Overnight contact planned too soon?

Nanny G
Posts: 61
Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2014 1:47 pm

Overnight contact planned too soon?

Postby Nanny G » Fri Feb 10, 2017 9:33 am

Hello,
My Granddaughter is 4 1/5 and living with dad following court order since June last year, previous to this she spent 9 months in foster care, a couple of months with her Aunt, and lived in a violent and unsettled environment with mum (the reason for not being there now). CS have a supervision order to oversee contact with mum, which in the court documents was anticipated to start a few hours once a week and by now to have built up to overnight, however due to mum being unreliable on contact and only a couple of months ago saying she wanted nothing more to do with daughter it hasnt got that far and is at 9.30 - 4.30 every Sunday.
SW talked mum round and told her her daughter needed her and that he knew she didn't really mean it and apart from a couple of weeks ago, when it was her baby's first birthday on contact day and she didn't want her daughter there and wanted to swap days, she has been ok and kept to the agreement.
At a recent SW meeting with the school, where mum didn't attend, it was decided by SW that Grandaughter should start staying overnight with mum soon, obviously trying to get it pushed through before they leave the case in June.
Following contact last Sunday all G/D has talked about is Mummy has a new bed for me and i'm going to live with mummy. She was very unhappy at going into school this morning which was unusual and teacher asked if all was ok, had dad gone away for work as G/D hasn't been herself all week. I told teacher what she had been saying about mummy, and she agreed it was very confusing.
It is obviously playing on G/D mind, and she has had so much moving around she is not as settled as she appears to be. It is only about 3 months since she has started referring to her home with Dad as 'mine and daddy's' house, as opposed to where daddy lives. When she first had contact with mum at mums flat her reaction was that her bedroom had been made into baby's room, and mummy has put my toys in baby's room. When she first had a sleepover here, she thought she was coming to live here, and a few weeks ago dad had to go away for work for a couple of days so i stayed at their house with her, and she thought dad had left and it was me and her, again recently he had to go away for 3 nights so we had her here with us to stay to see if that helped and again as much as we all told her daddy was coming home, she still had that element of doubt in her, of believe when she saw it. She actually said to me, i don't want to stay with you Nanny, i want to stay with my daddy.

Sooo... how much power do SS have under the supervision order? Can my son, as the father, actually refuse to increase contact if he feels it is too much too soon? Or does he have to go along with it because SW wants to get it sorted before he is off the case in June?
Any advice greatly appreciated

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

Re: Overnight contact planned too soon?

Postby Suzie, FRG Adviser » Fri Feb 10, 2017 12:34 pm

Hi Nanny G,

I can see that your granddaughter has been living with her dad for some months now. And she is very much verbalising her wish to be with him! But unfortunately her contact with mum has progressed very slowly. You say she should already be having overnight contact with mum but this has yet to happen.

I think you are right to say that the social worker is hurrying contact along to overnight contact because the supervision order will be expiring in June.
Before June, she will have to make a decision whether or not to apply to extend the supervision order-although this is very unlikely given how well your granddaughter has settled with dad.

Once the supervision order expires, children services may move to close their case although they could still be involved with providing support, say, under a child in need plan -with dads consent. Ask the social worker what will happen in June.

Have you or dad raised your concerns about granddaughter being confused about going to mums overnight?
Maybe mum is giving mixed messages or your granddaughter just seeing another bed in her mum’s house, is making her anxious about a possible further move? Should the move to overnight be postponed-ask the social worker this? What are the pros and cons? What is in the best interests of your grand daughter?
Would your granddaughter benefit from some support, such as play therapy? She may well, as you have identified, still be feeling insecure given the amount of different placements she has had.
Why don’t you speak to the social worker and head teacher about what they think and what support might be available? It might be easier to access such support now, while there is still a supervision order in place and a social worker still allocated.

You ask have asked- how much power a social worker has under a supervision order?

Those who have the legal parental responsibility for a child can make decisions. All mothers have this (unless their child is adopted) and most fathers will have it, as well.
Children services would only have parental responsibility if they obtained a care order, interim care order or emergency protection order.

So a supervision order does not give them parental responsibility. They cannot make decisions about your granddaughter. They can support and guide dad in his decision making and dad should discuss any decision with the social worker.

However, when there is a supervision order in place, children services can return to court a lot easier (because the threshold criteria about harm has been proved) and ask that an order giving them parental responsibility (care order or interim care order) is made.
But this seems highly unlikely in your granddaughter’s case. More likely, the social worker wants to close the case. Your granddaughter is settling well with dad, and she has all the love and support from you. Dad and you are working well with the school and children services. Your granddaughter is not at any risk of harm. I very much doubt they will go back to court because contact had not moved forward to overnight contact but dad could ask the social worker this question.
If you have any further questions, please post back. I don't know whether any other posters can offer their expertise?

Best wishes,

Suzie

Nanny G
Posts: 61
Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2014 1:47 pm

Re: Overnight contact planned too soon?

Postby Nanny G » Sat Feb 11, 2017 9:31 pm

Dear Suzie,
Thank you very much for your comprehensive and reassuring reply.

Dad did say he was going to try and speak to the SW,but he is extremely hard to get hold of. It is usually a case of leaving a voicemail several times and about a week later finally getting a call back, so hopefully he will manage to speak to him about this

As far as we know, they are planning to close the case in June for dad and G/d as mum has CS support for her other child.

I think you have answered everything i have wondered since supervision order came about back in June, thank you.
However, If anyone here has any personal experience or anything else to add, it would always be welcome.

Nanny G
Posts: 61
Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2014 1:47 pm

Re: Overnight contact planned too soon?

Postby Nanny G » Mon Feb 20, 2017 9:45 am

Well, things seemed to have calmed down, another contact day was had without any apparent upheaval. Son finally got hold of SW, who came to see them both last Thursday evening. Son and SW talked about overnight stays and SW said he hadn't said anything to Mum about overnight contact yet, but was thinking of Easter time for the first night and wants to do it now as he will be around to help if things dont work or go wrong he says.
Friday G/D was again very unsettled and obviously something was bothering her, i mentioned it to Son who said they hadn't talked about it in front of her, only when she was out of the room and stopped as soon as she came in... they have a small 2 bed flat, so i would imagine G/D was at very least aware something was going on...
Friday was a busy day for us playing at a friend of mines house with her small children which kept her occupied and tired her out, and she did mention she was going to have a sleepover at Mummy's house, which apparently she hasnt been told yet. Saturday she was here with Dad as he was working on a Quad bike he has for her, and she spent most of the day curled up on the sofa half asleep and no mention of mum.
Sunday, yesterday, was back with mum again and this morning she was again very loud and unsettled and full of 'i dont love Daddy, i dont want to live with him, He turned my Tele off this morning' Then went on to say 'Mummy is going to try her best for me to live with her' 'I had a bath at mummy's house with baby sister' 'Mummy said do i want to live with her. i said yes so mummy is going to try her best for me to live with her' 'Mummy has a mattress so i can stay with her any time i want' I tried to explain it was only going to be a sleepover with mummy, like the sleepovers she has here, but she was adamant she was going to live with mum.

G/D is obviously confused over whats going on and i personally feel it is still too soon for her. I appreciate the SW want to get it started before he closes the case, but G/D doesn't seem ready and neither does mum if she is giving mixed messages to her daughter about going to live with her, when she blatantly isn't as the court have placed her with Dad.

It also makes me wonder why Mum is so intent when she apparently hasn't been told overnight is happening yet. G/d has obviously heard it from mum, and probably SW talking to Dad too.

I have told Dad what was said this morning, and hopefully he will report back to SW.

I feel so angry that mum is doing this to her poor child!

Nanny G
Posts: 61
Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2014 1:47 pm

Re: Overnight contact planned too soon?

Postby Nanny G » Tue Mar 14, 2017 9:44 pm

Well things seem to have gone from bad to worse. The School are reporting g/d behaviour as being very unsettled and yesterday she even bit another child hard enough to leave marks on her arm which they said is really not like her at all. They say she is back to how she was when she first started School, but had got over that and had settled down, now its back to square one again.
Both at school and at home she has been very tired and subdued and keeps getting small infections. She has had an upset tummy, a cold, a rash, and is often off her food. She has started wetting the bed at night, wetting herself at school and is waking up in the night crying. It is obviously all playing on her mind and making her feel run down and confused.
Now for the last 2 weeks she has come back from contact saying 'Mummy says i have to tell John (SW) i want to live with her' . The same time mum has been saying to Dad SW wanted to talk to him about contact, and had he been in touch yet?

Mum is now known to be back in a relationship with her ex, the father of her baby and knowing how she works she is probably imagining a 'happy family' of her with her two children together and herself 'winning' over my son in getting their daughter back to live with her.

Obviously decisions are down to my son, but would this be reason to stop contact with mum altogether? I can't see things improving, and neither can my son. I also cant imagine how continuing to see mum, even if contact stayed the same as it is now for a few hours once a week, i cant see there being a way to repair the damage or mum to be trusted not to continue as she is now.
Obviously it would be quite unsettling for g/d to stop seeing mum and would be another hurdle and upheaval for her to overcome, but surely if contact is making her this unhappy, it would be better long term not to see mum again?

Has anyone got any outside suggestions or ideas?

Thanks in advance
Nanny G

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

Re: Overnight contact planned too soon?

Postby Suzie, FRG Adviser » Wed Mar 15, 2017 10:41 am

Dear Nanny G,

I can see why you, dad and the school are worried about your granddaughter at the moment.

The symptoms you describe may well be anxiety. Wetting herself at school as well as in bed must be so distressing for her.

I agree with you, it is not fair for mum to tell your granddaughter she is fighting to get her back. Without realising it, mum may be emotionally abusing her child. This along with snippets she may have heard from dad and the social worker, must be very unsettling for her. Put in the context of the number of different places she has lived, this is bound to effect her.

If your granddaughter had come into care and was settling with a new family or family member, then children services may insist that contact is reduced until a child is settled. Is this something to put to the social worker in light of what is happening?

You say it is up to dad to speak to the social worker. I think you as nanny could do so as well. Why don’t you put your concerns in an email? What is the heads teacher doing? Is she reporting her worries to the social worker?

It may be that your granddaughter needs reassuring that she will not be moving back with mum. It is better to be also clear about what is happening with contact so that she doesn’t think the worse. The social worker could advise how this is best done.
The social worker could also talk to mum about how she is effecting her daughter.

Your granddaughter may also need therapy to deal with all the changes in her life and to recover from what she has experienced. But this only takes place, when a child is settled and feels safe.

I hope this helps but please post back if you have any questions or need more support.
I wonder whether anyone else can offer advice.

Best wishes,

Suzie

Nanny G
Posts: 61
Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2014 1:47 pm

Re: Overnight contact planned too soon?

Postby Nanny G » Wed Mar 15, 2017 11:01 am

Thank you Suzie,
My son hasnt managed to get hold of the SW yet, he has left several messages for a call back but not yet had one!
The schools Family Liaison Officer said to me the other day she had told SW what was going on at school and put her concerns forwards.
Contact was going fine until mum started pushing for overnight stays, maybe cutting it down again is what's needed. It must all be so confusing for the poor child having just started to get settled with Dad and the routine of seeing mum a few hours a week. Dad and i are doing our best to make her feel secure, loved and wanted here, but it is very hard when mum is undoing it all in the background. it is hard to know how to talk to g/d or what to say to reassure her.

What would happen if Son decided to stop contact with mum altogether? Or if this were to happen i guess it would be better to cut down slowly, so could Son be the one to say, for the time being at least, he wants less contact hours?
Trouble is we dont trust mum to be saying things behind dads back , as evidenced already, about how it would be Daddy's fault they didnt see so much of each other, daddy wont let her stay the night etc etc...

I actually saw my 3 step children go through this, and it wasn't fun for them (they lived with mum and saw dad once a month) and don't want to see it repeated on my Granddaughter.

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

Re: Overnight contact planned too soon?

Postby Suzie, FRG Adviser » Wed Mar 15, 2017 12:07 pm

Hi Nanny G,

Before you stop contact, I think you or your son should email the social worker (setting out your concerns) and copy in the team manager and ask for an urgent meeting. Remind them of the supervision order and their responsibilities. Suggest the school are also involved, as they clearly have concerns as well. Or discuss the contact issues by telephone. Should contact be varied, given the upset your granddaughter is showing.
Until then, do as you are doing –re assuring your granddaughter that she is not moving home, for example.

Best wishes,

Suzie


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