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contesting a failed assessment

Posted: Mon Dec 08, 2014 8:02 pm
by TheMA
Hi all, so any advice will be greatly appreciated!

La have had concerns since 2010

Nephew (7) Was removed last november however 2 nieces (2 and 4 now) in the home as concerns remained around the male. He is now settled with his father and we have regular contact as with his mother.

So my 2 nieces were removed under a section 20 in april sorrounding my sister needing a mental health assessment..... the children had been under a cp plan for some time and the LA have a view thst no consistant change have been made and the children are at risk to harm and neglect. she was lead to believe she would have them returned after this assessment. This did not happen so she later revoked the s20 (july) we first appeared in court where an interim care plsn was agreed and the first mention that the la were seeking adoption of the 2 girls! They were to remain in foster care throughout procedings.

We were asked to provide family members who could care for both girls, i put myself forward as a single 30 year old with no children of my own. They carried out a feeble assessment in 2 hours (whilst never seeing me with the children) formed the opinion that i would not be suitable because i didnt support all of their concerns (of which i only know as of now) anyway, this was back in august! I got some advice, knew that i could argue it but couldn't afford the legal fees.... nor was it ever explained to me by the la that i had a right to respond, so i thought my fight was lost..... so i continued to go to every court date (with my sister) and on the last occasion we sacked my sisters shoddy legal team and got some better counsel who fought (along with the guardians team) to get me party status..... so here i am representing myself it looks like i have the guadians support..... and the mothers if they cant be returned! Where no one wanted the funding issue it looks like they are sourcing an ISW assessment for me, however the final hearing is set for feb.... thats already with extension!

This assessment will take 1-2 weeks, does anyone have and advice on this at all?

Re: contesting a failed assessment

Posted: Tue Dec 09, 2014 10:29 am
by Robin D
My advice would be to ensure you are very careful with the ISW. Make sure you take notes during the assessment, especially of anything you tell them. Unfortunately, many on here have found they are not as independent as they might be and simply reiterate all that the original social worker has written. I hope its not the case, but forewarned is forearmed.

If when you get the report its negative, make sure you go through it with a fine tooth-comb and pick out every point of 'fact' that you can show to be different, and highlight where they have muddled 'fact' and 'opinion'.

Finally, make sure you get over that since you are now a party, you now understand why there are concerns, and if its decided the girls should come to you, have plans ready on how you will manage contact, and ensure their on-going safety.

Good luck. .... Robin

Re: contesting a failed assessment

Posted: Tue Dec 09, 2014 8:29 pm
by TheMA
Thank you Robin!

Im particularly passionate they stay in the family after i grew up without either my mother or 2 sisters.... weve worked hard over the last 16 years to establish the family we now have. Identity is important..... i know!

I do agree with the concerns and have many of my own so the obvious is just that in this case. We already manage contact between her ans her son..... we have to supervise due to the current proceedings so i already comply and work with the la. Where as my sister has been very defensive with the la, i havent and have always acted appropriately (i used to work in the contact centre that takes these calls, so can hold my own in the know how, which i hope works in my favour.

Thank for the advice on taking notes, i will be sure to do this as there has already been a lot of mistakes in the case... the sw that made her (she signed with duress and stated this on a handwritten s20!!) Sign the s20 was immediately removed from the case and later the LA, strangely enough the sw that was assigned later has now also gone (shed carried out my viability assessment) and now the la are offering to carry this out but an isw looks to be the preference!

I just know the girls would thrive in my care, i dont have children of my own... would this be an issue? Where as i see i can give them all my focus!
I work, but on a contractual basis so i can opt out if need be, would they see that i would then have to potentially claim and see that as a problem? Id have to move, and fast as i wouldnt want to disrupt them any further! I am single, is that a problem? I have so many simple questions!

Were in court tomorrow, it looks like the legal teams will push for the isw so hopefully i should know more then.... and more importantly i should get to discuss contact :)



Re: contesting a failed assessment

Posted: Sat Dec 13, 2014 8:27 am
by mamma
hi theMA as robin says, go through it well, i have a negative, but panel felt different, it was defered for me to go on the fostering course, whitch was great, i also did a bullet letter where the assessor contradicted her self, and assumed not FACT, good luck you have a fight on your hands but dont give up, xx

Re: contesting a failed assessment

Posted: Mon Dec 15, 2014 12:06 pm
by rsvmad1
Hi.. sorry to hear The Local Authority failed your assessment. They failed mine too, I could not let me Nephew spend the rest of his childhood in Foster Care, so I knew I had a fight on my hands.

First I had to apply to the Court to be made Party To Proceedings, the Judge ruled in my favour granting me Status.

I am Self Employed with very little income which meant I could not afford a Barrister I had to represent myself. Which meant a lot of hours reading what the Local Authority had failed my assessment based on (in other words I had to discredit what they failed me on)

Chances are if The Local Authority have failed you the childrens Gardian will also be siding with The Local Authority as will the psychologist ect. This was another bridge to cross you will have to question them in Court to try and discredit why they think you should not have care of the child.

Also a letter to the Judge expressing what you think is in the childs best interest and what you have to offer the child will go in your favour.

Thats about as far as I can go as I am about to go out.

If you need any more help just let me know im happy to help.


Re: contesting a failed assessment

Posted: Tue Jan 06, 2015 10:36 am
by TheMA
Hi all,

I have been successful with the ISW (who was very lovely and very helpful) and now have a positive viability assessment and it appears I am now going to be going through the SGO assessment.

Does anyone know what this may entail?

Thanks for your advice, it really is appreciated and to know others have fought and won against the system is encouraging :)

Re: contesting a failed assessment

Posted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 11:30 am
by Suzie, FRG Adviser
Dear TheMA

My name is Suzie and I am an adviser at Family Rights Group.

It is very good news that you now have a positive viability assessment and will be assessed for a Special Guardianship Order for your nieces.

As far as the assessment which is now to be carried out is concerned, this will involve a very in depth look at you, your background, relationship with family members and your ability to safeguard your nieces and manage contact.

Consideration will also be given to any other adults who are involved with you and likely to come in contact with the children. For example, if you have a partner a police check will be requested to ensure this person is not a risk to the children. This assessment is very thorough as the court will need to know that the special guardianship order will benefit the child in the long term.

I have included a link here to our advice sheet about applying for a Special Guardianship Order (SGO). There is a lot of information about becoming a special guardian. If you look at page 54 you will see the sort of information that the assessment will have to cover for the final report to the court.

Our advice sheet relating to care proceedings is also included which give details about the court process and what happens when the application for a SGO is made within care proceedings.

I hope you will find this information helpful but if you require further help, you can telephone our free advice line on 0808 801 0366. The advice line is open from 9.30 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Best wishes,


Re: contesting a failed assessment

Posted: Wed Mar 11, 2015 3:17 pm
by TheMA
Hi all,

OK, so an update - The LA had 10 weeks in which to complete the SGO assessment which will then take us to the 20th on this month. I have done all I can do now and just hope that its enough to keep those little beauties with us where they belong!

I did however want to ask a question - My sister will still be fighting in court for them to be placed back at home with her therefore I am in effect going against her as suitable carer and keep being asked for whether i think them being placed back with mum is suitable or not. Why do they ask this of me when they (The LA) will be making their recommendations on that point?

Thanks in advance


Re: contesting a failed assessment

Posted: Wed Mar 11, 2015 4:35 pm
by Suzie, FRG Adviser
Dear TheMA

It is very good news that things continue to progress well for you.

Whilst your sister intends to oppose the local authority’s application and any recommendation for the children to be placed other than with her, it will be for the court to make the final decision about their future. Most parents will continue to oppose even if they know there is no hope, sometimes it is their way of showing they did all they could to keep their child or children.

I think you are being asked about the children being placed with mum to assess your commitment to caring for them long term. Also, is there any likelihood that your sister will have addressed all their concerns about her care and could possibly have the children back with her? Children Services have to consider parents caring first and then family or friends.

In your case the children are already with you. You stepped in because your sister was not able to care. If mum is able to care how you would feel about that? I think they may want to know, would you be able to put the children’s needs first if it is decided going to their mother is best.

Children Services will make the recommendation as to what is the best placement for the children. The Guardian will also give her view regarding the children’s welfare and what is best for them long term. The judge will make the decision on the evidence before the court.

Hope this helps

Best wishes,


Re: contesting a failed assessment

Posted: Wed Apr 01, 2015 2:46 pm
by TheMA
Hi there,

So... The LA have not recommended me. This is on the basis that I have had 3 episodes of depression where I have not taken up the counseling or therapy offered (this in my opinion was never needed and a waste of resource), and that I have not fully agreed that my sister poses a risk to her children.

I realise that this is still not the end but feel so deflated. The LA were late with the report therefore the FH date is now not going to be this month - the reason the LA were initially favoured over the ISW to carry out the SGO assessment was that they could get this completed in 10 weeks which they have now taken 12 weeks and this has effected the timetable.

The contact has been very badly organised since the beginning of mine (1.5 hours weekly - starting 6th March) down to the venue changing with no notification, to being cancelled without informing the foster carer and myself.

The social worker (who has joined late to the case) seems to have no idea what is best for these children as the foster carer and I have raised concerns regarding contact to him yet it is only when he is fronted out at meetings with others present do these concerns get addressed.

Without Legal advice I feel like its a lost case already :(

Kind Regards

A very deflated Auntie