Viability assessment done

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David Roth
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Re: Viability assessment done

Post by David Roth » Wed Sep 26, 2012 1:23 pm

Hi wilsy

It's hard to say without knowing all the details of what went on in court, but it does sound as if the court are quite keen to get things moving. If the court is reducing mum's contact to a much lower level, then it looks as though her lawyer's confidence that she could win her case might not be justified. Also, if they want to carry out your assessment so quickly, they may well be thinking about moving the child in with you at an early date.

I wonder if it is a schedule 4 assessment that the social worker is going to carry out? That is an assessment for someone who is a relative or friend (or 'connected person') to be approved as a temporary foster carer. Approval following this type of assessment lasts for 16 weeks, although in exceptional circumstances it can be extended once for a further 8 weeks.

If it is a schedule 4 assessment, then that is enough for the child to be placed with you for 16 (or 24) weeks. However, it is still quite a quick assessment, and there would still need to be a longer, more in-depth assessment before you could become a special guardian or be fully approved as a foster carer for the longer term.
David Roth
FRG Policy Adviser

wilsy
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Re: Viability assessment done

Post by wilsy » Wed Sep 26, 2012 1:45 pm

Thanks David, it does seem like they want to move things along. understandable as baby as spent so long in foster care now.
i think schedule 4 assessment rings a bell, maybe it was that, i was so surprised at the sudden surge of information i didnt quite take it all in. Im not aware of everything that happened in court. Im hoping to find out more info at our assessment on Friday.
Mums lawyer has apparantly said that one thing working in her favour is the distance, we are quite a way from the mum, she obviously would still be entitled to contact - which we think is important too, but with us being so far it would be difficult for her to travel to us. We of course, would do what ever we could to help contact arrangements, but the judge may agree we are just too far, surely this would of been taken into consideration before meeting with us though? and also before asking to travel so far for a second assessment and an assessment with the child?

Im nervous about the second assessment, but also excited, as it does mean i get to see my niece again, its been a while!

wilsy
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Re: Viability assessment done

Post by wilsy » Wed Sep 26, 2012 2:42 pm

do you think they would continue with the assessments if they thought the distance was going to be a problem?

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David Roth
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Re: Viability assessment done

Post by David Roth » Thu Sep 27, 2012 3:46 pm

Wilsy, it might be difficult for them to travel to see the child, but that might be just what they have to do. Too much time spent travelling to contact can also be difficult for children, by making them tired and disrupting their routines. The child's needs take priority over theirs. The decision over whether to place the baby with you is unlikely to hinge on this though. The ideal solution would be for the contact to take place somewhere near you, if it can't be in your home, with a contact supervisor if one is needed.
David Roth
FRG Policy Adviser

wilsy
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Re: Viability assessment done

Post by wilsy » Tue Oct 02, 2012 2:27 pm

Hi

So, our assessment went well on Friday. It was really just a meeting with my niece, SW sat back and watched how we were with her, the temp foster carere gave us lots of information about my niece, and lots of do's and donts - she was talking as if she thinks my niece is definitely coming to us, thats how it felt anyway.

SW asked us a couple of questions, employment history, asked about any previous convictions etc (i assumed all the CRB checks had already been done though).

There is a meeting between all parties at the end of October, and then a final hearing in November. SW wants us to have at least 1 more visit with my niece before the October meeting.

SW told us that if the judge agrees she should be placed with us, then she will be with us before XMAS.
My question really is, if in the hearing the judge says yes, she comes to us - then how quickly after the hearing would she actually be placed with us?
I dont know if the SW is right in saying she would be with us by xmas, sometimes i sort of feel they might be telling us what we want to hear!! im sure they are not though!

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David Roth
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Re: Viability assessment done

Post by David Roth » Tue Oct 02, 2012 3:53 pm

Wilsy, it sounds to me as if there are two possible outcomes from the final hearing in November.

One possibility is that the court might decide to award you the special guardianship order, in which case as from that date you will be the child's special guardians, you will have parental responsibility for her, and you should make the arrangements for her to make the move in with you at the earliest possible date - the social workers would probably want there to be a transition period of about a week or so to help her make the move and adjust, and you might need a little time to get the house and yourselves ready for a new little one to move in.

The other possibility is that the court might make a care order to the local authority. In that case, the move would really be their decision. You would have to be approved as foster carers, and the child could be moved as soon as that happened - this could include the temporary fostering approval we mentioned earlier.

There would have to be some negotiation around whether the child would move in with you in time for Christmas. Sometimes when foster carers are attached to children, they do put in a request for the child to be able to spend Christmas with them, as it will have all its other Christmases with the new family. However, this really shouldn't be allowed to hold things up - if it has been agreed that the child can come to you, and you are ready to receive the child, then the move should just go ahead, Christmas or not. If you get on well with the foster carers, and they don't live too far away, you might want to take her around for a visit on Christmas day, if she has left them to move in with you before then.
David Roth
FRG Policy Adviser

wilsy
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Re: Viability assessment done

Post by wilsy » Fri Oct 12, 2012 11:27 am

Hi

Just wondered if any one knew the process of claiming expenses due to travel costs.
I really hate having to talk about money, it seems as though it comes across as 'what am i getting for this' which really isnt the case, but as we are being expected to travel a long way to have more contact with my niece, at the LA request, myself and my partner are having to take time off work, luckily i can use holidays, but he is self employed and runs his own business, so will loose money there, and it is costing us quite alot to have to keep travelling back and forth, we are more than happy to do it, but im wondering how many times will we have to do this, and it will end up costing a lot money!
I really get nervous about having the financial talk with LA.... its like the elephant in the room at the minute!!
But if anyone has any tips on how to bring things like this up, i would appreciate it!!
Thanks

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David Roth
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Re: Viability assessment done

Post by David Roth » Mon Oct 15, 2012 2:26 pm

Wilsy, all local authorities have a legal duty to promote contact between 'looked after' children and their parents, others who have parental responsibility and their family and friends. Many local authorities take promoting contact to include paying the travel fares of those people when they visit the children. This would seem to be a particularly important consideration when the reason you are seeing them is with a view to the children coming into your care.

Asking about the travel expenses is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. Some local authorities would already have raised it with you first, and would see it as part of their support for a looked after child. Local authorities often have policies that state what expenses they wil land won't pay, and in what circumstances, so perhaps an indirect way of approaching it, if you don't want to ask them outright, would be to ask what their policies are about paying travel expenses, as it is leaving you somewhat out of pocket.

Also, if they are not being forthcoming about this sort of expense at this stage, then it seems that it might be all the more important to make sure that the local authority does an assessment of what your financial and support needs will be as a special guardian, once you have the order. Remember that if they don't do this assessment before the order is made, it can be a lot harder to get the support after you've got the order, so it's worth putting in the request now.
David Roth
FRG Policy Adviser

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

Re: Viability assessment done

Post by wilsy » Tue Oct 30, 2012 5:01 pm

Hi All

Its been a while so i thought i would update. since my last update we have had 2 more visits with my niece, which both went very well. Today the were was a court hearing, which i beleive is a final hearing before the actual final hearing.... if that makes sense, although i am yet to hear any outcome of that. Judging by the mums comments on FB it wasnt good news for her, i believe she has been told that she is not getting baby back, but i can only guess as i have not had an update. We have been asked to attend the final hearing next week, so i assume we can only sit tight and wait until then.
I am also waiting to hear from the fostering team, apparently i should be hearing from them soon, but with just over a week til the final hearing i thought i might of heard something by now. Its lots of guess work at the minute!!
Will update again soon.

:)

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David Roth
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Re: Viability assessment done

Post by David Roth » Wed Oct 31, 2012 10:33 am

Wilsy, considering the long-term implications for you and your niece, it really isn't unreasonable for you to expect them to give you some idea of what it is they will be recommending to the court.
  • Are they recommending a care order with you fostering the girl, or that you should be her special guardian?

    If they are recomending special guardianship, what support and financial package are they proposing?

    Have they carried out an assessment of your need for financial support and support services?
Although your main concern at the moment might just be that your niece can come to live with you, with the legal status covering the arrangement less of a concern, in the long run legal status can make a huge difference to the support you are entitled to.

As your niece is currently a looked after child, then if it is SGO that is being considered you can insist that they do an assessment of your needs for support and financial help. It could be worth while putting a request to be assessed for these support needs in writing, and making sure the court knows you have made the request. It can be lot harder to get this support after the SGO has been made, but while it is still in the court process the judge can apply pressure for you to get the SGO support that you need. You would need to make sure it was raised with the local authority in advance of the final hearing.

Please do call our advice line if you'd like to discuss this.
David Roth
FRG Policy Adviser

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