PLEASE HELP,

helpneeded!
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Joined: Sat Dec 31, 2016 10:33 am

PLEASE HELP,

Postby helpneeded! » Thu Jan 05, 2017 10:16 pm

Hi all,

Very long story, so I will apologise in advance!
My son was in a relationship which lasted for 8 years and produced two gorgeous children. When the youngest, my grandson was 5 months old, his mother began an affair and I ended up with my son moving back home and devastated. The mother had chosen the local bad boy, so we had concerns from the beginning. Approximately 5 months later, it was reported to social care that there was DV within their relationship. The following day, I was called by the sw asking for me to join her and my ex daughter in law, at her request. Mother was informed that she could not have him in the home, if the children were present. She stated that she had ended their relationship that day but that he and his family had already been to the house, being abusive. A safety plan for was implemented,where mum would stay out of town with a relative for the weekend and then bring the children to our house for the following week, to allow her to rid herself of him and his belongings. The family were known to services and had a notorious reputation. On the Sunday evening, I received a message from the mother stating that they had reconciled. I contacted CSC first thing on the Monday morning and spoke with the same sw who had held the meeting three days earlier. I had a number of conversations with her and her team manager over the Monday and Tuesday. I have found one of the call logs on my personal mobile account. Unfortunately, any calls received were on my work phone, so cannot retrieve the logs. On the Tuesday evening, my grandson was rushed into hospital. It took two days to receive a diagnosis, which was a NAHI, otherwise known as shaken baby syndrome. He was in high dependency for days, his injuries were deemed as life threatening. Due to the timings of the injuries, the only people within the pool of perpetrators, were the mother, her partner and the maternal grandmother. My son was told by CSC team manager to appoint a solicitor and apply for an interim residence order and a prohibitive steps order. We did, as we continued to do, follow all advice given by CSC. However, we had no idea how much this would cost both financially and emotionally. CSC did not request an initial child protection case conference, in fact we were only made aware that the children were subject to CIN plans, some 7 months later. I should add at this point, that CSC held a discharge meeting early December and the next meeting wasn't held until the following July, over 7 months later. My son and his family, were left to deal with this without an awful lot of support. Our local children's centre was the only support worth mentioning. There were lots of issues around finances. He could not even afford to take his daughter to school, (10.00 per day bus fares), take his son to the numerous hospital appointments, sometimes 3/4 per week, (10.00 per day bus fares). This was due mainly to him and the children having to move in with his girlfriend, as following my grandson's discharge from hospital, we did not have enough room. My son had never claimed any benefits and as this was a new joint claim, it took over three months to get them in place. CSC gave him a total of £315.00 for that period of time. The children's centre kindly helped with food parcels and the support of a benefits worker.
My son was successful in his application for the court orders but the whole process took 26 months. The Judge made several requests for CSC to reconsider taking it through care proceedings, but they refused at every turn. My son was granted legal aid the following April but they would not backdate the claim, so the thousands of pounds spent, could not be recouped. To rub salt in the wounds, the mother and her partner, were both denied legal aid, so the Judge ordered the court would pay for all of their legal expenditures!
The following August, my granddaughter disclosed to her DVAP worker and her sw, that she had been physically assaulted by the same male. Sw instigated a S47 enquiry. This was on Friday 1st August. Coincidentally, there was a review of the residence order the following Monday. The sw was of the opinion that the mother was either implicated or was aware as she spoke with the Judge who made an order that mothers contact "is to be supervised by ERYC, until...... (granddaughter), had been interviewed by the Police, following which contact could return to being supervised by members of the maternal family who had previously been agreed ". The Police had to cancel a number of dates for her interview. Two weeks after disclosure, CSC made the decision that contact could return to being supervised by maternal family members. They did not go back to court to have this amended. CSC explaination for this, is that they made a 'best interest decision', on my granddaughter's behalf, as they state in their response to my sons Stage 2 complaint. They do not even acknowledge that there was a court order in place. In fact, they reword this point in their response, they state that there is a case note stating the 'contact CAN be supervised by ERYC. This has a completely different connotation to the actual wording of the court order, which reads 'IS TO BE SUPERVISED". The point of this point of complaint, was that when she was eventually interviewed by the Police, some three weeks after disclosure, she stated that she "could not remember", as she didn't want to get mummy into trouble. We can only guess what might or might not have been said to her, during the intervening week. They partially uphold this point but only acknowledging the timescales, not the fact they failed to adhere to a court order.
My sons response to the Stage 1 complaint, was sent 3 days shy of 6 months, was sent to the incorrect address and did not address the complaints, it seemed 'fudged'. We questioned whether it may have been altered, the first paragraph refers to feeling sorry for the upset and distress caused to you and your family, also lessons have been learned which will inform future practice, to then 'can find no evidence to support your complaint, with all but one point being 'not upheld'!
My son then made a Subject Access Request. When received, it was incomplete, pages were missing and contained confidential information regarding another family! It had been printed completely out of chronological order, with some pages containing case notes from 2014 and 2015!
We were horrified to note, that there appeared to be no case notes, no case records, no supervision notes, in fact nothing relating to any calls or conversations regarding either the Monday or Tuesday, following the meeting with CSC. The Stage 2 response, stated that both the sw and the manager at the time, had both been interviewed. Neither could 'recall' any conversations, messages or knowledge regarding the mother reconciling with her partner. With regards to the one call I could prove, they stated that 'we have to question whether a 3 second call, was a long enough period of time in which to leave a message!
They go one step further, they 'would like to understand our family's actions at that time ', stating that as we didn't contact CSC on either the Monday or Tuesday, and as we had stated, and that we felt the children were at risk of harm, why we did not call EDT, The Police or remove the children ourselves! So not only are they denying all knowledge of their reconciliation, they are now pointing the finger of blame at my son and myself! This has had a massive impact on my son. He had a period of time on anti depressants, due to the misplaced feelings of guilt he endured, this has reopened those horrific wounds.
Despite their many comments regarding no evidence of any calls being made on either the Monday or Tuesday, they make two separate comments further in the document, stating that they could not understand why we waited until the Monday to inform them!!! There is also a supervision note, dated Monday 25th, written by the team manager, which states that the children are safe with paternal grandmother (me), and ******(redacted), is staying in hospital overnight for tests. This entry does not make any sense! Firstly, they state there is no evidence of any calls/conversations on that date and secondly, no one was in hospital then, my grandson wasn't injured until the following day, Tuesday 26th! Also, this page was printed out numbered 226, the pages containing the case notes from the previous week, when sw met with the mother and myself, were numbered 29, 30 and 31!
They do uphold several points of the complaint, namely, those they could not deny! These include; breach of data - sending someone's confidential information to my son, data breach by sending my sons confidential information to the incorrect address, I should mention, that he following sending in the Stage 2 complaint, which made reference to the wrong address, he later requested a further copy sent to him. Guess where they sent it? Yes, believe it or not, it went to the same incorrect address for a second time. They uphold the delay in responding to the Stage 1 complaint, the fact that there were 7 different social workers, that one of the sw did not once visit my son, nor did she see the children whilst in his presence for over 3 months, that no DVAP referral was made, I actually had to self refer, that no mam meeting was held for over 7 months, we were given incorrect advice re: the SAR application process, which resulted in them exceeding the 40 timescale.
The whole 41 page response, is littered with inconsistencies, inaccuracies and contradictions. They spell workers names incorrectly, give another a different job title, argue against dates which they stated were correct in the first response, I could go on and on!
The Independent Officers report, which states he agrees with the investigators Stage 2investigation and response, was signed more then a month before the response was signed!
I really do believe that if a solicitor or barrister read through this, they would pick it to pieces. Unfortunately, I am unable to raise the necessary finances to appoint one. I have had to remortgage my home, due to cost of the private proceedings.
We have asked for this to be taken to Stage 3, we have also made a further SAR request, this time, without my details being redacted. I hate to say the word but it feels like a coverup.
If ANYBODY can offer any advice or suggestions, I would be extremely grateful.

Thank you for staying with me to the end!

Kind regards,

A disheartened grandmother.

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

Re: PLEASE HELP,

Postby Suzie, FRG Adviser » Fri Jan 06, 2017 4:53 pm

Dear helpneeded

Thank you for your post on the Parents’ Discussion Forum.

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

I am sorry that you and your son have had such a difficult time dealing with children services regarding your grandchildren. Whilst you have documented a very detailed history of children services’ handling of the case, it appears that you post relate to the complaint (which is ongoing) made by your son regarding children services handling of the case relating to his children.

You state that your son has requested that the complaint go to stage 3 and I hope that this more thorough investigation will result in a good outcome.

Regarding redaction in the documents disclosed, it is usual to do so in relation to information about third parties. You have given permission for information about you to be disclosed so this may well give a better picture when the documents are received.

I have included here a copy of our advice sheet about making complaints and challenging decisions here which I hope will give you and your son more information about taking his complaint to its conclusion.

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.

Best wishes,

Suzie

helpneeded!
Posts: 8
Joined: Sat Dec 31, 2016 10:33 am

Re: PLEASE HELP,

Postby helpneeded! » Thu Jan 12, 2017 8:44 am

Hi Suzie,
Can I ask, do you know if they acted lawfully, when they made a 'best interest decision ', regarding my granddaughter's contact arrangements? If you recall, it was a court order which stated that contact 'is to be supervised by the LA, CSC did not have this amended at court. They state that the best interest decision was made on her behalf, as supervised contact was causing her distress. My point is, the LA asked for it to be included in the court order, as they felt that she may be influenced ahead of her Police interview.
If anyone could give me any guidance, I would be extremely grateful.

Thank you in advance,

Worried grandma!

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Re: PLEASE HELP,

Postby Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon Jan 16, 2017 12:13 pm

Dear helpneeded

Thank you for your further post.

If the court order said that contact should be supervised by the local authority then technically this is what should happen. It may be that the local authority has taken the view that in their role of supervising contact they can decide who supervises contact. Was the order for local authority support a Family Assistance Order?

Your son could, if he wanted to, write to the court to explain his concerns regarding the action taken by the local authority as it seems you believe the order has been breached by the local authority. I suggest that you or your son make contact with Coram Children's Legal Centre (child law advice) on 0300 330 5480. This organisation will provide advice if you do not already have a solicitor representing you.

Alternatively, your son can discuss the matter with his solicitor if he has one acting for him.

Hope this is helpful

Best wishes

Suzie

helpneeded!
Posts: 8
Joined: Sat Dec 31, 2016 10:33 am

Re: PLEASE HELP,

Postby helpneeded! » Thu May 11, 2017 7:33 pm

Hello again!
We have moved on somewhat since I last posted.
We received the second SAR papers, which left us with more questions than answers! Some documents had different sections redacted than the first time of receiving them and we received a number of documents which had not been made available at the first time. We also received a number of internal emails, which showed that they had been aware of the reconciliation before my grandson was injured.
Perhaps the most damning document was an internal email form a senior manager which states "it would appear that .... ..... (investigating officer), has had sight of a document that would show our lack of response. Unfortunately, this appears to underpin the families belief, that we as an organisation have been negligent and had we responded appropriately at the time, this child may not have been injured with all of his life altering consequences."
We progressed to Stage 3 and had the panel meeting in February. It was adjourned, as we did not have time to complete it. The panel asked the LA to provide certain evidence for when we reconvened a month later. We met again at the end of March, when we were informed that the panel would not be able to make any decisions that day, due to the LA not supplying the necessary evidence. The LA and the Adjuicating officer, asked if they could re-investigate at Stage 2, which the panel agreed was the best way forward, in order to have a full investigation. The panel also had a list of additional questions, they wanted the LA to answer. The panel stated that we needed to be completely satisfied with the new reports and if not, we would reconvene the Stage 3 panel. A provision date for panel to reconvene was set for the end of May, although the panel chair stated that the panel sincerely hoped that it would not be needed. The panel were adamant that the LA complete their revised investigations in a timely manner, as this complaint has been ongoing now for 20 months. Panel gave a deadline for the LA to have all reports completed and adjudicated by the end of the first week in May.
Four days before their deadline, we received an email stating that they were unable to meet the timescales. They have cancelled the provisional date for the Stage 3 panel to reconvene, the LA have refused to allow us to contact the chair of the panel, not even agreeing to forward an email.
We are now in a position again! where we have no timescales. We have been informed by the LA that there are no timescales attached to the adjudication process! I have contacted the Local Government Ombudsman, who has stated that they are unable to discuss the case, until we have a response from the Stage 3 complaint!

Can anyone think of anything else we can do? Feels like we are fighting a huge monster, with one hand tied behind our backs! It seems that the LA can move the goal posts at will, with us having no recourse.

Please HELP!!!

helpneeded!
Posts: 8
Joined: Sat Dec 31, 2016 10:33 am

Re: PLEASE HELP,

Postby helpneeded! » Thu May 11, 2017 7:38 pm

Hi,

Forgot to mention. We wrote to the courts regarding the legality of my granddaughters contact returning to being unsupervised, which we felt was going against a court order. Long story short, the court ordered an emergency hearing. The Judge stated that it could not make any rulings, as it was historic and it would not change what was to happen. The Judge did state however, that if the LA wanted to make changes, they should have returned to the Court, to request any amendments made to the Child Arrangemenst Order.

Thanks.

Ignatious
Posts: 41
Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2016 8:17 pm

Re: PLEASE HELP,

Postby Ignatious » Fri May 12, 2017 6:57 am

Hi 'Helpneeded',

Having gone through to a Stage 3 complaint myself I understand some of what's involved.

You could possibly try and place another complaint with the complaints team about the length of time that this current complaint is taking.
I would (me personally) include as many CC's as possible including the Director for Children's Services, who I'm sure will be aware of what's going on so no 'confidentially' will be being broken. As this new complaint is about 'time being taken', it shouldn't matter who's aware so you could include the local MP, the Mayor, as many professionals as possible to highlight that the LA are failing in there timeframe for dealing with complaints.

I wish you luck in seeking the answers you are looking for.
I am a parent. My responses are not from any formal training background but from my own experiences, my own research and my own point of view.

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Re: PLEASE HELP,

Postby Suzie, FRG Adviser » Fri May 12, 2017 4:19 pm

Dear helpneeded!

Thank you for your further post.

It must be very frustrating for you to be in this situation with your complaint but it appears you have been doing all that you can to get the issues resolved.

The fact that the local authority has failed to adhere to timescales will no doubt be something you will be able to bring to the attention of the panel when the matter is finally heard. Unfortunately, the Local Government Ombudsman does require the authority’s complaints procedure to be exhausted before they will consider looking at the matter

You have been patient so far despite everything and I think it will need a little more patience to get to the end of Stage 3 of the complaint.
It is possible of course for you to make further complaint about the way in which your complaint is being handled but I am not sure that will achieve very much at this stage. I think it might be more helpful to have the panel consider the way the local authority has behaved in this procedure is much the same as they dealt with your case throughout. Once Stage 3 is concluded you do have the option of going to the Local Government Ombudsman if you are not satisfied.

The decision whether or not to make a complaint now about how the local authority is handling matters in respect of your complaint is a matter for you and if you believe this is the best course of action then there is nothing to stop you doing so.

A copy of our advice sheet relating to the making of complaints was I think sent to you some time ago but I am including a further copy here for ease of reference. You will see that there are timescales mentioned in respect of Stage 3.

Regarding what you say about a child arrangement order, usually, with any court order if it is to be changed an application should be made to the court as it should only be the court that varies the terms of an order unless the order allows for changes.

If you wish you could telephone our advice line on 0808 801 0366.

I hope this helps

Best wishes

Suzie

helpneeded!
Posts: 8
Joined: Sat Dec 31, 2016 10:33 am

Re: PLEASE HELP,

Postby helpneeded! » Fri May 12, 2017 5:30 pm

Hi,

Thank you for your responses, I really appreciate all the help I can get!

Suzie, do you know if we should be allowed to contact the independent chairperson of the Stage 3 panel? We don't want to speak to him about the investigation, merely to seek their views on the cancellation of the reconvened panel hearing?

Also, I have been informed by CSC, that there is no timescales attached to the adjudication process, is that correct?

Kind regards,

User avatar
Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 1690
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: PLEASE HELP,

Postby Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon May 15, 2017 4:39 pm

Dear helpneeded

Thanks for your further post. I am glad that you are finding it helpful to post here.

I doubt if the chair of the independent panel would be in a position to make any comment before the panel itself takes place. I think you mentioned in a previous post that you have already tried to explore contacting the chair without success. Perhaps this is another point you could make at the panel meeting itself. Another option might be for you to discuss this query with the complaints department directly. However, I appreciate that this might be difficult as you have concerns about the overall way your complaint has been handled.

Following the review panel meeting you should receive:

• Within five working days of the panel meeting – a written report with the panel’s recommendations.
• Within 15 days of receiving the panel’s report - a written decision about your complaint from a Children’s Services senior manager.

You already know that you can go to the Local Government Ombudsman then if you need to.

I hope that you will get some answers to the issues you have raised in your complaint soon.

With best wishes

Suzie


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