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Not considered for assessment

Posted: Thu Jul 17, 2014 12:45 pm
by Little Nanny
Just come from pre-legal meeting with social services where they have decided to take my daughter to court for an interim care order. She has been diagnosed with a mood disorder and has had alcohol and drug issues and recently entered into a relationship with an individual social services are unhappy with. They are favouring giving my daughters ex husband custody even though he has a string of domestic violence convictions, drug and alcohol issues, no fixed abode lives with his mother who also has string of jail sentences and his two heroin user brothers.
The solicitor said ( I was not allowed to attend meeting) that they stated that they would not consider assessing us as grandparents as they think that the issues with my daughter are down to how we parented her. I'm absolutely appalled, the issues with our daughter have been because of her 10 year marriage to a violent man and I can't believe they are even considering giving him custody.
The children have stayed with us by private arrangement on a couple of occasions in the last 4 years, as long as 18 months on one occasion and have been loved and cared for - social services previously have even praised our care for them and what a great job we had done so this has come completely out of the blue. Is there anything we can do to challenge this decision? There are 4 children, the eldest being a different father so it would mean splitting them up if they do go to ex husband whereas they could all stay together if they were willing to assess us. And even if the court takes the decision that they do not got to the ex husband our solicitor says that they will have to be found foster carers which would mean split apart as well. I'm distraught at the thought of them going to strangers and being apart from each other. I don't understand why they have come to the decision not to consider us and what can we do to challenge it?

Re: Not considered for assessment

Posted: Sat Jul 19, 2014 8:15 am
by Little Nanny
Had phone call from social worker last night and as my daughter has put us forward for parental assessment, she has made appointment to see me. I'm still concerned that they are just going through the motions as the solicitor said they had already made a decision in favour of the father.
This is completely the wrong decision and I am not convinced that they have completed adequate checks to ensure his home environment is suitable - there are a string of concerns about him and his current living conditions. I may be jumping the gun here as we have not been to court and there has been no ruling to remove the children from my daughter but I am getting more and more anxious that should the interim care order proceed that the children are put through more distress and trauma and will be at more risk in the care of their father. I am seeing a solicitor myself next week but wanted some advice on how to challenge the local authority decisions.
I also want to complain about the completely random and unfounded statement by the team leader about how we brought her up, I feel that it is unprofessional and unacceptable and has caused an unimaginable strain and stress on us at an already fraught time and that they stated to my daughter that 'they could not afford' to give additional support when she offered that they complete additional unannounced visits if they had concerns about the new relationship - instead they have begun court proceedings, which I imagine must cost more? I'm not sure at what point to do this as I don't want to aggravate them to the extent that they exclude us completely from our grandchildren.
Any help and advice would be much appreciated.

Re: Not considered for assessment

Posted: Wed Jul 23, 2014 9:56 am
by David Roth
Little Nanny, when children are in the care system, the local authority have a duty to check firstly whether they can be placed with a parent (or someone who has or had parental responsibility for them). The second option is to place the children with a relative, friend or person who has some other type of prior connection with the child. Only if these aren't possible should they place the child with foster carers or in other types of accommodation. By looking at the father as a possible carer, the local authority are carrying out a legal duty. However, the information that you have provided about his background and current circumstances are hardly favourable, and if this is a case that is going through court then your daughter will be able to make sure that the court has all the information it needs to make a decision about his suitability. It won't just be a decision for the local authority - a Cafcass officer will be appointed, whose job is to safeguard the child's interests and wellbeing during the proceedings, and the judge will make the final about what sort of order is needed.

I would suggest that you ask for the court to appoint somebody independent, i.e. not employed by the local authority, to carry out your assessment. If the team manager stated, in a meeting with a solicitor present, that they did not want to assess you because they consider you to be unsuitable, then to me that sounds as though they are already prejudiced against you, and an independent social worker could approach the assessment without any such prejudice.

I don't know if you have taken your legal advice yet, but it could be worth considering asking to be joined as a party to the proceedings, on the grounds that you have been proposed as potential carers for the child. As a party, you would have a right to attend all the court hearings, and to be given access to all the evidence that was being presented. You would also be able to make your own submissions to the court.

Re: Not considered for assessment

Posted: Wed Jul 23, 2014 6:16 pm
by Little Nanny
Thank you David and Irene for your replies, it makes me feel somewhat better knowing a little about the processes.
I had a meeting with social services today and it now would appear that they are going for supervision order and not interim care order and that local authority parental responsibility has not been granted? I'm not too sure what the terminology means but I believe it has given us a bit of a reprieve in that my daughter will be given the opportunity to continue with a court agreed care plan and will need to evidence her engagement and consistency of actions.
They did spend about 15 mins with me just asking about my daughters childhood, her siblings, why I thought she had these problems with drugs and alcohol - what did her siblings do, did they have alcohol issues etc etc.
Now I'm not sure if I'm being paranoid but is this normal questioning process or do they believe that there is a genuine issue with how she was parented? Just for the record, there are no issues, problems with either of her siblings and they lead very happy normal lives and we are a very close family.
Secondly, I can't quite believe that they have put us through all this stress and anxiety and then change the basis of the court hearing - is this normal protocol?
I am still seeing a solicitor tomorrow as the situation seems to turn at every opportunity and I don't trust that it won't change again so I will ask his advice on both those points you raise, David - an independent assessment and being party to the court hearing, especially as I am concerned that they think we have done something to cause our daughter to have these problems.
Can you help me with understanding why the situation has suddenly changed and whether this is normal process. They hadnt notified my daughter that it has changed, she phoned as I came out of the meeting so I explained as best I could what was now going to happen.
Thanks

Re: Not considered for assessment

Posted: Fri Jul 25, 2014 3:00 pm
by Suzie, FRG Adviser
Dear Little Nanny

My name is Suzie, one of FRG's online advisers.

Without wishing to duplicate some of the comprehensive advice you have already received, a supervision order means that the parent would continue to retain parental responsibility. This means your daughter and any other one else who currently holds it would continue to do so. On this occasion the Local Authority have not been granted it by the court. Therefore, they would need to continue to monitor a support plan over a set period, normally twelve to eighteen months.

Both your and the parent's solicitors can provide more information about the reasons for the change in the care plan. However, amongst other things, the Local Authority must be satisfied with the level of parental engagement at this point.

Best Wishes

Suzie