Welcome to the friends and family carers discussion board!
Frazzled and LISALOU68 have given you helpful advice based on their experiences. Both have outlined the two different ways that your grandchildren could come to live with you permanently.
Frazzled is right to say that children services appear to be looking for a long term and secure solution that is in the best interests of your grandchildren.
The law also says that any delay in planning for children is contrary to their best interests. So children services will be keen that long term plans are made and that they can then close their file.
Not only that, you do not currently have the legal parental responsibility to make decisions about the children. Only mum and possibly dad will have legal parental responsibility.
Is your intention to look after your grandchildren long term?
Or do you hope that with support and treatment, the parents will be able to look after your grandchildren again?
Are the parents asking for the children to be returned?
Before that can happen, they would need to be assessed by children services to see what support they might need and whether they could provide “good enough” parenting. Has this assessment taken place?
If the reality is that it is unlikely that the parents would be able to parent then the long term plan may well be for the children to stay with you permanently.
The two different ways that this can be achieved are by either:
• Children services to taking care proceedings
• Or for you to issue private law proceedings (for -either a special guardianship order or a child arrangements order to say the children will live with you.)
is a way for long term plans to be made about the children.
At the end of the proceedings (which are expected to take 26 week) the court will take decisions about where the children will live permanently.
• Whether back with the parents,
• Or with connected persons (family and friends such as yourself).
• If no family and friends are suitable then the court would consider long term foster care or adoption as a last resort, if nothing else will do.
You say that your grandchildren have been with you for the last 16 months and that the social worker is threatening to take them off you if you do not seek a special guardianship order or a child arrangements order.
If children services say they will support your court application, I do not think they are considering removing your grandchildren from you. To do so, they would need the legal parental responsibility which they don’t currently have. To get parental responsibility they would have to take care proceedings.
If they did take care proceedings, by law they have to place children within the family (such as yourselves) before stranger foster care, unless it is not in the welfare of the children. So it seem very unlikely that your grandchildren will be removed from you by children services.
Private law proceedings
Have a look at our advice sheet about support for friends and family carers
which outlines the different legal arrangements and the support that might be available.
You could also ask for your local authority’s policy about supporting friends and family carers.
Do you know what is legal status of the children?
Are they “looked after”? If so you would be considered to be foster carers and should have had a fostering assessment and receive foster care allowance.
Or are they with you under a private arrangement?
(Often children services will say it is a private arrangement to save costs when in fact the the children are “looked after”).
Pages 16 and 17 of advice sheet 21( linked above) explains this.
Between the two types of private law orders,(special guardianship orders and child arrangement orders) generally, a special guardianship order
has more support available to friends and family carers.
However, any support (financial or practical) provided, will be in the discretion of the local authority (although they need to apply their policy).
If you decide to seek a private law order, make sure that an assessment of your needs and your grandchildren s needs takes place before the court order is made.
I hope this helps but please post again if you have any questions.