringing her back two or three times a year. When I went to school 52 x £10 amounts to £520, as we live 8 hrs drive from Calais, that is an absolutely ludicrous solution and that figure would not cover one return journey.
We have had a plethora of misinformation, lies and false promises since day one of this whole fiasco, some may think that I am lucky to be receiving what I am, believe me it's better than the £8 a night they were fobbing me off with, but the reality is that we do not live in the UK, are unable to access UK benefits, unable to access French benefits, [ not paid in to the system ], we lived here before the child was placed here, so the fact that the LA have not done their homework leaves me at a financial disadvantage, because they don't feel the need to honour their verbal promises of proper financial support.

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Help 1870
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Re: Looked after Child??

Post by Help 1870 » Sun Feb 17, 2013 1:14 am

Hello Confusedinfrance.

I have to say the issue of whether the child is or isnt LAC at the moment is irrelevent. With a RO in force the child cannot be LAC now and the previous legal status really has little to do with it. If the child was under SGO it might be a different fish.

Im intrigued as to who gave you permission to take the child to France? Part of the RO is you cannot take a child out of the country for longer than 1 month. Unless of course there was agreement at the time of the court hearing that allowed you to do that.

If the agreement was made that contact was to be promoted this must have been done knowing it would be complicated and expensive given your country of residence. Everything must have been taken into account with you being in agreement with the plans. If thats not longer suitable then you will have to approach the courts and ask for a variation of the contact arrangements.

On the subject of allowance, it seems that you are probably getting the allowance you are entitled to as well as the odd extra payments. This may sound harsh, but as many kinship carers are getting the bare minimum and more getting nothing you should perhaps feel lucky that you are getting a regular allowance. If some or all of the allowance has to go toward the cost of education then that unfortunately is a side effect of you chosing to reside in a country where education is not provided by the state.

I dont think the 2011 payment set a precedent. It was simply a discretionary payment made to meet a need at that time.

confusedinfrance
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Re: Looked after Child??

Post by confusedinfrance » Sun Feb 17, 2013 9:59 am

I am merely trying to cover all points by asking about this LAC situation, as I said previously, that keeps cropping up every time the subject of finance is muted.
I can't comprehend how a RO payment is discretionary, albeit I concede that the instigation of any such payments, might be, at the inception of the care of the child, but I was under the impression that the case detailed elsewhere on this site, cleared up a lot of the misconception regarding child care on the cheap, and as such could be used as a benchmark for all carers in the same situation.
Yes what I am getting is what I am entitled to, but the odd extra payment is not forthcoming, and that is what I am trying to achieve at this moment in time. With respect I disagree regarding the setting of precedents, in 2011 they, the LA, recognised, in writing, that there were special circumstances regarding financial assistance, and consequently made a lump sum payment to cater for such circumstances, with a codicil that it was to be reviewed annually. I don't think you can apply an annual review to a one off payment, it just seems a contradiction in terms.
Regarding the child's removal to France obviously that item was dealt with by the court on the day, and everything must have been considered with me being in agreement with the "plans". You must appreciate that I, possibly like a lot of other people, were a bit, shall we say "green", at the time this was all transpiring. Any agreements regarding travelling, and any other expenses plus the "support package", were made on a purely verbal basis, after all, a senior social worker, they don't lie, do they??. As for any "plan", that was conspicuous by it's absence.
I really do sympathise with those that are not getting what they should be, but I am at odds to comprehend why there is supposedly, the existence of the have and have nots, is it really conceivable that allowances are allocated on the basis of a postcode lottery, surely what one person is entitled to is available to someone in the same situation, carte blanche.
Again you are correct in raising the issue pertaining to where I chose to live, and I would respond to that comment with the fact that when I moved here in 2006, we didn't have a 14 year old child attached to us, therefore the education system was of little interest to me at that juncture. If anybody should have researched the matter it should have been the organisation that were responsible for her removal from the UK.
In the meantime I am made to feel like some latter day melange of Scrooge and Fagin, always seeking to squeeze a few more bob out of the hard pressed Local Authority. It really makes me laugh when you see the waste that this particular authority seem to delight in proliferating, the amount of agency staff they employ beggars belief, surely this sort of occupation needs years of experience, and not something you can ring up "rent an idiot", and obtain, but that is precisely what is happening, I must have had contact with at least 40 different people over the past couple of years, most of whom have moved on.
The independent social worker who came here to assess the living conditions has informed me she won't carry out any more assessments for this LA, as they are only interested in removing children from the "immediate family", what a benchmark that is.
The minion, who was detailed to deal with me, in my last contact with them, confessed she had only been in this particular post for five minutes, yet she obtains the title of Senior Practitioner, Specialist Children's services. When quizzed about the course of action they would follow should my granddaughter be returned to their responsibility, I was informed they would place her with a "foster carer", I replied "so you are willing to pay a total stranger £176 a week, plus the reward element of a further £199 a week, instead of giving me a fraction of that". Her answer was that they don't pay nearly £400 a week to foster carers, that's a ludicrous amount, a foster carer will only get a maximum of £199, they don't pay both figures, it took me 20 minutes of "discussion", and a referral to their own website where it clearly states the opposite to her interpretation, all of which culminated in "ooh I'll have to check up on that". These people should be conversant with the regulations etc. before they are let loose on the public, and not rely on the likes of me to enlighten them to the correct interpretation.
Anyway I'm rambling off on a tangent, I will continue my crusade, and I would encourage others receiving little or nothing to press for at least the Age Related allowances at Foster Care Rate, as they are not allowed to disciminate.

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Help 1870
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Re: Looked after Child??

Post by Help 1870 » Sun Feb 17, 2013 11:24 am

I personally think you are barking up the wrong tree with the LAC thing. RO allowance is discretionary because thats what it says in the leglislation. You would have to challenge the legislation to change that but at you are already getting the allowance I dont see much point.

I think the case you are referring too is the case against KCC itself. That case was regarding SGO. It covered 2 key points, the amount of allowance as well as the circumstances under which a child should/shouldnt be LAC. The legal status of a child prior to SGO can have an impact. If the child was LAC then LA's have a duty to carry out an assessment for support, inc financial. There is no automatic right for children who were not LAC, its the same as RO's...discretionary. Although guidance states that just because a child isnt/wasnt LAC they shouldnt be disadvantaged.

It seems as if KCC is doing exactly what they agreed upon. they paid the initial lump sum with an agreement to review annually which is what they are doing. Reviewing but with the result they are deciding not to pay again.

In terms of education I do think you are wrong in saying that "if anybody should have researched the matter it should have been the organisation that were responsible for her removal from the UK". You also had a responsibility as well as a far greater ability to discover the information than a SW who was living in a different country seperated by a large body of water. The court would have wanted to know the plans for a childs education, whatever their age, and if education was on a paid for basis that would have been of interest to them. I appreciate you were a 'bit green' at the time but surely not so green to not know that a child should be in school, have checked out what schools were available and discovered the cost of them.

It is very much a postcode lottery where allowances are concerned, to the distress and anger of many kinship carers. A good local authority will abide by the intentions of the leglislation and support children and carers, a bad one will abide by the letter and use their 'discretion' as they can do.

Yellis214
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Re: Looked after Child??

Post by Yellis214 » Fri May 24, 2013 11:37 pm

I have been looking after a child now for 3 years, and because he wasn't in care before he asked to live with me I have battled with SS for 3 years and I am still doing so! Because SS failed the child, I have written acknowledgement of this SS said he isn't a LAC but they will class him as that! Nice of them! If I had left him where he was he would of ended up in care! Because he isn't on the LAC list I am being penalised for getting what he deserves.. SS have asked me to help them with a process but I feel they are asking me this as I went to see all heads of dept to say I was going to see a solicitor as they have failed from Day 1.

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David Roth
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Re: Looked after Child??

Post by David Roth » Tue May 28, 2013 1:37 pm

There may be good news for carers with a residence order, where the child was placed with them by the local authority. Solicitors Ridley and Hall reached a settlement with Derbyshire council over such a case, on the brink of a judicial review hearing.

Each case is different, and has to be decided on the facts of the particular case. While there is still no guarantee that anyone with an RO will get the full allowance from their council, this could help you to make your case. You can read here what the solicitor involved, Nigel Priestley, has said: http://www.grandparentslegalcentre.co.u ... vents/129/
David Roth
FRG Policy Adviser

confusedinfrance
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Re: Looked after Child??

Post by confusedinfrance » Tue May 28, 2013 6:41 pm

Surely this is old news, the other case involving this practice, was in 2011 / 2012, and involved KCC and "Granny X", just one mention of that made my LA suddenly cough up with the age related maintenance allowance at FC rate. More interesting is the same solicitors report involving the London borough of Tower Hamlets and the claim that it was ruled that they acted unlawfully by not paying the reward element.

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David Roth
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Re: Looked after Child??

Post by David Roth » Wed May 29, 2013 9:07 am

confusedinfrance, the cases you refer to both concerned family and friends foster carers.

The Kent case which I think you are referrring to confirmed that where the local authority has made the arrangement for a child to live with family and friends carers, then unless the carers have given informed consent to a different legal arrangement the child should be considered looked after and the carers paid a fostering allowance.

The Tower Hamlets case confirmed what is stated in the family and friends care statutory guidance, that family and friends foster carers should be entitled to receive fees and enhancements to the allowance, on the same basis as any other foster carer.

This case is different because the carers who are to receive the backdated payments are not foster carers. They have residence orders. The law is different for different legal arrangements.

It should be noted that as the council gave way before the case went to judicial review, no judicial decision was made, and therefore no case law precedent was set. However, it seems likely that the council would only have given in if they thought they were going to lose the case.

Carers with a residence order for children who were placed with them by the local authority, and are not being paid an allowance or feel the allowance is inadequate, could find it worth having a consultation with the solicitor from this case, to consider whether they have a case worth pursuing.
David Roth
FRG Policy Adviser

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