Access to grandchildren

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Only_Grandparents
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Nov 20, 2018 2:24 pm

Access to grandchildren

Post by Only_Grandparents » Wed Nov 21, 2018 12:06 pm

Hi all,

New member here so I'm not sure where to start with this sorry mess that my wife & I are going through. I'm not even sure what questions to ask so I'm basically wondering if anyone else has gone through a similar process and can give any pointers.

It's quite a complex case but basically we have two grandchildren (granddaughter (GD) & baby grandson (GS)) by our daughter. However, GD is from her previous relationship with Dad1, and GS is from current relationship with Dad2. Daughter, boyfriend, GD and GS all live in our house. Over the years we have pretty much raised GD ourselves and done most of the caring tasks.

Unfortunately GS has suffered "N.A.I" and therefore Child Protection orders have been made. GS is now recovering well and is with foster carers. GD was removed and placed with her father (Dad1). After a month or so of having no contact at all from anyone in the Local Authority we eventually received a letter from the court stating that we were being dragged into the proceedings as intervenors as they were now wanting to include us in the "pool of perps" simply because everyone was living under our roof.

We are now having to defend ourselves at our own expense as we don't get legal aid. And because of all this we are not allowed to see the grandchildren at all apart from a fortnightly contact visit with GD. Still not seen GS 3 months later!

The court process is basically you are guilty until you can prove your innocence. Ultimately we are looking at trying to get the grandchildren back together in our house as was the status-quo but can only do this once we clear our names in the Fact Finding Hearing. We are having the Connected Persons assessments, etc but they won't conclude until after the court process.

Our concern is that the L.A. and Guardian have already decided that our daughter is guilty (based on discussions had), and that they've already decided that Dad1 is to look after GD fulltime. If GD stays with Dad1 then it means moving school (which he's already telling GD), etc and severing most of the links with her maternal family. It is all she has ever known as she was only visiting paternal side once a fortnight. We think that the Guardian / L.A. have already made their minds up that GD is staying there and won't even consider the level of care we have provided previously. Any concerns we raise about the care Dad1 is providing is ignored (parental alienation, etc) and we are warned that if we persist then we will be "undermining the placement". It is so obvious that they don't want us involved at all, so much so that they have even approached Dad1 and asked if he wants to care for GS too!

We understand that father will trump grandparents but the best interests of GD don't appear to be paramount with the authorities, more the rights of the father. As grandparents we are excluded from a lot of the process too so we don't know what is being discussed. For example, as the grandchildren are classed as "looked after" by the L.A. I presume there will be Child Protection Plans for both of them? If so, we have not even been considered as part of the Core Group or cannot see what is being discussed in the plans. We know things are being said at contact visits by GD that should be raising concerns with the social workers, but we don't know if they are being recorded and can't access the reports. We think her school work is being affected and we know she's not being put in the correct uniform, etc.

It's just a nightmare. We have no say in anything as we didn't have PR. We have been cast aside like dirt on your shoe and are between a rock and a hard place. We cannot raise concerns as we have to basically suck up to Dad1 in the future to try and get some sort of contact. Both the L.A. and Guardian wouldn't be supportive of us going for residence / SGO as Dad is "good enough". We feel that Dad1 will phase us out as soon as the court process is over as he's already trying to do it now. He says one thing to the Guardian and then the actions don't match.

We want to raise our concerns with the whole process but these people are the ones who influence the court. If we annoy them or the Dad then we simply don't get to see our GD and potentially GS. Many thanks for getting this far. I just needed to get that off my chest as we have no-one to turn too. Thanks!

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 534
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:25 am

Re: Access to grandchildren

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Fri Nov 30, 2018 6:12 pm

Dear Only Grandparents

Thank you for you post and welcome to the family and friends carers’ discussion forum.

My name is Suzie, online adviser at Family Rights Group.

You are very concerned about the ongoing court proceedings relating to your grandchildren and believe that you are unlikely to be able to look after either of your grandchildren. Your granddaughter is placed with her father.

The court has invited you to intervene in the case because there is to be a fact finding hearing because of the injury suffered by your grandson (you do not say how old he is) which is being treated as a non-accidental injury. As no one has been able to given an acceptable explanation for the injury, the purpose of the fact finding hearing is for the judge to make a decision as to who in the pool of perpetrators is more likely to have caused the injury and if this is not clear then all persons can be left in the pool of perpetrators. As your daughter and grandchildren were living in your home you have been included in the pool of perpetrators. This is not unusual in a non-accidental injury case as all persons who had care or contact with a child who suffer a non-accidental injury would be included.

It must be very hard for you to have no contact with your grandson. Has the social worker explained why you could not have supervised contact? Normally, children’s services would carry out an assessment, including looking at the strength of the relationship, I suppose, is a close one as you all lived in the same home. As there is to be a fact finding hearing it may be that they are awaiting the outcome to make a decision about contact with your grandson.

As you are being assessed as a connected person carer, it is not the case that you are being pushed out as you say in your post. Children’s services are required to look at parents first, then family members before a child is placed with stranger foster carers. In your case your grandson suffered a non-accidental injury to until there is clarity about what happened it would not be considered appropriate for the children to remain in your care. I think the outcome of the fact finding hearing will feed into the assessment that is being carried out.

Your grandchildren are ‘looked after children’ because, I assume there is an interim care order, which would give the local authority parental responsibility together with your daughter and the fathers if they have it. The children may have been on child protection plans before the court proceedings started but this would no longer be necessary because of the placement of the children away from where they were living.

You may find it helpful to read our advice sheet Care (and related) proceedings .

The assessments which are currently been carried out will be completed before the end of the care proceedings as this will inform the court and the final care plan for the children.

As far as the children’s guardian is concerned, her role is to consider the welfare of the children and report to the court. The final decision about who looks after the children will be made by the judge having considered all the evidence both written and verbal. Neither the local authority nor the guardian will make final decisions or recommendations to the court until all the evidence is available.

Your granddaughter’s father will also be assessed and all factors including your care and relationship with the children will be considered as part of the planning and assessment. Children’s services have to do what is referred to as twin track planning so, they have to have alternatives even though the parents and you are being assessed.

You are right that because you do not have parental responsibility you will not receive information about the case. The only way you might be able to see documents would be if you are a party to care proceedings. This is something you might consider applying to the court for depending on the outcome of the fact finding hearing.

I understand that you may have concerns about your granddaughter but did you have the same concerns when she was having contact with her father. Did you raise any concerns before she was placed in his care? If you have concerns about contact that you might have with your granddaughter if the final decision made by the court is that she should reside with her father, then you could ask the court to make an order for contact. In this way, you would know what contact you will have. It seems that there was a good relationship with the father before as he was having regular contact, why do you think he would want to stop contact?

Copies of our advice sheets DIY Special Guardianship Orders - information for family and friends carers, Support for relatives and friends who are looking after someone else’s child and Family and Friends Care: becoming a foster carer will give you more information about the process.

I think you need to understand that it is the judge who makes the final decision about the children and for the court to make final care orders it has to be satisfied that the threshold criteria has been met. The case is complicated by the fact that your grandson suffered a non-accidental injury and the court has to satisfy itself about how and who caused the injury. The court first and paramount consideration in reaching its final decision if the welfare of the child.

I hope that the information here and the advice sheets I have included will help you understand the process a little better.

Should you wish to speak to an adviser about this, you can telephone our free confidential advice line on 0808 801 0366. The advice line is open from 9.30am to 3pm Monday to Friday.

Hope this helps.

Best wishes

Suzie

Only_Grandparents
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Nov 20, 2018 2:24 pm

Re: Access to grandchildren

Post by Only_Grandparents » Mon Dec 03, 2018 12:34 pm

Many thanks for the response, most useful.

I take your point about the Guardian / Local Authority not making recommondations, etc until the facts are found but based on discussions so far it is definitely their intention for GD to stay with Dad1 and so their final reports will most likely show this. They just seem to be closed to the idea that someone else, like us, could look after her. For example, for the Connected Persons Assesment, they weren't going to assess us for GD, just the GS. I had to push for us to be assessed for GD and even then we are just a "contingency" if the placement with Dad1 falls apart.

We've been told in no uncertain terms that GD is with her father now and that's where she's staying.

I've asked another question on another topic - in terms of the court proceedings, is there normally a separate welfare hearing after the Finding of Fact hearing? If we were to contest residency, etc I'm just wondering at what point we can do it. Up to now, GD is basically collateral damage in the proceedings as it was baby GS who suffered the injuries. All reports, statements, etc are (rightly) published to find out what happened to him so we cannot put forward our position for GD in these statements for the finding of fact hearing.

But after the final hearing and let's say Mum & Dad are found to be the perps then are further position statements, reports, etc allowed to be submitted for a separate welfare hearing? We just want to make sure we get chance to state our case for looking after both children.

Thanks again.

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