Sibling care

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sister90
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2019 6:53 pm

Sibling care

Post by sister90 » Mon Jun 24, 2019 1:53 pm

I don't know if I'm posting in the right place but here goes. In 2017, my younger brother and sister were staying at my grandmother's house and grandmother contacted children's services about concerns regarding substance misuse and our mum not being able to care for my younger siblings. It was agreed that my younger sister would reside with grandparent and our brother would stay with an older sister, children's services stated that neither of the children should return to mums Care and If they did then they would b placed into the care of the LA. Fast forward to Jan 18, my sister that was caring for out brother contacted me to say she couldn't cope with our brother and that she would b contacting CS to place him elsewhere, I however agreed to collect him and take care of him so he has been with me since Jan 1st 2018. He has been through so much, 5 paternal deaths including dad and grandad, school change, moving away from friends, split up from younger sister and obviously taken away from mum. We've had issues of self harm, suicide threats holding scissors to his throat, urinating himself and trying to hide it, unable to cope with rules and boundaries, shows no emotion or expression and is socially awkward. In 2018 he was seen by thr RAID team, CAMHS and family support worker. I was working full time earning a good salary but was facing dismissal from post due to me taking time off to care for him. I called CS in the summer of 18 to ask for some support but was threatened with his removal from my care If i wasn't coping so I just left it at that. This year, I requested s child in need assessment via email however CS claimed that they were not receiving my email so I contacted the local MP and we were later appointed a social worker. I asked for emotional and financial support for my brother and I in order for him to be able to remain in my care and to ensure I could fully meet his needs. The social worker had given me forms to apply for a CAO and had referred my brother back to CAMHS, I asked if there would be support groups available that I could attend that would help me deal with my brother as a child that has experienced quite a lot of trauma in different forms over the last 4 years but she states that there isn't. The only financial support she said I MAY receive is at his birthday and xmas and that basically if I say I won't be able to care for him without regular financial support that they will take him and place him into the care system. I have fallen in debt due to leaving my job to look after for him which is having a knock on effect on myself and my son including not being able to afford our rent which I could when working. I feel like I'm going to have to let him go into care sl I can go back to work in order to be able to financially manage, this is not fair on my brother of myself

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 662
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:25 am

Re: Sibling care

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon Aug 05, 2019 1:59 pm

Dear Sister90

Welcome to the family and friends carers’ discussion board and thank you for your post. I am very sorry that we were not able to respond to you before now as the discussion forums have been extremely busy.

I am also sorry to hear about the difficulties that you and your brother have been experiencing and the lack of support that you have received. Your brother appears to have considerable needs and I am glad to hear that he has now been re-referred to CAMHS where I hope he will get effective help. From what you say, it sounds as if you are very devoted to your brother and have worked very hard to care for him and to make sure that he is receiving the help that he needs but that neither you nor your brother have been adequately supported by children’s services. You have also been caring for your own son during this time and are facing financial hardship and difficulties paying your rent. The social worker has encouraged you to apply for a Child Arrangements Order (CAO) but not offered any financial support apart from possibly help for his birthday and at Christmas. You are worried that due to the lack of support you and your brother are receiving he may have to go into stranger foster care and in fact when you previously asked for support you were threatened with this.

As a family and friends carer (a sibling carer) you have a right to ask for support to enable you to care for your brother; he is certainly a child in need due to his complex needs. Support should not be based on the child’s legal status but on their needs.

I don’t know if your brother had a child protection plan at any stage? It sounds as if there should have been a plan in place when your grandmother raised concerns about your mother’s ability to parent him and your younger sister. Children’s Services said that the children could not return home to their mother – I am guessing that they also put restrictions around how the children could see their mother (they may have insisted that it was supervised?). Was any of this put in writing by children’s services?

Your sister originally began to care for your brother (was she offered any support?) but due to the challenges this presented she could not continue and you agreed to care for him, to prevent him being placed outside his family in stranger foster care. You don’t say how old your brother is but I am guessing that he is an adolescent with mental health needs? You have rightly been very proactive in contacting children’s services and your MP but have been told there are no support groups and that if you insist upon financial support this will lead to him being taken into care. This is not an acceptable response from children’s services.

Do you have a copy of your local authority’s Family and Friends Care Policy – if not and if you live in England, you may be able to find a copy here.This is a good starting point to find out what help your local authority says it can provide to family and friends carers. If it is an inadequate policy it can be challenged.

Have you been offered a family group conference? This would be good practice for the local authority to offer and a good opportunity for the family network to come together to think about what might be best for your brother and what support is needed.

This could help identify the possible ways that you could continue to care for your brother e.g.

As a kinship foster carer– children’s services would have to agree to assess and temporarily approve you (and later fully approve you if appropriate); this would have to be either with parental consent (a section 20 voluntary arrangement) or if your brother is 16 with his agreement, or children’s services would have to go to court to seek a care order. If you became your brother’s foster carer you would be paid a fostering allowance for him, the same as an unrelated foster carer would receive.

As a person with parental responsibility under a court order either:

A Special Guardianship Order (SGO) or a Child Arrangements Order – with both of these orders a carer can be assessed for an allowance (bearing in mind what a foster carer would get less child benefit and child tax credit) – they are means–tested and discretionary and some local authorities insist that the child is looked after first. If a relative has parental responsibility for a child they cannot then be a foster carer for the child.

Children’s services could also assist you under their child in need processes, if you are not a foster carer and don’t have a legal order to care for your brother, if they assess this as necessary but in many cases this does not happen.

It is important that you are not pushed into any arrangement that you are unhappy with and that your support needs are properly assessed. Has the social worker told you why she is recommending a CAO? Ask that they provide reasons for their recommendation.

I think that you would like to continue to care for your brother and to offer him stability but that you rightly recognise that you need help to do so, you are being a responsible and protective sibling carer to do so and you should not be criticised for highlighting his needs and that his placement with you needs to be promoted and supported. You are right that your brother should not have to move again or to be placed with an unrelated foster carer solely because of a lack of support being offered to you both.

Have children’s services offered to pay for you to get some legal advice in relation to the legal order they are recommending? If not, you can ask for their policy on this (in writing).

You can make a complaint about how children’s services have responded to your brother’s needs and to you as his sibling carer. Here is information on complaints. If your complaint is not upheld you can contact the local government ombudsman who in the past have often found in favour of kinship carers who have not been properly supported by children’s services.

You might be interested in our Sibling Carers’ research and the following advice sheets on children’s services’ support for relatives and friends taking on the care of someone else’s child and social security support for relatives and friends caring for someone else’s child .

I would encourage you to try to speak to an adviser on our Freephone advice line too: 0808 801 0366 Mon to Fri, 9.30 – 3.00 pm.
I hope this is of some help; you are welcome to post back with an update or call as above.

You may also be able to get some advice about debt and housing costs etc from turn2us or your local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB).

With best wishes.

Suzie

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