Advice Needed - Desperate

R123
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Aug 25, 2014 9:12 pm

Advice Needed - Desperate

Postby R123 » Thu Mar 16, 2017 9:56 am

Hi There,

I am writing this email with regards to the above publication you have on your website regarding the good samaritian.

*******
I am in need of some advice with my case, I have sent my compliant to the Ombudsmand and the Local Authority.

I took on my nephew in December 2010 till September 2011. I was living in a one bedroom flat with my partner and daughter at the time was 3 years old. I was also pregnant with my second daughter. The local authority had seen how small my living situation was and still allowed for my nephew to stay with me.

I was initially going for a Kingship order but was informed by the social worker at the time that If I got a residency order first as this process was much quicker and would help me with my housing situation, and I could then go back and do the SGO. I was completely mislead and done what they had said as i thought this would help me get moved quicker. This was not the case. I then went onto do the SGO and the local authority had refused to support the application as they thought it was sufficient enough that I had the Residency Order even though this is not what i wanted. I was not informed with regards to financial help or that it would be means tested. This had completely thrown me that hey had not supported me. From the day I took my nephew on till now I have had no support whatsoever financially, emotionally and my nephew has had no support either. I now see why they talked me into the Residency Order, as they knew they would not have to help me financially or with any needs that my nephew may have.

Before my sisters children were taken it has already been proved by the Local Authority that they was already in the stages of having the children removed.

We have saved the local authority thousands of pounds, I am not asking for much, I just want what is right for my nephew and his future, he deserves to have a good start in life as this local authority have failed these children.

The local authority have given me a backdated figure based on the national minimum fostering allowance less any benefits I received and informed me that going forward I would received a certain amount.

They have now back tracked and said they are only willing to back date payments from December 2012 from when I got the court order and this will be means tested, which i was not informed of from the start.

From December 2010 till when I got the court order surely I should have been seen as a friends and family carer so should be entitled to be backdated from December 2010. And I am sure my nephew was a looked after child from when I took him on till when I got the court order as my sister was not present at any meetings and did not give her permission for me to take my nephew. I am not sure if they means test on friends and family? My nephew was on child protection register.

I would also like to know if my nephew is not related to my partner why I should be means tested under his earnings too, he is not his child and we are not married. I have never been able to claim child tax for my nephew either.

Also would my nephew be entitled to any long term support package going forward? he did not have the best start in life and although he seems to be ok now who is to say that in the future he will not need support with regards to any issues that may arise. I just want my nephew to have the support he should be entitled to and any help he may be entitled to once at the age of living on his own.

I really hope you can give me some advice going forward. I am at my wits end as they have just mucked me around for nearly 7 years now and just wont do what is right by the child.

Thank you

*amended by Suzie to comply with the forum rules.

User avatar
Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 409
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:25 am

Re: Advice Needed - Desperate

Postby Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon Mar 20, 2017 4:22 pm

Dear R123,

Welcome to the Family and Friends Carers Forum.

I am sorry to hear that you have been so badly let down by the local authority. Your nephew as well, when he needed support, was never assessed for what he needed. I also agree that you would have saved the local authority a lot of money. What reason is the local authority giving, for not backdating to December 2010? If they have not told you, ask them for their reasons in writing.

What kind of support should you have had from December 2010 until the date of the residence order?
If your nephew was “placed” with you by children services, then he would have been a “looked after child” and you should have been assessed as a foster carer and paid foster care allowance. Foster care allowance is not means tested at all.

Whether he was “placed” will depend on the facts at the time he came to your home. You say that the local authority were about to go to court for a care order because of the children being at risk of suffering harm. Mum was not involved in any meetings nor gave her consent to your nephew living with you. This all suggests he might have been a looked after child. To get a clearer understanding it would be useful to have the answers to these questions:
Was the social worker involved in contacting you and placing him with you?
Were monies discussed at the time of placing? Or later on?
Are children services saying that it was a private arrangement between you and mum?
Is there any written agreement signed at the time?
Was mum or dad allowed to come and take your nephew out whenever they wanted or was contact to be supervised?
Were you instructed to call the police if mum came to your home?

The alternative to your nephew being placed, is him being subject to a private arrangement between you and one of his parents.
In these circumstances, the parents would have remained liable for supporting him. However, children's services should have still carried out a needs assessment to see what support on top of this might have needed. This could have involved liaising with the housing department.

From the time you obtained the residence order, you would no longer have been a foster carer. Instead you may have been assessed for residence order allowance which is in the discretion of the local authority. Have you seen their policy for this?
It is usually a means tested allowance and this takes into account the household income which would include your partners income as well, if you are co-habiting.

There is more information about the different ways in which family members take on the care of vulnerable children and the support available to them in our immediate placements advice sheet.

I wonder whether you could argue that you were encouraged to apply for a residence order on false pretences, which has put your family at a financial disadvantage as well as not being the best legal order for your nephew. You have had to cope with nothing.

I am glad to see that your local authority have agreed to pay you the backdated allowance at the minimum foster care allowance rate. Have you asked them to explain in writing how they have reached this figure?

Going forward, you could either keep the residence order, along with the support they are assessing or reconsider applying for a special guardianship order. There is more potential support if you obtained a special guardianship order including access to the adoption support fund. You could also ask the local authority to pay some of your legal fees as they have the power to do so. Have a look at page 39 onwards of our special guardianship advice sheet.

If you have not already seen it, you could also have a look at the Local Government Ombudsman’s document family values report.

I have only touched on your situation. For more advice please post back or you speak to an adviser on our advice line for intensive support.

Best wishes,

Suzie

R123
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Aug 25, 2014 9:12 pm

Re: Advice Needed - Desperate

Postby R123 » Tue Mar 21, 2017 6:33 pm

Hi Suzie,

Thanks for the reply.

The Local Authority have not gave me any reasons as to why they will not back date payments from December 2010. I will be putting it in writing that I require to know what these reasons are.

Since December 2010 I have had no support whatsoever from the Local Authority. My nephew was placed with me, this was not a family arrangement .

We had a family group conference in December 2010, but my sister was not present and did not give her permission to anything concerning the children. In meetings that followed I requested financial help on a number of occasions , they informed me this would be discussed with managers but it never was and we received nothing.

There was no written agreement at any time. My nephew father is not involved.

We was never informed from the start that we should be assessed as a foster carer, in my opinion we was never told because they simply didn't want to pay. But I should been seen as a foster carer and paid that allowance from December 2010 up until I got the court order surely.

I have seen the policy on the Residency Order when they first told me to apply for this order. But as I have always stated at the time I was encouraged by the Local Authority to get The Residency Order first as this would not take as long as the SGO and this would help with my housing situation. The housing wanted a court order before they would even consider giving me extra points to bid. At that time I wasn't even thinking of financial help all I wanted was to get a bigger place to have my nephew feel secure and happy with us and to have his own space. The Local Authority had told me I could go for the SGO as soon as I had got the Residency order, which I did but they would not recommend this for me as they said in their opinion the Residency Order was sufficient. I don't feel it is sufficient as I want the full parental responsibility, just so his father could not come back at any time and feel he can take control of the situation. I don't feel that the Residency Order is the right order for me as in the future my nephew may have arising issues, he has been through a lot and sometimes these figures came come out later in life and there needs to be a proper support package in place for us. I had no support from the Local Authority with regards to my housing situation all they had done was wrote me a supporting letter.

The had agreed to back date payments at the foster care allowance, but now they want to means test me from December 2010 till now, so the amount they first offered will probably be much lower. I will be asking them for a full breakdown on how they have came to the figures.

I have requested the care records too as I think I have the right to know what happened through his young life. I have the right to know if any issues may arise.

Would I have to be reassessed and go to court to obtain the SGO again?

Thank you

User avatar
Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 409
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:25 am

Re: Advice Needed - Desperate

Postby Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon Mar 27, 2017 2:00 pm

DearR123,

I think you are doing the right thing- asking for a copy of your nephews file. It might show the reason why they asked you to apply for a residence order.
Often we hear that children services encourage friends and family carers to apply for a residence order urgently-so they don’t have time to think through the options or get legal advice.
Usually, this is to get parental responsibility to prevent the child being removed but also it saves the local authority the cost of a child being looked after and the cost of legal proceedings.

But by doing so, it means all the onus is put on the friends and family carer to provide protection and support (in very difficult circumstances) instead of children services.
The child then loses the support and protection of being looked after.
And parents then lose out on access to legal aid they would get if children’s services had taken care proceedings.

You say that it was at a family group conference when you decided to take on the care of your nephew but that mum was not involved in the process nor gave her consent. This does not sound like a family group conference, as parental consent is always needed.

You ask about applying for an SGO. Yes, you would need to ask for an assessment and take court proceedings.
You would need to send a letter or email to children services giving them notice that you intend to apply to court, in 3 months time, for a special guardianship order and at that point also ask for and ask for an assessment for support.

Because you applied for the residence order, this will have cut off your nephews looked after status, so children services “may” assess you for support but do not have to.
If they decided not to assess you, you would need to ask for their reasons in writing and may be able to challenge their decision. See our advice sheet about special guardianship orders that I linked in my last post.

There is a clause in the special guardianship regulations that deals with your type of circumstances. It says that when a friend or family member steps in and a child is not looked after, they should not be unfairly disadvantaged by this. See paragraph 51 of the special guardianship guidance .
I hope this post helps but if you have any questions, post again or call our advice line on 0808 801 0366.

Best wishes,

Suzie

R123
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Aug 25, 2014 9:12 pm

Re: Advice Needed - Desperate

Postby R123 » Wed May 17, 2017 12:55 pm

Hi

Thank you for your reply.

I am currently looking into getting the Residency order overturned, as this is not the order I wanted from the beginning. As previously stated I have always wanted the kingship. Can you supply me with any information on how to do this, how long it takes etc.

I need to carry on fighting for what is right and what should have been right for my nephew from day one of him being removed from his mother.

Social services are still disputing my nephew was not a looked after child, but it has proven he was. When he was removed from his mother he was placed with a family friend, whom he did not know and then placed with me. from 2010 til 2012 there was no order in place and they are refusing me any backdated payments, I have asked in writing for these reasons, as he would have been a looked after child and therefore have a duty to pay the back payments.

Please give me as much information as you can.

Many thanks

User avatar
Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 409
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:25 am

Re: Advice Needed - Desperate

Postby Suzie, FRG Adviser » Wed May 24, 2017 11:13 am

Hi R123,

If it has been proven that your nephew was looked after child, when he was placed with you, then children services would have been under a duty to pay you foster care allowance until you obtained the child arrangements order. You should still take all the steps via the complaint process up to the local government ombudsman, if need be, to see whether you can recover the monies.

Have you considered whether or not you might be able to judicially review the local authority’s decision?
What about seeking legal advice about this?
You could find solicitors who specialise in judicial review on the law society-find a solicitor .

You ask about discharging the child arrangements order.

The best way forward may be to apply for a special guardianship order.
If it was granted, then it would replace the Child arrangements order (so discharging it).
You would still have the legal parental responsibility for your nephew under a special guardianship order
See our advice sheet about special guardianship orders which explains how to do this.

If you wanted to discharge the child arrangements order, (with no new order being granted) you need the courts permission. However, if the court discharged the order, it would mean that you would no longer have the legal parental responsibility for your nephew, so I cannot understand what benefit you would get by doing this.
Also, the court would only grant this if it was in the best interests of you nephew (taking into account the welfare checklist).
Mum (and dad, if he had parental responsibility) would then be the people who could make all the decisions about your nephew, including where he lives.

Even if he remained living with you, after the order had been discharged, your nephew would not automatically become a looked after children again.

I hope this advice helps but please post back or call our advice line on 0808 801 0366.

Best wishes,

Suzie

R123
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Aug 25, 2014 9:12 pm

Re: Advice Needed - Desperate

Postby R123 » Fri May 26, 2017 12:44 pm

Hi Suzie,

It has been proven that all three of my sister children were looked after children when they were taken from her and placed with a family member and then placed with me after we had a family group conference, baring in mind my sister was not present at any meetings nor gave her consent to anything. she was very ill and unstable and was not in any frame of mind to be making decisions.

I am making another compliant as the Local Authority are not answering any of my questions with regards to the back dated payments from 2010 till 2012, I have requested the care records and they say they will deal with it and nothing gets done, they are just prolonging this again. I have been waiting for certain information since April.

I have considered the JR but I am unable to afford the legal fees and I would not be approved for legal aid.

I had applied for an SGO after I was granted the RO, but the Local Authority would not support me on this, even though I was pressured by them to get the RO first to help with my housing situation and then reapply for the SGO, which I did but as i say they gave a very poor excuse and would not support me, they said the RO was sufficient. they knew what they was doing, so they would not have to pay anything financially.

I am looking into the order being overturned as I dont think the RO is sufficient for My nephew future. I need in place the best long term support and financial package for him. My nephew has had so much loss and upheval the last 7 years and he should not have to suffer and i should not be penalised for being family, I should be treated and seen just as a foster carer would. Ideally I want to be seen as a foster carer, this i should have been approved for from when i first took my nephew on.

My nephew father is not in the picture, he wants nothing to do with his son and his mother my sister passed away in 2012.

This is a very messy case and I will not be giving up until we get what is right for the child.

Many thanks


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