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

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ied53
Posts: 2123
Joined: Fri Aug 18, 2006 11:26 pm

Re: Viability assessment done

Postby ied53 » Fri Sep 14, 2012 12:08 pm

the parents will say anything cos they want to believe it.They don't ever roll over and go away. The guardian will see you as that is part of the journey. To be honest the wheels move slowly as they have to cover all bases they will also be "parallel planning" just incase you don't work out or change yout minds this is essential to have a back up plan. That falls by the waysdie as your assessments become for certain. You are in for a long journey here with lots of intrusive questions as they have to be certain you are suitable to raise someone elses child. Mum will live in a fantasy world for sometime to come and will at some stage "fight you all the way" this is also human nature. The ride will be bumpy but the reward outstanding

I would strongly advise that you take everything she says with a pinch of salt and definately keep things concerning you to yourself. Make notes about everything including the sw ensure all is given to you in writing they can change there minds if just said.... Tune in here regularly for support we have been there done that so nothing will surprise us. Meanwhile hugs and welcome to the family of kinship carers.
Irene
Grandparent carer in Lincolnshire
Tough times never last tough people do

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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ied53
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Re: Viability assessment done

Postby ied53 » Fri Sep 14, 2012 3:33 pm

LA have to ask family first they go to court for the "rubber stamping" when they are going through various stages of the process.The LA present the facts to the court. The guardian will protect the interests of the child. They are doing what they should believe me it is going to be a slow process especially when they get to the court arena as they have to wait for Dates. the viability assessment is just that to see if it is a viable option. the assessment process is long and very intrusive it has to be or the court court be challenged on not following procedures and things be stopped.
Irene

Grandparent carer in Lincolnshire

Tough times never last tough people do

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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 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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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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ied53
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Re: Viability assessment done

Postby ied53 » Mon Sep 17, 2012 7:13 pm

Don't wait ask . They will then decide
Irene

Grandparent carer in Lincolnshire

Tough times never last tough people do

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David Roth
Posts: 2022
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


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