Social Services Failure?

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Username369
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Jan 17, 2020 9:47 am

Social Services Failure?

Post by Username369 » Mon Jan 20, 2020 10:33 pm

Hi,

I'm totally at a lost as to what to do, as is my partner in regards to his daughter who lives with her mum and partner.

Around 3 years ago, I noticed my step-daughter has grazes and marks on her on 2 separate occasions. When asked how she got them, I was expecting to hear the usual 'playing in the playground drama'!, but she told me her step-dad had caused them. Also worryingly, she would say that he only done this when her mum wasn't home, and he would hit her on the head with her baby siblings bottle.

Unsure what to do, and feeling unable to speak to his ex about this, my partner called the NSPCC for advice, and they in turn reported it to social services.

Social services followed this up with a call to my partners ex, who told them it was just 'horse play' (we know this as rightly or wrongly, I panicked when my partner said the NSPCC was reporting it to social services. I told him to text his ex to give her forewarning, and inbetween the abusive reply she said this). No other marks were seen on step-daughter after this, but she continued (still does) to tell us that if she does certain things her step-dad would get upset. At the time we took this with a pinch of salt.

I won't go into details, but recent events have lead to my partner putting in a request to see his daughters social service file. We were very surprised to see that there was a DA comment on it about 15 months prior to my partners call. The police were called to the property, and were concerned enough at the time to call social services (seems the DA was towards the mum, but it was due to step daughter wearing nail varnish, hence why it's on her record).

Social services have followed this up with a call to my partners ex, who said that 'he was drunk and aware that he over reacted'. Now, to me over reacting seems an understatement if the police were called?

We now don't know what to do. We have had concerns about emotional abuse towards step-daughter in particular for a few years (not allowed out to play / walk to school, constantly saying 'step-dad gets upset' if for example she takes something (of hers) from ours to her mums (she has sneeked things back, only to return the next weekend with the 'step-dad got upset when he found it' line).

We've told my partners ex in the past about not being able to take things from ours to her house, and it gets ignored. We obviously wasn't too worried about this at the time, just thought it was strange, as we see it as her things, not stuff that belongs at one house or the other.

Now we know of the DA record on her social services file, we are wondering how 'upset' he is he is getting, and at a loss as to what to do with this information.

Should we tell his ex that we know about the DA record, even though it was years ago (to me, just because it was reported years ago, doesn't mean its stopped)

Also, have social services failed this little girl? Should they have made her father aware and also questioned / informed him of the DA?

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 2625
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Social Services Failure?

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Wed Jan 29, 2020 3:04 pm

Dear Username369

Welcome to FRG’s parents’ discussion board and thank you for your post. My name is Suzie, FRG’s online adviser. I am sorry that I have not been able to respond sooner.

You and your partner are worried about your partner’s daughter who lives with her mother and her mother’s partner.
Your post covers 2 different but sometimes related issues – (1) children’s services’ role and (2) private law advice (where there is a dispute between parents about their child). Our remit is to provide advice about children’s services but I will also signpost you to private law advice services.

(1) Because of the concerns you describe your partner rightly contacted the NSPCC and they referred to children’s services, about 3 years ago. It seems that children’s services followed this up with a telephone call to the child’s mother who gave an explanation. From what you say it seems no further action was taken.

You have now discovered, via an access to records request, that 15 months prior to the referral being made to children’s services they were notified by the police that they had been called out to a domestic violence incident. Domestic violence is a serious concern because of how it can result in children being physically hurt and/or emotionally harmed and can affect their behaviour. Your partner was not informed of this incident and it does not sound as if a full assessment took place, only a phone call to the child’s mother. I do not know if children’s services had your partner’s details at that time to let him know about the incident or if the child’s mother was willing to provide them. Children’s services should share information with a father if they are worried that his child may be at risk and if they consider that sharing information with him will reduce this risk.

As these events took place a number of years ago, any complaint by your partner would now be considered out of time. However, if he wishes to pursue this he would need to explain that he has only obtained the information now because he requested access to his daughter’s records. Here is our advice sheet on complaints.

You are understandably concerned about the incident and children’s services’ response. This adds to the concerns you currently have about your step-daughter. You and your partner can always contact the NSPCC again to discuss your worries and to get their help and advice in weighing them up and deciding what to do.

Here is some advice from our FAQs for fathers about what else you partner can do if he is remains worried about his daughter whilst she is living with her mother and mother’s partner.

*It is advisable that you first discuss your concerns with your child's mother. It is important that you focus on the child and that you don't let old hostilities or feelings between the adults get in the way. You may find it easier to discuss these things in mediation.

*If you can't find solutions with your ex-partner to these problems, you can write to children’s services setting out your concerns and what you think needs to be happen to address them. Keep a copy of the letter.

*They should reply to you telling you what they plan to do in response to what you have said and why. If they plan to assess your child's needs and/or make enquiries about their safety you should be involved in the process and be asked how you can help to look after her.

*If they don’t take any action in response to your letter, you should continue to keep a record of you concerns and contact the local authority again, if necessary.

*However, do take care how you come across, so it's clear that you have a genuine worry rather than it appearing that you have a grudge against your ex-partner.

(2) As a concerned father, your partner also have private law options.

You haven’t said if the current arrangement is by agreement between both parents or if there is a court order, a Child Arrangements Order (CAO), in place which sets out who the child should live with and /or who she should spend time with. As your partner is the child’s father he will have parental responsibility for her if he is named on her birth certificate. He can get legal advice about mediation, applying for a CAO or applying to vary a CAO if there is already one in place from Child Law Advice or from a solicitor.

I hope this is helpful to you. If you would like to speak to an adviser about the role of children’s services please do call our freephone advice helpline on 0808 8010366, Mon to Fri between 9.30 am and 3.00 pm, to discuss.

With best wishes

Suzie

Username369
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Jan 17, 2020 9:47 am

Re: Social Services Failure?

Post by Username369 » Thu Jan 30, 2020 9:53 am

Thank you Suzie,

This has provided some good information on how we should proceed, and without it seeming like a grudge against my partners ex. Although the relationship with her has taken a turn for the worse lately, and our priority is the child, we also care about her own safety if DA is continuing.

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