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Help with kinship care

Posted: Mon Feb 19, 2018 1:12 pm
by DL123
Hi There,
I'll try to keep this as brief as I can. My self and my partner have been approached to be kinship carers for my stepsons twin babies. Long story short my stepson met a young lady and had a short relationship with her he was very serious about her but she wasn't him and chose to go back to her ex. Fast forward about 6 months and he gets a call off a social worker asking him to provide DNA for twin girls who are under an interim care order and with foster carers. He provides it and he is the father of the girls.He is having supervised contact twice weekly while undergoing an assessment for him to get custody of them. Myself and his Dad have also been approached to care for them as, I think "kinship carers" although no body has actually told us. We have had a positive viability assessment and are waiting for the DBS checks to come back. I'd really like some help with knowing what will happen next as apart from knowing that my stepson will not be recommended to have the girls I have no idea. We have also since found out that the girls Mum has 7 children already in long term care and her partner has been convicted of assaulting one of the children.
Any advice is appreciated.

Re: Help with kinship care

Posted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:20 pm
by ied53
It is likely they will assess you as foster carers in the first instance. They will ask very intrusive questions and want references etc. If they agree you are suitable the children will be placed with you. They will probably want you to go for a care order to get them out of the care system. Probably Special Guardianship Order (SGO) or Child arrangement Order (CAO) . I have SGO it gives us more control and we have over riding parental responsibility essentially we make all the decisions . With CAO it is shared PR so you need to share decisions and that can cause friction with the birth parents (BP) especially in your case the Birth Mother (BM) . What you need to remember this is for a life time ( until age 18 Legally) You will be the parents effectively . it will be stressful and your life will change your plans for the future will be gone . You are not as young as you used to be so you will need some very good friends or family to help out , I guarantee they will all say yes and the reality is often very different . Think long and hard don't let heart rule your head. Had SGO 11 yrs the girls nearly 13 years and I love it x

Re: Help with kinship care

Posted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 3:13 pm
by DL123
Thanks IED that's helpful.
The twins BM left them in the hospital after they were born and we've since found out she has 7 other children in care so I don't see any issues with her to be honest. My stepson is actually quite accepting of the face that he possibly won't get custody of them and seems happy with them being with us. I was just wondering what kind of contact he would be able to have as social worker asked us if we'd be ok to supervise the contact which we are but wondered would this be in our home and he could see them when he likes as long as he's not left alone? We have 2 children of our own so yes aware of the commitment needed and are tentatively looking forward to doing it again to be honest..

Re: Help with kinship care

Posted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 6:15 pm
by ied53
Personally and we were also advised that open visiting is not in the children's best interests . Most of the kinship families I know have restricted contact of course it depends on the circumstances . Some have as little as 4 times a year . we had 2 hours every 8 weeks . You need to be mindful that the children need to feel they belong with you and secure . Don't start with too much you may find it hard to keep up with and this is going to be forever . Do remember that you also need to live a "normal life" and have time for your own children . The children's services are likely to recommend a level of contact. But I would also bear in mind your stepson may well" loose interest ". In the children especially when it comes to contributing to costs. You may get an allowance for SGO it is likely to be for 2 years and then will be means tested . Most LA are understandably tight fisted (lol).

Re: Help with kinship care

Posted: Thu Feb 22, 2018 2:49 pm
by Suzie, FRG Adviser
Dear DL123,

Welcome to the friends and family discussion forum. I can see that Irene has given you some good advice. I will just give you and outline and suggest things to read.

You say there are care proceedings. Here is our advice sheet about care proceedings You are being considered as a long term carer for the twins. At the end of the care proceedings the judge will be deciding who will be caring for the twins permanently.

First, the court will decide whether either of the parents can provide “good enough” parenting. From what you say, it sounds like this is unlikely. If the parents are ruled out, then the court will look at you as a connected person (friend and family carer) or anyone else in the friends and family network. This is because the law says that children should be brought up in their family.
Only if you were not suitable and there were no other placements within the family or friend network, then the court will consider adoption.

Your assessment
You are having a fostering assessment and have passed the first part (the viability assessment) which is very good news. There will now be a more in-depth part of the assessment. I recommend that you read through our advice sheet 22-about friends and family fostering assessments as it outlines what questions a social worker will ask and what else to expect.

If you pass your assessment what happens next?

You are likely to be advised to apply for a long term order (within the care proceedings).
As Irene says, this is most likely to be a special guardianship order as it gives you enhanced legal parental responsibility for the twins. This means you can make nearly all of the decisions about the upbringing of the twins without needing to consult with the parents. It is also considered to be a permanent order, generally, because it is more difficult for the parents to overturn the order. The parents still keep parental responsibility and their contact with the children will also be considered by the court.
There is also more support that MAY be available to special guardians. You can also ask to be assessed for discretionary support such as a special guardianship order allowance-which is means tested and other types of support.
See page 39 onwards of our advice sheet DIY Special guardianship orders .


For information about other legal arrangements and support have a look at our advice sheets 21 A and B.

I have touched on your questions and suggested a lot of reading! If you have any questions, please post back or call our advice line on 0808 801 0366.

Best wishes,

Suzie

Re: Help with kinship care

Posted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 10:36 am
by DL123
Hi Suzie,

Thank you for the reply.
We met with the SW yesterday and we now know that Dad hasn't been recommended and Children's services are planning on placing with us. I was told it would be under a private fostering arrangement and CS would then pay for us to have legal advice with regards to an SGO. I have some concerns around the financial side. Have you any advice how to approach this as I'm finding it difficult partly which is down to us having to make structural changes to our house to accommodate the girls which is of course a cost that I hadn't factored in when we brought it.

Re: Help with kinship care

Posted: Wed Feb 28, 2018 7:48 pm
by ied53
Sorry if the children's services are placing the children and you have had an assessment ( even of just viability) whey are they calling this a private arrangement?? It would be private if you took the twins or we asked by the parents to have them. You need legal advice BEFORE you commit to anything. Please do call the advice line .

Re: Help with kinship care

Posted: Thu Mar 01, 2018 2:27 pm
by DL123
Hi IED,

I thought the same with regards to a private fostering agreement? I'm really not sure what's going on and I'm starting to feel the SW doesn't either. It's so frustrating as the girls are now over 5 months old and close to the 26 weeks time frame.

Thanks.

Re: Help with kinship care

Posted: Fri Mar 09, 2018 11:50 am
by Suzie, FRG Adviser
Dear DL123,

Irene is quite right to question why children services are saying this is a private fostering arrangement. The twins are under interim care orders so are “Looked after” children. If the plan is for the twins to be placed with you before you the special guardianship order is granted, then you should be foster carers. The court isn't going to let the court orders expire (so there are no orders).

As you intend to apply for a special guardianship order, it is crucial that the twins remain “looked after” until you have the order in place. So do not be tempted to get a child arrangements order, for example.
It is important in case you ask for an assessment for support under special guardianship regulations (children services MUST assess if the children were looked after immediately before the sgo was made). To access support from the adoption support fund, children must have been looked after immediately before the special guardianship order was made. Here is information about the adoption support fund.

Ask the social worker to confirm in writing the legal position of the twins as I think she may have made a mistake.

You should also be asking for the assessment for support before the special guardianship order is made. This is because the court will be able to scrutinize what’s been offered and you will have more leverage. You can get your solicitor to look over it as well.

You mention the cost of making structural changes to the home so that you can accommodate the twins. Are children’s services contributing to the costs of this in anyway? Here is our FAQ about asking for support to help towards accommodation costs.

I hope this advice helps but if you have any questions please post back.

Best wishes,
Suzie