SGO and financial support

Marley
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Sep 09, 2013 1:08 am

SGO and financial support

Postby Marley » Wed Sep 11, 2013 9:08 am

Hi, i am new to the site so please forgive me... Socail care are applying to the courts to have my granddaughter removed from both her parents, and they have assessed me to be her guardian, on a SGO i never asked for this they recommended it.... Social care are being very evasive and not at all helpful, they had initially said i would be entitled to some sort off allowance to help support A, but but now they are saying i am not entitled to any help at all.... I work full time like many family's i have too out off necessity... I do not know how i will meet child care costs, and things that she will need, A is 20months off age and has very little off anything... I worry constantly about this,and want the absolute best solution for her i never sought any off this social services are doing this it is listed to go to court on the 9th October so any advise would be greatly appreciated from one very confused grandparent

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

Re: SGO and financial support

Postby David Roth » Wed Sep 11, 2013 4:00 pm

Hi Marley, and welcome to the family and friends carers discussion forum.

It is disappointing to read that children's services are being evasive and unhelpful, and telling you that you are not entitled to any support if you become a special guardian. They are concerned enough about your granddaughter's safety and wellbeing that they want to remove her from her parents, but they seem to be saying that they intend to place her with you and then just walk away from giving you any assistance with raising her. Have they carried out any sort of financial assessment of your circumstances, or have they given you any other reason for saying they cannot financially support you?

Is the case underway already, or is 9th October the date the case will start? Care proceedings generally last up to about six months, so if 9th October is the date the case starts, then there will probably be a period of months while there are assessments of whether there is evidence to support the council's assertion that staying at home with her parents would be unsafe. If it is proved that she has been harmed, or is at risk of being harmed, the court would then decide what sort of order to make: it might be a care order to the local authority, or a special guardianship order to you or someone else, or a residence order. The parents will get their opportunity to make their case for the girl staying with them. At the end of it all, there will be a final hearing, lasting from a few days up to about 2 weeks, where all the evidence will be presented and then the judge will make the decision.

Is your granddaughter still living with her parents? There may during the proceedings be a decision that she should live somewhere else, or sometimes there can be an emergency and they might ask you to take her in immediately. It is important to be prepared for this happening - our advice sheet 12 (link provided below) gives you important information about the law surrounding something like this happening.

One way for you to ensure you have a voice in what happens would be for you to become a party to the proceedings, as someone with an interest in the outcome. However, if you can't get legal aid then legal bills could be quite expensive, or you may decide to represent yourself in court - other carers on this forum have done so, and the courts are usually quite helpful to litigants in person (the term for people representing themselves). It would allow you to put across your point of view about the effects on you and the child of not being supported. If you do decide to become a party, it might be best not to let the local authority know you are planning this, as they often try to discourage family and friends carers from becoming parties to care cases.

You could ask the local authority to assess you on your need for financial and other types of support, as part of their assessment of you to be a special guardian. It is a request you can legally make, and it would be entirely reasonable to ask them to do these assessments.

However, local authorities are only obliged to do these assessments if the child was previously looked after (i.e. in the care system). For this reason, many local authorities try to avoid children who are going to family and friends carers becoming looked after first, e.g. they try to place the child with the carers under an interim residence order before the SGO, when it would be possible for them to approve the family and friends carers as temporary foster carers while the SGO assessment is carried out.

Local authorities do have a lot of discretion over the support they provide to special guardians. However, if they have assessed your circumstances, and the assessment shows that you need financial support, then the judge may well not be very happy if the local authority then states that it is not going to provide support. As parties to the case, you could ensure that this point was made to the judge, as the others involved may not put it across.

I know this is a lot of information to absorb, but it is very important to make sure you are fully informed about the decisions you are making. You might also find our advice sheets 19 and 21 useful: http://www.frg.org.uk/need-help-or-advice/advice-sheets - other advice sheets have full and relevant information that may be of interest to you as well, but these are the ones that are most directly relevant.

If you want to discuss the situation, you could phone our freephone advice line: 0808 801 0366 9.30am-3pm Mon-Fri.
David Roth
FRG Policy Adviser

Marley
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Sep 09, 2013 1:08 am

Re: SGO and financial support

Postby Marley » Wed Sep 11, 2013 9:50 pm

The court date is for the case to be heard, and for removal if granted...As it would be the end off the 26 week time span required,as off yet the children are still with mum, social care,have notified her off their intention to apply for an order so the children can be removed if the judge agrees to this...

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

Re: SGO and financial support

Postby David Roth » Thu Sep 12, 2013 3:05 pm

Marley, it sounds as if the hearing on the 9th October is the final hearing, if it is coming at the end of a period of 26 weeks, which is the time limit most courts are now setting for care proceedings. This means that over a period of days starting on 9th October, all the evidence will be considered, witnesses will be cross-examined, and at the end of it the judge will make a decision - or rather he/she will make two decisions. The first is whether the threshold criteria have been met - i.e. has the local authority proved that your granddaughter has suffered or is at risk of suffering significant harm. If the answer is that she hasn't, then she can remain at home with her parents. But if she has, then the judge has to make his/her second decision: what order to make.

If the local authority is suggesting that it should be a special guardianship order to you, then they ought to be carrying out a special guardianship assessment. This would involve several visits to you, to collect a lot of information about your background, find out about your relationship with your granddaughter and your childcare experience and the way your household works, and talk about your plans for her if you become her special guardians. They would also take up a number of references and make checks, e.g. on your health and whether you have a criminal record. The assessment ought to involve an assessment of your need for financial and other support. Even if they have carried this out and decided that they don't think you will need any support, if you disagree and think that without support it would cause you hardship, it can be worth discussing it further with them. Since the social workers seem to have turned you down, it could be worth taking it to a senior manager in the department, such as the assistant director, who would have the power to make budgetary decisions, to explain why you need the financial support.

It may be that the local authority does not get the order they are seeking. I would assume that the parents' care for your granddaughter is being closely monitored, and if they had done anything to place her at risk during this time then she would probably have been removed already.
David Roth
FRG Policy Adviser


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