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New to all this

Post by pcp18mcn » Sat May 30, 2020 10:00 pm


I am after some advice really. My niece was born earlier this month and she was taken into care on discharge from hospital due to my sister’s drug and mental health problems, she is currently with her foster carer and is under a care order (I think?). I am not currently in a position to care for her for multiple reasons, however my dad is getting a viability assessment on Monday to see if he could potentially be assessed to be a special guardian should my sister not make the required changes. I have read through the guides on this website on different decisions the courts can make and also the one on SGOs but I have some more specific questions in relation to these:

- Is there a specific criteria my dad has to meet and what should he expect from the assessment?

-Should a SGO be granted and my sister doesn’t make the required changes will she still be allowed contact with her daughter?

- If a SGO order is declined can this be appealed?

-We are desperate not to let it get to the stage where my niece could be adopted (as this is what ss will look at if my sister doesn’t make the changes) is there anything else we can do to stop it getting to this point?

For information, my sister does have all the required support in place but she struggles to remain abstinent, the bond is there with her daughter and she wants to have her back but at the moment this isn’t going to be realistic for her. We also do have a solicitor for the case as well.

Any help and advice is much appreciated thanks

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:25 am

Re: New to all this

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Wed Jun 03, 2020 4:37 pm

Dear pcp18mcn

Welcome to the family and friends’ discussion board and thanks for posting.

My name is Suzie, online adviser at Family Rights Group.

You are concerned about the viability assessment which is going to be done with your dad. Normally, a viability is a short assessment which, if positive leads to a further more in depth assessment. Children’s services will want to know whether the person being assessed has adequate accommodation, carry out background checks, and also whether the person has an understanding of what care for the child or children would involve. There would also be a discussion about managing contact.

I am including a link here relating to our good practice guide for viability assessment of family and friends carers.

If your family has not already had one you can ask for a family group conference. This would be for all family members who can provide support or might be willing to care for your niece if her mother is not able to. The family would be able to devise a plan which children’s services would consider. Please read our advice sheet about Family Group Conferences
Before the court would approve a plan for adoption the judge would want to satisfy himself or herself that adoption is the only option for the child. This means if there are family or friends who wish to be assessed they should be considered by children’s services.

You will see from the assessment guide that it is possible to challenge a negative viability assessment. If there is a positive assessment but the in depth assessment is negative, then it will depend on the reasons for this. If the court decides not to make an order where someone has had a positive assessment (would be unsual), unless something came to light which would mean the person is not suitable, then there could be a discussion with that person’s legal representative about how to challenge the decision.

Regarding contact, this usually happens, unless not in the child’s interest. Under a special guardianship order the special guardian would be able to make decisions about contact. Please see our advice sheets DIY Special Guardianship Orders - information for family and friends carers and Special Guardianship: what does it mean for birth parents? for more information about special guardianship.

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

I hope you will find this helpful.

Best wishes


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