SGO Never ending

neverendingstory
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Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2010 4:59 pm

SGO Never ending

Post by neverendingstory » Tue Sep 06, 2011 8:07 pm

Hi all,

I was so happy a few months ago. After over two years judged ruled that my nephew should have been a LAC and found that the originating authority was financially responsible.


Well now we have regular visits from SW, then IRO, now Care Plan and Assessments are to be done. The final hearing is supposed to be in October, but we have been told that this will be postphoned as they haven't enouogh time to do the assessments. We are still awaiting backdated payments for the last two years and IRO says she is of the opinion that we will only get support for the first two years at fostering allowance, then it is means tested. I was under the impression that we would get support until my nephew is 18.

IRO is saying that we might get a solicitor to iron out the support package etc. We have self-represented so far and managed to get this far, we have no money to pay a solicitor, but we will not be signing anything that we do not agree with.
Apparently we have been fostering for the last two years and it is called an "illegal placement". As far as we are concerned the LA is trying to save its ass as they have admitted they did it all wrong.

Surely they should now be bending over backwards to help us.

It makes me so angry as if we don't go for SGO he will still be LAC and then we are entitled to all the help. But surely an SGO is in the best interest of the child. We are nearing the end of our tether. Any help or advice desperately needed.
doris

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Robin D
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Re: SGO Never ending

Post by Robin D » Wed Sep 07, 2011 7:40 am

I wonder if the best bet would be to ask the court to appoint a guardian or a solicitor for the child given that the LA have shown that they are not putting welfare of the child first. They have prevaricated all the way, and are clearly more concerned with balancing the budget than doing the right thing.

It might cause yet another delay, but if you move quickly, it may be no worse than where they are currently heading anyway.

As a party, you can ask for a directions hearing on this particular point using argument that the Children Act includes the principle that delay in Court proceedings is harmful to the child.

Good luck ..... Robin
Former F&F carer, foster carer, adopter and respite carer for umpteen children. Now retired and when with kids, making sure they 'go home' at the end of the day.

neverendingstory
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Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2010 4:59 pm

Re: SGO Never ending

Post by neverendingstory » Wed Sep 07, 2011 11:05 pm

CAFCASS have already been involved. I guess I should phone them and let them know what the LA are doing.
doris

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Robin D
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Re: SGO Never ending

Post by Robin D » Thu Sep 08, 2011 7:41 am

I would say certainly. However try not to focus on what the LA 'have been up too' but more point out that you understand that there is going to be another delay, and 'wonder' if he or she thinks that is in the child's interests. Also point out you cannot afford to take financial responsibility for your nephew after two years and that you need some form of firm agreement. You can say you understand that recent rulings mean that where they pay an allowance it should be related to the fostering allowance.

In other words, try to put it from the impact on the child's perspective rather than having a go at the LA.

You could also ask if the guardian feels that now is the time to appoint a solicitor for the child. They may not have considered it, but as you are self representing, they may want to ensure that someone legally trained looks over the issues and represents the child's views, rather than relying on the LA solicitor.

Robin

Edit: Spelling!
Former F&F carer, foster carer, adopter and respite carer for umpteen children. Now retired and when with kids, making sure they 'go home' at the end of the day.

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Re: SGO Never ending

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon Sep 12, 2011 2:48 pm

Hi Sam,

Sorry for the slight delay in replying to you.

I just want to clarify a few things before I give you advice. I think what you are saying is that you currently are a foster carer (FC) for the children and receiving foster care allowance (FCA). You have applied for a SGO and the final hearing is coming up and you are trying to work out a support package to go along with that. Is this correct? Please let me know if it is not.

With reference to it being an “illegal placement,” that would be the case if Children’s Services (CS), the new name for social services, placed your nephew with in the first place and then failed to assess you as a foster carer within the required time frame and failed to provide all of the support they are suppose to offer? Was this the case?

When it comes to SGO allowances (SGA), they are normally means tested and discretionary. However, if you have previously been receiving FCA for your nephew then you must be paid SGA at the highest rate for the first two years the SGO is in place. The highest rate of SGA is usually lower than FCA because you can also claim benefits, which you obviously can’t as a FC. One the SGA and state benefits are added together it should work out that you receive pretty much the same as if you were still on FCA.

As I (and it seems the IRO) have said, it is only compulsory for the Local Authority to pay SGA for the first two years, in these circumstances but it is open to you to try to negotiate it being paid for longer. Here is our DIY SGO guide that contains more information about financial support. It might also be useful for you to read our support for friends and relatives advice sheet.

If you are not entitled to public funding and cannot afford to pay a solicitor privately, try to get a referral to Bar Pro Bono Unit from your local CAB. The Bar Pro Bono Unit are a group of barristers who assist people free of charge.

If you have any more questions, please do get back in touch with me.

Best wishes

Suzie

neverendingstory
Posts: 35
Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2010 4:59 pm

Re: SGO Never ending

Post by neverendingstory » Mon Sep 12, 2011 9:07 pm

. Everything you say is correct. Ideally we would like to get Ridley & Hall involved, but don't seem to have much luck in
hearing anything from them, unless we can afford to pay for a solicitor, which at the moment we can't. Any advice soooo appreciated.

Sam
doris

LLB
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Re: SGO Never ending

Post by LLB » Tue Sep 13, 2011 2:47 pm

I am puzzled. I know that some LAs use to tell people that they are only entitled to an SGO Allowance for two years if they were foster carers but I thought that had been sorted by now because the regulations were being misinterpreted. There is a special dispensation for foster carers but that is not the whole story. Research it and I am sure that you will find out that I am right.

We have had our SGO for over three years having once been foster carers for eight years and I fought like mad to get finance for the whole of the SGO until our grandchildren turn 18 years old.

I haven't been back to the SGO Guidance documents recently but I clearly remember there being provision made for those with SGOs to have an allowance throughout the duration. It also came under the bit about nothing financial standing in the way of SGOs being granted.

We have got SGO Allowance until ours are 18 years of age and we got our legal fees paid as well by the local authority. Yes it is means tested but we are pensioners anyway.

By the way there is a means for you to get help from Ridley and Hall. They helped us by being the children's solicitors for another issue with the fostering allowance.

neverendingstory
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Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2010 4:59 pm

Re: SGO Never ending

Post by neverendingstory » Tue Oct 11, 2011 8:49 pm

Update to neverending story.

Went to court today for the supposed final hearing and yet again it has been adjourned.

Almost 3 years after my nephew was placed with us by LA after death of his mother (my sister) wherein it was ruled that he should have been LAC, LA have not completed correct assessments, have not come up with correct financial package/backdated payments etc.

Their barrister even told a complete lie and said he had heard we were thinking of abandoning the SGO. The barrister bullied my husband (used bullying tactics). The court hearing has been adjourned again until January 2012. We have to file a statement etc. am now awaiting the help of Ridley & Hall as judge said we now need legal help.

How do LA's get away with this????? We have had enough.
doris

neverendingstory
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Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2010 4:59 pm

Re: SGO Never ending

Post by neverendingstory » Tue Oct 11, 2011 9:07 pm

Does anyone know if a LAC child can have a solicitor to represent them?
doris

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Re: SGO Never ending

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Wed Oct 12, 2011 12:59 pm

Hi Samchaney,

Given the court have adjourned the case and have asked you to get legal representation –have you asked the LA to fund your legal costs? They can contribute to your legal fees if they “consider it appropriate.”If you decide to do so, make the request in writing and give them a timescale to respond. Point out what the judge said.

The SGO advice sheet also sets out how the LA must assess your family for support services, if requested to do so by you. This is because your nephew is now considered to be a looked after child(LAC). If they decide to provide support it must be in written plan etc.
http://www.frg.org.uk/pdfs/19%20Special ... Y%20SG.pdf

See page 27 and 28 of the advice sheet.

Whether LAC can have a solicitor to represent them depends on a number of things.
If the SGO application was made during care or supervision order proceedings then your nephew would have the children’s guardian and solicitor representing his interests.
As your nephew is not subject to any interim or full care order then the SGO proceedings are private family law proceedings. This means that he would not automatically have a child solicitor acting for him as he is not a “party” to the proceedings.
There are some exceptions to this-you could run this point past a solicitor or speak to the cafcass officer who had been involved before.

Best wishes,
Suzie

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