Terminate Section 20 Agreement - Advice please

Jerry
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2014 11:47 pm

Terminate Section 20 Agreement - Advice please

Postby Jerry » Thu Apr 24, 2014 11:49 pm

Dear all,
Our daughter is currently in foster care under Section 20 Agreement. We would like to withdraw this agreement but need some advice before doing so.
Background: My wife and I smacked our daughter (15 years old) on one occasion for disciplinary reasons and were rightly cautioned by the police. Social service stepped in and managed to persuade us to sign Section 20 Agreement by telling lies, exaggerations and threats.
Failures on Social Service’s behalf so far:
1) Failed to provide us with a written care plan until 45 days after our daughter being taken into care.

2) Put our daughter into a foster care home which is 12 miles away from her school. Our daughter has to take 3 buses to get to school and spend 2 hours each way to travel. Mini cab to take her to school was finally arranged on the 55th day after our repeated requests. This still leaves our daughter 3 hours of travelling time each day.


3) Our daughter’s planned after school activities were completely ignored for the first 2 weeks because the first carer couldn’t be bothered. After that there was 5 week’s disruption to those activities because the second carer can only manage part of them. We were promised all will be back on track from this week.

4) Left our daughter to travel back to foster home herself from the airport with heavy luggage after school trip which the social workers clearly promised to have her transportation arranged.

5) The current first carer is not a good match to our daughter’s profile although the LA said to be happy about it. We are an ethical family and there is no linguistic environment. Our daughter can’t get used to the food so eats little. She doesn’t like the neighbourhood as well so stayed in all the time.

6) Spiders in her bedroom and worms in bathroom, our daughter is losing sleep because of this and is reluctant to take a shower. We have pictures as evidence.

7) The LA can’t stick to the time scale they proposed themselves. They initially informed us that they would do an assessment which took 45 working days. The assessment should finish by 05/05/2014. Many days were wasted on internal file transfer and staff annual leaves. 10 days from the end, it is very much unlikely they can achieve this target. They are now very vague about when they can finish this assessment.

What we did so far:
1) Attended 3 planning meetings and 1 LAC meeting.
2) Raised our concerns to both the LAC team managers and the IRO, we have email communications as evidence. The social worker who is directly in charge simply ignored our emails. It was the manager and IRO who provided some help
3) Attended all contacts arranged with our daughter

Our daughter’s feedback so far:
1) Felling tired all the time
2) Does not like the foster caring arrangement at all and wants to come back home immediately
3) Does not like the food
4) Frustrated by the services provided by LA, feel her normal living standard has dropped
5) Frustrated by the fact that she missed so many after class activities

Our plan:
We will stick to the 05/05/2014 deadline and withdraw our Section 20 Agreement if the LA still can’t finish the assessment by then. We don’t want our daughters to suffer any more.

Questions:
1) Do we have to give the LA 14 working days prior notice as indicated by them if we wish to terminate this agreement?

2) Understand the LA has the option of going to court, however, this can only happen if they believe our daughter is in danger of significant harm if she returns home. We are like all parents who love our daughter and will not do anything to harm our her. We don’t believe the LA have any hard evidence against us apart from this one-off incident. Do you think court proceeding is a likely option for them?

3) If we are going to court for whatever applications the LA may propose, do you think we can convince the judge that it is not in the best interest of our daughter that she stays in foster care?

4) Does our daughter stay with us until there is a final decision from the court?

5) We know it is better to talk to a solicitor in order to make an informed decision, however, being the only person in the family with a job because of what happened, I don’t think we can afford it. Free legal advice is only available when the court proceeding starts. Any other alternative options to get advice from professionals?

Sorry for putting such a long post here and thank you in advance for your kind help.

Best regards

Jerry

ange301126
Posts: 537
Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2011 2:27 pm

Re: Terminate Section 20 Agreement - Advice please

Postby ange301126 » Sat Apr 26, 2014 4:37 pm

Dear jerry,

This comes from an FRG advice sheet.
If a child is in accommodation ( not under a court order) parents may remove the child from accommodation by simply telling the local authority that that is their intention unless:
A residence order exists, in which case they may not if the person with the residence order objects.
Or you may not if the child is over 16 and objects.

I hope this helps.I suppose it means you can just e-mail your intentions and that is that.
If they don't like it , they will have to apply for a court order.
If your girl wants to get back home with you, it is doubtful if they will,I would have thought.

So,it is wrong of them to say you have to give 14 days notice.

Cloggy2
Posts: 12
Joined: Fri Apr 25, 2014 8:48 pm

Re: Terminate Section 20 Agreement - Advice please

Postby Cloggy2 » Sat Apr 26, 2014 8:07 pm

We asked for our daughter to come home and they refused saying she didn't want to.
She's distraught because she can't come home! We are too!

User avatar
Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 2088
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Terminate Section 20 Agreement - Advice please

Postby Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon Apr 28, 2014 2:23 pm

Dear Jerry,

Welcome to the Parents Board!

I am sorry to hear that your daughter is accommodated and that there have been a number of difficulties with the placement. I am glad that you are cooperating with the local authority but I can see your frustration that the assessment of your family does not seem to be progressing within the timescale that was agreed by the social worker.

As your daughter is 15 years old her views will hold a lot of weight. Has she had the opportunity to take legal advice or have advocacy services to advice her about the different legal options that are open to her?
You could get in touch with Voice-who advice and advocate on behalf of young people in the care system. Your daughter’s voice does not seem to be heard by the social worker. If it was, then there may be a quick return of her home to you.

Our advice sheet about is re-unification of children home from the care system is worth reading.
As Ange has said, when a child is accommodated, a parent with parental responsibility can remove a child-(who is younger than 16) from care without any notice needing to be given.

You seem to have signed an agreement to give 14 days’ notice before you take any action. Although this is not a legally binding document, by sticking to it, you are showing again that you are cooperating with children services.

However, why don’t you ask to have a meeting with the social worker and team manager to discuss your wish for your daughter to return home as soon as possible? Part of the assessment is to see what support your family might benefit from. Has the issue that caused your daughter to be accommodated been addressed? Does anything else need to happen? If they are worried about further smacking for example, have you been offered a parenting course that could help you manage teenage behaviour in a different way?

If the social worker is not responding to your emails then I suggest emailing the director or service manager of children services or going back to the independent reviewing officer.

It is unusual (although not unheard of) for a local authority to take care proceedings when a child is 15 years old who also wishes to return home. Our advice sheet on care proceedings explains the hurdles that the local authority have to jump before they can obtain care orders.

For in depth advice on the questions you have asked, you could call our advice line on 0808 801 0366. Or contact a children law solicitor (who is accredited by the Law Society or on the children panel to advise you).
I hope this helps.
Best wishes,
Suzie

frustrated mum
Posts: 81
Joined: Thu Oct 10, 2013 3:57 pm

Re: Terminate Section 20 Agreement - Advice please

Postby frustrated mum » Mon Apr 28, 2014 3:33 pm

Had your daughter been part of a child in need or child protection plan?
If not , your daughter wants to come home as she is 15 they have to take her views into consideration. If you want your daughter home tomorrow, contact the sw tell her then go get your daughter. It was a section 20 not a court order you still have parental responsibility. The childrens act 1989(?) states that a child should be placed with someone whom has parental responsilbily or is a relation in preference to unrelated foster carers. The sw should acknowledge that family circumstances can improve from when your daughter was taken into care.
My daughter was section 20 , i contacted her sw as my daughter , same age as yours wanted to come home. Gave sw a date as house building site . Got last meeting on wednesday then she home.

Cloggy2
Posts: 12
Joined: Fri Apr 25, 2014 8:48 pm

Re: Terminate Section 20 Agreement - Advice please

Postby Cloggy2 » Tue Apr 29, 2014 2:22 pm

They said they would go further if we asked 'again' for her back. She's trying herself now.
They've got it in for us. They've stopped her therapy twice for a diagnosed conditioned. I don't know why she went in care. I think a bit respite from *********************.
I wasn't home when she went. I work 174 miles away. Home 2 days a month, but get the blame as I say how it it!
Hopefully she can contact people now and make the change herself. They are trying to gag us speaking to her as they obviously need to work on her.

frustrated mum
Posts: 81
Joined: Thu Oct 10, 2013 3:57 pm

Re: Terminate Section 20 Agreement - Advice please

Postby frustrated mum » Tue Apr 29, 2014 8:37 pm

Are they threatening a care order? Its rare but not impossible for ss to go to court for an order for a teenager unless they have great concerns. If you havent already go speak to a solicitor. As you have pr you should get free legal advice etc. you said about your sons explotation is he in care to ? Do ss still have concerns about home life , this is where they can get arsey. Can you prove that things have changed. Can you prove that your daughter is no longer attending her sessions.
Good luck keep us posted and im sorry if all ive said isnt correct i m going off my crappy experiences!

Donna d*
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue May 03, 2016 2:40 pm

Re: Terminate Section 20 Agreement - Advice please

Postby Donna d* » Sat Oct 01, 2016 8:08 pm

I signed section 20 with agreement i could collect daughter after rehab. I spent £12000 and successfully completed. When i returned local authority applied to court and now my daughter has been permanently removed under sgo because i wanted to withdraw section
20


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