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Challenging professionals. advice needed.

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 8:17 pm
by desperatenan

I am desperate for help as I find myself in serious need to find a way forward.
I am a grandmother who by private arrangement took over the care of my grandson due to my daughters drug addiction and inability to care for him. I have had him now for over 6 years.

Since then my daughter gave birth again last year, and the child went into childrens services care. I am unable to take this child on as I do not have the time or energy to be able to give him the care he will need as my other grandchild has complex problems that are on going.
A family member put their name forward to take this child on. Her adult life was vague to us all but it seemed like a lifeline to keep the child in the family.
As time passed, familiarity to this person raised serious, serious issues about her. Having failed not one but two assessments, the family was relieved as it had been agreed that should the second assessment be negative the child’s guardian, the mother and chidrens service would support one track adoption which was being run parallel alongside the assessment. My daughter wanted the adoption to happen as soon as possible to avoid attachment issues and the complex problems it can have on a child. She may be a drug addict, but she is maternal and coherent about doing the right thing for her child, regardless of her own feelings.

The second assessment for the family member summed up all that is negative but it was a true assessment. I am sad to say, that although I am eternally grateful to her for putting herself forward, she definitely is not right to look after a child and it certainly is not in the childs best interest.

The date for the court hearing was nearing whereby all parties were to support single track adoption. I do have the documents to support this. As the mother of the child knew with time she would be giving up the child she stopped going to contact to bond even further as she did not want to cause more pain than necessary to herself and her son.

Her other son who resides with me was and is desperate to keep his half sibling within the family and he would let anyone and I mean anyone look after him if he thought he would be able to see him, which I do understand.
Knowing of the imminent court hearing I arranged through mental health services councelling for both the child with me and my daughter to go through the ‘Goodbye’ process and deal with the issues which happened over three one hour sessions.
On the day of the court hearing my daughter arrived at court prepared for this final process and was told only on arrival that it had ‘unravelled’ that day that rather than the family member who was contesting the assessment and wanted to bring the assessor to the stand a third assessment would now take place. This assessment being a CBA. And wont start until july and end in December. My grandson will be 15 months old by this point.

Surely, a second independent assessment that reads true to those that know her should have been it.
This is not family feuding or ungratefulness, for me it is about doing what is right for the child firstly, then his half sibling and then my daughter.

I am led to believe a CBA is not so much an assessment but advising and training to a degree, to make a ‘good enough’ parent? Is this the case?

I need to fight back and change what seems to be heading for a very bad decision in the interests of the child in care.

This is what I believe is my biggest point of contest.
My point is I feel my daughters human rights may have been infringed as the agreement was to follow single track adoption in april on a negative second assessment. No discussion was had with her regarding this third assessment or her feelings to it. As it was because her second assessment was negative by the time the reality of the family members traits and personality were known nothing was said as it was going for fast track adoption, so it served no purpose.
I feel I need to challenge the guardians decision, to discuss my serious concerns, and as I expect they shall just at best acknowledge my concerns and continue with there ideals. My thoughts lie with proving my daughters human rights were infringed and rather than challenge the decision for the third assessment, to challenge that procedures have not been followed. I also feel the guardian is being manipulated but I can not prove that.
My daughter in addition was not informed, or invited to the three month review. We do not know if it happened as no one was told of it happening and no paperwork of it has ever been given. During the whole process and I am sure so many people feel the same childrens services are so difficult to get to speak to when you want them but fast enough the other way round and it is very frustrating. My daughter has been rough rided and ignored through much of this and her vulnerability has been taken advantage of.
The social worker has been a nightmare through the process and it has only been recently I have been able to arrange a meeting with her that will happen next week to discuss all the issues we have. The child’s guardian is even harder to get to speak to. The social worker will not give a number but has said she would email the guardian to make contact. I still await.
I have dealt with social services before and I know myself when I have begged for help for the older grandson they have just patted my back and said im doing a great job and done nothing. They only patted my back because after not being able to get a conversation with a social worker I went to the office and asked to see a duty officer knowing they would have to see me.

Sorry it is such a long story I have tried to keep it brief and include the most important points.

My daughter does have a solicitor who has been involved with this case.

CBA = Community based assessment.

Re: Challenging professionals. advice needed.

Posted: Thu Jul 04, 2013 8:16 am
by Robin D
Hi desperatenan.

I can't really help with detailed advice on this, but suggest you ring the free and confidential advice line on 0808 801 0366 who I'm sure will be able to.

best wishes ...... Robin

Re: Challenging professionals. advice needed.

Posted: Thu Jul 04, 2013 2:50 pm
by David Roth
Hi desperatenan, and welcome to the Family Rights Group discussion forum.

I am sorry to hear that what sounds like quite a painful situation for the whole family is going to be dragged out still further.

What you have described sounds quite unusual, in that many family courts have been preparing for the introduction of a 6-month time limit to care proceedings by introducing this limit even before they are required to do so. Those that do have been keeping to the time limit quite strictly, and it is unusual at the moment for there to be this sort of extension, for such a long period of time.

I'm not sure what you mean by CBA — is it Cognitive Behaviour Assessment? I'm no expert, but I do understand that there are different models for this sort of assessment (if that is what it is). If you can clarify what is meant by CBA, I'll see if I can provide any useful information.

If you want to challenge what is happening, then you are most likely to make headway if you do so on the grounds of the effects on the child. The court's paramount consideration HAS to be the welfare of the child, and that trumps any other considerations. The court is also supposed to work to a 'no-delay' principle, that there should be no unnecessary delays in making decisions. If you feel that the delays are not necessary, and could be harmful to the child, then you could make this case. I feel you are right to want to make it an issue with the court rather than with the family member, who must feel pretty desperate to want the child if she has been so persistent despite failing earlier assessments.

Re: Challenging professionals. advice needed.

Posted: Thu Jul 04, 2013 2:55 pm
by David Roth
Apologies, I've just seen your footnote identifying CBA as Community Based Assessment. I've found one link to leaflet for one borough's idea of what this is, but it's not a term I've come across before: ... carers.pdf

Re: Challenging professionals. advice needed.

Posted: Thu Jul 04, 2013 10:37 pm
by desperatenan

Thank you for your replies.

I have looked at these CBA's when I first heard the term Community based assessment and I was quite shocked to be honest. From the outside it looks more like a training situation rather than an assessment.

The family member is obviously desperate to have the child and without sounding bitter, it is not for the right reasons. Sadly, hindsight is a beautiful thing.

I keep hearing the term "the childs best interest", and having spoken to the social worker (this was hard work to get the privilege) today I now know the sudden change of heart by the guardian was on the grounds the family member was contesting some of the assessment as being untrue. This led to the CBA being agreed with to go into court and support on the grounds of "exploring every avenue". My frustration is, I feel there is some backside covering and although I understand they should do all that is possible to keep the child within the family, This is not in the childs interest at all. CBA are generally done for parents to enable them to keep or reunite with the child. This my daughter asked for herself early on but was refused! So it is a kick in the teeth really that my daughter wasn't given this opportunity.

One thing that is prominent is that to many terms keep being thrown into the fray to meet the ends, which are contradictory.

This child will now be 15 months old by the time the assessment is done at its due date in December.

I want what is best for my grandchild, with thoughts for my daughter, his sibling and my self being secondary.

Am I right in assuming that when you say "the paramount decision of the court is for the welfare of the child this out trumps "keeping the child in the family".?

My daughter does have a solicitor with legal aid but sadly, her solicitor is not forthcoming and seems to be just "going along with it" without offering options etc. It's not a nice feeling knowing I have to ask if this is possible or if I can get it back to court on any grounds, when the solicitor should be putting these options forward.

I feel there is a way forward it and with just grounds instead of being fobbed off with "childs best interest's" , it is just getting perspectives right and asking awkward questions.

I know my daughter has Just grounds for her human rights being breached and I have and will be stipulating, the "unfairness" to her, if only to prick ears and get these professionals talking to me. Which sadly is true to this point.

As I have said before, I am grateful that this family member was willing to take on this child even though her life was vague to us, at the time I would of grasped at anything as I am sure everyone understands.

Re: Challenging professionals. advice needed.

Posted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 2:41 pm
by David Roth
Hi desperatenan

I will try to offer some clarification of the points you have raised, as far as this is possible.

It is disappointing to hear that this delay is happening because the other relative is challenging some of the content of the assessment. Good practice ought to be that once the assessment report has been completed it is shared with the carer, who is given the chance to correct any factual errors in the report, and where she does not agree with the opinions of the assessor to have her opinions included in the report as well. I wonder if your daughter shouldn't renew her request for the CBA, given that additional time has been allowed for one to be carried out on the other relative? Do you think your daughter could have a chance of passing one of these assessment?

You asked whether when I say "the paramount decision of the court is for the welfare of the child this out trumps "keeping the child in the family".

All these decisions are being made under the 1989 Children Act, and the very first section of the act begins with this statement:

When a court determines any question with respect to— .
(a)the upbringing of a child; or
(b)the administration of a child’s property or the application of any income arising from it,
the child’s welfare shall be the court’s paramount consideration.

This is known as the welfare principle, and it must underpin all decisions the courts make under this act.

The following sub-section of the act deals with the no-delay principle:

In any proceedings in which any question with respect to the upbringing of a child arises, the court shall have regard to the general principle that any delay in determining the question is likely to prejudice the welfare of the child.

For a detailed discussion if the issues, you may want to ring the Family Rights Group advice line, as Robin D suggested: it's a freephone number 0808 801 0366, open 9.30am-3pm Monday to Friday.