Aftermath of a Child Protection Conference

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EckyThump
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Sep 18, 2018 4:03 pm

Aftermath of a Child Protection Conference

Post by EckyThump » Sat Sep 22, 2018 6:39 pm

My partner and I attended a Child Protection Conference yesterday - 21/09/18.

The conference was convened because my eldest (10 years old) son has exhibited worrying behaviour since he was two years old. He has a wonderful Social Worker, who has been with him for almost two years, and other than my partner and myself, of the eight other people attending the conference, his Social Worker is the only person who said anything positive about him. The remaining attendees (other than the chairperson) dehumanised him, vilified him and demonised him. Three of the attendees were from his previous school (who we worked closely with), while two further attendees where from his relatively new school - a pupil referral unit. Of the remaining attendees, only one had ever met my son in person, and that was a brief engagement.

Other than my partner and myself, his Social Worker is one of the few people who have ever sat down and attempted to understand my son. What he has had to say has brought tears to her eyes. And she has strived to progess my son's situation at every opportunity. It took nine years before my son was refered to the pediatrician, then forwarded for an autism assessment. He could be 11 or 12 years old before the assessment even begins, yet an Educational Psychologist acknowledged ASD markers when he was 6.

I want to talk about his previous school. An academy that scored 'inadequate' across the board on their Ofsted assessment two years ago, and one that is in special measures. I want to talk about the school because his sibling sisters attend it still.


Prior to CS being involved with my son at the academy his treatment could only be described as abused and neglected. These aren't his words; my son would have just called it 'bullying'. He describes being mentally abused, name-calling by the SEN, then-Safeguarding Officer, the school principal, and other staff; interrorgated by past and present staff, demanding answers to questions he didn't understand; being forced to give specific answers to specific questions. He describes long periods of isolation in school and how his concerns were dismissed. He describes being guilty by association (something we have documented evidence to support) and being constantly reminded how he is just a 'bad boy'. We advocated for our son but we too felt bullied by staff, dismissed and ignored. We attended meeting after meeting, followed every suggestion (including a discrete sex education at 6 years old), offering staff and teachers valuable insights into how well our child is likely to respond in certain situations. We were ignored.

Each meeting covered the same points as previous meetings. Nothing was resolved and we never moved forward. We were advised the same at each turn, going around and around in circles. Never progressing. For 4 years. My partner and I were berated over my son's behaviour, publically - in view and earshot of other parents - and privately in closed sessions. It was clear to my partner and I that the school didn't care that my son received the help he needed. In their own words, "We don't have the facilities or time to support" him.

Our ineffectiveness let our son down.

In 2016, during the school holidays, my son had a mental breakdown. He refused to attend his GP, he wasn't under CS at the time; we didn't know where to turn. I was self employed and I decided to limit my work day to four hours so I could spend as much time with my son as possible. He was exhibiting Social Anxiety and Depression, and it was an 8 week journey for the pair of us before his confidence resembled his earlier self. He attributed his mental state to his treatment at school. My engagements with that school suffered - I couldn't stomach being present at meetings with those staff. I was enraged and resentful. I still am. I'm still heartbroken two years later.

The positive - the only good that came out of 2016 - was his referal to CS. He's had three SWs since then. His first was concerned with what he witnessed with how the academy both managed and treated my son; his second was the first SW that my son confided in (describing instances of what can only be described as interrorgation); the third - and current - SW appears to understand my child. She's fantastic. But constrained.

My partner and I are happy CS are involve. We could have kicked ourselves for not self-referring. Few things have actually changed over the years deep down inside, but the boy has an advocate who sees the reality of the situation for themselves.


In 2016, shortly after the school holidays, and while I endeavoured to give my son all the attention I could give to combat his devastated mental state, my partner's father sexually abused my eldest daughter. In retrospect I can see the signs. In retrospect my partner can see the signs. But at the time? Almost all my attention was on my son, while my partner's attention was shared between his two sisters. It was nice having another adult helping us manage them - my partner's father. He was helpful at a time when we, as a family, was most vulnerable. But he did what he did. And half a year later he was convicted on the evidence my daughter provided; he's two years into a 10 year sentence. And I hate him.

My eldest daughter felt sorry for her grandfather. He had emotionally manipulated her. Throughout the trial she would often remind people how sorry she felt for him, and how she hoped he wouldn't get in trouble for what he had done. She was 5 years old at the time and I didn't want to break her heart. So I told her that her grandfather had moved to London and that we probably wouldn't see him again. She was happy with that. And given all that had happened to her, she was still wholesome. I really couldn't have asked for a better outcome.


And now we're back at the beginning. It's the day after the Child Protection Conference. I've barely slept in two years; I can't remember the last time I dreamed. And I'm tired.

While the CPC progressed how my partner and I anticipated, we were disappointed with how my son was portrayed. He's doing well in his PRU, but it's early days. He always does well when he's away from the academy school. But the staff from the PRU dehumanised him based on his previous school's testimonly, the school nurse vilified him, his infant health visitor demonised him, and the staff from his previous school speculated a universe of possible horrors. We could handle that, because we knew that there was one person there who would advocate for him: his SW. Still, he was placed on CP. We're okay with that. His siblings were placed on CIN. We're okay with that too. We accepted that the CPC progressed no better than the 10s of meetings we'd attended at his prior academy, and we weren't at all surprise all of our concerns, testimony or advocacy was dismissed. We were used to it. Even his own SW's testimony was largely ignored in a CPC we weren't originally invited to, that was hurriedly packed into just under two hours.

My son was worth less than two hours discussion. But my partner and I could handle that. What we struggled to reconcile, however, was how they brought my eldest daughter into the fold.

My partner has been concerned that the academy my daughters attend - my son's previous school - would "Get their claws into them" once my son was out of the picture. It sounds ludicrous. It is ludicrous. It should be ludicrous. My eldest daughter is a perfectly adjusted, very bright girl, without a care in the world and without a concern in the world. But, because she had been sexually abused two years earlier it was felt she should be given some form of councelling. Just in case.

Okay. If people feel my eldest daughter may benefit from councelling then let's get her that councelling. I'll pay for it out of my own pocket. It will be confidential - even from my partner and myself - and CS may involve themselves in that councelling however they see fit. It will consider my daughter's sensibilities above all else. But, whatever is agreed, don't give her school - my son's previous school - agency over it. Anyone but that school! The thought of the same school that emotionally destroyed my son being let loose on his sister is too much for me and my partner to bear.

The school insisted in the CPC that they provide my daughter with councelling. And so they will. Just like they did with her brother.

And now I'm devastated at the thought of what that academy will put my daughter through.

The system doesn't work and we don't have a voice.

Miserylovescompany2
Posts: 64
Joined: Sun Jul 02, 2017 6:55 pm

Re: Aftermath of a Child Protection Conference

Post by Miserylovescompany2 » Sun Sep 23, 2018 9:22 am

Hello - I am so sorry you are going through this. The system at present is not fit for purpose. The framework being applied will be the very same as if you had caused your own child(ren) harm. Basically - you are all guilty until proven otherwise.

I understand what you are going through. I wish that I could tell you there light at the end of the tunnel. This is just the beginning. My advice to you would be make sure you put everything in writing ensuring there is a paper trail. Get copies of all paperwork past and present - go through it with a fine tooth comb. Highlight any mistakes. Take your own notes. Ask questions. Do not take everything at face value.

Just to give you a little context, I am at the other side of the process. I am happy to answer any of your questions if you feel that would be useful.

Misery

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 2120
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Aftermath of a Child Protection Conference

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Wed Oct 03, 2018 4:55 pm

Hello EckyThump

Thank you for your post and welcome to the parents’ discussion board.

There has been a lot of issues that you have had to deal with as a family in recent times.

It is good that your son now appears to be getting the support he needs with children’s services being involved. As you are happy with the child protection plan and the involvement of children’s services am sure you are doing all you need to under the plan. You may find our advice sheet Child protection procedures helpful as your son is on a child protection plan.

Your main concern seem to be relating to your daughter’s school because of the historical issues with your son and the treatment you said he received there. However, your daughter’s needs may be very different to her brother’s so perhaps she will not have the same experience. Was it accepted by the professionals at the conference that your son had a difficult time at the school and his particular needs were not met.

Although it was discussed at the child protection and agreed for the school to undertake the counselling as you are clearly very worried about it, I suggest you write to the chair of the conference setting out the reservations that you have and ask if alternative counselling could be offered to your daughter. Would you be able to arrange counselling yourself or through your GP. As your daughter is on child in need plan (CIN) it should be possible for you to decide what support you wish to accept provided to can ensure that the same or similar support can be provided to your daughter. Please read our advice sheet Family support which gives more information about child in need and support.

I am not able to advise you about education issues but the school should have a policy in respect of complaints and you may find it helpful if you wish to complain about anything to do with your daughter.

Should you wish to discuss your case further with an adviser, please telephone 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

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