Best timing to raise complaints

mama
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Dec 14, 2014 4:29 pm

Best timing to raise complaints

Postby mama » Sun Dec 21, 2014 3:43 pm

Hi this is my first post, so please bear with me!

Without going into the long history, I have a 10 year old that's in foster care (with a section 20) and at the time that was the best decision for all concerned.

It was a difficult decision and all the professionals were very judgemental seeing it as a failure on my part. Unfortunately the foster carer (who couldn't see what the problems that I was having were if you were 'just strict') has now decided she doesn't want to continue the placement. When she told SS, and before I was told, they went ahead and made plans for a different placement then contacted to tell me. I wasn't happy not to be involved considering I have parental responsibility, and also wasn't happy to learn that the proposed placement had already been used as a respite (again without informing me) when the carer only about 6 months in decided she needed a break. In any case, because she didn't want to continue I didn't object to the move, but having learned about the respite carer I expressed concerns. SS then branded me 'unco-operative' and went for a care order. Based on the SW report and information he put in court papers SS were backed by both the guardian and the IRO - neither of whom have even met the child they are meant to be working with, nor had they communicated with me.

Before going into the magistrates in court, when the guardian saw I was able to prove all the statements made by the SW about me were lies and this was just being done so SS would be able to override any of my decisions, he immediately withdrew his agreement and in court raised concerns about SS actions and actions of the proposed care plan. The SS lawyer then stated they want to work with me to draw up a plan and the magistrates, who were very unhappy about information provided by SS, adjourned the case. So it's still pending.

A few weeks after court there was a LAC review and the IRO stated she still backed the care order. I asked how she still had that opinion considering the decision was based on reading one report that had baseless, untrue information, but he is stubbonly giving approval.

The SW who wrote the report has moved on. The IRO is moving on soon. I'm conscious I'll still have to work with the new SS and IRO, and that raising a complaint might make them harden in their attitude towards me, but I don't feel the actions of the SW in lodging untrue information with a court, nor the unprofessional actions of an IRO should be allowed to go - and treat others like this.

I can't decide if it's best to hold off until after all the court hearings before complaining, but will it then be possible to complain about people who have moved on and no longer work for the local authority? Alternatively, before the IRO leaves would it be best to raise my concern about his 'independence' in decision making if not checking information in reports, or meeting the child or communicating with a parent and ask for the actions of the SW to be looked into as part of that enquiry.

Any advice please?

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 1734
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Best timing to raise complaints

Postby Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon Dec 22, 2014 11:55 am

Dear mama,

Welcome to the parents forum. I am sorry to hear the difficulties you have had with children services.

I am glad that you were able to challenge the social workers statement successfully and that the guardian in the proceedings backed your position.

You understandably want to lodge a Complaint but you are worried that it might not be a good time while there are court proceedings.

You are right to consider this. Many complaints processes do not allow for complaints when there are ongoing court proceedings. This is because it is expected that these issues can be addressed by lawyers in the court process. So if you were to lodge a complaint at this stage it may not be addressed until after the process. Check with your local procedures.

Have you discussed a complaint with your lawyer? They could advise you whether to do so and could also prepare a letter on your behalf.
What about the guardian? Has he considered lodging a complaint on behalf of your son?

I think you should have the conversation anyway. Your post shows how you reasonably want to be able to exercise your parental responsibility and was prevented because you were not consulted. Your reasoning is very considered which will go in your favour.

For information about how parents are involved when children are in the care system (either accommodated with parents consent or there under a court order) have a look at our advice sheet 11, Local Authority Duties to Children in the Care System .

Best wishes,

Suzie

mama
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Dec 14, 2014 4:29 pm

Re: Best timing to raise complaints

Postby mama » Mon Dec 22, 2014 4:13 pm

Hi Suzie

Thanks so much for your advice - and the helpful links.

I hadn't thought about contacting the guardian, but it's a really good idea since he's already gone against the LA's application - and your line that I've, quite reasonably, wanted to exercise my parental responsibility but, on several occasions, have been prevented due to not being consulted, is a very insightful summary of the situation I've found myself in.

It's a good point that a complaint might not be looked into with the court situation going on so 'll also take up your suggestion to talk this over with my lawyer.

I'll definitely update you after the next hearing.

Thanks again for all your help!


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