Viability assessment done

wilsy
Posts: 14
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2012 11:08 am

Viability assessment done

Postby wilsy » Fri Sep 14, 2012 10:10 am

Hi all - im a newbie here, but after some advice, guidance really!

my niece was taken into care approx March this year, and is still with a temp foster carer. she is 10 months old. A few months ago myself and my partner were contacted by the LA to see if we would be able to take care of her, which we agreed. We have since had our viability assessment, this was just over 2 weeks ago now, having not heard much i contacted the SW to ask for an update, she has advised me she is preparing the statement to hand in to the legal team today (Friday) and has also sent for our CRB checks. (They have over the last week advised my neices mum that she will not be getting baby back due to many reasons that i wont go into, my nieces father (my brother) is currently serving time under HMP.) SW told me they will be advising the court that they believe it would be in the childs best interest if she were to be placed with myself and my partner. She also said she has spoken to the 'guardian' who is in agreement, and that we should receive a call soon to arrange a meeting with her.
I beleive the LA are trying to rush through a hearing and would like for me and my partner to have SGO for my niece, which we are in agreement with.
I have since heard that the mother has found a solicitor, who has advised her that the SS do not have a leg to stand on, and that she will be getting the baby back. Now im really confused!!! This came from the mother though, so maybe lies, i just dont know!!

im also really confused as to how long things might take, its my nieces first birthday soon and i was really hoping she would be with us to spend her first birthday with family, also xmas coming up! But i dont know how long these things are likely to take, does anyone know roughly how long it might be before she could be placed with us? I know i cant get an exact answer, SS have said to sit tight we will hear things as soon as they do, but im just after a guilde really, what happens next, how long could this take?

any help or guidance would be really appreciated.
thanks

wilsy
Posts: 14
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2012 11:08 am

Re: Viability assessment done

Postby wilsy » Fri Sep 14, 2012 12:41 pm

Thank you. Its all just so confusing at the minute. Its the 'not knowing' that i hate, i completely understand there are processes to go through, and this all has to be done to ensure we are the best place for her to come. I assumed as the LA had approached us rather than us approaching the court, that it would be a speedier process, but i was obviously a bit naive there!

How likely do you think it is that a judge would go against the recommendations of the SW, and the Guardian (if she, as we have been told, is in agreement that it is in the childs interest to be placed with us)?

Thanks again for your reply, its good to know theres finally a place i can come to talk to people who might know the answers to some of my questions! Or that can offer some guidance!!

xx

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David Roth
Posts: 2022
Joined: Thu Aug 10, 2006 10:14 am

Re: Viability assessment done

Postby David Roth » Mon Sep 17, 2012 11:01 am

Hi Wilsy, and welcome to Family Rights Group's discussion forum for family and friends carers. I hope you find the advice and support here useful.

The court is going to be considering two separate matters with regard to you niece, and it would probably be helpful for you to keep these matters distinct in your mind, and if at all possible to help the parents to keep them separate in their minds as well.

The first matter that the court has to consider is whether your niece can go back to her mother or not. If the answer is yes, then that will be the end of the matter, and it sounds as if her lawyer thinks she has a good case. If the answer is no, then the question is what should happen to her. The council's answer to question two, supported by Cafcass, is that she should go to you. However, to avoid it being set up as a competition between you and the mother over who is going to get her baby (which is how it might feel to her at the moment), it might help if you made it clear that you are there in case the court decides against her. If the court decides against the baby going back to her, then the council's most likely plan would be to place her for adoption, with strangers outside the family, unless she goes to you. It might help if mum understands that this is the likely alternative to you having her.

The first decision, whether the baby should go back to mum or not, would be based on whether or not the 'threshold criteria' had been met. That is to say, it would depend on whether the court felt that the baby had suffered or was likely to suffer 'significant harm'. Mum's lawyer clearly feels the threshold criteria have not been met - I don't think there is any benefit to you in expressing your views about that to the court, unless it is about things you have actually seen for yourself.

The second decision, about whether the child should stay with you, would be based on a full special guardianship assessment, which is quite thorough and detailed. In some circumstances, it can be possible to place children with prospective special guardians before the order has been made, by approving them as temporary foster carers. However, social workers may feel that this would set you up against the mother, in the ways I described above.

One thing I would strongly recommend is that if you are going to be the child's special guardian, do make sure that the local authority does an assessment of your need for financial support and support services before the order is made, and that this is put in their report to the court. It can be difficult/impossible to get the support you need afterwards.
David Roth
FRG Policy Adviser

wilsy
Posts: 14
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2012 11:08 am

Re: Viability assessment done

Postby wilsy » Mon Sep 17, 2012 3:22 pm

Thanks for your reply.

As far as i have been made aware SS do not want baby to go back to her mum. If they have prepared a statement (which i believe has now been handed in to the courts) advising that the child be placed with me, how likely is it that the court would go against this recommendation? Does that happen? If SS are so against baby going back to her mum, its obviously with reason, so im wondering does it happen that a judge will disagree with them and send baby back to her mum?

Thanks

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David Roth
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Joined: Thu Aug 10, 2006 10:14 am

Re: Viability assessment done

Postby David Roth » Mon Sep 17, 2012 3:55 pm

Hi Wilsy

It's impossible to given an answer in advance of a court hearing about what the outcome will be. Local authorities do win most of their care cases, but they are not a foregone conclusion. The judge will listen carefully to the evidence from both sides, and make a decision based purely on the evidence that has come out in court. If the local authority has a strong case, then it is important that they present their reasons to the court. Mum's lawyer will also get a chance to present her case, and it is an important part of the system that she has an opportunity to make her case. These cases are never rushed, as there is so much at stake, and the decision is only made after weighing up all the available evidence.

I'm sorry if this isn't quite as definite an answer as you'd like. As you've said, the local authority clearly does have grave concerns about the child, but mum will have her opportunity to disagree and prove them wrong.
David Roth
FRG Policy Adviser

wilsy
Posts: 14
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2012 11:08 am

Re: Viability assessment done

Postby wilsy » Mon Sep 17, 2012 4:06 pm

Thank you, i know that no one can give me a definite answer until it has been to court, but all advice, guidance i have received so far has been very helpful. It just gives me an idea of what to expect.

Another question, am i allowed to make a request that the child is placed with me as a temp foster carer whilst the rest of the case is being prepared? or do i have to wait for the LA to raise this?

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David Roth
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Joined: Thu Aug 10, 2006 10:14 am

Re: Viability assessment done

Postby David Roth » Tue Sep 18, 2012 8:27 am

Irene is right, you most certainly can ask for them to place the child with you as a temporary foster carer.

Temporary fostering approval only lasts for 16 weeks, although in exceptional circumstances it can be extended for a further 8 weeks. The council may object by saying that if they don't win the case then that would mean the child having to be moved twice - to you and then back to mum - whereas if she stays where she is she would only have to move once, whether it was to go to you or back to mum.

However, they may have no objection, if they are confident of winning and being able to place her with you anyway. You have nothing to lose by asking them.
David Roth
FRG Policy Adviser

wilsy
Posts: 14
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2012 11:08 am

Re: Viability assessment done

Postby wilsy » Thu Sep 20, 2012 10:57 am

Well, im not sure whats happening, i cant seem to get hold of the SW now.. been trying for a few days, have left a voicemail and sent a text with no replies from her. Have also tried her manager, but shes not coming back to me either. I heard my niece had been taken to hospital this week with a chest infection, im trying to find out if she is ok and if she is out of hospital now, but no one seems to be picking up any calls!! I know they must be busy, but surely a quick message back to say she is ok wouldnt take long!
Im thinking maybe they have changed their minds and decided to give mum another chance? Would they tell me if they had decided to do that? They seemed so adamant that she wouldnt be going back to her mum though...so maybe not.
Im not sure who to speak to so i can find out whats going on, and when i should expect to hear from the guardian for our next meeting - if its still going ahead.
When i do speak to them, they are great and very helpful - but its getting hold of them thats the problem!

wilsy
Posts: 14
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2012 11:08 am

Re: Viability assessment done

Postby wilsy » Thu Sep 20, 2012 1:30 pm

well, i have heard back from them finally, apparently i just need to wait until they get in touch with me, they will let me know as soon as anything happens. At the minute nothing has changed, they have prepared statements advising my niece is placed with me, and they do not wish for baby to go back to the mother.
So im none the wiser, and waiting for the next step to happen!

wilsy
Posts: 14
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2012 11:08 am

Re: Viability assessment done

Postby wilsy » Mon Sep 24, 2012 1:37 pm

Hi

Had a call today from the SW, they have been to court this morning regarding contact issues with the mum and fostering assessment with me and my partner.
The court has reduced mums contact from 3 days a week to 1 day.
They have requested a full assessment be carried out on me and my partner - i think she said an F4 form?? I maybe wrong though....
They have also requested an assessment of us with my niece too. This all has to be done by the end of next week. So they are going to do the 2nd assessment of us and the assessment with the baby in one go. Im guessing this means things are moving forward???


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