Welcome to the Parents’ Discussion Forum.
My name is Suzie, online adviser at Family Rights Group, I am sorry that you are feeling scared about the plans being made for your children’s future and where they will live in the future.
It appears from your post that there are care proceedings relating to your children and a final decision will be made by the court on 3rd November 2016 at the final hearing. Are the children subject to interim care orders or s.20 voluntary accommodation? In both cases they are looked after children and children services has specific duties towards them. If it is decided that your 16 year old will return home, you should ask what support children services are offering her as a child leaving care. Your eldest daughter could be an eligible child or a relevant child in respect of the support she is entitled to receive. A copy of our advice sheet about a child leaving care is here
for your further information.
Children services can put forward the care plan for the children but it will be for the judge to make the final decision whether there should be a full care order in respect of the children or not. The solicitor representing you in the care proceedings may already have explained to you his or her view of the evidence and whether the threshold is met for the court to make a care order.
The judge will hear all the evidence and make a decision based on the welfare of the children and what is in their best interests. As you are likely to be opposing the application for care orders, your legal representative will be able to explain to the judge why the children should return to your care, (with support), if necessary.
Children services should have carried out a parenting assessment of you to help them decide if they children could return to your care. If you do not agree with how the assessment was done or if there are inaccuracies, then you must inform your solicitor what you think is wrong with the assessment and why. They need to make sure the judge is made aware of all you have done to make it safe for the children to return to your care. However, it will be the judge who will make the final decision having considered everything.
I am sending you a copy of our advice sheet
relating to care proceedings which will you give you an idea of how the judge makes his or her final decision at the final hearing.
Normally, children services should try to keep siblings together, unless it is not the child’s best interests for this to happen. It will depend on the particular needs of each child, you can of course, through your legal representative, let the judge know how you feel about this separation of the children.
You have mentioned in your post that one child is to go to an aunt which suggests that she has already been assessed by children services as a permanent long term carer. Have you as parents been ruled out to care for the children following assessments done by children services? It is not clear from your post what concerns children services have about your ability to safely care for the children.
Contact with the children will be very important if the judge decides that they cannot return to your care. I suggest that you with your solicitor about contact so he or she can discuss it with children services. Our advice sheet
about contact with a child in care will give you more details.
Our advice sheet
about the duties the children services have when a child is in the care system will give your more information about what you can expect if care orders are made and the children do not return to live with you.
You may want to speak to an adviser and I suggest that you telephone our free, confidential advice line on 0808 801 0366. The advice line is open from 9.30 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. Monday to Friday.
I hope this is helpful