Thank you for your post.
Sorry you seem to be having such a difficult time.
I notice in your post, you accept that ‘there are many dedicated social workers who are caring people’, and doing their best to help the children and families they are working with, in what can sometimes be quite difficult circumstances. Unfortunately, as in any profession, there are times when this is not always the case.
For instance, when the working relationship is no longer a constructive one, or if professional boundaries appear to have become blurred. The complaints
procedure is designed to examine and address any concerns raised about poor social work practice. Families are also entitled to apply for access to records
held about them. Under the Data Protection Act, however, there may be some restrictions about the type of information given.
Any family involved with Children’s Services, is entitled to request a support person (of your choice) to be present at meetings and visits.
Where possible be open with the social worker, in advance about your intention to invite another party to attend. Be clear whether they are a relative, family member or a professional, and what their relationship is to you.
In this way confidentiality issues are addressed from the outset. Then decisions about what information gets shared outside of the meeting, and under what circumstances, becomes clear to all parties. This could help to prevent any confusion at a later date.
Where Children's Services refuse your request for a support person to be present, it is important you ask why, and request the reasons for their decision is given to you in writing.
Parental advocacy in child protection
In the event of children subject to child protection
plans, the Family Rights Group provide professional advocacy
to parents to help them express their views, and inform them about the obligations of the Local Authority, and relevant aspects of child care law, at child protection conferences, held within the London area.
However, good practice suggests that having an advocate present can help to build bridges, and resolve difficulties in the working relationship, between families and social workers. That said, the service is dependent on Children’s Services being willing to fund the service, but it is not an automatic right. Any parent that believes that an advocate attending an initial or review child protection conferences, may be useful, should first discuss a possible referral with the social worker, to see if funding can be agreed.
Where care proceedings
have been issued, it is always advisable to discuss any concerns with your solicitor, on http://www.lawsociety.org.uk
, as they have a detailed overview of your particular circumstances.
Support to foster carers
Likewise, a foster carer can approach their supervising social worker(or fostering link worker) or the Fostering Network for support, in relation to any issues or concerns that may arise for them.
If you wish to discuss your individual situation in more detail, please feel free to contact the advice line to speak to an advisor between Monday to Friday 09.30 am to 03.30 pm on 0808 801 0366.