Welcome to the Family Rights Group’s Parents’ Discussion Forum
My name is Suzie and I am an Adviser at Family Rights Group. It must be a very difficult time for your girlfriend and you now that her children have been removed from her care.
Just to explain, Children Services (new name for Social Services) have a duty to act on a referral when it is received about a child being harmed. Whilst you may not agree with the action taken in removing your girlfriend’s son, Children Services should have investigated the situation before making the decision to remove the child. It may be that he was initially removed by the police as the allegation was about him being hit. This removal would only last for 72 hours and your girlfriend would have to agree to him remaining in foster care or with a family member. If she did not do so, then Children Services would have to apply to the court to have a court order.
In your post you say his elder brother was already living with a sister. Why was this child removed from his mother?
I am assuming that the children are now under interim care orders and in foster care and the care proceedings are ongoing. A copy of our advice sheet about care proceedings is here
for your information.
It is a shame that the children are experiencing difficulties in their foster placement. I see that you and your girlfriend are unhappy with the report prepared by the expert psychologist in the case. She will need to discuss her concerns about the assessment and report with her solicitor. The solicitor will then be able to decide whether the expert should attend the final hearing to be cross examined on his or her report. If, as you say, Children Services have made If, as you say Children Services have made a loads of errors, your girlfriend should ensure that her solicitor is made aware of these so she can find out from Children Services why this happened and how changes can be made. The social worker involved in the case can also be cross examined in court about anything in her statement or reports.
You did not say what the issues are that the psychologist refer to in the report about your girlfriend, but there should also be a recommendation as to how she can address these issues. It may be that the psychologist has suggested that she is not able to make enough change in what is considered to be the children’s timescale. That means that it would take too long and the children need to be in a stable settled placement before your girlfriend is able to look after them. Again, it will be for her solicitor to make any challenges considered appropriate or necessary.
I have explained above that it is for your girlfriend’s solicitor to consider the report and advise her. It would only be with the court’s permission that another expert could be instructed to prepare a report but that is something to be discussed with the solicitor. There may well be issues regarding the funding of a further report. However, you should understand that the Psychologist is likely to have a lot of experience in carrying out assessments and writing reports for the court in similar case, so it would be necessary to show that his report is so bad that the court could not reasonably rely on it.
It is clear that you are very supportive of your girlfriend and you do not believe what is being said about her care of her children. However, the duty that Children Services have is to ensure that children are in a safe environment and not at risk of harm. Were children services involved with your girlfriend prior to the allegation made by her son at school? Were they on Child in Need or Child Protection Plans before court action was taken by Children Services.
Does your girlfriend have any family member or friends who would be willing to care for the children if they are not returned to her care? If there are then, she should make sure that the social worker has their details so they could be assessed as possible long term carers.
The final decision about your girlfriend's children will be made by the judge after considering all the evidence given to the court.
I hope you find this helpful. Should you wish to speak to an Adviser, please telephone our advice line on 0808 801 0366. The advice line is open from 9.30 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. Monday to Friday.