Advice needed please

DGJ
Posts: 21
Joined: Wed Feb 12, 2014 1:15 pm

Advice needed please

Post by DGJ » Wed Feb 12, 2014 5:38 pm

Hi
Just looking for a bit of advice on a few matters.
My partner got a call from a SW in September asking if we were able to accommodate my cousins daughter. We agreed and a statement was written by SW stating that it was a private arrangement.
Since then the SS have applied for a PLO as the mother wanted A(cousins daughter) removed from us as when we asked for financial support from the Mother she was giving us very little, so we applied for child benefit and tax credits ourselves.
We have a holiday abroad at the end of February and SS have paid for the passport and flight for A. They have made an agreement up with the Mother that she has signed stating that A is to stay with us while assessments are completed and that she is to be allowed to join us on the holiday.
The assessments have now been completed and an SGO has been mentioned to us as it would secure A's long term future.
We have 3 children of our own and we have had to upgrade to a seven seater car, as well as buying a bunk bed. A came with very little clothes that were too small. The bunk bed we bought has since broken, so we have asked SS for help but I feel like I'm begging them.
This has been a financial burden on us and our family.
Now my questions are, Is this really a private arrangement as SS instigated the placement in the first place?
If this isn't a private arrangement then is it worth approaching SS to get fostering status if we are looking at pursuing an SGO.
Should we already be getting financial support from SS?
If we seek an SGO then who is responsible for the financial side of putting it through court?
Do we need to seek legal advice?

Any advice would greatly be appreciated.
Last edited by DGJ on Fri Feb 14, 2014 10:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:25 am

Re: Advice needed please

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Fri Feb 14, 2014 4:12 pm

Dear dazzj

You are correct in thinking that there is a strong argument to suggest that your grandchild should be treated as Looked After as the Local Authority were involved in the placement. From the information in your post it is likely that you would be entitled to backdated fostering allowance with the help from one of our : draft letter No 2.

It may be helpful for you to refer to the advice sheets on : becoming a foster carer, : support for relatives , applying for a : residence
and : special guardianship orders.

I hope this helps.

Best Wishes


Suzie

DGJ
Posts: 21
Joined: Wed Feb 12, 2014 1:15 pm

Re: Advice needed please

Post by DGJ » Fri Feb 14, 2014 10:00 pm

Thank you for your reply Suzie.

We have an appointment to see a solicitor next week as after reading through the advice sheets above, If we do approach SS and they agree that A should be classed as looked after will A then have to be moved as the full fostering assessment hasn't been completed in the 16 week time frame?

This is all very worrying as we feel that A is very settled and happy and we don't want to jeopardize it. But at the same time we feel that we need protections in place.

I have also since dug out the agreement that we signed, and it only states that we are not to allow contact between A and her mother. Nothing on it states that it is a private arrangement. This has always been something that they have said to us verbally.

Thanks again.

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David Roth
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Joined: Thu Aug 10, 2006 10:14 am

Re: Advice needed please

Post by David Roth » Wed Feb 19, 2014 2:30 pm

Hi dazzj

Just to follow on from Suzie's advice, it may be that you have to make a formal complaint in order to make the local authority recognise their responsibilities. Our Advice Sheet 25 takes you through how to do that: http://www.frg.org.uk/need-help-or-advice/advice-sheets

There are legal case law precendents which mean that when social workers play a major role in placing a child with family and friends carers, then the child should have looked after status, unless the local authority were very clear at the time of placement that this was not going to be a 'looked after' placement, and the carers made an informed decision to accept that. If you make a formal complaint, it will help if you quote the legal reference for these cases, and suggest that the social workers check it out with their legal section. The two most relevant cases are: R (SA) v Kent County Council [2011] EWCA Civ 1303; and London Borough of Southwark v D [2007] EWCA Civ 182

If they accept the case you are making (and they ought to), then you would have to be assessed as the girl's foster carer. They can give you temporary approval for 16 weeks to do this assessment, with an extra 8 weeks allowed if they don't finish it in time. They should pay you the full fostering allowance while they are carrying out this assessment. In your complaint, you could request that this allowance be backdated to the date the girl was placed with you.

Incidentally, private arrangements to raise a child are only possible between very close relatives, such as grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles and stepparents. An arrangement to raise a cousin's child could only be private fostering, in which case the local authority still has duties to monitor the child's welfare, although they wouldn't pay any fostering allowance to a private fostering arrangement. However, this is just an aside - your main focus should be on getting the local authority to recognise their responsibilities towards you as foster carers for the child.
David Roth
FRG Policy Adviser

DGJ
Posts: 21
Joined: Wed Feb 12, 2014 1:15 pm

Re: Advice needed please

Post by DGJ » Sat Mar 22, 2014 3:02 pm

Thank you for your posts,
Just an update we have seen a solicitor and they have indeed confirmed that A should be classed as "looked after".

Our solicitor has sent them a letter and the LA are still standing by there position that this is a "private arrangement".

There reasons for this are she was removed under police protection order and Mum agreed for A to come here.But LA agrees they dropped A in our care.

The LA's response is short yet confusing.

The La's view is not accepted, and so the solicitor has written to them again with further facts and also to propose Judical Review.

We are not entitled to legal aid and Solicitor has said they can get Legal aid under A name and we being her "Litigation friends" I didn't even know that was possible and cant find any information about it. Does anyone know anything about this. Thanks

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David Roth
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Re: Advice needed please

Post by David Roth » Wed Mar 26, 2014 10:57 am

This is a very good move by your solicitor! The application is being made by the child, because the financial support being requested is for her upkeep, and not to benefit you. However, as she is too young to participate in the proceedings herself, she can have a litigation friend, that is to say a nominated adult to conduct the proceedings on her behalf.
David Roth
FRG Policy Adviser

DGJ
Posts: 21
Joined: Wed Feb 12, 2014 1:15 pm

Re: Advice needed please

Post by DGJ » Wed Mar 26, 2014 12:12 pm

Thanks David, I'm hoping this gets resolved without court proceedings I cant see them saying no again with the facts and evidence we have sent them.Will post an update when i hear something next. Thanks for everyone's help.

DGJ
Posts: 21
Joined: Wed Feb 12, 2014 1:15 pm

Re: Advice needed please

Post by DGJ » Mon Apr 21, 2014 8:50 am

Well we finally got the outcome we should have had a long time ago the LA have decided that A should have been looked after from day one of coming to us and and they are going to back pay us.We have had our viability assessments and everything ok and the LA are talking about SGO after court proceedings with LA and A's parents. Can anyone tell me a child on a child protection plan or looked after gets help from virtual schools eg one to one if behind etc.. Will this continue if we get an SGO.? Thanks

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David Roth
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Re: Advice needed please

Post by David Roth » Thu Apr 24, 2014 11:01 am

Hi DGJ

Firstly, congratulations on getting the local authority to agree on the child's legal status, and to backdate payments to you. You obviously made your case very clearly to them.

In answer to your question, I'd like to differentiate between a Virtual School and Virtual School Head. Virtual Schools are a new concept, found more in America than here, where children learn from home but connect with their school or teacher online. There is no actual school building that they go to in order to learn. However the post of Virtual School Head (or VSH) in the UK is not connected to this way of learning. It is a post that every local authority is obliged to have - the VSH is the person in the local authority who is responsible for promoting the education of all the looked after children whom the local authority is responsible for. Once the child you are raising is no longer looked after, the VHS would no longer have responsbility for them.

However, there some advantages which still apply for children who were in care but left care under RO or SGO, or to be adopted. They should still be prioritised for places in any school that is over-subscribed. And they would still be eligible for the pupil premium. In their case, decisions about how to spend this extra funding will be made by the school, not by the VSH who decides on the spending for looked after children - there is a thread in the Education folder which provides more details about the Pupil Premium.
David Roth
FRG Policy Adviser

DGJ
Posts: 21
Joined: Wed Feb 12, 2014 1:15 pm

Re: Advice needed please

Post by DGJ » Thu Apr 24, 2014 7:22 pm

I don't know if we on about same thing at all David all i know is A gets one to one help 4 times a week from a company call V**t**l S**ools and gets this because she was on a child protection order but will get more now she looked after she needs this help as is behind in school by atleast 3 years and i see nothing in this company's guidance about helping child under RO or SGO. Which i don't think is right that means A will lose vital support if we get an SGO.Don't really know how to approach it because SGO is more permanent for A and also gives us PR but then she looses this vital support which she receives, How do i approach this ?

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