Confused about what happens next

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worriedmum81
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Joined: Mon Aug 22, 2016 10:37 am

Confused about what happens next

Post by worriedmum81 » Thu Apr 04, 2019 3:47 pm

I've had a call today from the social worker of 2 of my children. It's my older daughter's 16th birthday next week and we have a full family contact planned as a meal at a restaurant which we are all excited for. But the social worker has found out my younger daughter won't be coming as she is being taken to the foster carers caravan again. As the contact is Monday and she has 2 weeks off, and the carers knew when it is, the contact being every 4th Monday and has been for a long time so she could be taken the next day for example.
The social worker said he is really annoyed at this happening and has raised a complaint about the carers himself. He has seen even in the past year that he has been involved my daughter has missed many of the monthly contacts and some of the contacts with my parents, and he is aware of all the complaints we have made about the contacts missed previous to him being involved.
He has also said that we can have an extra contact over Easter to make up for it and he has reported his concern to my younger daughter's social worker and the lac review officer. I'm happy about this but at the same time I'm gutted that my daughter won't get to see her sister on her 16th birthday.
The thing I'm wondering now is with the complaint being escalated by the social worker against the carers, what will the next step be? I've looked at the process for if I or my family complain, as there have been issues in the past (there are other posts on here which explain other issues around contacts that I've had) but being an internal complaint like this would it be a different process and is it likely that my daughter could get taken away from the carers due to a complaint of not supporting contact?

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Re: Confused about what happens next

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Fri May 03, 2019 1:20 pm

Dear Worriedmum81,

I am sorry for the delay in responding to your post.

I wonder whether you already now have an answer to your question about the social work complaint against the foster carer. The complaints process will be a different one than the one you are familiar with. The Fostering Network may have information about how complaints against foster carers are dealt with.

Your worry is about your daughter having to move placements, is that right?
In these circumstances, I do not think that would happen. Instead, I expect your daughter’s social worker and the foster carer’s social worker may try to get to bottom of why contact keeps being missed and consider what can happen in the future to prevent this.

Children services will trying to avoid your daughter’s placement breaking down as this may be traumatic for her so should handle the complaint sensitively.
I hope my advice helps but please post again if you have any questions.

Best wishes,

Suzie

worriedmum81
Posts: 46
Joined: Mon Aug 22, 2016 10:37 am

Re: Confused about what happens next

Post by worriedmum81 » Fri May 03, 2019 8:10 pm

Thank you for the reply Suzie. I haven't actually had any information about the complaint and unfortunately my relationship with my daughter's social worker has become quite strained, I believe due to the complaint being made. The contact that we were promised for over Easter to make up for my daughter missing her sisters 16th birthday didn't happen due to the foster carers saying my daughter was too busy and had to revise for her sats. When I have raised this with the social worker by email she didn't respond, so I had to ask a support worker who checked and said the best I could have is my parents can come to one of my contacts instead, but this is after my telling the social worker that my dad is in hospital on my contact day so couldn't make that one, and the next contact is after the next planned family contact, which my daughter is also going to miss due to a planned week in Wales.
I have a lac meeting in 2 weeks so feel this will be the best time to raise these issues.
I'm reassured by your response though that my daughter won't be getting moved as she is very attached to her carers and it would be disruptive and heart breaking for her if the placement did break down so I hope we can find a way through this so my daughter gets to see her family as she wants and deserves to whilst I can have a good working relationship with the carers and social workers.

worriedmum81
Posts: 46
Joined: Mon Aug 22, 2016 10:37 am

Re: Confused about what happens next

Post by worriedmum81 » Tue May 07, 2019 2:25 pm

I've always told the social workers I'll be completely flexible. Even though I actually work about 70 hours a week I've always rearranged anything to make sure I get to meetings and attend all contacts as the kids are my number one priority. I've asked about doing dates that are more suitable for the carers but always get told the Monday is the only time the carers are available. It gets really frustrating as well because they won't consider any other day or time, as they won't allow unsupervised contact despite repeatedly admitting they don't have any concerns, I have to stay within a close enough distance of 2 schools and near the contact centre, do too many food based activities, can't do picnics because the social think the children are too old for them, not allowed to take the children to the cinema or swimming, the bowling arena is too far from school, the art gallery and library closes early on a Monday, the children say they are fed up of trampolining, and when I suggested a big youth club near by it was agreed but then instead of being allowed to use the centre facilities, was only allowed to use one empty room (literally not even a table, just a big room and a couple of chairs) because the council had hired that room instead of letting me pay for my children to use the normal facilities.
I've made so many suggestions that the carers and social services refuse and they end up saying to just take them to McDonalds again.
It's no wonder my kids are saying they are getting bored really is it?
Sorry for moaning. I really love spending time with my kids but it would be nice if I could do things that the children enjoy x

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Re: Confused about what happens next

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon Jun 10, 2019 12:41 pm

Dear worriedmum81

Thank you for your further post and apologies for not replying before now. I am sorry that the family time you share with your children is still not going well and it seems that you continue to face a number of obstacles trying to make the best arrangements for the children and yourself.

I know you have previously raised this with the Independent Reviewing Officer(IRO) and at the children’s Looked After Child reviews but I think it is worth doing so again as the current plans are frustrating for both you and the children. It is not impossible for there to be creative thinking around how to make the time that you see your children as positive as it can be. Perhaps it would be worth asking the social worker and the IRO to offer you a separate meeting (with the foster carers if possible - I know that you have made a complaint) specifically to try to work this out better?

Also do your children have advocates who can help them put forward how they would like to spend their time with you?

Have a look at the reference to research in our advice sheet on contact with children in care which talks about how the venue for contact affects the quality of contact. You can refer to this in your negotiations.

Hope this helps and that you are able to move forward with better arrangements for you and the children to spend time together.
Best wishes

Suzie

worriedmum81
Posts: 46
Joined: Mon Aug 22, 2016 10:37 am

Re: Confused about what happens next

Post by worriedmum81 » Sat Jul 06, 2019 11:15 pm

Hi suzie this is just an update because I'm feeling really lost in the situation now.
I had a meeting with a social worker this week. The other social worker didn't attend but a representative for one of the carers came, which felt awkward as she hasn't been involved in the case and she seemed to be of the opinion I'm very against that particular carer which I'm not, even though that is the carer I have raised concerns about in the past. At the meeting I asked about the complaint that the social worker had said he was going to raise and he said he had decided not to bother complaining but had asked the social worker to speak to the carers about trying to support my daughter to attend more.
I had printed off all the emails that I have sent to him to show evidence of all the times i have requested the minutes from the meetings from 18 months ago that he still hasn't done. He said he will send them but doesn't feel he should add my views about what was said, even though I recorded them word for word. He also asked again for the concerns in writing, again showing evidence from the previous 9 months where I have been asking for them. He had repeatedly said he would arrange them but now said I should just look at my old court papers if I still have them.
He admitted that he hasn't specifically asked any of the children if they want one to one or unsupervised contact and said he wouldn't as that would be a leading question, but with my children having autism if you ask a vague question your not going to get a proper response. He is also now claiming that I have repeatedly said things to the children that causes them anxiety during contact. The only examples he could come up with was when my younger daughter got upset after contact 18 months ago saying she wanted to come home to be with me, but the support worker said she hadn't heard me say anything that would lead to that, and my son saying he thought my older daughter was moving out, but she is going to be doing a 3 week session in student accommodation so I believe that's where he got confused. They are saying if I'm denying I've ever said they can come home or anything of that nature then I am calling my children liars which they know I wouldn't do. They also said the support worker has raised concerns so my contact has now gone from loose supervision to fully supervised with all concerns being recorded. The only "concern" was that when giving my son his presents I had said one of them had been chosen by his older brother, which it had been and I felt that it was nice for my children to know he still cares about them.
The social worker said he had asked my daughter what she thinks of the support worker being there and my daughter said she has been with us so long she enjoys seeing her and she's like part of the family. The social worker then said it's obvious my daughter wants her there as she doesn't feel secure when it's just me. He also used a time from 5 years ago when I had 5 children in contact ranging from a year up to teenagers, when my daughter had been asked and she had said it must be difficult managing us all. So she must feel I cant cope but as I pointed out, she never said i couldn't cope as she knows i coped fine at home and the situation now, with just 3 older children who are actually well behaved young adults is very different to back then.
The social worker said he is going to review it in September when my daughter starts school but said im not to be surprised if my daughter is too busy with her new friends "and other family" to see me more than once or twice per year instead of the monthly contracts we have. He said she is 16 now and I have to accept that she will be growing up and he will be recommending she moves on from seeing me. Which is the hardest thing I could ever imagine having to face. He did say the carers would ensure she still sees my younger daughter but they are not going to try to help her have contact with my eldest son as he agrees with the carer that it's not in her best interests. And if he wants to see her he will have to attend contact which the social worker knows he wont do.
To round up the meeting, I asked about the extra contact and why my parents contacts have been messed around so much. He said I would have to speak to my mum as he said she had been criticising me to him on the phone, and had said she doesn't want joint contacts with me, but my mum has denied that and said that it was because they had been told they could only have joint contact if it was in a small room in the contact centre. It feels from the way he said that hes trying to cause problems for me with my support network.
I'm sorry if this appears rambling but I'm really at a loss now. I've repeatedly told social services that I'm not seeking my children's return because of them being settled and only having a 2 bed property (I want them home so badly but I'm putting there needs ahead of my own) but they keep saying they cant risk me saying things to the children about coming home.
The only 2 recommendations from the court was to complete cbt for 6-12 months and have my own property for 12 months minimum to show stability after losing my home due to losing the children. I have had my own home for 6 years, done 9 months of private cbt, then did NHS cbt, done 3 months of healthy minds counselling. Have been off my anti depressants for 5 years. Have done a parenting teenager's course (I couldn't do the other parenting courses due to not having the children home, and also because I used to teach them myself through sure start) have done many other courses that I've sought and paid for myself, including sexual health, domestic violence, mental health and autism. I've gone on to specialise in mental health and autism and have built a successful career while doing my diploma.
In the past 7 years I have attended every contact on time and there has never been a concern, I've attended every meeting and show that I'm made aware of, and the social worker said that it's to my credit that the children know I'll always be there and feel secure, which is why it doesn't matter if they don't attend as the children know I'll always be at the next one
I've worked with professionals every step of the way. The independent social workers assessment about me 7 years ago was extremely positive with a recommendation that the social services support me to get my children home within 6 months, the children's psychology assessment was that me and the children have an incredible bond that should be nurtured and he said I have protected them from all the emotional harm i possibly could, including the harm of being separated from me by making it feel as positive as possible, and was absolutely glowing.
The contact workers who have done my contacts all say they don't understand why it's still supervised. So you can see why I don't know what to do next

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