Wanting to discharge a care order

1234
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Apr 16, 2013 6:48 pm

Wanting to discharge a care order

Postby 1234 » Wed Mar 14, 2018 6:32 am

Hi I am looking for some advice around being and assessed and ultimately (hopefully) discharging a care order.
I have posted previously about my situation due to difficulties around contact.
My current situation is I have a 13, 12 and 8 year old living with their maternal grandparents under a care order for almost six years. Concerns were around my mental health (believed to have bipolar and bpd) and being in a dv relationship meant my children (having emotional difficulties due to my relationship) were being neglected emotionally, and the home was unstable. Their father had also been physically violent towards the children.

Since then, my contact has been consistent and positive, and there are no concerns regarding my contact. Dad continues be unreliable and inconsistent in his commitment to contact, sometimes disappearing for 6 months-year at a time. I am not in a relationship, and have been on my own for 3 years. I attend university and will graduate next year with a degree in childhood and youth studies, as well as I currently work for action for children and the youth offending team. My gp has no concerns around my mental health, and actually I have been diagnosed on the autistic spectrum rather than bpd. I have had no need for any help from a cpn or equivalent for 5 years, and as I say am stable. The children are all well adjusted and thriving exceptionally well. My parents are asked at CLA reviews about SGOs, and my dad consistently says no, as there are "benefits" (financially) to being in care.

I have told the current sw I wish to be assessed to see if the children can live with me. She does not object to That, but is stating I will need to prove I can provide a better home than my parents. She keeps referring to the lifestyle to which they have grown accustomed. Is that really how this works? Do I, a full time student with basic income, have to compete with my millionaire parents who are supported by social services, and prove I can provide a better life without support from social services? Was I naive to think social services have to justify the children being in care even if I can provide "adequate" and "good enough" care and home life? I appreciate it's not as simple as adequate and good enough, hence the quote marks, but I hope what I am trying to say is understood.

My reasons for this are I do not feel my children need to be in care any longer, and I believe I can be the mum they deserve/need/want. My parents are not interested in an SGO, and I've overheard discussions where they feel they have put their lives on hold and now wanting to start enjoying their lives again (in January they went to Mexico for a week, left the children with my sister and told no one). Whilst my parents do have a ridiculous amount of money, and have provided a caring stable home for my children, I feel now is the time to thank them for everything they have done but now let me take over again, as ultimately I am their birth mother and I can do everything myself now.

The only thing I don't know is my children's wishes, as I obviously can't discuss this with them, and the children have resided themselves to the current situation being the norm.

Any advice is much appreciated. Thanks.

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 2051
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Wanting to discharge a care order

Postby Suzie, FRG Adviser » Fri Mar 16, 2018 5:51 pm

Dear 1234,

Welcome to the Parents board.
Your children have been under a full care order for over 5 years and reside with your parents and are thriving in their care. Your contact with them is consistent and positive.
You want to know what needs to happen for your children can come back and live with you. Although children can come home when there is a care order in place, it is usual that either children's services or a parent will apply to court to discharge the care order. For a care order to be discharged, you would need to show that there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the care order was made and that it is in the best interests for your children to be rehabilitated home to you.

It sounds like there has been a change in your circumstances. You have a re- diagnosis in relation to your mental health and have been signed off by your CPN 5 years ago. You are no longer in a domestically abusive relationship. Have you completed domestic violence support such as the freedom programme?
You could check the courts judgment or guardians report to make sure any there is no other concern that might need addressing.

The second and much more difficult thing to show is that it is in the best interests of your children to be re-united home with you. The court will refer to the welfare checklist which is set out in the Children Act as a guide to working out what is in the best interests of children. Here is the Welfare checklist .

As you can see the “likely effect on the children of the proposed change” may be the difficult one for you to show given how settled your children appear to be. You would have to prove that the disruption to your children’s lives (for example would they need to move schools and so change friends) would be outweighed by the benefits of being back home with you.
How much contact are you having with your children? Is it fairly frequent? Are they coming to your home, do they stay over with you?

You should ask the social worker and independent reviewing officer about an assessment being carried out to see whether a rehabilitation home could happen. Your amount and type of contact could also be looked at. Would it be in your children best interests for it to increase? If the social worker refuses to assess you should ask for her reasons in writing.

You also have the opportunity of applying to court to discharge the care order. The advantage would be that a guardian and solicitor would be appointed to act in the best interests of your children.
Before you take this step, I suggest you take legal advice. Legal aid may be available depending on your means and the merit of your application.

Here is our advice sheet about Reuniting children in the care system with their families.

I hope my advice helps but if you have any questions, please post back or you could call our advice line on 0808 801 0366.

Best wishes,

Suzie


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