Should he have been Section 20

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Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2018 3:51 pm

Should he have been Section 20

Post by OneGoodTurn » Tue Oct 02, 2018 2:40 pm

A boy came into my care in May when he was 15, in the middle of his GCSE's.
My son found him in MacDonald's crying. His father wouldn't reply to texts or calls.
The boy had come to live with his Dad for reasons I don't know 14 months before. He had previously had no relationship with his father. The mother had no contact.
When the police and social services became involved they said he could stay with us, and that we would be private foster carers and that the father would pay for his keep.
The father hasn't - he is a nightmare and caused the boy and us no end of grief.
Now that I am a bit more clued up, does anyone know why the father is allowed to retain full parental control and why the child was never taken into the system under section 20? I have now complained to Children's services - but I have no idea when they will respond.

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

Re: Should he have been Section 20

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon Oct 08, 2018 11:51 am

Dear OneGoodTurn

Welcome to the Family and Friends Carers discussion board and thank you for your post. I am sorry that we were not able to respond to you before now. My name is Suzie, FRG’s online adviser.

You have been caring for a 15 year old boy since May. Prior to this he had been living with his father for over a year and you say has no contact with his mother. You don’t mention any pre-existing connection with the young person. I am sorry to hear about the difficulties and the lack of support that both you and this vulnerable young person are experiencing.

It’s not clear from your post the exact way in which you came to care for this young person and in particular how police and children’s services became involved. This is important in terms of your query about whether the boy’s placement with you should be treated as a voluntary arrangement (or section 20) between the child’s parents and children’s services in which case you would need to be temporarily approved (and then fully approved) as a foster carer and treated as such (including being paid a fostering allowance) and the boy would be a Looked After Child and should be offered the help and support that involves.

It is clear from what you say that neither the young person nor you, as a carer, are being supported either by the children’s father (who remains a parent with parental responsibility /PR if he already has PR, even where there is a section 20 voluntary arrangement in place) or by children's services. Parents do remain financially responsible for their child if they are living with someone under a private arrangement but for different reasons don't always pay. If the child is defined as a looked after child then a carer cannot look to them for support as children's services should be paying a fostering allowance to an approved foster carer.

Children’s services are treating this as a private fostering arrangement – this would place a duty on children’s services to assess and monitor the situation probably under a child in need plan which can include practical assistance but does not have to. Private fostering applies to young people up to the age of 16 (or 18 if the child has a disability). These arrangements are made between the young person’s parent and their carer (not by a social worker) and part of the social worker’s role is to ensure that there is understanding and agreement about this. This does not seem to be the case in your situation?

I think that you have absolutely done the right thing by making a complaint to children’s services and hope that in your complaint you have set out how the arrangement was made and what role a social worker had in making it. You should receive a response to your complaint within 10 working days. The timescales and further options for complaints are set out in this complaints advice sheet.

As the young person is 15 it is particularly important to make sure that the right arrangements are in place for him before he turns 16 so it is good that you have formally raised your concerns with children’s services now.

You may want to ring our Freephone advice helpline 0808 8010366 which is open from Mon to Friday between 9.30 a.m. and 3.00 p.m. to discuss this with an adviser, especially if you are unhappy with the response to your complaint. You are welcome to post again if you prefer; if you do it would be helpful if you said more about exactly how the boy came to live with you and what children's services did or didn't do, as distinguishing a voluntary arrangement under section 20 from a private fostering arrangement can depend on these facts.

Also do you have a copy of the council’s family and friends care policy? If not, you may be able to find a copy here or you can ask children’s services to provide you with one.

I hope this helps.

With best wishes


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