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son needs accommodation
Posted: Sun Oct 09, 2016 7:15 pm
I hope this message will not be as long as I usually write. However, I need a little specific advice about two issues.
My eldest son (17) has been an inpatient in a CAMHS Unit for three months. I have written elsewhere about his difficulties. However, the Consultant Psychiatrist has told me and agencies supporting our family that my son has been ready for discharge for over a month and is only on the unit because he has no accommodation to move to. He has undergone a Forensic Psychological Assessment which recommends residential care and he has other assessments undertaken which suggest he needs supported accommodation. A funding Panel was held about three weeks ago, but I am not aware of any decision that has been made.
Two weeks ago, my son started college (on a supportive course) and he is thoroughly enjoying the experience. However, he commutes from the CAMHS unit and this is causing him a little concern. It also causes me concern, not least because I have to pay £40 a day for three days a week in taxi fares. The SEN Team are supposed to be sorting out his EHC Plan and funding for transport, but this is a slow process. Fortunately the course is very supportive and designed for students with additional needs.
On Thursday, I attended a Core Group Review for the Child Protection Plans for both my sons. At the review, it was clear that little thought had been given about my son's accommodation. In fact, the review seemed to be a way of trying to second guess what type of accommodation he might access because now it seems, he is a lo more stable than he was when he Forensic Assessment was undertaken. Complications arise because my son's college is in a different LA from the authority which we are under (but only by a few miles). Additionally, I gained the distinct impression that Social Care were quite prepared to allow my son to remain on the unit for a further six months, until he is 18 and then pass him over to adult services , with no transition and even fewer resources.
I contacted a gentleman from Shared Lives, who provide a range of accommodation for young people with similar needs to my son and he wanted to meet my son to discuss possible options. However, funding seems to be a barrier and representatives of CSC were reluctant to discuss matters further when I raised the subject of Shared Lives at the review.
I am really frustrated and angry that my son is being abandoned and I want to put pressure on Social Services to do something quickly, but I do not know where to start. Who should I approach to try to speed thing up?
Re: son needs accommodation
Posted: Wed Oct 12, 2016 12:28 pm
I can see why you are so frustrated and angry that your son remains in hospital a month after he should have been discharged. No doubt your son’s health team are also very concerned.
A child protection core group (or review) would not be able make any decisions about placements but the child protection plan could specify that the social worker, as a matter of urgency, take this up with senior management for an urgent decision and to report back at the core group meeting.
Has a Care Programme Approach assessment and meeting been planned? It is my understanding that this could be a way of planning resources when a person moves from a mental health setting back into the community or other setting? The social worker and team manager would then attend as well. Young minds could advise you about this or speak again to your son’s hospital care team.
If both health and children services will be funding the placement then both need to have input into meeting the costs.
Is your son considered to be a “looked after child”, so in the care of the local authority? If so, then you could telephone his independent reviewing officer who could pursue senior management about this delay.
If not, then I suggest you write to the director or service manager of children services and advise him/her of this delay. Explain that you are worried about the effect on your son and ask about what plans are being made.
You could also contact your MP about this. They could, take it up with children services and your local health commissioning body.
Sorry to give you so many options an so more work for you.
Re: son needs accommodation
Posted: Thu Oct 13, 2016 7:28 am
Thank you for your reply. After informing my social worker and her manager that I was going to write for advice from my solicitor (which I did) and contact the Children's Commissioner (which I have also done), my social worker visited us yesterday to say (a) despite assurances that he would prioritise the task, our previous social worker did not put an application for funding in to Panel before he left last month. It now seems there are two main options: a fostering placement (as a Looked After Child) or the Shared Lives, shared family option (which is similar to fostering). Preference seems to be for the latter option because (a) it does not require going to court for an application for care; (b) it is less formal and therefore less bound by the protocols of a care order and (c) it is cheaper. It is also much more likely to offer my son continuation of lodgings when he reaches adulthood in six months time. I also sent a plea of destitution to our SEN Team (which was a factual description of my financial status) and it seems they will fund my son's fees as agreed in the EHC plan.
My younger son is still only receiving 5 hours of home tuition, although he has been offered a place in a small 'medical' group in the local PRU. His anxiety seems to be increasing a little, so I have made an appointment to speak to his GP for a referral back to CAMHS. My youngest son's anxiety is not helped by my husband's tendency to contact agencies about his 'aggressive and sexualised behaviour' and then hear these reports read out to him (as they have to be) by our social worker. My youngest son does have some difficulties (as described in previous posts) but these are escalated in response to my husband's tirades of verbal rubbish towards me. My husband now has a new mental health worker and he will be going for a 'needs assessment' on Monday with a view to sorting out his own accommodation needs (currently he lodges with a friend and he has no private space in which to regulate his emotions), so hopefully he will soon be a little more stable.
There is a Child Protection Review next week and I see this as an opportunity to maintain the 'pressure' on agencies to help my children acquire their basic needs for appropriate education and accommodation. However, when I attend such meetings, I am often left distraught because there is such a focus on 'parental dysfunction' e.g. my terrible 'negligence' in allowing my eldest son to be abused by his father and brother; my 'inadequacy' to ensure my youngest attends provision outside the home and my 'passivity' in not protecting myself or my youngest from 'emotional abuse' by my husband (and not protecting my husband from mirrored 'abuse' by my youngest son). Yet the enormous complexity of trying to manage a family in which two, if not three, members have disabilities which affect their capacity to understand social interaction or fully appreciate the effect their behaviour has on other members, is either ignored or significantly underplayed. For example, social workers and related professionals will talk about applying 'consequences' in response to my youngest son's refusal to engage. Yet the refusal stems from extreme anxiety and consequences simply accelerate his fear. There is talk of cutting off contact from my husband, yet he needs so much support (he talks seriously of living in a caravan in the woods and devoting his time to finding aliens!) and my eldest son still loves his father and brother, despite what has happened, and he phones me every evening for advice about everyday matters and friendships.
Anyway, at leas the situation for my eldest seems to be moving forward a litle now.
Re: son needs accommodation
Posted: Mon Oct 17, 2016 1:34 pm
Welcome back to the forum, I am pleased to see that things are moving in the right direction now for you and your family. I am sorry that there are still difficulties with your husband and youngest son but hopefully these will lessen if your husband gets his own accommodation.
I think it is important that you insist that your youngest son’s education needs are kept high on the agenda as children services should be providing appropriate help and support to get him back into education. You may wish to consider contacting these organisations for further help in respect of his needs in education
and his difficult behaviour
Regarding your eldest son, I think it would be better for him to be a looked after child. This would require you agreeing to section 20 accommodation. The reason I suggest this, is because as a looked after child, children services will have specific duties towards him in terms of the provision of accommodation after he turns 18 and beyond. I have included here
our advice sheet about leaving care. Our advice sheet
relating to the duties children services have to children in the care system is also here for your information.
Just to clarify the position for you, your son can be a looked after child without children services applying to the court for a care order. Your consent under section 20 Children Act is the process by which he would become a looked after child. Children services do not have parental responsibility as they would under a care order. In any case, due to your son’s age they could not apply for the care order now. He could be placed by children services in accommodation which is considered appropriate under section 20, whether foster placement or the other living arrangement you refer to in your post.
I do hope that now things are moving in the right direction you will feel less stressed and frustrated as you have done over the period of time of your posts. You have certainly worked hard to get your children the help they need.
Should you wish to speak to an adviser, please do telephone our advice line on 0808 801 0366. The advice line is open Monday to Friday from 9.30 a.m. to 3.00 p.m.
I hope this is helpful.
Re: son needs accommodation
Posted: Fri Dec 23, 2016 9:48 am
This is just an update and a request for a little advice if possible. CSC and other agencies are still in discussion about who will fund my eldest son's provision with a Shared Lives carer. My son has been introduced to his potential carer and they seem to get on well together. There is, however, a great deal of pressure from CAMHS and CSC to move my son on quickly and January seems to be the target for him to leave the unit.
However, he still has no activities at all and no friends outside the unit. My son has little perception of what 'independent' life is like. He thinks he will leave the unit, live with the carer, get a job, get some friends and 'play out' with his friends in the evening. That is what adult life means to him.
Yet, he has no qualifications, few life skills, a history of educational placements that have broken down, extreme vulnerability , an incapacity to cope with unstructured time and a predisposition to develop worrying patterns of negative thinking that have led to very challenging behaviour in the recent past.
Furthermore, I do not know what our role as his family may be. For example, do we 'visit' him? Can he come to see us? How often can we take him out without trips out with family becoming his sole occupation? Can he stay overnight with me when his brother is around?
I really want this placement to work and for my son to develop into the well balanced and happy young man that he can be. However, I do not feel things are being planned logically. Surely he should go to his placement with a package of care in place, which would include activities to do during the week, organised visits 'home' and provision for his mental health when he reaches 18 (in a few months time) and leaves CAMHS services.
I have made contact with a few voluntary organisations to see if some voluntary work can be obtained for my son. However, he needs a lot of support and understanding and even if he were to start voluntary work, it holds a high risk of breaking down without such support and transition.
I have stated these concerns to our social worker and to the Shared Lives provider. The SL provider seems to share the concerns, but our social worker has told me that I have to 'let go of the reins' and allow my son to gain his independence. Yet my fears are not about 'letting my son go' they are about an autistic young man being placed with a single woman with no activities or social contacts at all. They are about a young man leaving an environment where there is 24 hour professional support and a ready made set of young people to talk to and going to live in someone else's house, under the delusion that he will walk into work, conjure up a set of friends and suddenly become a 'man'.
There is another lodger in the house who is about my son's age. However the lodger has severe learning disabilities and attends a special school five days a week, so I do not know how much social interaction there may be between the two young people.
I know social services are seriously under resourced and that informal networks such as families have a major role in providing support for young people with additional needs, yet I do not know who to contact or what I can do to sort out a package of support for my son and prevent a breakdown of this placement.
I have tried for so long to find provision for my eldest and I made the mistake, this September, of trying to get him into college on a Foundation programme (for students with special needs). The placement lasted 3 weeks before my son had to leave due to profound anxiety and an incident in which he may or may not have attacked another student. I do not want to make the same mistake by finding voluntary activities which may put my son or others at risk.
I am an emotional person, especially when it comes to my children. Yet I feel my anxieties with respect to my eldest (who was arrested and Sectioned in July) are well founded. Yet a meeting took place last week between our social worker, the funding manager and my son, in which my eldest was told (more or less) that everything would be put in place once he went into his new placement. I was not invited to the meeting. if I had been, I would have asked pertinently, what would be put in place and by whom and when. Personalised Learning Programmes have been mentioned, but these are frameworks, not provision and no-one in Education is available until January when plans will be made for my son to leave.
I am sorry for another vent, but I just feel strongly that my son is heading for a very serious failure.
Re: son needs accommodation
Posted: Fri Jan 06, 2017 5:57 pm
Thank you for your further post and apologise that you did not receive a response sooner due to the Christmas holidays.
I am sorry that you are still worried about the help and support that your son has will receive now he is to be moved from the Unit into supported living. It is understandable that you want this placement to work and for him to be happy and settled.
Children services will have to ensure that there is a proper plan in place for your son and his particular needs. He is now likely to also need adult disability services involve in the provision made for him. I know that you have been very involved in ensuring that both your children get the help they need. Is there is any particular reason why you were not able to attend the meeting with your son especially taking account of his special needs?
I am sure that the worry and anxieties that you have for your son’s well-being are genuine as you want the best for him. However, it might help if you wait and see exactly what is put in place to help your son settle into the placement. He was able to make friends at the unit and hopefully he will be able to make new friends or keep in touch with the friends he made at the unit. You clearly worry about his ability to understand the reality of been independent but he will (within his limitations) have to learn as other teenagers do and he will have the support of the placement and other services to help him.
If you find that he has not been provided with appropriate support you will be well within you right as his mother to continue to challenge social care on his behalf. You say that the social worker said you need to ‘let go’ and it may be that because you have always been hands on that you want to make sure that everything is in place but if you do wish your son to develop the ability to manage it might help if you allow him to work with services and say what he would like to happen. This is not to say that you should leave it all to him but if you wait and see it might be helpful to him.
I would hope that the frameworks you refer to will also have practical input as well. There are statutory duties in relation to your son as far as children services are concerned so if they do not do what is needed you can follow up on your son’s behalf should it become necessary.
Please read our advice sheet here
as I recall you agreed to your son being accommodated and it will give you information regarding what children services are required to offer to a looked after child.
I hope this is helpful but please do telephone our advice line on 0808 801 0366 should you wish to speak to an adviser. The advice line is open Monday to Friday from 9.30 a.m. to 3.00 p.m.
Re: son needs accommodation
Posted: Sat Jan 07, 2017 9:40 am
Thank you for the reply. I really appreciate the continuing support and guidance. I have a different question.
On Wednesday, I received an e-mail from our social worker which informed my that my eldest son's placement would not be proceeding because Shared Lives consider him too high risk, after reading a forensic report and a report from Children and Young People's Services. I gently broke the news to my son and, strangely, he did not seem to be too disappointed!
My husband is looking for single person's accommodation for himself. However, he seems unhappy and has broken down in tears on several occasions. My youngest son has been crying at night because he sees the family breaking up and he is worried about his Dad and his brother. He wants the family to reunite.
I may not be thinking rationally, but I feel it would be better for all of us if we lived together. However, there would have to be sufficient support and occupation in place.
There is a Core group meeting on Tuesday. My youngest will be attending a workshop when the meeting is held, so he cannot attend. However, I want him to write down his thoughts and feelings, so they can be presented at the meeting. My eldest son may be able to attend, if he has transport, I am unsure what his real wishes are with respect to accommodation, but if he could have an advocate to assist his communication (I do not want him to be influenced by my desires or his brother's views) I would really like him to attend and be given the opportunity to say what he really wants.
If my eldest also wants to return home and truly understands what this would mean, how likely is it that we would, after all this time and effort, gain sufficient support to help us function successfully as a protective and positive family unit?
I do not want to suggest reunification at a CP meeting if this will only raise alarm bells. However, if reuniting as a family, with sufficient support in place, could meet my sons' needs, I would like it to be considered as an option.
Do you think reunification, in our family context, is likely to be a positive and achievable goal?
Re: son needs accommodation
Posted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 1:47 pm
Please ignore the previous post.
My son attended the Core Group and made it clear (sensitively) that he did not wish to return home. Therefore, I am not considering reunification in any real sense. My husband is also back to his usual angry self.
However a Manager from the Safeguarding Team was present and the first thing she suggested was fostering under Section 20. I know this is something Suzie advised above. However at 17.9 fostering seems to be a very temporary measure, and if Shared Lives could not take my son due to the 'risk' he presents, I do not see how fostering, even with a specialist foster person, is any different.
Another suggestion for my eldest is a group home specialising in autism. The only problem is my son loathes any reference to his diagnosis, so I do not know how we could support him to live in an autism specialised environment. The other problem is that many of the group homes are designed for people with learning disabilities and I am unsure whether my son (who is intellectually very able) would fit in.
There is terrific pressure on the health providers and the local authority to find my son somewhere to live because he has been subject to delayed discharge now for five months and he is approaching 18. I am frightened that he will have a series of inappropriate placements as people hurry to discharge him and then he will find himself in crisis and on a long term placement on an adult psychiatric ward.
Suzie, if I was lucky enough to reside in an area where the local Authority was more effective and autism aware (our LA are £140 million in debt) what would be the best provision for a young man with my son's profile?
I am trying to protect my youngest from the stress around him. However, at 15 and with additional needs he is blaming himself for his father's decision not to reunite and for my eldest son's dilemma. To his credit, he is continuing to access five hours of one to one provision at the PRU and I have reports that he is enjoying the company of other young people at the workshop he attends one day a week. Yet, when we talk at night, it is obvious that the abuse, the police intervention and the break up of the family are affecting him quite badly. I have made an appointment with the GP for another referral to CAMHS, but CAMHS simply discharge him because he will not engage.