Need some help

Their mum
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2013 10:58 pm

Need some help

Postby Their mum » Thu May 28, 2015 7:35 pm

Hi all

My two sons have been in care now for nearly four years. They are now 16 and 13 years old. The Court Order was made in March 2013. The children were offered a permanent placement with "family and friends" foster carers and are still with them. It was anticipated that they would stay in this placement until independence.

The Court agreed with the LA that the children should have weekly contact of 90 minutes with me, supervised by the foster carer and weekend contact with my parents once a month with further contact if children request it (eldest requested and now has contact with them twice a month), plus longer contact in the summer for a holiday with my parents (which has happened once).

So you could say that we have been fortunate to have so much contact. It was noted that the contact arrangements may change over time in accordance with the children's wishes and feelings.

At a recent school meeting, the social worker told me that the boys want to cut their contact with me and my parents, because it reminds them of why they are in care and makes them unsettled. They came up with the usual argument that they work in the children's interests, not mine, and that contact with us was not good for the children. I cannot believe that this is what the boys really want, as they are always very warm towards me and chat happily whenever we meet. They also enjoy their time with my parents and the eldest has always had a particularly close relationship with my father. My parents were meant to sign an updated contact plan, which stated what they were not allowed to discuss with my sons, but this was sent to the legal team and they haven't had it back yet.

Throughout this time, I have not had any support from the care team to build up my confidence and help with parenting strategies, which was supposed to happen. I have been depressed and had a drink problem, but am getting better now. If I cannot see my children, it could put me back again. I hoped that there'd be an increase in contact and maybe some overnight stays and rehabilitation, but it seems as if it's going the other way. I've been treated as if I am incapable of improving, but I already have done. I've had to find resources myself to help with this.

I have to go to a meeting next week to discuss the care plans. I"m worried that the authorities will just ignore what I say as they have in the past and that my children will not be able to say what they really think, as the social worker has always got them to agree with her, including getting my youngest to change his statement about where he wanted to live before the Court hearing.

So is there anything I can do to prevent the authorities stopping or reducing our contacts and to make sure that the children's true feelings are heard?

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 1772
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Need some help

Postby Suzie, FRG Adviser » Wed Jun 03, 2015 12:32 pm

Dear Their mum,

Thank you for posting.
I can see that your sons are in a long term family and friends foster placement under a full care order.
You are worried about changes to your sons care plans and that some of the plan has not been carried out yet-even though your sons have been in care for a while.

You have a meeting next week which sounds like a “Looked after children review” or a child in care review meeting. If it is, there would be an independent reviewing officer (IRO) chairing this.

This meeting would be a really good place in which to raise all the issues that you are worried about.

Have a look at pages 17, 19-21 of our advice sheet 11- Duties owed to children in the care system These pages set out the role of the independent reviewing officer (IRO) and how the looked after children review (LAC) should be managed.

Before the review there should be a period of consultation and sharing of reports. You could set out in writing each of your concerns. Or telephone the independent reviewing officer to set out your concerns.

Your sons views being heard

Your sons have a right to an advocate. Have advocates been offered to them? The advocate could then make sure that their views are represented at the review meeting. Coram Voice offer advocacy to children in care.

Contact

• Your sons views about the changes in the contact arrangements. How has this change been assessed? Were they offered the help of an advocate?
• Your views about the changes in contact. That you are surprised as you thought contact was going well. What work has been done to explore why your sons want less contact? Whether there is anything you or your parents could do around contact? Can children services assist with contact-could they provide funding for you to take your children to cinema, meal etc?

Please see our advice sheet about contact with children in care .
This outlines the law around contact but also research and government guidance setting out best practice. You could point the independent reviewing officer to some of the research.

The parenting support that you expected to receive

Remind them of this. When will it happen? Who will be doing it? Can you be given timescales? If the timescales are missed who should you speak to? it is a good time for you because your health has improved and stabilised.

The changes in your health

You should tell the independent reviewing officer that your health has improved.
Set out all the support that you have received-that you engaged with the support and in fact arranged most of it yourself.

Can you get a medical report from your GP/alcohol worker to show the progress you have made? Could your illness relapse?
For care orders to be discharged, you would need to show that there have been substantial changes since the court hearing. You would also need to show that it is in the best interests of your sons.

I hope this helps but please post back.

Best wishes

Suzie

Their mum
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2013 10:58 pm

Re: Need some help

Postby Their mum » Wed Jun 03, 2015 2:22 pm

Dear Suzie

Thank you for your reply, which is very helpful. The meeting I referred to was in fact a care planning meeting, which was cancelled due to sw being off sick (!), but there should be a LAC review next week, providing that the care planning meeting can be rearranged before then. Actually very annoyed about this as LAC review has been postponed twice already because care plan had not been done and they've known original date for LAC review since December!

We asked at the start if funding was available for taking children out for meals etc., but were told that it was not.

Thanks for your help.


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