Family courts and social services

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Justmygirls
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Sep 05, 2019 10:29 pm

Family courts and social services

Post by Justmygirls » Sun Sep 15, 2019 8:40 pm

My girls have recently been taken into care and we are now fighting for their return home in family courts.

Our girls were taken because of unexplained bruising that occured on the two younger ones. Both of us were at work at the time the bruising was suspected to have occured. They were being looked after by a close family friend who had been living with us for two years. (They were in his care for only 3 hours)

Upon finding the bruising on my return from work, I questioned everyone in the house including my daughter (5yr old), who told me a boy did this at school. The next day we took them to school and when we returned to pick them up we were promptly arrested and questioned under suspicion of child neglect. The police have not yet arrested or even spoken to the family friend even though we have evidence he was with the girls that day.

The social services have since taken us to court and we are lost as to what we can do. We have taken drastic steps to improve the care by installing CCTV, adding locks and alarms, applied for patenting classes and of course removed the family friend. We have done everything we can to show the courts that we are determined to never have this happen again and yet all of this has been ignored. We have only ever been involved with the social services once which was due to a bite mark on one of the girls arms. The case lasted only 2 weeks and was closed with no concerns.

The girls have expressed their wishes to return home and my eldest daughter (13years old) has told them that she is very happy with us but unfortunately doesn't know where the bruising came from.

We are currently only having contact twice a week, in a supervised centre which honestly destroys me a little each time.

The social services have contacted the family friend and he has now lied and told them he never knew the girls and never spent any time with them. We both have evidence that he has spent time with them but this has yet to be acknowledged by anyone.

Even though we have legal support we are struggling to keep up with everything and don't feel like we have anywhere to turn. It also feels like the social services and courts are quite adamant to remove the girls from our care regardless of any evidence or the girls wishes.

Is there anything more we can do?, any advice from real people that have experienced this situation before? I have researched a lot online and fear the only stories I come across are of people who have battled and lost and this scares me beyond belief. We have an amazing family relationship and we love the girls more then words can say, in the past few years our lives have over come financial difficulties and we have progressed so much. We became very comfortable and had some great plans for the future, now this has happened we have lost hope in ever proceeding with the plans.

Any advice would be appreciated.

swim
Posts: 17
Joined: Wed Apr 10, 2019 8:07 am

Re: Family courts and social services

Post by swim » Sun Sep 22, 2019 5:31 am

Hi JustMyGirls,

You certainly have my greatest empathy, our case was different but we got the same attitudes and treatment and I know how completely soul destroying it is.

Just as an outside perspective, have you made a complaint with the police? It seems to me that they failed to question the person you said was looking after them at the time which I imagine is police work 101. If you can prove he had lied to social services about knowing your children I would hope the police would at least check his/her story out. Perhaps getting them to reinvestigate is the first step in unravelling this?

Justmygirls
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Sep 05, 2019 10:29 pm

Re: Family courts and social services

Post by Justmygirls » Mon Sep 23, 2019 5:43 pm

At this point we are unsure whether or not the police have spoken to the family friend, we do however know that they asked for his number after my arrest. During the social services investigation they contacted the police to get his number and have since found out the number he gave was false.

Regarding him knowing my girls, my youngest daughter (4 years old) has known him most her life and we do intact have many pictures together on Facebook including things like birthdays and Christmases.

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

Re: Family courts and social services

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Fri Sep 27, 2019 12:34 pm

Dear Justmygirls

Welcome to the parents’ discussion forum and thank you for your post.

You are clearly very distressed that your children have been removed from your care by children’s services and, you are now in care proceedings, as a result of unexplained bruising to your two children.

Any unexplained or non-accidental injury to a child will always raise significant concerns about how the injury occurred and who inflicted it.

Normally, there would be a joint investigation by the police and children’s services to identify who may have caused the injury.

In your post you say that your 5 year old told you that it happened at school. Would your daughter’s school usually inform parents of an injury and is this recorded by the school? I assume you did not collect your daughter from school as you only noticed the bruising when you returned home from work. In your post you say that your close family friend was caring for your daughters for period of 3 hours, was he able to explain the bruising to you on the day in question.

It is not clear from your post but it appears that a referral was made to children’s services or the police which led to the arrest. You have not said, but I think the bruising must have been significant for the referral to be made. Were there any other injuries/bruising found on your children.

Children’s services have brought care proceedings because of concerns about the harm the children have suffered and it will now be for the court to make decisions based on the evidence provided by children’s services and the other parties in the case, whether the children can return home.
You may find it helpful to read our advice sheet Care (and related) proceedings for more information.

During the care proceedings, the court will be deciding two things:

a) firstly, whether your daughters suffered significant harm due to the parenting they received
b) where your daughters will live. Either back with you; or with any family or friend or connected person; or long term foster care or, depending on their ages whether adoption should be considered.

In case they are not able to return to your care, it is very important that you think of people in your family network (in the UK or abroad) who could be assessed to care for them long term. You could ask for a family group conference, (if you have not already had one) to help look for both support for you and for carers. See our advice sheet Family Group Conferences


Children’s services, during their investigation, not only will you and others put forward be interviewed and assessed, experts will also be instructed. for example, different medical experts will examine your daughters’ medical records, the statements given by you and others involved and any other evidence. They will be asked to give advice about the injury. There may be other expert reports such psychological assessments.

Sometimes, the medical experts may decide the injury was non-accidental but then the police cannot decide who (parents, child minder or other family members) might have injured a child. So the police may not have enough evidence to secure a successful prosecution and may close their case.

It may be of concern that the person whom you describe as a close family friend who lived in your home for 2 years cannot be found. The police it seems should be trying to establish whether he caused the injury to your children.

The family court can decide during a fact finding hearing how a child suffered the injury and if it was non- accidental, who may have caused it. In this situation all persons who are in what is called the ‘pool of perpetrators’ will be looked at by the court and findings made against one or all of them. Sometimes the court cannot decide on which person caused the injury so all remain in the pool.

For a detailed discussion about how courts deal with allegations of non- accidental injury please have a look at the Child Protection resource website.

As children services suspect the injury is non- accidental, your contact will be supervised by a social worker or a trained supervisor rather than a family member, which may limit the times available for contact. Have a look at our tips about contact in our advice sheet Contact with children in care

Parents accused have helpful advice on their website and an advice line. Also, the child protection resource-linked above is very helpful.

It is very important that you work closely with your solicitor and ensure that they have any evidence you have in respect of the friend who is denying knowledge of your children. Do you know his family or other friends who visited him at your home?

There are scary stories online but you should remember that you do not know their full story and why they had the outcome they did. Each case is different and will be decided on the basis of what is best for the children’s welfare. Your parenting capacity will be assessed to see if your children can return to your care even if that is with support. Try to work cooperatively with children’s services to get the best outcome for your family. Continue to do all that you are doing to show that your children’s safety and well-being is your main focus.

If you need further advice, please post again or call our advice line on 0808 801 0366. The advice line is open from 9.30am to 3pm Monday to Friday.

I hope this is helpful.

Best wishes

Suzie

Justmygirls
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Sep 05, 2019 10:29 pm

Re: Family courts and social services

Post by Justmygirls » Sun Sep 29, 2019 9:19 pm

Hi Suzie

The school denied any knowledge of injuries happening at school and when questioned on the night I discovered the bruising the family friend stated they hadn't noticed them or knew how they occured.

The bruising was significant as it was located on the arm and face. There was other bruising on the other two girls but these were accidental brusing commonly found on children their ages.

We are currently having contact but this is becoming more difficult as my girls frequently ask to come home and scream/cry when we leave.

As for the family friend, we are very close to most their family and know their parents, brothers and sisters but none of them know their whereabouts or have heard anything at all.

Right now we don't know where the police are with their investigation and neither our solicitor or social workers can get any information about the proceedings.

It is becoming incredibly difficult for me both mentally and physically as I can't understand how it happened. I've gone over every possiblilty I can think of but nothing seems to add up.

I have considered everyone as a potential perpetrator and have searched the entire house for anything that may look like it could fit the bruising and have come up with nothing. I would hate the thought of the family friend or anyone for that matter purposely harming her but have not ruled out any possibility.

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