complaint

clairespex
Posts: 60
Joined: Tue Dec 15, 2009 12:52 pm

complaint

Postby clairespex » Tue Mar 08, 2011 11:54 am

Hi all,
I've had my step niece with me for 6 months now. She is on a section 20 voluntary agreement, and prior to coming to me she had been in residential care for two years while I got to know her better and the application process went through. She is now living with me in a different local authority area than the one that has responsibility for her.
This is the problem.
I am single and have no other children, so little experience of kids much less ones that exhibit such challenging behaviour. I was prepared for a 'settling in' period where my step niece would push the boundaries and 'test me out' but her behaviour shows little sign of improvement after all this time. I have made social services aware that we both need more support and while individual workers are sympathetic, there is little they can do as we live 100 miles away from her 'home' authority. I would like to be able to access respite, training and support groups locally but they keep saying they haven't got funds to pay my local authority to provide it.

I have told them that the situation is becoming critical. I have very little local support as my family also live miles away, I'm trying to hold down a fulltime job to help support us both and I am absolutely exhausted. There is no way that I will give up looking after my niece voluntarily but the SW is saying that she is concerned about the security of the placement given what the situation is doing to my mental health. It seems absurd that the LA would rather wait until things become critical and risk having my step niece go back into residential care rather than pay out the small amount to get me some respite and support locally.

I want to write a lettr of complaint but wanted some advice on how to phrase it, or whether there are any legal obligations they aren't upholding that I can mnetion.
Thanks

Spex
Spex

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Robin D
Posts: 1848
Joined: Sat Aug 21, 2004 12:58 pm

Re: complaint

Postby Robin D » Tue Mar 08, 2011 1:38 pm

Hi Clairespex.

You don't say what age your niece is, but any child who has been in residential care for two years is going to take much longer than six months to moderate their challenging behaviours. If its a teen, its even worse I'm afraid.

From what you have written, it appears your niece is with you as a foster child? If so, I suggest contacting [url="http://www.fostering.net/"]The Fostering Network[/url] for advice as they will be bang up to date with the fostering regulations and will be able to specifically advise, on the legal position.

If she's not fostered, then I suggest you call the FRG advice line and give them details in confidence as it may be the LA placing the child is flouting previous court rulings about when a child is placed with relatives.

It's clear you urgently need support. Could I suggest asking your local authority if they organise, or know of a local foster care association. You will generally find they a will welcome members from other areas. We used to attend one 'facilitated' by our local authority, when we had children from more than 100 miles away. The group organised many of their own activities including training sessions. To have an extra person, really added no cost, so from memory, all we paid was a small subscription to the group, the same as 'local' foster parents had to pay.

We didn't qualify for respite, and I can understand that this costs money, but just having others around you experienced in dealing with some of the strange behaviours can make a world of difference.

There are also a small number of F&F support groups up and down the country. See [url="http://www.frg.org.uk/support_groups_for_family_and_friends_carers.html"]FRG support group page[/url]. These will be better placed to help you deal with complex family relationships etc.

That's not to say, you shouldn't complain, but sometimes, you'll find the best way is to organise things yourself as far as possible. Once you have the facts about what you ought to be receiving in your situation, then you can complain from a position of strength.

I really do wish you the best of luck. You've arrived here pretty desperate I imagine. Hopefully we can get you to some fairly immediate support and keep this placement alive.

Best wishes ....... Robin



Grandparent carer in Suffolk [:)]
Former F&F carer, foster carer, adopter and respite carer for umpteen children. Now retired and when with kids, making sure they 'go home' at the end of the day.

clairespex
Posts: 60
Joined: Tue Dec 15, 2009 12:52 pm

Re: complaint

Postby clairespex » Tue Mar 08, 2011 2:12 pm

Thanks Robin,

My step niece is 11 and yes, I foster her as a friends and family carer. I'm just beginning to realise that 6 months isn't long for her and that she may always be a challenge! Hence the need for more support.

I have really tried to access support myself but any contact Ive been given within my own local authority are always 'in a meeting' when I call and have NEVER phoned me back.
I have found friends of friends of friends who are also fostering and have had a couple of helpful phone conversations but they have been private foster carers who seem to have a much different experience!

I'll give fostering network a ring and see what they say.
Cheers

Spex
Spex

Kate
Posts: 2444
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2005 5:33 pm

Re: complaint

Postby Kate » Tue Mar 08, 2011 3:37 pm

Spex, just want to wish you luck. Robin has much more experience of all this, but as an adoptive mother with experience of a lot of other adoptive families who took on children at an older age,I do know the challenges you are facing are pretty typical.

You definitely need support and if you can get to know others in a similar situation it will be a huge help, though you also need practical support to give you a break. Please keep updating us - wishing you strength and someone to help you out, and that SS will pull their fingers out too.

fatcat
Posts: 183
Joined: Wed Oct 24, 2007 12:41 pm

Re: complaint

Postby fatcat » Tue Mar 08, 2011 6:26 pm

hi
as you are fostering your step neice , she is a looked after child and her welfare needs are therefore the responsiblity of the placing local authority.

the independent reviewing officer who chairs your neices reviews has a duty to ensure that whatever needs are identified should be met. it might be worth looking at the decisions section of the review forms to see whether there is any there in writing that you can then quote in your letter of complaint. try getting hold of the reviewing officer and see if they can pile on a bit of pressure.

becuse she is looked after you will have a lot more clout than those of us who have residence orders.

clairespex
Posts: 60
Joined: Tue Dec 15, 2009 12:52 pm

Re: complaint

Postby clairespex » Tue Mar 08, 2011 8:50 pm

Thanks all for your words of advice and support,

I phoned Fostering Network, who were really good and also advised me to get back to the IRO and ask her to apply some pressure. It was the IRO who suggested I put in a complaint in the first place so obviously even she sees that the LA should be doing more.They also referred me to the National Minimum Fostering Standards which have just been reviewed. They just came out today and the link isn't working yet but i'll post it when it does as apparently it strengthens the case for suport in kinship cases.

Drew a bit of a blank on accessing support myself again, spoke to the Fostering Services Manager in my LA today, who told me that, while they do have support groups all over my city, unless my stepniece's LA pay for me to go I can't - not even if I bring my own coffee and chair! The woman might as well have told us to both go to hell.

I'll ring the IRO tomorrow and let you know how I get on


Spex
Spex

clairespex
Posts: 60
Joined: Tue Dec 15, 2009 12:52 pm

Re: complaint

Postby clairespex » Wed Mar 09, 2011 10:32 am

here is the link for new National Minimum Standards that I said I'd post

http://media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/pdf/n/national%20minimum%20standards%20-%20fostering.pdf



Spex
Spex

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David Roth
Posts: 2022
Joined: Thu Aug 10, 2006 10:14 am

Re: complaint

Postby David Roth » Wed Mar 09, 2011 11:32 am

Thanks for posting the link to the new NMS, clairespex.

These come into force from 1st April. It is worth noting the section on family and friends foster carers, which is Standard 30 on page 58. This is far larger than the standard for family and friends carers that was in the previous NMS, although it doesn't go as far as they did in earlier drafts.

David R
FRG Policy Adviser
David Roth
FRG Policy Adviser


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