Need advice please

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Teresa14
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Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2012 7:26 am

Need advice please

Post by Teresa14 » Mon Jan 07, 2013 2:07 pm

Am having a problem that I do not know if anyone can advise on. A member of my family and her daughter is under social services. An assessment is being lined up for my husband and myself to help either look after both of them or if that doesn't work for us just to look after her daughter.
We have been having them over at the weekends and have come to see for ourselves first hand why there are issues with her parenting.
This morning her daughter should have been attending nursery but apparently the alarm did not wake them up.
The daughter who is not yet 3 years old is having to amuse herself until her mum can get herself out of bed. I do not even know when she is feeding her when they are not with us. The mum does not take care of herself, especially in respect to her personal hygiene, and I am becoming more doubtful that she is cleaning her daughter to any great lengths.
I do not know who to turn to my husband says that he will not intervene and have them stay with us all the time until we have parental responsibility for the child. I do not want to make a bad situation worse by involving the social workers but I am getting increasingly more worried about them both. The mum and daughter do attend family centre and apparently she is showing more parental boundaries around her daughter and that if this improves than they may re think things. I do not think they know the full extent of the home life. I do not know what to do, I have started to note any problems as they arise but do not know what to do for the best.
My husband says that we should just tell the grandmother and see what she thinks we should do, am so sorry for the disjointed text but I just wanted to get my thoughts out, please if anyone has any advice at all please let me know.

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Robin D
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Re: Need advice please

Post by Robin D » Tue Jan 08, 2013 9:18 am

Absolutely the right thing to be doing to be keeping good notes. (Often done best as a diary.).

If SS are going to start an assessment on you, that is probably the best time to share with them your notes and concerns, but you may need to do so earlier if you get any indication that SS are concerned about their placement with you. The highest priority has to be the child and SS will be possibly be looking for evidence that you will protect the child over the needs of the mother.

However, they may also be expecting you to be 'training' mum on what being a good mother is about, so I don't think you should be shy about sharing your concerns with her in a positive way, but from experience, its a difficult tightrope to walk.

Clearly if any one incident occurs that causes you real concerns about the welfare of the child, you need to call the SW and report it.

Best wishes ...... Robin
Former F&F carer, foster carer, adopter and respite carer for umpteen children. Now retired and when with kids, making sure they 'go home' at the end of the day.

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David Roth
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Re: Need advice please

Post by David Roth » Tue Jan 08, 2013 10:15 am

Hi Teresa14, and welcome to the Family Rights Group discussion forum for family and friends carers.

The situation of your family member and her daughter sounds quite worrying. There are some ways in which she is neglecting to meet her daughter's needs. Children's services are concerned about this, and have approached you as potential carers, either for the mother and child or just for the child on her own. However, the mother has recently shown some signs of improvement, which makes the future plans a bit uncertain. In addition, when you write about whether or not you should tell the grandmother, it sounds as though some important people in the family are unaware of how bad things are.

It sounds to me as though there are a couple of things you need to think through and make decisions about.

The first is exactly what you are willing to offer by the way of support and caring. Caring for mother and child together would be a very different prospect from caring for just the child. A lot of responsibility could fall on you to observe how the mother is caring for the child, and you might find the mother asking you to conceal information from children's services if she is not managing. And it could be quite difficult if the local authority decides that the mother can't look after the child, and the daughter stays on with you while the mother has to leave. And you also need to think about the sort of commitment you are willing and able to make to the child. If mum can't bring her up, then children's services would be looking to you to make a long-term (or permanent) commitment to raising the child through to adulthood. This will have a lot of implications for your own lives, and I would suggest that you and your husband take some time to talk these things through.

The other things I think that you need to think about is whether and how to involve the wider family in this. A number of local authorities provide a Family Group Conference service - this is basically a family-led meeting, where the family come up with their own solutions for a child within the family who is at risk, and the local authority supports the family's solution. You could find out whether your local authority runs such a service, and ask them to organise a Family Group Conference. You can read more about FGCs here http://www.frg.org.uk/involving-familie ... onferences

People in situations like yours often feel pulled in different directions, when parents and social workers might have very different expectations of you. I would suggest staying focused as far as possible on trying to do what will be best for the child and for yourselves, and think things through with this in mind. Keeping notes of problems as they arise is a good thing to do - it could help you to see patterns of behaviour more clearly, and it could also assist the local authority by providing them with additional information to support their concerns. It could also be worth making notes of things that go well, so that mum can see you are taking a balanced view and does not think you are working against her.

These sort of situations can change, sometimes quite quickly, so do feel free to come back here and keep us informed about developments. And good luck with doing what is right for the child!
David Roth
FRG Policy Adviser

Teresa14
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2012 7:26 am

Re: Need advice please

Post by Teresa14 » Tue Jan 08, 2013 2:05 pm

Hi Robin and David,

Thank you very much for both of your replies, I have spoken to my husband in depth about this and he has spoken to the grandmother about our concerns which she in turn says she will address with the mum. I am also going to speak with the mum and gently tell her of our concerns whilst giving her positive feedback of course.
We have already had a family conference in which SS spoke very clearly that they wanted alternative carers for the child, it was myself that suggested that we actually take both mother and child in.
I have been given a time frame of 6-8 weeks for the assessment to be completed and what option will be available in so far as placement.
As far as doing what is best for ourselves we all strongly believe that we have to try to keep the whole family together, however I have made it clear to the whole family and extended family that we will all need support when the process is finished.
Will let you know how everything panes out.

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David Roth
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Re: Need advice please

Post by David Roth » Tue Jan 08, 2013 3:38 pm

Hi Teresa14

Thanks for your feedback. It sounds as though things are moving forward, with your husband having spoken to the child's grandmother, and both of you planning to speak with the mother. I hope these conversations go well, and are taken in the right way.

You state that
I have been given a time frame of 6-8 weeks for the assessment to be completed and what option will be available in so far as placement.
I would suggest that it would be a good idea to find out for yourself about what the legal options are. Local authorities do sometimes suggest the legal option that suits them best, because it is the option with the lowest level of requirement on them to provide finance and support. However, there are sometimes alternatives that would provide a higher level of support and finance to the child and the carer, and it would be as well for you to find out about all the options and think about what would provide the support that you and the child would need.

One option might be that the child becomes looked after, and you become her foster carers. This ought to guarantee that you receive a standard fostering allowance, and get the same support (training, your own support worker, an out-of-hours number to call, etc) that is provided to all foster carers. You wouldn't have parental responsibility for the child, but you would be able to apply for an order at the point when you felt ready.

Another option is a residence order. You would share parental responsibility with the parent(s) - you could make day-to-day decisions about the child, but ought to consult them over major decisions, and you would need their agreement to take the child out the country for more than 28 days. You could be paid a RO allowance by the local authority, but it is discretionary.

You might also apply for a special guardianship order. You would still share parental responsibility with the parents, but you would have the exclusive right to exercise it. You would still need their agreement to take the child out the country, but only if it was for longer than three months. You are entitled to be assessed on your need for support and finance if the child is looked after immediately before the SGO is made, and there is a statutory framework for the support local authorities provide to special guardians, although it is ultimately still discretionary.

These are very quick outlines of the main options. You can find out more details by reading our advice sheets 18, 19 and 22 here: http://www.frg.org.uk/need-help-or-advice/advice-sheets

Good luck!
David Roth
FRG Policy Adviser

Teresa14
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2012 7:26 am

Re: Need advice please

Post by Teresa14 » Thu Jan 10, 2013 11:27 am

Hi all and good morning,
There has been an alarming update to my case. The child was in nursery and was seen to have 3 small bruises on her buttocks. The SW called me as the mum had said that it happened when she fell off of a bed whilst at my house, the SW said that the mum had stated that she was not in the room with the child when this happened. The SW then questioned me on how the mum disapplines the daughter, I made it very clear that the mum does a good enough job as she can, but, that when the child is told she is wrong about something then she does have a tendency to hit out. I did however say that in my opinion that youngsters go through stages of doing things like that. The SW then said that one of the bruises was the size of a thumb nail. She was very specific about this and said that she would take all the information back to her manager. The mum was then called a little later in the day to say that they were not happy with the answers she gave and that she is to attend a children's centre today at 1.30pm to have them checked by a doctor there. She said that there would be a duty SW there and her manager would also be there, I am going with the mum to support her and I also think her sister may come to. I think the social services seem to have their own agenda. I also don't know how this will affect our application for assessment as it happened at my house. Please help.

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David Roth
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Re: Need advice please

Post by David Roth » Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:21 pm

It sounds as if this is now a child protection investigation. After they have collected all the information, the local authority may well hold a child protection case conference, to decide whether there needs to be a protection plan for your granddaughter (this is equivalent to the old arrangement of a child's name going on the child protection register). The protection plan makes the plans for what needs to happen in order for the child to be kept safe.

The visit to the doctor will be so that somebody medical can state whether the bruises could have been caused in the way mum stated, ie accidentally, or whether they were the result of a blow or blows.

You have done the right thing by being open with the social worker about mum's care of the child. It's difficult to say at this stage whether the incident will have implications for you caring for the child. On the one hand, social workers might say that you weren't able to stop this from happening. On the other hand, it isn't reasonable to expect you to supervise everything that goes on in your house, and it wasn't as if this happened under your nose while you stood by and did nothing (if it was a blow from mum).

If social workers think that the bruising was caused by mum striking the child, then their main concern with you will be whether or not you accept that mum could have done it, and what you would do to stop something similar happening in future. If your stance is that you don't think mum could be capable of doing something ilke that, then they will think that you wouldn't be able to stop it from happening again.

I would suggest that you read our advice sheet 9, which deals with child protection procedures: http://www.frg.org.uk/need-help-or-advice/advice-sheets
David Roth
FRG Policy Adviser

Teresa14
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2012 7:26 am

Re: Need advice please

Post by Teresa14 » Thu Jan 10, 2013 10:42 pm

Hi just to let you know that the doctor could find no evidence of the mother harming the child, it was a great relief to all. Am now just waiting for the assessment process to begin. Many thanks for your reply and all the advice.

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David Roth
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Re: Need advice please

Post by David Roth » Mon Jan 14, 2013 9:28 am

Hi Teresa14

Thanks for coming back to tell us how the child protection investigation worked out. Although it was clearly very worrying for you to be caught up in this process, at least it has all been resolved quickly. The nursery are obliged to raise it if they see some bruises they aren't sure about, but the only people who are qualified to pass judgement on how they could have been caused is a qualified doctor. It is awful to feel that you or someone in your family is under suspicion in this way, but the system has worked in the way it is intended to.

Good luck now with your assessment!
David Roth
FRG Policy Adviser

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