Grandparents' contact and SS

SeparatedFather
Posts: 8
Joined: Fri May 18, 2012 9:04 pm

Grandparents' contact and SS

Post by SeparatedFather » Sun May 20, 2012 10:33 am

Hi I'm new to this site.
Not sure whether this is the most appropriate forum area.

My two children have been subject to SS involvement since birth due referral from SS for their mother's other children who had been placed with their father, and to her unstable mental health, self harm and alcohol (and drug) abuse.
During our relationship and marriage I provided the majority of the care for our children and for her, allowing her to basically socialise with other people with problems (supposedly therapeutic but IMO more damaging), and during her frequent admissions to psychiatric wards.

After an incident in '09 when she became drunk at home and really deliberately wound me up and then when that didn't have the desired effect she physically attacked me and I restrained her, concerned that she would be in charge of the children should I be incapacitated (and police called by the neighbours who spun bu****it, arrested me), the new case worker made me leave the family home and forced my parents to hand over the children to her and their mother who was barely sober.

Within a week my expulsion from the home seemed to have been made permanent - the mother to this day insists she did not want that but the SW had given her the choice of that or remove the children.

I applied for residence on the basis that the mother was unable to provide a stable home given her condition(s), and that I could (particularly with the support of my parents, whose home I now necessarily shared) and that her "support" was in and out of her life with the changing wind.

Social Services, same department different worker were commissioned for S7 report despite my (through barrister) protest that they were severely biased in her favour. Guess what, everything that was negative about her was slanted to be positive, everything that was positive about me was used to suggest the existing weekend contact arrangement (implemented by CS) would be preferable to residence.
That the children could have moved from a failing school to a glowing one was ignored, as the children would be unsettled - excuse me their father had just been forced out of his/their home by you and you're worried about unsettling them?

Anyway three years down the line and after numerous police attendances at the mother's for various drunk/violent episodes and hospitalisations (whilst I/grandparents cared for the children, all without share of the family allowance), and police having to remove one new partner last year after three months, arrested for allegations of SA against the mother while she was zonked on medication (how was she effectively caring for the children during this?) - he had returned after she had insisted he was a nasty man and the children would never see him again. then another man she knew through therapy sessions left his wife and moved in with them - within three weeks the childrens services manager had visited and made him leave.
All evidence of the mother providing the safe stable home CS had recommended?

So the contact arrangement formalised in residency hearing for them to stay two nights each weekend (Fri after school-Sun after tea) and half each holiday (variation as agreed between parents) has been necessarily occurring at the home I share with their natural grandparents.

Now the younger of the children has raised at school the suggestion of abuse whilst staying and this of course was communicated to the CS contact centre.
This is not the first time this happened on a Friday when I was already travelling to the school to collect the children for contact - on the previous occasion contact was withheld pending investigation which found no concern.
This time contact was withheld and my parents challenged the CS in person as to their reasons for this.
CS manager said she personally would interview the children without alerting their mother (mother was already alerted as CS had told her to withhold) - then CS manager assigned young member of team to carry out.
Feedback from CS is that both children allege physical abuse by the grandparents. I know this not to be the case - there are at all times three adults here with the children, unless they are taken out.
Feedback from the children is that the older denies having said this to CS, only that younger child said it to older.
So CS have allowed me contact with the children but without contact with the grandparents or at grandparents home. This is effectively reduced contact from two full days/week to a few hours, and means the children are now missing out on the better life they've had here.

Both times CS say they had notified police child protection unit and having discussed with them, has reverted to CS (nothing like keeping it in house to stop the truth being outed ie. by impartial investigation).

I've a form C79 to fill, but it seems this challenges the mother for withholding, but she will point to CS instruction. She is not withholding anyway, I simply have nowhere else for staying contact to take place.
CS suggest I rent a home for the purpose but given past form I can see that as next step is accusations against me which without grandparents to witness, contact would be removed from me too.

Grandparents have two forms C2 permission to apply and C100 apply for contact. Of course same thing, court will seek CS views (same team) and application will fail. Although it may force CS to disclose reasons.

But all this takes time (weeks?) whilst the children are missing out particularly with summer holidays imminent, and money (court fees £hundreds) which would be better served as children's holiday funds (not forgetting both grandparents at retirement and I'm supposed to be saving for a home).

And all because of what, more CS lies.

So please help, are there any avenues open to us to refute CS claims and restore rightful contact?

SeparatedFather
Posts: 8
Joined: Fri May 18, 2012 9:04 pm

Re: Grandparents' contact and SS

Post by SeparatedFather » Sun May 20, 2012 10:40 am

Just to add, mother gave children a puppy on day of CS interview.
Mother already had more pets than the tenancy allows.
Youngest refused to attend contact yesterday or to see me. Afterwards (by telephone - each parent speaks on the phone any day they've not seen the children) told me had been ill. Mother told me was untrue.
Also says fact they have week old kittens not influenced the younger to refuse.

Older had very enjoyable day out without younger.

CS manager had offered during phone conversation to send me complaint form - this has not yet arrived (over a week). Having viewed their complaint booklet online it seems any complaint can be stalled or suspended for fitting into one of their excepted categories - which could be stretched to cover every reason we have.

ange301126
Posts: 537
Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2011 2:27 pm

Re: Grandparents' contact and SS

Post by ange301126 » Tue May 22, 2012 9:45 am

dear seperated father, Is there a care-order in force right now.I am assuming one was issued when CS first became involved at the birth of your child, is it still running?

SeparatedFather
Posts: 8
Joined: Fri May 18, 2012 9:04 pm

Re: Grandparents' contact and SS

Post by SeparatedFather » Tue May 22, 2012 12:13 pm

Hi, not sure.
Originally assessed as Child In Need to allow CS frequent monitoring.
Had been upped to Child Protection Plan at times, once due me stupidly leaving the children asleep in their beds for 5 minutes whilst rescuing their mother from drunkenly wandering the streets after binging at her friends house.
Last year was reduced against my protest to community support (someone to help the mother with discipline and routine) so still regular meetings, just not with CS.
This happened just after first new partner arrived. I had asked in Core Group for CS to background check him as he was obviously having significant contact with my children (and their mother had informed me he was formerly the boyfriend of her alcoholic street-working sister) and SW refused stating children were no longer subject to a plan and mother could move in whoever she liked. They then spelt his surname incorrectly in the minutes of that meeting, had I known I could contact the police for a check on my behalf that information would have been wrong.
Youngest disclosed sharing the mother's bed with him but no concerns were raised.

(When I checked the police website for a check, I was under the impression that only the resident parent would be informed of the outcome ie. partner to the subject - I was dismayed at that apparent policy and didn't seek to further it. Current CS manager has since told me I can apply and disclosure will certainly be made to her team).

Oh dear I seem to have strayed from answering the question directly.
Basically at no time in their lives have children lived apart from all of their mother, myself or my parents. Not sure on the point raised but their top involvement was a CPP.

ange301126
Posts: 537
Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2011 2:27 pm

Re: Grandparents' contact and SS

Post by ange301126 » Wed May 23, 2012 10:07 am

dear separated father,
"Both times CS say they had notified police child protection unit and having discussed with them, has reverted to CS (nothing like keeping it in house to stop the truth being outed ie. by impartial investigation)."
These words of your hit upon one of your biggest problems in my opinion.
If your parents are guilty of abusing the children physically then they should be punished for it;it follows that an official complaint should be made to the Police and they should investigate the allegations impartially and establish the facts.This has not happened.Check.
If your parents are not abusive to the children then it is highly likely that the allegations have been made with malicious intent. Your child denies having made the allegation to CS therefore this is even more likely.The only way you can establish the facts of the matter is to make a complaint to the Police.They should interview everybody involved including the children,the social workers and your parents to establish the facts.It is a crime to make malicious allegations and this appears to have happened.Has the mother encouraged the children to make false allegations? Has the Social Worker misquoted them?

The facts of a case ought to be established by social workers and they should then make decisions based on facts not on guesswork and hearsay. Very often social workers are incompetent and badly trained also working under extreme pressure which makes them incapable (or unwilling) to establish the facts. They appear to prefer making decisions on unclear evidence.

I suggest you ask your lawyer to arrange for a complaint to be made to the Police (not the child-protection team) but the slander or libel squad. This might sort things out because it appears to be one great big mess at the moment and you seem quite confused with it all yourself ,can anyone blame you.

Esme, Moderator

Re: Grandparents' contact and SS

Post by Esme, Moderator » Wed May 23, 2012 10:15 am

Hello seperatedfather

Welcome to the FRG parent's forum and thank you for posting. I am sorry to hear about the distressing situation you are in regarding your children.

I just wanted to let you know that our online adviser, Suzie, is aware of your post and will be responding with answers to your queries soon so do look out for her reply.

Best Wishes

Esme

User avatar
Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Grandparents' contact and SS

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Wed May 23, 2012 2:58 pm

Hi Separated Father

My name is Suzie, an advisor from the Family Rights Group.

Welcome to the board.

Parenting experience

From your post you advise that, Children’s Services had past involvement with your ex partner’s children. Since this time they have been placed with their father. Your go on to state you have been main caregiver to your children, at times when their mother was not available as a result of unresolved issues of her own. In spite of this, it now feels that your parenting capacity is being put under scrutiny.

Section 47 investigation

In some instances, a referral to the Local Authority will prove to be malicious, and no further action will be taken.

Under section 47 Children Act 1989, where it is suspected that a child is at risk of harm, or likelihood of significant harm, the Local Authority have a duty to investigate any concerns about a child’s welfare. A child protection investigation will be conducted.

A referral to the police will usually be done in the following circumstances:-
- where there is a disclosure of harm by child
-an unexplained injury to a child
- suspicion of sexual or physical abuse
- neglect

the police may continue to be involved in the event that a criminal prosecution is likely. Where they continue to be involved, this is called a joint investigation.

Usually, a multi agency strategy meeting, will decide a plan to investigate any concerns, and by whom, whilst ensuring children remain safe.

Where there is not enough evidence to pursue a criminal investigation, the police involvement may cease. There may bail conditions placed on an alleged perpetrator, for instance, not being able to have direct contact with a person, or not to visit, or go within the vicinity of a certain address. These measures would ensure the police remain satisfied that there will be minimum interference, whilst they continue with their enquiries.

Once a decision has been made for a sole agency investigation to be completed, at this point, it is usual for Children’s Services to conduct their own investigation. A core assessment (over a 35 working day) may be completed to assess the level of concerns or support needs a parent could have in order to keep their child safe.

Following on from this, a strategy decision could be made to a) convene an initial child protection conference b) refer to other agencies for family support, or c) close the case. In the event that a decision for a child protection conference to take place, this should be held within fifteen days of this decision.

Section 7 report

In your post, you raise concerns about the content of the section 7 report. If you have concerns about whether information presented to the court, is factually correct, your solicitor , judge, or another involved party could request social worker (or author) gives evidence, (or speaks to) their report in court under oath.

Under these circumstances, they can then be cross examined by any of the parties, and challenged as appropriate.

The court could then ask Children’s Services for an addendum section 7 (or more detailed section 37) welfare report, which could be requested where Local Authority have prior or ongoing involvement with a child (or family).

You say that you are applying for a residence order. May I suggest you continue to work closely with your solicitor, log any concerns and report these to them as part of these proceedings.

Should you wish to discuss your situation in more detail, please contact the Family Rights Group advice line on 0808 801 0366 Monday to Friday 09.30 am to 03.30 pm.

Best Wishes


Suzie

SeparatedFather
Posts: 8
Joined: Fri May 18, 2012 9:04 pm

Re: Grandparents' contact and SS

Post by SeparatedFather » Wed May 23, 2012 4:30 pm

Hi. Thank you for all your replies.

Residency was decided in favour of the mother at family court 2 1/4 years ago based on CS recommendation and my barrister advising that Judge would not award residency to me as (a) CS had placed them in their mother's care for almost a year and (b) during the preceding six months there had been no notified episodes mental health or police involvement and (c) possibility of mother suicide attempt.
I had not been aware of rare split residency outcome and would have preferred that to residency/contact. Basically barrister had advised to take the offered contact as it was a better deal than most fathers. I still have the issue that children's contact with me has dropped from 7-day to 2-3 day per week, and balancing that, that their contact with the mother has gone from 7-day to 4-5 day, all due social worker knee-jerk reaction without considering the impact of her decision on all involved (step-children, wider family, both parents and of course the subject children).

The current allegation of grandparents hurting the younger child is new. Previous allegation refers to children seeing me in partly undressed state when during contact had both entered my bedroom.
Younger child was recently to have been referred for evaluation regarding self-harm, evidenced by scratching raw the backs of hands. Child tells me they were just itchy, and seems to have passed.

A recent episode of concern to me was that when I lived at the family home (council estate) I had installed a CCTV camera with a view of the front doorstep and assigned parking place. I had disconnected it when collecting some of my possessions but had not removed it.
The lady from the family support had informed me during a meeting that she had instructed mother to have it removed as it was causing youngest anxiety. I doubt youngest had any concerns as was unlikely to have remembered what images it could have shown when working. Mother's boyfriend(s) tore it down and disposed of it without my prior knowledge. I strongly believe they had projected their own anxieties (paranoia) onto youngest to have their action sanctioned by the family worker. Just to be clear, although I've lost a CCTV camera through that, that my concern actually refers to possibility that adults are projecting scenarios onto my children to cause childrens services to further their own plans.

ange301126
Posts: 537
Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2011 2:27 pm

Re: Grandparents' contact and SS

Post by ange301126 » Thu May 24, 2012 3:13 pm

dear separated father,your situation seems to be very complex with everything that has happened .Two of the problems appear to be that you have been forbidden to hold contacts at your parents home because of allegations which have been made about them.As you live with your parents this is difficult.
On the strength of the allegations alone the social services (C.S.) have taken the decision.Thus your parents are being treated as criminals before all the facts have been examined.
Either your child made the allegation of physical abuse or he didn't. He says he didn't .The facts should be investigated in depth.Try complaining through the official complaints procedure and see how much good it does you. Possibly the child said something to the social worker who has twisted it and used it against you and your parents. There are thousands of possibilities.Possibily the younger child told the elder that granddad or grandma had clipped her or him round the ear and told mum about it. Mum then thought she would allege physical abuse. Clipping a child round the ear is not physical abuse just reasonable chastisement thus her allegation was malicious if she did not first ask your parents what occurred. Likewise if the social workers have not asked your parents what occurred her decision can also be said to be malicious. If they are allowed to get away with it your parents will continue to be treated as criminals which they do not deserve.Possibly they did not do anything at all and Mum encouraged encouraged the children.This matter should be investigated properly.I the facts are not looked into then it will fester and fester.Lots of people have been sacked etc. from their jobs for no reason just false allegations.

SeparatedFather
Posts: 8
Joined: Fri May 18, 2012 9:04 pm

Re: Grandparents' contact and SS

Post by SeparatedFather » Fri May 25, 2012 5:42 pm

ange301126 wrote:Possibly the child said something to the social worker who has twisted it and used it against you and your parents. There are thousands of possibilities.Possibily the younger child told the elder that granddad or grandma had clipped her or him round the ear and told mum about it. Mum then thought she would allege physical abuse. Clipping a child round the ear is not physical abuse just reasonable chastisement thus her allegation was malicious if she did not first ask your parents what occurred. Likewise if the social workers have not asked your parents what occurred her decision can also be said to be malicious. If they are allowed to get away with it your parents will continue to be treated as criminals which they do not deserve.Possibly they did not do anything at all and Mum encouraged encouraged the children.This matter should be investigated properly.I the facts are not looked into then it will fester and fester.
Thank you @ange301126
I have just received the minutes of the meeting 04052012 in which the SW states the children do not want to visit grandparents at the moment - a very vague statement. That moment passed three weeks ago, if it ever really existed. Certainly, both children do wish to see their grandparents. The grandparents cannot reasonably avoid the children forever at family gatherings etc.

You cannot say reasonable chastisement to a social worker. You must not touch a child. They persist with "1-2-3 magic" as the only disciplinary action open to children's guardians.
My parents have put their view across and been ignored. No abuse took place. CS will not back down.

I have to admit to total frustration now when dealing with SWs. Their lack of empathy is inhuman.
Their recording of meetings and writing up minutes is so selective. Everything is distorted and fails to represent the content of the meeting with anything approaching accuracy. If you have a different opinion to them or challenge them in any way you are seen as scum.

I have "parental responsibility" for both children, so surely I have the right to take them wherever and to see whomever I believe it is safe to, just like CS insisted that the mother could move in whomever she wished to the children's home (who turned out to be unsafe).

But what actual right do CS have to deny the children contact with their family?
SWs are always cautious in their language, "advise" and "suggest" never "do not" or "must not".
That is what led to their mother separating from me, when they advised her not to have me home etc. She has mental health diagnoses characterised by an inability to reason and she cannot tell the difference between advice and instruction, possible and certain consequences.
That is why she claims now she has been told to facilitate the children staying at hers when it should be their contact with me, it's only SWs advice to be taken OR IGNORED(?)

SWs have advised myself and the mother to seek legal advice - mother informed them that she had spoken to someone on the phone and been told she need take no legal action, that was for me to do.
Actually I now see it that that is for CS to do. Contact should continue as stipulated in the order until CS go to court with a VALID reason to vary it. But would I get away with that? Not while the mother is under their thumb.

Last year the mother encouraged both children to lie to me and grandparents. She never takes the children on outings even during the holidays. She does nothing to broaden their horizons, barely a day of contact goes by where we don't take them to see something.
Her mental health group were to have had a picnic for the families but we noticed it was raining that day. On contact both children explained how their mother had taken them on the double decker coach and they'd had a great picnic, until we mentioned the weather.

comments please...

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