Ambushed at LAC Review

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charmed1
Posts: 137
Joined: Sun May 26, 2013 2:11 pm

Ambushed at LAC Review

Post by charmed1 » Thu Oct 03, 2019 9:21 am

My DD has special needs and although nearly 12 is developmentally more 6/7. She's under a full care order and been with her 'permanent' foster carer for 2.5 years. All seemed to be going well despite the carer being a single person and having another disabled child in the household. I believed the latter made up for the move away from the psychologist's firm recommendations as I thought she had the training to look after children with special needs. I have grave concerns now. My DD has decided she no longer wants me to go to her school for meetings, plays, sports days, etc. I believe this was triggered by the lack of communication at her sports day 3 years ago when I stayed too long and ended up in a classroom with the foster carer. My daughter became very upset and there was huge fallout resulting (I am only guessing) where it was decided at review that I would stop sports days but continued to see plays and attend meetings at school. I went to her school play that December and the carer sat next to me. All fine. Jump ahead to last December the foster carer and her family sat right behind me. This time it was reported in the SW's report that my daughter's "presentation changed when she saw mum". How do they know it was me when the carer and family were right behind me?! A couple of weeks ago I had a meeting with my daughter's SW. She told me my DD had been extremely upset at something I'd said at the last contact in June (a month had passed and first I'd heard of it). My daughter was telling me about her new teacher and I said that I'd met him and he was really nice. I realised I'd said the wrong thing as despite my daughter not having actually started this new school yet I had put my foot in it. I admitted the slip and all the SW said to me was that she had blamed the foster carer for lying as my DD had been told I wouldn't go to her school! Yesterday at the LAC review I was ambushed by the foster carers SW. A dragon who's been involved with my family in the past and has obvious dislike for me as I can be very vocal. It was extremely serious and that what I had said was destabilising the placement. My DD had smacked the carer on the shoulder shouted at her calling her a liar, etc. etc. I saw my daughter in the morning for contact. This happened when she got home much much later. I truly believe there's a lot more to this than they are saying. The carer says something different every time there's a meeting. She honestly makes it up as she goes along. I don't believe my DD is getting the support she needs. She attends a school for children with special needs, she had art therapy before why not now to find out exactly why she is pushing me away? Why am I being made an escape goat here? She needs mental health support urgently. She's just started year 7 and the carer is moving to a new house much further away from school. They lived just up the road from school before. So much disruption but that's ok apparently. It's all mum's fault! Contact is being reduced from 6 times a year for 3 hours to 3 times a year for 6 hours as I will be seeing my daughter separately from Dad because of his behavior towards me affecting our daughter. They say the time will double but that's debatable if my DD wants to go home before the end. I now can't attend PEP reviews and the LAC review with take place at her old school next door. The IRO even asked me if I had deliberately upset my daughter!!! What do members think? Should I wait, get legal advise, push for therapy for DD?

charmed1
Posts: 137
Joined: Sun May 26, 2013 2:11 pm

Re: Ambushed at LAC Review

Post by charmed1 » Wed Oct 09, 2019 3:46 pm

Sorry my question is so long but can anyone give me some advise please?

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

Re: Ambushed at LAC Review

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Fri Oct 11, 2019 11:57 am

Dear Charmed1,

Welcome back to the Parent’s Forum.
I can see that you have just been to a Looked after child (LAC) review. You are unhappy about two different decisions that have been made in relation to you as a parent.

First, the frequency of your contact with your daughter has been reduced from 6 times a year to 3 times a year. Although, the time you spend with your daughter will double which will give you the opportunity to do more things during contact so hopefully increase the quality of contact.
Second, a decision has also been made that prevents you attending meetings where you can be involved in the decision making about your daughter’s care plan. You have been told you cannot attend PEP meetings and it looks like you may not be able to attend future LAC reviews.

You are questioning the validity of the decisions. You say, that the reason given was the social worker’s concern that you are de-stabilising the placement. You had also said something to your daughter about the school teacher as you had not realised that the foster carer had told your daughter you were not going to the school. So your daughter was upset with the foster carer, after the contact visit.

Have you got copies of the assessments that recommended the reduction in contact? If not ask for the assessment.
Do you know how likely the foster carer is to pulling out from being a carer for your daughter? If this were to happen, I imagine this would greatly affect your daughter because she has been there for a long time. Is this a factor in why the decision was made?
Does the assessment consider further support for your daughter? If not, ask about this.
Is it reasonable to halve contact between you and your daughter at this time? Is this addressed in the assessment?
When will the decision to reduce contact be reviewed? Is it also linked to her starting a new school which can cause children a lot of anxiety?

If you are not happy with the assessment, ask that there be a further assessment to look at your contact.
Set out your position in an email –that it was by accident or a lack of communication between you and the foster carer that cause your daughter to be upset. Maybe the same situation could be prevented by you and the foster carer speaking to each other before contact so you know what you can talk about.
Is there any course or support you can do?
Family Lives have information and can also advise by phone about parenting courses. They have good information about parenting teenagers. Your daughter is at the age where she will be experiencing those changes that will affect her mood. Given your daughter has learning difficulties, is there anything specifically about her disability you need to know, that will help your contact with her as she moves towards being a teen?

Please see our advice sheet 14 Contact with children in the care system. which sets out the law as well as tips about negotiating more contact.


If you are not going to be invited to the future LAC reviews, you should be given the written reasons for this. You might be able to challenge the decision about venue by way of complaint.
You should still be consulted about your daughters care plan even if you cannot attend the meetings.

Please see page 17 onwards of our advice sheet 11 Duties to children in the care system.

If you remain unhappy with the decisions about contact then you should consider getting legal advice. Please see the discussion in our advice sheet 14 about this.
I can see that are distressed by the decisions that have been made and feel that they are too harsh. I hope you can get a better idea as to why they were made to see whether you are in a position to challenge them.

I hope my advice helps but if you have any questions, please post again.

Best wishes,
Suzie

charmed1
Posts: 137
Joined: Sun May 26, 2013 2:11 pm

Re: Ambushed at LAC Review

Post by charmed1 » Fri Oct 18, 2019 9:55 am

Hi Suzie thank you for your very detailed reply. Over many reviews/PEP meetings during the past 2.5 years with this carer I have been subjected to accusations. These have been directed at me solely as causing my daughter distress. The ongoing issue revolves around my daughter reacting badly to seeing me at school (plays, sports day) and even being told I've been to her school (PEP/LAC review meetings). After such a long time I am being still told she is unsettled. That by coming to school she thinks that I will take her away! The foster carer has said this in meetings and they have now presented a certificate to my daughter stating she lives in her 'forever home'! She is under a care order until she's 18 (she's nearly 12), then possibly under the stay put scheme until she's 21 then into assisted living somewhere. All the time I'm being undermined and pushed away. She hasn't been adopted and I feel this is sending the wrong message to her.

The carer has even said that she doesn't tell my daughter she is going to school meetings possibly as my DD will then know I'll be there too. There is nothing but speculation and it's not until after something gets said that I find out it's an issue. I don't get to see the foster carer except at meetings never before or after contact as a supervisor picks up and drops my daughter back. The carer is inconsistent only wanting to cover her own back. No one actually knows why my daughter doesn't want me at her school or visiting her new school before she started. Her SW admits she doesn't use MOMO to ascertain her wishes and feelings as she doesn't have the understanding but she's quite happy to go along with my daughter's wishes, etc.

What assessment? As far as I'm aware it was a unilateral decision and the IRO had out of meeting conversations with both my DD's SW and the foster carers SW. He just rubber stamped the decision to reduce contact by half where at the moment I will get just 5 hours 3 times a year and not 6 hours. It will be reviewed in March unless they decide it's not working at my October and February contacts. If my daughter wants to go home early I must respect her wishes. There appears to be no proper approach to all of this and what my daughter wants she gets to keep the peace. She has little understanding of the repercussions of what she is doing and I truly believe she is stressed about a new school and moving to a new house miles away. No one is saying a word about that.

I'm scared to make a complaint as it made matters worse in the past. I'm also scared to ask for anything from the SW as I don't want to lose my daughter.

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Re: Ambushed at LAC Review

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Fri Oct 25, 2019 11:21 am

Dear charmed1,

I can hear how frustrated you are. You are concerned that the decision to reduce your contact was made without a proper assessment and without consulting you. You say that the IRO just rubberstamped the views of the foster carer that she had just heard in the review meeting. You wonder whether it is the right decision for your daughter.

Why don’t you raise your concerns about this with the social worker and IRO in writing? You could ask them to give you a copy of the assessment that led to this decision or ask them to set out there reasons in writing so that you can have a better understanding about the decision.

Say that you do not feel that you have been consulted by them, or offered support around your contact with your daughter-that might help minimize any distress your daughter may be feeling and might have meant contact could have continued at the same rate. Has your daughter been consulted? Is there an understanding as to why is she behaving in this way after contact? What can or should you do as mum to resolve things? Say you are willing to work with them and take there advice, if you feel that would be helpful.

Were you warned before the LAC meeting in a report by the social worker that they were thinking about making changes to your daughters contact with you? if not, point this out.

Can you make suggestions as to how things could be resolved. For example, you and the foster carer could have a discussion prior to contact visits so that you know what the foster carer has said to your daughter to avoid further problems.

You could ask for a further meeting with the social worker to discuss how your contact could proceed over the next few months.
I hope this advice helps but have a look at our advice sheet about contact which I linked in an earlier post.

Best wishes

Suzie

charmed1
Posts: 137
Joined: Sun May 26, 2013 2:11 pm

Re: Ambushed at LAC Review

Post by charmed1 » Fri Jan 24, 2020 2:42 pm

I finally found the courage to ask for a copy of my daughter's contact needs assessment. Guess what it's been over two weeks. I gave them 5 working days! The social worker (number 4) left just before Christmas so I sent an email to the IRO. He chased them for me last week and said they had promised to respond to my request. I am starting to think there is no assessment. My daughter has complex needs and her 'wishes and feelings' are being reported without proper procedure and I think this proves it. What can I do now? I'm scared to rock the boat with the new SW and the next LAC review is less than two months. I want to complain but it made things worse for me. I then complained when a previous social worker discussed private things with the then foster carer in my hearing.

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Re: Ambushed at LAC Review

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Wed Feb 19, 2020 1:28 pm

Dear charmed1

Thank you for your post.

If you have asked for a copy of your daughter’s information and not yet received it and have asked the IRO for assistance, don’t be afraid to send a ‘polite reminder’ to them giving your contact details again and requesting the information be sent to you – the new social worker should not think that you are ‘rocking the boat’ by making this request.

Children’s Services have duties to children who are in their care our advice sheet about this and our sheet Contact with children in care as well as our suggestions to you before may help you to ‘get your point across’.

If you have not received the information before the next review meeting do mention that fact to everyone there and ask for a date by which you will get the information you have asked for.

Best wishes

Suzie

charmed1
Posts: 137
Joined: Sun May 26, 2013 2:11 pm

Re: Ambushed at LAC Review

Post by charmed1 » Fri Apr 03, 2020 3:05 pm

I have received an email from the social worker. She doesn't know what I am referring to when I requested the contact assessment. Meaning there wasn't an assessment carried out so I've emailed back asking for the reasons in writing why my daughter's contact has been cut by half. I wait her response. Is it procedure that an assessment takes place when there is a proposed change of contact? The SW said that the decision is made at the LAC reviews. It was discussed unilaterally, mentioned to me at a pre LAC meeting with the previous SW then rubber stamped at the review.

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Re: Ambushed at LAC Review

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Thu Apr 16, 2020 1:25 pm

Dear Charmed1,

The social worker is saying that she did not do any specific assessment report about contact. Given the substantial changes made in your contact, I assume she addressed her views about contact changing in her general report- that she would have circulated at the LAC review.

Before the LAC review, she would have gathered information (from the school, health, foster carer as well as you). She would have done a report analysing any changes that might be being requested in the care plan and making her recommendations. She should always speak to you before the LAC meeting and share with you any reports she has received unless there is good reason not to. Did you get a copy of that report? If not you could ask for that.

Now time has gone by, I think you have done the best thing to ask for the reasons why contact was changed. Also ask whether there is anything you can do, as a mum, to work towards contact increasing again. Or is it more about your daughter’s wishes and feelings at this time?

If you see our advice sheet about contact that I linked in an earlier post, that has tips that might be helpful.

I hope my advice helps but if you have any questions, please post again.

Best wishes,
Suzie

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