Discrimination

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Sallych72
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Jul 20, 2018 7:50 pm

Discrimination

Post by Sallych72 » Thu Aug 16, 2018 9:53 am

Hi everyone.
About 2 weeks ago I suddenly got served with a ‘Letter before action’ by my daughters social worker. She has known since May that after 6 years I was finally able to go away on holiday yet the afternoon before we left she posted it through the door and said that the meeting would be on Wednesday 15th August. I emailed her saying “you knew we are away for a week, which means we will only have the Monday and Tuesday to try to find a solicitor” and she replied by saying “you aren’t out of the country so you can correspond with a solicitor over the phone”. I couldn’t read the ‘Letter before action’ because I couldn’t let it spoil my holiday. My Father who is 79 took me, my son who is 18 and my 11 year old daughter to Dorset for the week. I have a disability which means I have very limited mobility (I have carers come in to me twice a day) and I have had mental health problems (bipolar and borderline personality disorder) since I was 21. I am now 46. I have a brilliant mental health support worker and I know the small ‘signs’ if I’m going to have a bit of a ‘wobble’ and always call her if I feel my meds aren’t helping or if I just need to chat.
Anyway just over 2 weeks ago my daughters social worker came round to say she wants my daughter to go to Boarding School, full time. Before that I’d been told she wanted her to go to a different High School, then she changed her mind and said ‘no, I’ve decided not that one and chose another high school, then after I’d been in contact with the headteacher and was arranging everything she changed her mind again saying I had taken too long and my daughter had to go to the local school!! My daughter had the transition week at my local High School Academy and she loved it. I bought all of her uniform (just under £200) and she was excited to be starting in September. But then suddenly the social worker changed her mind again saying she has sought legal advice and wants my daughter to go to a Boarding School and wants me to agree!! The reason she gives are as follows.....mainly because (1) I have mental health problems which must be unsettling for my daughter (as I said, if ever I feel like I’m not coping too well I contact my support worker immediately and my meds have kept me in good health), (2) I cannot give my daughter the life...ie outings etc because of my disability. The social worker has said that because of my problems I am always thinking of my problems and I am failing to give my daughter her basic needs! This is a complete lie. Yes I struggle to do domestic housework because of my disability but I have carers come in twice a day and they are meant to help me with this. Also I had an occupational therapist visit me back in March/April and she said that I NEEDED somebody to help me get on top of tidying the house - an hour a week out of my ‘Budget’ to which my daughters social worker said a flat out “no” to! The house isn’t dirty. I have clothes folded and piled in my bedroom which I need help sorting through and putting away and I need help tidying the garden.
The social worker has also written in the ‘LBA’ tha

Sallych72
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Jul 20, 2018 7:50 pm

Re: Discrimination

Post by Sallych72 » Thu Aug 16, 2018 10:17 am

.....cont....the social worker has also written in the ‘letter before action’ that my daughter often goes to school smelly, in dirty clothes and with dirty hair! There was one time that the headteacher, in a ‘Child in Need’ meeting told me that my daughter was smelly one day. I asked her “what did she smell of”, but I didn’t get a definite reply. The headteacher just kept saying “well, she was a bit smelly”. To me this answer wasn’t acceptable. I asked her “well, was it urine, body odour? What was it”? But again she wouldn’t elaborate. Another time I was told that my daughter (that particular morning) had on a dirty cardigan. I explained that all her clothes are washed and that I would check her cardigan when I got home. She had glue on it from that morning art lesson. The social worker and headteacher also used to go on about her hair looking ‘greasy’. I had fine, poker straight hair when I was my daughters age and as I explained over and over it didnt matter if it had been washed that very morning, once I got outside, ran about, or if there was a bit of a breeze, my hair would look slightly greasy. I said the only thing I could do was put it up in a ponytail or let my daughter bring a brush to school so that whenever the damned headteacher walked past she could brush it so that she would be able to see that it was clean. So, it seems that the social worker has taken the above incidents and written a whole paragraph in the LBA saying that my daughter was smell, dirty and had dirty hair!
My father on Monday managed to get in touch with a solicitor (we were supposed to have a list of solicitors in with the ‘LBA’ but there was none and I had to get the social worker to email it to me on Monday!) The solicitor obviously felt we had been treated unfairly because she cancelled the meeting for 15/8 and I am now waiting to find out what is happening.
I had a bit of a breakdown on Monday. My father read the letter before action because I knew it was going to really upset me. But he came round and said the social worker had really unfairly slated me as a mother and he said “I can’t sugar coat it, it seems that if we don’t say yes to sending ******* to boarding school the social worker will try to put her into care!! I can’t remember what happened but my father had to call an ambulance because he thought i was having a heart attack. I now feel hollow inside and such a failure. My daughter wants to stay with me and I feel like I’ve failed her. But more than that I am so very angry because of the downright lies that the social worker has written about me. And I feel totally hopeless because how on earth can I prove that she is lying.
What can I do?? Please, please help me.

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 2157
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Discrimination

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon Aug 20, 2018 2:29 pm

Dear Sallych72

Welcome to the parents’ discussion forum.

I am sorry that you are having such a difficult time because of children’s services involvement with you and your daughter.

In your post you say that you suddenly receipt a letter before action (pre-proceedings (PLO) letter two weeks ago. I assume that your daughter is on a child protection plan at the moment and the decision to issue the PLO letter relates to concerns that the plan is not being followed. If this is not the case, has something happened that is likely to place your daughter at risk of significant harm?

It is very good that you were able to get a solicitor to advice you and liaise with children’s services so that the scheduled meeting for 15 August could be changed to a new date. My advice is that you should go through any reports that you have been given with your solicitor so that any discrepancies can be dealt with at the meeting.

You say that children’s services believe that your daughter would be better off attending a boarding school. Does your daughter have any educational needs that they believe cannot be met in a mainstream school? It might be necessary for you to discuss the education issues with a solicitor who deal specialises in education. If it is a safeguarding issue that has led to children’s services decision then it would be a different issue to then as it would not be solely an education matter. You may find it helpful, if your daughter has educational needs to contact this service Decipha 020 7250 8255 for advice.

Regarding the PLO meeting, your solicitor will be able to attend this meeting with you. The purpose of the meeting is usually to discuss any concerns about the child protection plan and what children’s services believe is necessary to do and to give time for the lack of engagement or failure to follow the child protection can be resolved to prevent the need for court proceedings. Your solicitor will be able to discuss with you and the social worker the best way forward. Children's services will normally say what has to improve to prevent court proceedings being taken.

You say that you had a bit of a breakdown on Monday and the ambulance had to be called. Perhaps you had a panic attack. Does this happen to you often and is daughter present when you have these episodes? This would be a concern for children’s services because of the impact this would have on your daughter and her emotional well being.

It is not clear why the social worker would say you cannot engage someone to help you keep the house clean? My understanding from what you say is that you and not children’s services would have to pay for this. I suggest you ask the social worker for the local authority’s policy on working with parents with a disability.

Before a child can be in the care system children’s services would need your agreement. This would be a voluntary agreement that children’s services can accommodate your child. They would not share parental responsibility and you are able to withdraw you consent. It would not be advisable to do this without seeking legal advice. Alternatively, children’s services would have to apply for a court order before they can remove your child from your care. If they court granted an interim care order, then children’s services would have parental responsibility and can make decisions about your daughter. Do you have family support other than your father that would be able to step in and offer to help when you need it.

You could ask the social worker to arrange a family group conference. This would allow family member or friends from both sides to come up with a plan of support. Please read our advice sheet Family Group Conferences for more information.

If the matter did go to court then the final decision would be made by the judge. You would be entitled to legal representation as you would automatically receive legal aid. Our advice sheet aboutCare (and related) proceedings will give you more information.

You say what has been written about you are ‘lies’. I suggest you explain this to your solicitor as I advised above. You could ask for a meeting with the social worker’s team manager to express our concerns or consider making a complaint. It would be advisable to discuss the course of action you should take with your solicitor.

As you are parenting with a disability children’s services should take account of this and provide appropriate support. If you believe that you are being discriminated against on the basis of our disability then you could consider contacting the Equality Advisory Support Service on 020 7250 8255.

Should you wish to speak to an adviser about children’s services involvement with your family, please telephone our free confidential advice line on 0808 801 0366. The advice line is open Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 3pm.

I hope this is helpful.

Best wishes

Suzie

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