The Coronavirus is impacting contact

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QuestionMark
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The Coronavirus is impacting contact

Post by QuestionMark » Tue Mar 17, 2020 1:35 pm

What can parents do when contact is being withdrawn due to this virus? Obviously we all want our children to be safe and healthy, so what is going to happen when court orders start being ignored and how can we at least make up lost time?

mancmum
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Re: The Coronavirus is impacting contact

Post by mancmum » Tue Mar 24, 2020 1:21 am

I have been informed by my 15 year old son’s carer that contact is now stopped face to face until further notice. I currently have contact twice a week with one overnight contact a month. We are meant to be working towards my son coming home. I obviously want my son to be safe but don’t feel that phone contact (usually a grunt and I’ve done nothing) or text one word answers is enough. Surely if both households are healthy and in lockdown some contact could be maintained. Families are important to!

QuestionMark
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Re: The Coronavirus is impacting contact

Post by QuestionMark » Thu Mar 26, 2020 7:38 am

The President of the family division has released a statement on this issue if you just google it :)

You are right, if both households are healthy then children can travel between the homes! Unfortunately, my situation is similar - used to get one full day and one might, and I’ve been reduced down to two phonecalls a week with my 3yo.. and have been told this will be the case for the foreseeable, I’m so worried

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Re: The Coronavirus is impacting contact

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon Mar 30, 2020 12:27 pm

Dear Questionmark

Thank you for your post.

For private law situations such as yours it may be useful to ask the other party to offer indirect contact such as phone calls, emails or other media platforms if direct contact ‘has to be’ withdrawn. Withdrawing direct contact may keep children safe and healthy and if the other party is concerned about those the children will come into contact with they may not be considered to be ‘ignoring court orders’ perhaps there could be a discussion about making up lost direct contact when this health crises is over.

Child Law Advice which advises on private law matters such as yours have published a range of FAQs which consider these issues. They have one specific FAQ – coronavirus-covid-19 which I think you will find particularly helpful as it addresses the impact of coronavirus in terms of keeping to child arrangements orders which regulate contact/residence arrangements.

Rights of Women have also published updated tailored advice on coronavirus and child contact arrangements to help mothers in your situation. This information promotes good communication between parents but also gives practical advice on what you can do if there are difficulties.

For individuals where Children’s Services are involved and parents or carers are worried about not being able to go to contact, or the scheduled contact is not going ahead as planned it may be useful to speak to the social worker and ask how the local authority plans to fulfil its contact duties to children in their care: each case will of course be responded to on its own merits. It may be wise for parents and carers to suggest other forms of contact, via the phone etc as stated above. It will be useful to remind social workers that children may also be worried about their parents and other family members and will want an explanation about why they are not going to be able see them. Kinship carers or those having to self-isolate and who cannot attend a contact may be experiencing similar concerns. In such situations, contacting the social worker to discuss or explain their personal situation should help to clarify future contact arrangements.

We have recently tips about published tips for kinship carers and for parents with a child in the care system – some of this information and practical tips provided may be of use to you also.

You may want to keep checking our website and the website of the above-mentioned private law organisations too for updates.

Best wishes

Suzie

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Re: The Coronavirus is impacting contact

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon Mar 30, 2020 1:15 pm

QuestionMark wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 7:38 am
The President of the family division has released a statement on this issue if you just google it :)

You are right, if both households are healthy then children can travel between the homes! Unfortunately, my situation is similar - used to get one full day and one might, and I’ve been reduced down to two phonecalls a week with my 3yo.. and have been told this will be the case for the foreseeable, I’m so worried
Dear QuestionMark

Thanks for your further post on this topic. I am sorry that you are so worried; it is understandable in the circumstances.

I hope that my earlier response has helped and directed you to where you can access detailed private law advice. Maybe our advice for parents will give you some ideas about how you can best support your child/ren at this time.

With best wishes

Suzie

PerfectlySafeDad
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Re: The Coronavirus is impacting contact

Post by PerfectlySafeDad » Fri Apr 03, 2020 12:03 am

'In such situations, contacting the social worker to discuss or explain their personal situation should help to clarify future contact arrangements.'
Yeah sure. If you can get through to them, especially now, and even if you do how many weeks before it goes through the channels with their superiors and returns in any constructive action? You're only likely to get either a closet threat or a further nightmare of bureaucracy - a 'plan' this a plan that. They haven't got the faintest clue what to do, as usual, and, as usual, the outcome for most parents in difficult contact situations (ie where being ruthlessly curtailed by these maniacs) will be the simplest 'safest' most draconian option - cessation of contact. This virus has given all the excuse the SS need to shut down arrangements. No SS manager is going to grant a contact where there is the slightest possibility (however remote) that a child might get ill with Covid-19. This is despite all the evidence that a healthy child has no difficulty with the virus whatsoever, aside from one in a million, but that's about the same odds as being hit by a truck or struck by lightening. Those 'acts of God', however, can not come back on the SS but a freak Covid death could, so that's all they care about.
The biggest virus in this country is the rampant safeguarding and risk-aversion mentality, and it's absolutely crucifying to human rights and ruinous to the fabric of society. Time and time again, measures of supposed safeguarding impact devastatingly on the ability of people to live their family lives, and the measures are out of all proportion to to the alleged risk they are protecting against. It's actually evil. It's almost an entity in itself. The only way to avoid risk is not to be born or not to have a world. It's that stupid. At the end of the day the children allegedly being protected are hurt by it too, which is the biggest irony. I say these things time and time again but |I'm wasting my breath, precisely because it is a tyranny. Nobody can seem to reign it in. I know what (rather who) the biggest risk to children are.

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Re: The Coronavirus is impacting contact

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon Apr 06, 2020 10:39 am

mancmum wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 1:21 am
I have been informed by my 15 year old son’s carer that contact is now stopped face to face until further notice. I currently have contact twice a week with one overnight contact a month. We are meant to be working towards my son coming home. I obviously want my son to be safe but don’t feel that phone contact (usually a grunt and I’ve done nothing) or text one word answers is enough. Surely if both households are healthy and in lockdown some contact could be maintained. Families are important to!
Dear Mancmum

Welcome back to the parents’ discussion board and thank you for your post. I am sorry to hear that your face to face visits with your 15 year old son have stopped due to the impact of the coronavirus (Covid 19) situation. Instead of seeing your son, including having him to stay overnight one night a week, you have been offered phone contact which you are finding to be inadequate. The new arrangements have come into place as part of the new staying at home rules and the requirements for social distancing.

Another mother has helpfully signposted to new government guidance for children whose parents share their care which allows for children to move between their parents’ two homes, as long as these arrangements also comply with government guidance so that if one household needs to self-isolate or has an underlying health condition, then the children should not travel between two homes.

I think, though, that your son may be living with a foster carer or is under a care order in which case there is different guidance which applies and which sets out that, in most cases, direct contact between children in their care and their parents and families should not be happening, to comply with the new rules as above. However, social workers should be looking at creative ways to help keep children and their parents in touch and these arrangements should be tailored to the individual child and their parents’ needs. You are right that phone contact may not be the best way to support an ongoing relationship between a teenage boy and his mother and other options such as social media, blogs, vlogs and whats app calls may be other options.

Your situation, however, may be different as you were working towards a plan for your son to be returned home. I don’t know how far this plan has progressed and what the timescale was. But if you are concerned that the plans for your son to return home have been seriously jeopardised by the current crisis and that it might be possible (and in your son’s best interests) for him to come home sooner you can:

• Ask for an urgent Looked After Child Review to be arranged – this will now be done remotely in some way e.g. Skype.
• Ask for consideration to be given to your son returning home sooner, if this could be done in a safe way and in his best interests.

Please do see our new advice for parents and families with a child in the care system for advice about the law and new guidance but also for practical tips for negotiating with children’s services and ideas for ways to keep in touch if you are not able to have direct contact with your child at present. You are right that families matter too and it is important that parents are supported to help their children feel cared for and loved during this critical time.

If I have misunderstood and your son is not in care then you may find Rights of Women’s specialist information on coronavirus and child contact arrangements to be useful.

I hope this helps.

Please do post again or call FRG’s freephone advice helpline on 0808 8010366 (Mon to Fri, 9.30 am to 3.00 pm, excluding bank holidays) if you have a further query.

With best wishes

Suzie

mancmum
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Re: The Coronavirus is impacting contact

Post by mancmum » Thu Apr 16, 2020 2:47 pm

Hi Suzie
Thank you for your reply. There have been some problems with my son's foster carers since my last message which, for once, seem to be going in my favour. In a message to me the foster carer referred to my son as 'cocky', 'a failure', a selfish individual' and also said he had told my son 'your mum may not make it through this coronavirus'. I reported this to the social worker and sent her copies of the texts stating that this was inappropriate and bullying. I have been told by the SW that he has apologised so no further action will be taken! I obviously wasn't happy with this outcome but was then informed, that the carers have given my son 28 days notice to leave as he has told the SW he wants to go home so the carers feel the placement has broken down. I'm not sure if it's due to my constant nagging for the last two years or that they are inundated with children needing carers due to the coronavirus but, earlier this week, I had a parenting assessment and my son's SW is recommending he comes home. :D :D :D

So, although I haven't seen him for four weeks (i wasn't even allowed to leave his easter present in the carers porch) I am just biding my time and not making any waves in the hope that the reunification will be approved by 'The Head of Service' (whomever they may be) and we can start the next stage of our lives.

I would be grateful if you, or anybody else, can point me in the direction of advice for making the process of reunification as smooth as possible (I have paid for and attended a Triple P parenting course) as I've had a look on the internet and can't seem to find anything.

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Re: The Coronavirus is impacting contact

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Fri Apr 17, 2020 4:27 pm

Dear mancmum

I am happy to read that the plan for your son is ‘return home’.

Children’s Services should contact you and update your son’s care plan, our advice sheet Reuniting children in the care system with their families will give you an outline of the process, do ensure that the professionals are aware that you are well prepared for your son’s return and that you ‘expect’ them to fulfil their obligations to him too, page 54 of Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 gives you an outline of this.

Best wishes to you and good luck in the future.

Suzie

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