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Contact with my neice

Posted: Thu Sep 17, 2015 1:02 pm
by Soz42

I'm not sure if this is the right place but I'm not sure what else to do.

I am trying to establish contact for myself and my mother with my niece who is currently in care.

We have never been contacted by her social worker and after numerous attempts I have been unable to establish contact. It seems the social worker is ignoring me.

My biggest concern is my mother not being allowed to see her granddaughter. It is heartbreaking.

I just wondered if you can give me any advise as to what to do next. I have read a lot of information on the subject and what I have read seems to imply the Children's Services are legally bound to contact the child's birth family.

Look forward to receiving any advise you can give.


Re: Contact with my neice

Posted: Mon Sep 21, 2015 1:12 pm
by Suzie, FRG Adviser
Dear soz42,

Welcome to the friends and family carers forum.

I am sorry to hear about the difficulties that you are experiencing in trying to get in touch with your niece’s social worker.
Irene’s suggestion that you raise your question about contact with a senior manager is a good one. I also suggest that you use email when contacting the social worker-so that you have a paper trail as well.

When children are “looked after” either in “care” under a court order (such as a care order or emergency protection order) or are “accommodated” with the consent of a parent with parental responsibility, children services should promote contact between the child and connected persons (family and friends)unless it is not in the welfare of the child.
See information about contact.
The social worker will want to assess you and your mother as well as your nieces contact needs.

When children come into the care system, the local authority should look to place them with family or friends (who will then need to be assessed as foster carers) before stranger foster care or a children’s home. Either you or your mother could request in writing to be assessed as a friend and family foster carer. If this is a possibility have a look at our advice sheet about this.

Has there been a Family Group Conference? This is a meeting which should be managed by an independent coordinator to look for support within the friend and family network. Here is some
I have given you a lot of information so please post back if you have any questions.

Best wishes,


Re: Contact with my neice

Posted: Tue Oct 20, 2015 12:38 pm
by Soz42

Many thanks for your reply.

I did get a response from the social worker but it makes no sense and am still awaiting a response for clarification.

I was told if I require any information my niece’s father would be able to advise me in regards to the Court’s decision and any contact that was agreed within the Court hearing. Apparently she can not share information with anyone who has not got Parental Responsibility for my niece as previously advised.

I am confused by this as it implies to me that my nieces father is the one who makes the decision regarding who my niece sees. This seems insane as he does not have custody of her. Also I was never previously advised of anything since I have only had one short conversation with the social worker over a year ago before any decision had been made. At that time I asked her to keep in touch and she did not after assuring me she would.

Still at a loss and still waiting for an answer.

Thanks again,

Re: Contact with my neice

Posted: Tue Oct 20, 2015 2:03 pm
by Suzie, FRG Adviser
Dear Soz42,

I don’t think the social workers response is correct (if your neice is looked after in the care system).

What is the legal position in respect of your niece? Is she in the care system under a care order? Or is she there with the consent of the parents (due to their legal parental responsibility?)

If the local authority have a care order then they will have parental responsibility and so will decide (after consultation with the parents, your niece the independent reviewing officer) about what contact is in your niece’s best interests.

Even if your niece is in the care system with the parents’ consent and no care order, your niece will still have a care plan which will include what contact she will be having with her family.

You could contact the independent reviewing officer –the person who manages your nieces care plan. You can get his/her details from the social worker. Or you could get in touch with the social workers direct manager and ask the same question.
Ask for any answer in writing as well in case you want to challenge the decision..

Don’t give up!

Best wishes,


Re: Contact with my neice

Posted: Sun Nov 29, 2015 11:15 am
by Soz42
Hi Suzie

Thanks for your response.

I did eventually get a response from the social workers manager after I made a complaint.

However I have been told that it is not in her interest to see us as it may cause her undue anxiety. I'm at a lossto see how this would be the case or indeed how they are able to come to this conclusion without even speaking to or meeting with us. I have been advised that this is a standard excuse.

There is a more pressing matter. My nephew, who lives with his father still sees his sister. We have regular contact with him. We have refrained from visiting when she is there, I wondered what the stand is on this, if we were to visit while my neice is there. I don't want to jeopardise the sibbling contact.

Also it is my nephews 5th birthday in March and he is having a birthday party which he wants us all to go to. How does this work do we tell a 5 year old he can't see his nanny and auntie because his sister is there.

The insanity of the situation is mind boggling. I feel like we are being treated like criminals who can't be trusted.

I am still waiting for the contact details for the independent reviewing officer, I have to say it made me chuckle when you said I needed to ask the social worker.

Any advise on the matter above would be much appreciated and thank you again for all your useful advise. This site has kept me sane, just nice to know I'm not alone.


Re: Contact with my neice

Posted: Mon Nov 30, 2015 3:59 pm
by Suzie, FRG Adviser
Hi Soz42,

Thanks for letting us know how things are going.

In respect of children’s services response, I suggest you consider challenging the decision.
You could contact the service manager or the independent reviewing officer. You can usually get the telephone numbers for both from the main line number for your local authority or children’s services first response number.

You are right to ask:
• Why had you not even been assessed? You could also ask:
• What can you do to help contact take place in the future?
• Is it a short term decision? Until your niece has settled in her placement?
• What about indirect contact first? Can you send presents or cards?

There is research and government guidance which sets out how contact with relatives can be positive for children in the care. See the advice sheets about contact I linked in my last post.
You could quote the research.

I can see the dilemma you are in about seeing your niece at a family gathering.

I assume it would be up to dad to check the plans with children services before your niece comes to her brother’s birthday party.

Have you checked with him? Does he know what children’s services are saying about your contact? He would now need to know.

Otherwise, you should get back to the children services about your attendance at the party.
By making this effort, you will also be seen as a relative who is considering her nieces’ emotional wellbeing.
It will also set you out as someone who can work in partnership with children services.

I am sorry that it seems such a long process.

Best wishes,


Re: Contact with my neice

Posted: Sun Jan 31, 2016 8:53 am
by Soz42
Hi Suzie
Long time no speak.

Well we're at a dead end, I have been told myself and my mother are not allowed to see her as it may cause 'undue anxiety' in their 'opinion'. I made a complaint regarding the social worker and her managers handling of this case, to be told I don't have a complaint!!!!!! I think they have entirely missed the definition of the word 'complaint' !!!!! So here we are they won't asses us and we still can't see her. They have ignored all my questions and have fobbed me off with a load of bull and get the distinct feeling they are closing ranks because they know they are in the wrong. As a note they still haven't sent details of the Independant Reviewing Officer which I have now requested 3 times!!!!!

I have one question for you now. There is no court order in place to stop us seeing her, no decision was ever made regarding myself and my mother, so are we legally allowed to see her???? Surely the social worker cannot have all this power it's completely insane, how can they get to play god over peoples lives without consequences. I truly am at my wits end :-(

Thanks again Suzie for all your help.


Re: Contact with my neice

Posted: Wed Feb 03, 2016 12:15 pm
by Suzie, FRG Adviser
Dear Soz42

Welcome back to the Forum.

I am sorry that you and your mother are still having difficulties in respect of contact with your niece.

As far as making a complaint is concerned, because you do not have parental responsibility for your niece Children Services do say that you do not have the right to make a complaint. However, as part of the extended family they, have a duty to promote contact and simply saying that it would cause undue anxiety is not a sufficient basis for refusing contact and certainly not without meeting with you or your mother.

I am including a copy of our advice sheet relating to contact with a child in care. This will give you more details about how to go about getting contact as well as how to make an application to the court.

A copy of our advice sheet about the duties that children services have when a child is in care is also here for your further information.

It seems odd that your niece has contact with her brother who will no doubt speak about seeing you and his grandmother to his sister. She will be aware that her brother sees you and wonder why she does not. This, it seems to me will more upsetting for her than being able to have contact. Your niece has a right to maintain contact with her family unless it can be shown that it is not in her interests to do so.

Do you know if your niece has any particular difficulties that would lead children services to the conclusion that contact would be a problem for her? How old is your niece and is her placement supposed to be long term foster care?

It may be that if children services will not work with you to arrange contact that you have no alternative but to make an application to the court. I suggest that you seek legal advice from a solicitor (preferably one accredited to the Children/Family Law Panel) regarding an application. You may not be entitled to legal aid but this is something your solicitor will be able to advise you about.

Should you wish to speak to an adviser, please telephone our advice line on 0808 801 0366. The advice line is open Monday to Friday from 9.30 a.m. to 3.00 p.m.

I hope you will find this helpful.

Best wishes,


Re: Contact with my neice

Posted: Wed Feb 03, 2016 8:54 pm
by Soz42
Hi Suzie

Thanks for your response, lots to look at.

I don't know of any particular problems that would affect her seeing us and she is 12. As far as I am aware she is in long term care, she has also been waiting for 9 months for a new social worker, which is another excuse they are using not to deal with this.

Thanks again