Dear Mother in despair,
Welcome to the parents forum.
I am sorry to hear that your son has been removed from you and is in foster care. You say care proceedings have started and the court made an interim care order.
The most important thing now is to find a solicitor-if you do not have one. You can find a solicitor on the Law society-find a solicitor.
An interim care order(ICO) gives children services the legal parental responsibility to make most of the decisions about your son-such as where he lives, which school he goes to, even if you do not agree. However, they must consult you about those decisions.
For the court to grant an interim care order (ICO),
it must have had evidence that your son has suffered serious harm or is at risk of serious harm. That he is in imminent danger if he continued to live with you.
Do you know what reasons were given? If not, ask your solicitor to explain why the court thinks this. Is there a written judgment for you to read?
The care proceedings should be completed within the 26 weeks and at the end the court will decide where your son will be living until he is an adult.
So this could be for him:
• to be returned to you,
• to go and live with dad
• to go to any friend or family member
• to stay in care
Ask your solicitor what do you need to do, as mum, for your son to be returned home to you?
Have children’s services assessed your parenting? Does the court want any expert assessments of you and of your son?
The court will also want children services to assess any family or friends to care for your son in case it decides that it is not safe for him to come to live with you or dad. Do you have anyone in your network of friends or family? (connected persons) who could care for your son? Your son’s health needs
You must be really worried because your son has threatened suicide. You need to find out whether he has had an urgent mental health assessment. Such threats need to be taken seriously so I am very surprised that your son says the social worker is not doing so.
You could look at your son's care plan
-which you should have a copy-might say or ask the social worker. You should discuss your concerns with the independent reviewing officer (the person who will be reviewing your sons care plan). Contact
I can see that you were so shocked about your son’s state of mind that you rang a GP about this, during your supervised contact visit.
Seeking urgent medical advice is usually the right thing to do, when a child is suicidal. However, when there is an interim care order, any decisions about sons health needs should be considered by children’s services. It might have been better to let the contact worker know your worries.
But the fact you didn’t shouldn’t necessarily be held against you.
Contact is an important time when your son can see you and the law says you should have reasonable contact with him.
Did the social worker explain to you what happens at contact visits.
Did the social worker or contact worker let you know about your son’s suicidal thoughts before contact?
As there is an interim care order, there are special rules concerning stopping contact.
Contact can only be stopped for up to 7 days only “where they are satisfied it is necessary to do so in order to safeguard and promote the child’s welfare”.
Any longer has to be agreed by you or authorised by the court. Please see page 3 of the advice sheet about contact (linked below) which explains the procedure.
What does your son’s guardian
say about contact?
Here is our advice sheet
about contact when a child is in care and is under an interim care order or care order. As well as setting out the law, it gives government guidance and what research says about the importance of contact taking place.
You should contact your solicitor and discuss what happened at contact.
In respect of the social worker asking for minutes to be changed, I suggest that you let your solicitor know this has happened. Your solicitor can decide whether this needs to be investigated further.
Is your 5 year old subject to the care proceedings but remains living at home? A child would only be removed, if the court decided that he was at risk of serious harm.
On this occasion, I am going to have to disagree with ignatious advice to you about making a complaint now. As there are care proceedings, usually complaints will not be dealt with. Instead, always run any concerns about the social worker past your solicitor who can advise the best way forward. The court proceedings will be over soon. You are under the spotlight. You have such a short time to show that you can meet your sons complex needs and that you will accept support and work with children services and other professionals.
I hope this advice helps.
Please post again if you need further advice or call our advice line on 0808 801 0366 for further advice.