Grandchildren being removed as Foster Panel not yet approved us

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Joined: Thu Jun 07, 2018 11:49 am

Grandchildren being removed as Foster Panel not yet approved us

Post by joisthebiz » Tue Jun 12, 2018 9:33 am


I have tried to ring the help line but not been able to get through.
I am really worried that my grandchildren will be fostered with other carers as we don't yet have panel approval.

We have attended the Foster Panel twice, in April & June.
The first time our SSW was off sick, her Team manager & the children's SW attended but the assessment report wasn't finished. an 8 week extension was granted.
The second time, the SSW & Team manager were off sick, Children's SW has left but her Team manager was available to dial in. The panel could not make a decision in those circumstances.

We have now been told by childrens SW team manger that there have been concerns raised from the first panel meeting that have not been addressed by the SSW so they are not sure that they will approve us currently.

The final care plan needs to be filed by this Thursday so SS are currently saying that they will have to place children with alternative foster carers as we have refused an SGO.
They have said that they may be able to push hearing back but are not sure whether the situation will be any different in a month.

I have asked if we can have some legal advice funded as we used our previous allowance to explore sgo support plan etc but am waiting to hear.

How can they take the children, who are doing really well with us according to all the professionals that have contact with them, when it's their fault that we haven't had a panel decision?

I'm not sure whether we can fight this or how to fight it.

Please advise.

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 637
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:25 am

Re: Grandchildren being removed as Foster Panel not yet approved us

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon Jul 02, 2018 3:14 pm

Dear joisthebiz

Welcome to the Family and Friends’ Carers discussion board and thank you for your post. My name is Suzie, FRG’s online adviser. I am sorry to hear of the difficulties that you are currently experiencing.

I am also sorry that we were not able to respond to your queries sooner and that you were unable to get through to the Freephone advice line at the time of posting. I will try respond to your two posts here.

When you posted on 12 June you indicated that the final care plan needed to be filed by the coming Thursday. That date has now passed so it may be that the situation is (hopefully) somewhat clearer and more time given for a decision to be made in relation to approving you as foster carers. It would seem reasonable that this should happen.

From what you say, your grandchildren are subject to care proceedings. You have been caring for them as temporary foster carers
for 25 weeks (the maximum timescale being 24 weeks) and are concerned that they will be removed from your care and placed with unrelated foster carers as the placement with you will become unlawful as you have not been approved within the timescale. Temporary approval can be extended once only, up to 24 weeks in exceptional circumstances, so this has already happened. Government guidance does specify that children should be moved and placed in another approved placement, if a carer is not approved within the 24 week timescale.

From the information you have provided it sounds very much as if the delays have been down to sickness and staffing issues within children’s services rather than any issues to do with you. It seems that there were some concerns noted at the first panel meeting which haven’t yet been addressed by children’s services, leaving the fostering panel unclear if they can approve you.

The other relevant fact is that you do not want to obtain a Special Guardianship Order (SGO) for the children which would give you parental responsibility for them. You did have some legal advice which you used to explore support under an SGO.

Is it still the case that you do not think that an SGO (obviously with the right support in place) would meet the children’s and your needs?

If you have parental responsibility for the children (even temporarily under an interim Children Arrangements Order (CAO)) or permanently under a SGO they could remain with you and not be moved to unrelated foster carers. But of course, this would end the fostering arrangement and any support that goes with it so may not be what you want or believe to be right for the children.

Despite all the difficulties you are having it sounds as if the children are thriving in your care and that professionals are in agreement with this. The children’s welfare is of course the most important issue in all of this and any decisions made should be based on what is best for them.

Has the hearing been put back as was suggested?

Do the children’s parent(s) support the children remaining in your care? If so, they should be discussing the situation with their solicitors as they are funded under legal aid and so have access to legal advice which you don’t currently.

You are right to formally (in writing) ask children’s services to agree to fund some further legal advice for you in the circumstances which do appear to be exceptional.

Also have you spoken to a children-panel accredited lawyer about the current issue and to enquire if you might be eligible for legal aid in this situation, as it could be argued that you are being unfairly treated as you are not responsible for the delay and in light of the potential negative impact on the children if they are moved due to these issues as opposed to their own needs. You don’t mention if you are currently party to the proceedings (you would have to apply for the permission of the court to do so) but this would allow you to actively participate in the court case and put forward your views.

You mention that the children’s guardian agrees that a SGO is not the best option so again what plan are they putting forward? They also have legal representation to put forward their recommendation as to what is best for the children.

I do agree that you should fight this situation. Staff sickness or availability should not jeopardise children’s safety and stability with suitable carers.

As well as exploring all legal options you can consider making a formal complaint about the situation and copy in all key professionals e.g. fostering social worker and manager, children’s social worker and manager, Independent Reviewing Officer and Legal Services.

If the children remain with you and the fostering panel recommends that you are not approved as a foster carer you have options to challenge this (see page 22 of Family and Friends Care: becoming a foster carer) through the Independent Reviewing Mechanism– and in this situation your temporary approval should continue and the children remain in your care until the outcome of the review is known.

Do come back to us with an update on the current situation if that is helpful as I am aware the situation may have moved on significantly since you last posted.

Best wishes


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