SGO advice

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Zowweeee
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Aug 14, 2019 11:04 am

SGO advice

Post by Zowweeee » Tue Aug 20, 2019 10:14 am

Hi,

A brief summary of my situation.
I have a half sister 20 years younger than me (I'm late 40's) who has always lived a very chaotic life, this has included issues with alcohol and substance abuse which has escalated during the last 12 months. She has two children of 10 and 3 (different Dads)

The 10 year old has been living with his paternal Grandparents for almost 12 months (they are due in court for a Child Arrangements Order in September). The 3 year old has been on a CPP for the same amount of time with concerns initially of neglect then later emotional harm (Mum takes her with her to do drugs).

My sister and I had not had a particularly close relationship but have always seen each other at family events. In late March our Dad let me know that she was struggling considerably and would I talk to her, i reached out to her and she asked me to part of her safety plan for the 3 year old. I agreed and offered my support with trying to stay of drugs and to create a home for the 3 year old (she was at her second pre proceedings at this time)

What then happened was a cycle of being asked to care for my niece for a few hours while Mum would attend her drug counselling meeting , she would then not return for days. This happened 7 times in 8 weeks. The final time was for 4 days, social services went to see her at the place she went to do drugs but she chose not to return for another 3 days and only after her Mother reported her as missing to the Police. Social Services then asked us to keep my Niece with us and to apply for a SGO (they got permission from her Father who is supporting us but does not want contact). This is all against my sisters wishes.

This occurred on May 28th and since my sister has realised the 3 year old wouldn't be returned to her this time has stopped doing drugs and is trying to sort herself out (her words, I have no evidence of this but SS say she has had 2 clean drug tests). She has no interest in the 10 year old, who is very emotionally damaged, being returned to her but desperately wants the little girl back.

My question is what are her chances of getting my Niece returned if she continues to be drug free? Have there been incidences where a SGO is denied?
We have an Interim Child Arrangements Order till the first SGO hearing in mid November so if she is telling the truth then could potentially be 5 months clean.
We are being supported by Children's Services and my Niece’s Dad and although I take no pleasure from this I truly believe that Mum is not ready or able to provide a stable home yet, a decade of chaos won’t be solved in 5 months.
I should also mention that my Niece has been living with me for 11 weeks and has not once cried or asked for her Mum despite seeing her 3 times a week at a contact centre, she is thriving, happy and has settled down extremely well at our home and her new Nursery.

Any comments of experiences would be gratefully received

Zowweee
Posts: 1
Joined: Sun Aug 11, 2019 6:13 pm

Re: SGO advice

Post by Zowweee » Tue Aug 20, 2019 6:35 pm

Another thing that is worth mentioning is that our SGO is being completely funded by social services

Mother2-3
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Jun 13, 2019 10:04 pm

Re: SGO advice

Post by Mother2-3 » Tue Sep 03, 2019 7:00 am

Hi Zowwee, I have just sent you a private message

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 640
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:25 am

Re: SGO advice

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon Sep 30, 2019 1:18 pm

Zowweeee wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 10:14 am
Hi,

A brief summary of my situation.
I have a half sister 20 years younger than me (I'm late 40's) who has always lived a very chaotic life, this has included issues with alcohol and substance abuse which has escalated during the last 12 months. She has two children of 10 and 3 (different Dads)

The 10 year old has been living with his paternal Grandparents for almost 12 months (they are due in court for a Child Arrangements Order in September). The 3 year old has been on a CPP for the same amount of time with concerns initially of neglect then later emotional harm (Mum takes her with her to do drugs).

My sister and I had not had a particularly close relationship but have always seen each other at family events. In late March our Dad let me know that she was struggling considerably and would I talk to her, i reached out to her and she asked me to part of her safety plan for the 3 year old. I agreed and offered my support with trying to stay of drugs and to create a home for the 3 year old (she was at her second pre proceedings at this time)

What then happened was a cycle of being asked to care for my niece for a few hours while Mum would attend her drug counselling meeting , she would then not return for days. This happened 7 times in 8 weeks. The final time was for 4 days, social services went to see her at the place she went to do drugs but she chose not to return for another 3 days and only after her Mother reported her as missing to the Police. Social Services then asked us to keep my Niece with us and to apply for a SGO (they got permission from her Father who is supporting us but does not want contact). This is all against my sisters wishes.

This occurred on May 28th and since my sister has realised the 3 year old wouldn't be returned to her this time has stopped doing drugs and is trying to sort herself out (her words, I have no evidence of this but SS say she has had 2 clean drug tests). She has no interest in the 10 year old, who is very emotionally damaged, being returned to her but desperately wants the little girl back.

My question is what are her chances of getting my Niece returned if she continues to be drug free? Have there been incidences where a SGO is denied?
We have an Interim Child Arrangements Order till the first SGO hearing in mid November so if she is telling the truth then could potentially be 5 months clean.
We are being supported by Children's Services and my Niece’s Dad and although I take no pleasure from this I truly believe that Mum is not ready or able to provide a stable home yet, a decade of chaos won’t be solved in 5 months.
I should also mention that my Niece has been living with me for 11 weeks and has not once cried or asked for her Mum despite seeing her 3 times a week at a contact centre, she is thriving, happy and has settled down extremely well at our home and her new Nursery.

Any comments of experiences would be gratefully received
Dear Zowweeee

Welcome to the Family and Friends Carers’ discussion board and thank you for your post. I am sorry that we have not been able to respond to you before now as we have been receiving a high volume of posts. I am very sorry to hear of the problems your niece has experienced.

You are currently caring for your 3 year old niece under a Child Arrangements Order for a fixed period of time. This is whilst you are being assessed for a Special Guardianship Order, for which you have a first court hearing in November. You had actually been caring for your niece full time for a period of 11 weeks at the time of posting. Children’s Services want you to obtain the SGO (as does your niece’s father) and are supporting you with this.

Your sister is now making a consistent effort to address her substance misuse and has had a couple of clean drugs test. She would like to have her daughter returned to her care and so may be intending contesting the making of a SGO.

Your niece is thriving in your care and making very good progress having previously had a child protection plan because of neglect and emotional abuse whilst in her mother’s care. You are querying if the recent progress your sister is making will be enough for the court to return the child to her care and you are worried that this would be detrimental to her wellbeing. This is understandable as, from what you say, she is benefitting from the consistent care and stability that you are providing for her.

I think that it is very positive that your sister is getting the help and support that she needs and this will help her and her daughter and their relationship in the future regardless of what decision is made.

However, from what you say it sounds as if your niece, who is very young, has been exposed to a number of risks and perhaps to inappropriate adults too (if she was been with her mother when her mother has gone to use drugs) and this has resulted in her being deemed to have suffered significant harm.

While we cannot assume what decision a court will make, it might be helpful to think about what the court considers when doing so.

The court will focus on your niece’s welfare when making the decision about making an order for her, including a SGO. You should have a look at the welfare checklist (you can find this on pages 6 and 7 of our advice sheet on Special Guardianship Orders –information for family and friends carers) as this will what the court will consider. Part of this will be thinking about the harm your niece has suffered and how capable her mother is of meeting her needs. The court will weigh up whether the progress her mother is making is sufficient and can be maintained or whether your niece’s welfare and best interests require that a SGO (or alternatively a CAO) should be made.

If you have a solicitor advising you ( you may be eligible for legal aid or children’s services have paid for you to have some advice) you can of course discuss this further with them.

From what you say, I think that children’s services have encouraged you to get a CAO first then seek a SGO rather than treating your niece’s placement with you initially as a fostering arrangement (it can no longer be fostering when you have parental responsibility). If you need further advice (or want to challenge this) about this please do contact the advice service again either by posting again or by ringing our Freephone advice helpline 0808 8010366 which is open from Mon to Fri between 9.30 a.m. and 3.00 p.m.

In the meantime, have you had a copy of the local authority’s family and friends’ care policy which you may be able to find here ? And do make sure that children’s services are undertaking an assessment of yours and your niece’s support needs including in relation to a SGO allowance. The advice sheet referred to above and our advice sheets (a) and (b) on support for relatives and friends looking after someone else’s child also explain more about what help you may be able to get.

It is also important to think about future arrangements for your niece and her mother to see each other if/when the SGO is made and if you will need support with this raise this with the social worker early. Arrangements for your niece and her brother to spend time with each other will also need to be planned for.

You might find our guide to Managing Contact useful.

I hope this helps.

With best wishes

Suzie

Cazdob
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Dec 31, 2019 8:49 am

Re: SGO advice

Post by Cazdob » Mon Apr 27, 2020 7:55 am

Do I have to go to court to revoke sgo on my grandchildren my daughter in laws social worker had said I can just hand them back. Surely I will need to go to court to have it done properly. Any advice would be great.

User avatar
Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 640
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:25 am

Re: SGO advice

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Thu Apr 30, 2020 9:01 am

Dear cazdob,

Welcome to the Friends and Family carers forum.

Robin had given a helpful and considered response dealing with all aspects of your query. Please see his response here.

I don’t think there is anything more that I can add at this time.

If you do have further questions though, please do not hesitate to post again.

Best wishes,

Suzie.

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