Too late to discharge care order?

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worriedmum81
Posts: 38
Joined: Mon Aug 22, 2016 10:37 am

Too late to discharge care order?

Post by worriedmum81 » Thu Nov 08, 2018 8:13 pm

My children have been in long term foster care for 6 and a half years. My eldest son returned home to live with me 2 years ago.
In the past 6 and a half years there have been so many changes. I passed an assessment for looking after my son. I passed an assessment through a different authority to be a joint carer for my partners children who are also classed as looked after. My children's local authority gave a positive reference for me to ensure I was allowed, stating that I am a good parent and not a danger.
I have done parenting courses, healthy minds therapy and c.b.t.
I have a new home, am financially stable, have a secure and very responsible career, have completed numerous courses including diplomas in care for people with disabilities (all of my children have different diagnosis of developmental and physical disabilities). I have always worked really well with the local authority, have attended every contact and had nothing but positive reports from the contact workers. The only negatives are once a few years ago a foster carer said she felt the Christmas contact got a bit loud, and recently the social worker supervised a contact; this contact was unusual, with exceptional circumstances but the children were still quite well behaved.
Despite all of this, neither myself or my family are allowed unsupervised contacts. My daughter is still not allow to bring me even though she says she wants to and social services have been agreeing for years that she can. Her carer apparently tells her she doesn't have my number.
My eldest is nearly 18. He has got to the point of not going to contact as he hates that he is being watched constantly and has even been told it's inappropriate to hug his siblings as they are all too old for this now. My older daughter keeps getting upset and asking why she can't see him in normal places like going to the cinema or shopping with him. But the social worker says she doesn't want to see him outside. Due to her autism she lives in the moment so when her lac officer sees her and asks if everything is ok and does anything need changed she says everything is fine, because it is at that moment.
I've had meeting and emailed. I've asked them for their concerns in writing but have had no response from them so far. Recently at a meeting it was said the social workers would speak to foster carers about bringing the children to my sister's 40th birthday but when it came close to the day they denied they had said it. They agreed that for my son's 18th they would change the contact date. They again denied it, but after I challenged them they said they have no availability so won't consider changing the date or time so they know he won't attend.
They agreed that this year we can have a full family contact where we all go out for a Xmas meal but today said it's not happening. When I phoned the social worker they said my parents didn't want to don't and had chose to not see the children until the new year. My mum said this wasn't the case, they had been told that if they want to have joint contact it would have to be during mine, in a small room in the contact centre which my parents thought was unfair on me and impractical to have 11 people in a tiny room with only 4 chairs.
Anyway the point of this is; I want to get unsupervised contact; I don't wish to disrupt the placements as much as I want the children home because my daughter is due to do gcses, my son will be starting gcses next year and my youngest daughter due to move to seniors, and as I only currently have a 2 bedroom property with a view to buying a bigger place next year; I would like my children to have visits home and normal family life. I am planning to go to court next year to look at discharging the care orders if it isn't too late. I am aware it is an obligation for the local authority to consider discharging care orders but as they haven't considered this in 6 years it feels like court might be my only option.
Any advice would be very welcome

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 2148
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Too late to discharge care order?

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon Nov 12, 2018 5:49 pm

Dear worriedmum81

Thank you for your further post.

You are concerned about the level of contact you are currently having and more particularly that the contact continues to be supervised. In your post you have mentioned that you are not able to have telephone contact with your daughter because the foster carers tell her that they do not have your telephone number. Since there is care order in place it is for children’s services to make decisions about the contact your daughter can and cannot have. The foster carer would be required to follow what children’s services say should happen. If it is the case that they do not have your telephone number then the social worker can provide it to them.

Children’s services should have minutes of meeting you attend and what is discussed and agreed during the meeting should be recorded in the minutes. Have you asked for the minutes of the particular meetings in which it was suggested these additional contacts sessions could take place. I suggest you ask for the minutes and then, if the correct information is not recorded, you can consider whether you want to make a formal complaint. Please see our advice sheet Challenging decisions and making complaints. You could also have a discussion with the independent reviewing officer (IRO) about contact.

The other thing you could do is to ask to have a meeting with the social worker’s team manager so that you can discuss the concerns that you have. Request a written response to the request you have already made. If you do not get a response then you will see from our advice sheet about making a complaint that you can ask the local government ombudsman to look at your complaint if the local authority fail to respond.

There are certain duties that children’s service have when children are in the care system and you can read about these in our advice sheet Duties on Children’s Services when children are in the care system.

If children’s services do not agree for you to have unsupervised contact, you could make an application to the court for this contact. Please read how you could go about making an application to the court Contact with children in care. As you say, it is important that the children’s placement is not disturbed especially if they are going to be doing examinations.

Regarding your plan to apply to discharge the care order next year, I do not think it will be too late as you can apply to discharge a care order provided it has not come to it natural end when a child is 18. Before applying to discharge a care you should make sure that you have addressed to concerns that led to the order being made in the first place. Please read our advice sheet which will give you more information about how to go about having your children returned to your care Reuniting children in the care system with their families

Should you wish to discuss this matter further, you are free to telephone our confidential advice line on 0808 801 0366. The advice line is open Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 3pm.

I hope this helps.

Best wishes

Suzie

worriedmum81
Posts: 38
Joined: Mon Aug 22, 2016 10:37 am

Re: Too late to discharge care order?

Post by worriedmum81 » Wed Nov 28, 2018 1:21 am

Thank you for the advice Suzie. I've taken a few steps recently. I have requested and received all lac minutes for my children from the past 2 years which I haven't been receiving. In these minutes there are many occasions that say about my daughter being allowed hone contact and the foster carers are to make that possible, times where it says I'm allowed to go to my children's shows etc and the carers are to make sure they tell me when these are, repeated promises to look at unsurvised contacts etc.
I have had an unofficial meeting with the lac review officer who I have known about 5 years. She has promised to speak to the support worker and try to get more information about why social workers and foster carers are insisting on it being supervised. She also agreed that foster carers are overstepping the boundary to a degree. She said it would be worth speaking to the social workers again, and said if that doesn't work that I have a good case to make a complaint.
I have emailed the social workers to ask in writing what there concerns are but haven't had a response to it yet, despite it being 3 weeks so am planning to email a reminder to see if I can get response.
The lac officer has said that if I do apply to discharge the children would come home but due to my children being settled and doing gcses I don't feel that would be in their best interest currently. But am hoping we can find some middle ground.

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 2148
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Too late to discharge care order?

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Thu Nov 29, 2018 5:20 pm

Dear worriedmum81

Thank you for posting again.

I am pleased that you decided to follow through and the advice you were given.

Hopefully, you will receive a response to your email from the social worker or the team manager. If you do not then, I think you may want to consider if you should make a formal complaint. However, as the independent reviewing officer (IRO) is also looking into matters for you, you may wish to wait and see the outcome of her investigations.

I think you are right, making an application whilst the children are studying for their GCSE is likely to be disruptive and not in their best interests especially if it would mean them having to change school if you are successful in your application.

A copy of our advice sheet Challenging decisions and making complaints which was sent to you previously gives more information about the process.

Should you wish to speak to an adviser, please telephone our confidential advice line on 0808 801 0366. The advice line is open from 9.30am to 3pm Monday to Friday.

Best wishes

Suzie

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