Advice needed

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Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2016 12:15 pm

Advice needed

Post by caringlady » Tue Apr 17, 2018 4:20 pm

I was positively assessed 3 years ago to be a special guardian for my great niece. Unfortunately the judge decided to give BM one last chance at parenting, even though she has lost her previous 4 children to adoption., was caught with class a drugs. BM was/is a heroin addict with a violent temper who has a history of domestic violent relationships.
Fast forward 3 years. I receive messages from BM ( we live 200 miles apart) saying shes been sanctioned, has no electric or food for LO. I stupidly transfer £25 to her account, she then tells me thats only covered her overdraft so it hasn't helped. So I transfer another £20.
A few weeks later she's messaging again saying she has no electric, so I contact Social Services who give her vouchers etc & get involved in her case again.
She does this a few more times, I keep ringing SS voicing various concerns.
Anyway, to shorten the story, I received a call from SS saying there had been an incident & the ambulance service had reported evidence of heroin/drugs in the propery. Would I take LO if BM agreed? Of course I said yes. BM signed a voluntary section 20 & said she'd rather LO went to foster carers.
SS have started PLO proceedings , but SS tell me it will be months before anything is decided and LO must remain in foster care til then. Following the PLO meeting Mum messaged me that she doesn't think she'll be getting little one back.
I've put my offer to take LO in writing via email to the Social Worker. Today I received this reply:
At this time we are unable to consider you as a carer due to Mum refusing this. Should no changes be made and we proceed to court to seek removal, then we will seek legal advice as to whether or not we are able to seek approval against mums wishes

This the 5th child, 2 went for adoption. 2 went to live with their father. This is the 3rd time the LO has been taken into care due to Mums involvement with drugs. I'm at my wits end, everything seems to revolve around Mum. Its time this little one was given a voice, & a chance at a safe upbringing. We were told by SS after Lo one was returned that if Mum failed again LO was to come straight to us. But got nothing in writing. Shouldn't SS be taking the previous court case into account?
Do you have any advice on what steps I can take to make this happen. Or does LO have to stay in Foster Care for another 6 months, until the final court hearing (if there is one)?

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 542
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:25 am

Re: Advice needed

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon Apr 23, 2018 2:37 pm

Dear caringlady

Welcome to the Family and Friends’ Carers Discussion Board and thank you for your post. My name is Suzie, FRG’s online adviser.

You are worried about your great niece. It sounds as if she was the subject of care proceedings 3 years ago. You were positively assessed to be her prospective Special Guardian (SG) at that time - did you have a full SG assessment or a viability assessment?

However, the court decided that it was in the child’s best interests to be cared for by her mother.

She remained in her mother’s care until recently. When you became worried for her welfare, you rightly raised concerns with children’s services who began working with the family again. Unfortunately, there was a serious incident which meant that children’s services felt that the child’s mother could no longer care for her safely at home and she agreed to her daughter being placed in voluntary accommodation.

Although children’s services initially contacted you as a potential kinship foster carer for your great-niece they could not place her with you as her mother did not agree to this and instead she was placed, at her mother’s request, with unrelated foster carers rather than with you, a relative.

As the child’s mother has parental responsibility (PR) and may be the only person with responsibility (you don’t mention her father who might also have PR) she is required to agree her daughter’s care plan and placement whilst it remains a voluntary arrangement.

If children’s services obtain PR through getting a temporary or full care order for the child then they can make decisions for her that her mother may not agree with although they must consult with her.

You are right that the child should be given a voice (this should be part of the Looked After Child review
Review procedures
and of course during court proceedings when the court will appoint a Guardian for her) and that she has a right to a safe upbringing but this must be done fairly and transparently for everyone’s sake, especially the child’s.

The Public Law Outline process sets out how courts should manage care proceedings which now should be completed in 26 weeks. Before the court makes a final decision about who will care for a child permanently, a child who is looked after can be placed with relatives or connected people (who are approved as foster carers) and this should be given priority as long as it is in the child’s best interests. Other factors which children’s services must try to ensure is that, as far as possible, the child is placed near home and with siblings. Stability for the child is seen as very important so there will be a commitment to minimise disruption and placement moves for her although this and every decision should be based on her individual needs.

You mention that you live 200 miles away so that could be a difficulty under a temporary fostering arrangement (either voluntary or court-ordered) as regular contact with her mother should be promoted.

Children’s services will set out where/with whom the child should live in a temporary care plan which the court would be asked to agree until the final order is made.

Although there may have been a good contingency plan made following the last set of proceedings for the child to be placed with you if her mother was unable to care for her, again unless her mother was in agreement with this or there was a court order in place (or one is obtained) which allowed for this then it cannot be imposed.

The previous history is important and will be taken into account by both children’s services and the court but they must also assess the current situation.

You could take a look at our advice sheet on Duties on Children’s Services when children are in the care system .

It sounds as if you and the child’s mother are still in contact? It might be that you can work together to keep the child safe whether with her mother, with the right safeguards in place, or by you caring for her, probably under a SGO. Perhaps a family group conference(FGC) would help you come up with a family plan. The child’s mother could ask for an FGC.

You can:

Apply directly to the court for permission to apply for a (temporary) child arrangements order or a SGO (there is no temporary SGO) or

Apply for permission to be party to the proceedings if care proceedings start.

You can find out more about all of these in FRG’s advice sheets on Care (and related) proceedings , DIY Child Arrangements Orders: information for family and friends carers and DIY Special Guardianship Orders - information for family and friends carers.

You can also write back to the social worker, confirming that you are still willing to be considered as a carer for your great-niece and asking that they confirm to you that they will ensure this is made known to the court and Guardian if they begin care proceedings.

I hope this is helpful. If you would like to discuss this further with an adviser you can ring the Freephone advice line on 0808 8010366 Mon-Fri 9.30 – 3.00.

Best wishes


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