Help with contact

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Joined: Fri Jul 17, 2015 3:49 pm

Help with contact

Post by Anann » Tue Aug 11, 2015 10:42 am

I'm a new user of the FRG website, so hello to everyone. I'm just looking for a bit of guidance on behalf of my sister who has a child arrangement order for her granddaughter who is currently under a S20 and in foster care.

It's a long and complicated story but the little girl's mother was living at home with my sister and her same sex partner spent copious amounts of time there. The place was a tip. My sister was obviously downtrodden but she always made sure her granddaughter was clean, well dressed, well fed and very much loved. However, my sister does also have physical limitations due to some health issues. The little girls mother and partner never did anything in the house and allowed the environment to become increasingly dirty. My sister had hoped that by allowing the child's mother to live there, she would learn how to be a parent to her daughter. She abandoned her for the first 3 years. Of course this hasn't happened and to be honest, is never likely to happen. The mother and her partner no longer live there and I'm happy to say the home is now sparkling.

The day S20 was signed, the little girl was brought to me for 2 days. It turned out that her mother's partner had been hitting the child when taking her to and from school. The little girl disclosed this to her teacher. It came as an absolute shock, as she had always said she loved her mother's partner. We now realise that the partner was manipulating her. I'm a nurse and work 3 long days a week and told the SW that I needed a short amount of time to change my hours so that I could care for the little girl. My employer would've agreed to this. However, the SW documented it differently and stated I couldn't care for her because I worked! Of course I'm very angry about that. She was therefore taken into foster care.

To cut a very long story short, contact has been hit and miss. There has already been a review meeting with an independent reviewing officer, who stated 3 times a week. It has taken the contact team 6 weeks to pick this up. No one has ever made contact with my sister to arrange contact. My sister has always had to telephone the child's SW. She rang this morning and was told that the contact team had arranged contact today. They hadn't told her that, so if she hadn't telephoned them, she wouldn't have known!

The contact centre is quite a way from where my sister lives and she is unable to use public transport. When I am able, I take her (I have some contact too). However, I refuse to allow social services to assume I am a taxi. I am not always in a position to drive her there, due to my own commitments. Today, they have refused to help her get there. She survives on benefits and the cost of a round trip taxi would be roughly £20. Therefore, other than the once weekly joint contact she has with me, she could end up having to fork out £40 per week, something she cannot afford to do.

Surely it is their responsibility to ensure that the child is able to see her grandmother. Is it not failing the little girl, if they don't? She has asked them to arrange visits that are closer but they are refusing. Is there anything else she can do, or is she going to have to find herself in further financial difficulty or failing that, risk contact with the child being reduced?

Any guidance would be truly appreciated.

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

Re: Help with contact

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Wed Aug 12, 2015 9:41 am

Dear Anann

Welcome to the Family Rights Group Family and Friends Discussion Board.

My name is Suzie and I am an Adviser at Family Rights Group. I am sorry that your sister and you are having a difficult time with Children Services regarding her granddaughter and your great niece.

Regarding the report that was written stating you are unable to care for your niece, you are able to challenge the decision to place her with foster carers when a family member is willing and able to care for her. As your sister has a Child Arrangement Order she has parental responsibility and could make a complaint that her granddaughter has not been placed within the family. I am including here a copy of our advice sheet about challenging decisions.

In relation to contact, Children Services are required to promote contact between a child and his or her family. They can also provide financial assistance to ensure that the contact can take place. A copy of our advice sheet relating to contact with a child accommodated by Children Services is attached for your information. You should read page 3 onwards of Part 1 which relates to how Children Services should deal with contact arrangements.

Children Services should have provided a care plan and a placement plan when your sister’s granddaughter was placed in foster care. If she has not received this, then she should request it from the social worker. It would be best if she did this in writing so that should it be necessary to make a complaint later on she will have evidence.

As your great niece is a ‘looked after ‘child under the s.20 agreement Children Services have specific duties towards her and her family. A copy of our advice sheet relating to these duties is here for your information.

I hope you will find this information helpful but should you wish to speak to an Adviser, please do 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.

Best wishes


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