Special Guardian's Role in Education

JThn26
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu May 25, 2017 10:47 am

Special Guardian's Role in Education

Postby JThn26 » Thu May 25, 2017 8:59 pm

I have read several of the posts and realise that my question is minor compared with the experience of other parents and families. I am the special guardian of my ten year old grandson. I looked after him for many years but was unable to continue and he is now a section 20 accommodated child. He will remain in foster care. I get on well with the carer.

There is however a problem with social services. The social worker and her managers seem to think that they have the authority to make educational decisions. I can find no justification for this and have asked them for an explanation. So far I have had no sensible answer. Social services appear to believe that they have a say in those decisions that would normally be made by the school and the parents. They talk about corporate parents and forget that I have parental responsibility. They tell me to remember that my grandson is now a looked after child. It appears that they do not realise that he is not subject to a care order. I consult with the social worker about his education and am sensitive to the need for the carer to be part of the decision making and, in particular, the day to day decisions just as with any child.

The headteacher feels that she is now under pressure from social services and that her own decisions are being questioned. Any advice or comments from anyone with a similar experience is welcome.

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

Re: Special Guardian's Role in Education

Postby Suzie, FRG Adviser » Fri May 26, 2017 2:59 pm

Dear JThn26

Thank you for your post and welcome to the Family and Friends Carers discussion board.

I am sorry you were not able to continue caring for your grandson and had to agree to him being accommodated under s.20 Children Act 1989.

As you rightly say in your post, children services do not share parental responsibility for your grandson because he is accommodated by them. The legal position is children services do not share parental responsibility they are not corporate parents. You have a special guardianship order (SGO) and you and the parent or parents have parental responsibility. As the special guardian, you are able to exercise your parental responsibility over and above that of the parent(s).

If children services wish to be the corporate parent for your grandson, then it would be for them to make an application to the court for an interim care order in the first instance.

You say your grandson will remain in foster care, has this been agreed by children services? Is it the case that he will remain subject to s.20 throughout his minority?

The care plan for your grandson should cover his educational needs and if you do not agree what is in the plan or children services is not adhering to the plan, I think you should raise the issue directly with the independent reviewing officer (IRO) in the first instance.

Any concerns regarding your grandson’s education should really be considered at his Looked after Child (LAC) review be discussed with input from the IRO, his school and any other professional involved with your grandson and invited to the review meeting. It is not clear from your post whether your grandson has any special health or educational needs. Your grandson’s care plan should include what you have agreed and if it does not then children services should be giving you an explanation of the legal basis upon which they are including in the care plan (if this is the case), something you are not in agreement with as the person with parental responsibility.

I have included a copy of our advice sheet relating to the duties children’s services have when a child is in the care system.

I hope you find this helpful. However, should you wish to speak to an adviser, please telephone our advice line on 0808 801 0366. The advice line is open from 9.30 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. Monday to Friday (except Bank Holidays).

Best wishes,

Suzie

JThn26
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu May 25, 2017 10:47 am

Re: Special Guardian's Role in Education

Postby JThn26 » Sun May 28, 2017 11:56 pm

Dear Suzie,

Thank you for your prompt and very helpful reply.

Yes, my grandson will remain in foster care under section 20. This has been agreed by children's services?

Your comment about corporate parents is particularly helpful because it was something I was not sure about. I knew nothing about corporate parenting until I received a report in which children's services refers to their role as 'corporate parents'. Your reply is the first clear statement I have seen that they are not corporate parents. I guess the confusion arises because of the use of the term 'looked after child' in the case of both a care order 'in care' child and a 'section 20' child.

I have now checked out corporate parenting in the 2017 Act and the point now seems clear from Sub Section 1: Corporate Parenting Principles. Section 1.1 describes the LA responsibilities and section 1.2 defines the relevant children.

1.2 The children and young people mentioned in this subsection are—
(a) children who are looked after by a local authority, within the meaning given by section 22(1) of the Children Act 1989;
(b) relevant children within the meaning given by section 23A(2) of that Act;
(c) persons aged under 25 who are former relevant children within the meaning given by section 23C(1) of that Act.

Sections 22 and 23 of the 1989 Act, it appears, do not include those section 20 children who are accommodated by the LA. I hope I interpreted that correctly.

I shall make a written request for an explanation why they think corporate parenting could apply in this case. Thank you for your advice about the LAC Review.

Thank you,

JThn26


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