SGO

ritz2016
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue May 10, 2016 12:28 pm

SGO

Postby ritz2016 » Mon Sep 12, 2016 6:33 pm

Hi,

I am currently looking after 2 of my sisters children under a CAO.

They were "placed" with various family members back in September 2015 by my sister because the LA were about to remove them under an EPO but didn't, therefore are not LAC.

Due to SS not allocating a new SW for 4months (the original one left the day the EPO was granted), It took the LA 5 months to file care proceedings, we were all given an Interim CAO at the first hearing and we are still in court to try and get a SGO.

I really feel for all the children (there are 7 involved in total, spread over 4 carers). They still have no "secure" placement for a year now.

I think its disgraceful that this has gone on for so long now but there seems to be nothing we can do, the Judge had to give a long list of extensions at the last hearing, including an extension to the 26week time limit.

The LA/SS are utterly useless, I know I shouldn't but I tell them how useless they are everytime they visit and they agree! The children also ask them why they visit because all they do is waste their play time and when they are going to leave them alone. It is a sad situation really.

On our last CHIN visit from them (with number 8 social worker, since Sept 2015) we discussed the huge list of therapy that has been recommended by the phycologist. It ended with the SW telling me that I will likely end up having to pay for it, because the LA plan on abandoning us a couple of months after SGO has been granted. Yes, the SW's exact words were "You may end up with the invoice for the therapy when we close the case"

Hopefully, we will also get a Family Assistance Order or similar to ensure the LA pay for the therapy the children require if CAMHS do not offer the services needed.

Anyway I do have some questions.

Can the SGO's be granted before the FH? for the children I am caring for there is noone contesting their placement, Mother is too ill to make decisions and Father has ruled himself out because of other children etc. I believe the FH is predominetly about contact with parents and allegations the children have made against them. We haven't even had a Issues Resolution Hearing yet!

I was assessed for SGO allowance 2 months ago and should get the full allowance of £168/week/child. Can this be backdated to i) when the children were placed with carers by mother ii) when CAO was granted iii) when the 26 week time limit should of been reached when the EPO was about to be served iiii) when the 26 week time limit was reached after the LA filed.

I ask because I do really need the financial support and there isn't any end in sight. I need to move into rented accomodation and have no deposit and no furniture. I have asked the SW if the LA can help and they have basically said "In theory yes, In reality no the financial panel will laugh at us". We have also been told there is no more discretionary payments that will be made, £200 was the limit :evil:

Sorry if this went on abit of a rant but I am amazed at how incompetent the people are that are meant to do things that are "in the best interests of the children"!

Thanks

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 432
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:25 am

Re: SGO

Postby Suzie, FRG Adviser » Wed Sep 14, 2016 1:11 pm

Dear Ritz2016,

Welcome to the friends and family forum.

I am sorry to hear about the difficulties you and your family have had with obtaining support from children services. It is also worrying to hear that the social worker is not prepared to pursue support for you.

I am not fully clear about what the legal status of the children was when they were “placed” with you by mum which appeared to happen when children’s services obtained an EPO (emergency protection order).

If there was an emergency protection order, then the children would have been “looked after” and you will be entitled to foster carer allowance for that period and may be up until the court granted the interim child arrangements order.

Can you confirm what happened when mum brought the children to you. Was there an EPO at the time? You could contact our advice line to discuss in depth with an advisor? There may be backdated monies that you could pursue.

The children are now under an interim child arrangements order after children services sought an interim care order.

Given you are struggling financially, have you asked to be assessed for any discretionary child arrangements order allowance?
To find out more about this-ask to see children services kinship carers policy.
We may have a copy of your local authority’s policy here .


The social worker can also consider what support can be given to you to address your housing needs.
If the social worker is refusing to carry out an assessment or provide support, I suggest you consider challenging any refusal by way of complaint.
Please see our FAQ’s for friends and family carers which outlines further how to address this.

In answer to your questions,
No, there is no interim special guardianship order.
Special guardianship order allowance will start from the date of the special guardianship order.
Any support you receive before the SGO will be depend on what was the legal position of the children. Looked after or private arrangement.
So if they were “looked after” (due to the emergency protection order) then you should have backdated foster care allowance.
From the time the interim child arrangements order was made by the court, you may be able to get discretionary and means tested child arrangements order allowance.

Look at the schedules on page 37 of our advice sheet 21 Support for children living with friends and family carers

I hope this helps but please post back with further information or any questions you have.

Best wishes,

Suzie

.

ritz2016
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue May 10, 2016 12:28 pm

Re: SGO

Postby ritz2016 » Wed Sep 14, 2016 3:32 pm

Many Thanks for the reply, I will have a look at the links you have provided.

With regards to the children being LAC, they are definetly not LAC, there was some debating between schools, family and SW about how the children were placed.

When the children were removed by Childrens Services, they weren't removed by them on paper. They were dropped off to the respective carers by the SW's. The SW visited my sisters home with police and basically gave my sister the opportunity to either place them with family members under a private arrangement immediately or they would remove them into care immediately. So she went with the private arrangements.

At the first court hearing the LA wanted CAO's and the childrens' cafcass guardian wanted ICO's. The judge went with the LA and gave us all CAO's with supervision orders. I now understand why the guardian wanted ICO's, she told me from her experience the LA will not help because they aren't LAC.

I forgot to mention the children were on Child Protection Plans and are now on CHIN Plans.

We have asked constantly for financial support from the LA, given the number of children and parties involved in the case we actually spent around an hour in court asking for financial support, Obviously the Judge cannot order the LA to help us and they didn't. It actually got to the point where I had ran out of money and was considering withdrawing my care because after 6months with no tax credits or financial support from the LA I wouldn't be able to meet their needs financially, there was conflict tax credit claim that my sister was too ill to cancel which took around 6months.

After reading that FAQ regarding a complaint I will have to discuss the support again with the Social Worker.

Can I challenge a refusal of a discretionary payments, for example mileage to Child Protection Conferences, Family Group Conferences, Parenting Courses etc? I mean I have an email from the SW regarding this specific part which says "I am unable to secure you any more costs on top of this and can confirm that mileage will not be paid at this time."

They have assessed me financially already for SGO/Adoption but that was reluctantly done.

Looking at the LA's policy it does say
"In highly exceptional cases *** County Council Specialist Children’s Services, through the Area Access to Resources Panel, may decide to provide financial assistance under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989; this will be based on a thorough assessment of the child’s needs."

Does that mean I could ask the Social Worker to ask the Resources Panel for support under the CAO?

Many thanks once again, it really is a tricky area to understand.

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 432
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:25 am

Re: SGO

Postby Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon Sep 19, 2016 1:14 pm

Dear Ritz2016,

Thank you for posting back with more information.

I am not sure who advised you that the children were definitely not looked after when they were placed with you.
The law in this area is not always clear.
What you describe, suggests the children could well have been accommodated by children services under section 20 of the Children Act 1989. An accommodated child is a looked after child and children services must pay foster care allowance to carers of looked after children. No court order is needed.
Children services were involved in the placement. They asked your sister who could have them.
Your sister was advised that if she didn’t take the children to family and friends, they were going to be removed into care. If this had happened, children services by law should have considered friends and family carers before stranger foster care. (You would have then been assessed as a foster carer).

Crucially, what did you agree about funding at the time the children came to you? Did you agree that it was a private arrangement? Or was nothing said?
If nothing was agreed at the time of placement, then the law says the children should have been treated as “looked after” and you paid foster care allowance.
If you agreed that you would support the children at the time they came to you then it is more likely to be a private arrangement.
Here is the Local Government Ombudsman report Family Values which sets out the law and also has case studies.

To get the local authority to look again at the children’s status at the time of placing, ask them to confirm how they reached the position that it was a private arrangement. Ask for this in writing. Then you could consider challenging via the Complaints process


Yes, with a child arrangements order, you could ask children services to undertake a section 17 assessment for financial payments. Look at our advice sheet 21 I referred to, in my first post.

However, do not forget to ask to be assessed for the Child arrangements order allowance as well.

TO discuss in depth, why don’t you call our advice line on 0808 801 0366.

Best wishes,

Suzie

ritz2016
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue May 10, 2016 12:28 pm

Re: SGO

Postby ritz2016 » Sat Feb 11, 2017 9:44 pm

Many thanks for your advice, sorry I haven't replied sooner.

My SGO was granted before Christmas, way over the 26w limit couldn't explain the relief :D

I have made a rather large complaint, their first response pretty much ignored most of the points and made contradictory statements. It was like the Service Manager who had to reply didn't like me being horrible about their team and like usual passed me onto someone else :roll:

With regards to the childrens' LAC status the LA argue that they didn't get an EPO and couldn't get one because a private arrangement was already in place.

According to the LA's policy I became ineligible to be assessed for a CAO Allowance when the court ordered SGO assessments.... 2 months between getting a Interim CAO and the SGO assessments, we asked, we got nothing...

All the other finance I asked for was denied, even help to move into a more suitable property as per their assessments was refused.

To end our adventure with social services they confirmed how incompetent they are by failing to read their own SGO support plan, couldn't make it up.

Anyway, it has been a very stressful and daunting experience but it has been so worth it.

I do wish I knew what i know now about the process back when it first started. I would have been a lot more vocal when dealing with the social workers.
Ask as many questions about what support you can get, do your research, do it as soon as possible ... before you know it your chance will be gone.

Lastly, it really seems that the system does prefer family carers even if you do have a couple of minor previous issues; don't be afraid to put your name forward, its stressful and I nearly never did but now the children are thriving ;) .

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 432
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:25 am

Re: SGO

Postby Suzie, FRG Adviser » Thu Feb 16, 2017 4:00 pm

Dear ritz2016

Thank you for your updating post and for sharing your experience going through the process as a family member to keep a child out of the care system.

It will be helpful to other posters to see that despite a sometimes uphill battle there can be a good outcome for the children and the family member(s) wishing to care for them long term.

I am so pleased that you have had a very successful outcome and wish you happy and satisfying future with your nieces or nephews. They will no doubt benefit by remaining in their birth family.

You say, in your post, ‘the system really do prefer family carers’. It has been shown by research that children do better in family placements, this is why it is the expectation that family and friends carers should be considered before stranger foster placements take place.

Once again thank you for your post.

Best wishes

Suzie


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