Where do I stand? Complicated situation.

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HeartBroken
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2021 12:04 pm

Where do I stand? Complicated situation.

Post by HeartBroken » Thu May 06, 2021 5:56 pm

I will try my best to keep this a brief as possible. My daughter fell pregnant but found out she would be bringing her child up as a single parent. My daughter was living at home still with myself and my partner, we said we would help to bring up the child. We did this for 6 years, from helping with night feeds most Dr and hospital appointments etc and parents consultations when my grandchild started nursery. We supported my daughter when she wanted find a part time job, by looking after my grandchild. My daughter then moved into her own property with her child, but myself and my partner still continued to help while my daughter worked. At the end of January this year my grandchild came to us for a pre arranged sleepover as they had done on many occasions, that evening we had a call from social services telling us that my daughter had been detained under the mental health act and could we look after my grandchild, when my daughter was discharged we had another phone call asking if we could continue to look after my grandchild. This basically was the case up until 22nd April when having sent my grandchild off to school that morning and made promises as to what we were going to do that afternoon, we had a call from social services asking if they could pop to see us, which we thought was going to be just another usual visit. Within a few minutes of them turning up we were told that my grandchild was Not going to come back to us but that they were being placed with Foster Carers. We then had to pack some bags of things for the child, I asked could we have some kind of contact with my grandchild that evening so we could at least explain to them that this was not out wish that they couldn't come back to us, verbally we were told yes they would arrange something but then they phoned to say no that wasn't possible and we still haven't had any contact with our grandchild.
From what I can gather it was my daughter wish that her child wasn't to return to us and to place the child in care. The only reason I can conclude that my daughter had done this is out of spite. When my grandchild was first placed in our care we made sure that my daughter had contact even though she was in hospital, she was able to FaceTime every day,and when she was discharged from hospital she was able to see her child whenever she wanted to buy she wasn't allowed unsupervised visits. Then some of my daughter's actions I felt could possibly be detrimental to my grandchild mental wellbeing and it was when I raised these concerns to my daughter communication between us (on my daughter's side) broke down, I had raised these concerns to social services the previous week before my grandchild was out into care in the hope they could possibly suggest mediation between myself and my daughter. Although communication had broken down between myself and my daughter she still had FaceTime with my grandchild when she wanted to and we never stopped my daughter coming to see her child if she wanted to.
I am of the understanding that social services have or are applying to the court for a Care Order of my grandchild, I have emailed social services to ask initially for answers to certain questions which as yet I haven't heard back from them, but also asking what I can do to have my grandchild returned to us but again no reply.
As I have said the only reason I can think of as to why social services acted like they did was due to my daughter not wanting us to continue to look after our grandchild, because up until the day they told us that my grandchild wasn't returning to us social services didn't appear to have any reasons to suggest that we were not caring for our grandchild, meeting her physical needs and her emotional needs (as best we could) because we couldn't tell my grandchild why she was staying with us because social services still hadn't out a narrative in place.
Sorry for such a long post, there are other issues around my daughter since being discharged from hospital but that would take too long to explain.
Any help as to what we can do and where we stand would be very gratefully received.

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 743
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:25 am

Re: Where do I stand? Complicated situation.

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Thu May 20, 2021 3:59 pm

Dear Heartbroken

Welcome to the kinship carers’ forum and thank you for your two posts. My name is Suzie and I am FRG’s online adviser. I am very sorry to hear of the difficulties that your family is experiencing. I am also sorry that there has been a delay in sending you a response. I will respond to both your posts here.

I can see that you have played a very important role in your granddaughter’s life since she was born and until she was placed in foster care with unrelated foster carers a few weeks ago. You had been asked to continue to care for her, by children’s services, when her mother was detained in hospital due to her mental health and following her discharge from hospital. You were not assessed or temporarily approved by children’s services as kinship foster carers, it seems, although it was they who contacted you and asked you to continue to look after your granddaughter. You could argue that this should have been treated as a kinship foster placement under a voluntary section 20 agreement with your daughter – however, if your daughter withdrew her agreement the placement would still have ended, unless you then obtained a court order.

You don’t mention if any other processes took place at that time such as a child protection investigation or a child in need assessment. However, children’s services certainly should have been assessing the situation.

Your granddaughter was able to stay with you during this period because her mother, who has parental responsibility for her, gave her consent to the arrangement. You, as grandparents, do not have parental responsibility (without a court order) and neither do children’s services (again unless they have a court order) .

The circumstances in which your granddaughter was removed from you and placed with an unrelated foster carer are somewhat unclear and certainly seem to have happened in an unplanned and distressing way. If your daughter withdrew her agreement to you caring for her child and if your grand-daughter could not safely return to her mother’s care then children’s services did need to find an alternative arrangement. However, ideally this would have been done in a more planned way, particularly for your granddaughter’s sake. If no allegations were made against you, the explanation must be that your daughter was no longer willing to agree that you should care for the child.

Now, children’s services are going into care proceedings – if they obtain an interim (temporary) care order (ICO) they will acquire (temporary) parental responsibility for the child. They will no longer have to rely on your daughter’s consent to her placement and can make decisions that your daughter may disagree with. It also means that the court will have to decide if your granddaughter has suffered/is at risk of suffering significant harm.

You can ask to be assessed as carers for your granddaughter. The first step is a viability assessment. There is a draft letter you can use to formally request this at the end of Appendix D in this good practice guide. The purpose of a viability assessment is to rule you in or out for further more detailed assessment.

There are different routes relatives can take to care for children; these ae explained in more detail here: types of kinship care arrangements . In many cases, the best route is to be a kinship foster carer, at least to begin with – if children’s services do get an ICO then they can only place a child with an approved (this can be temporarily approved in the case of a kinship carer) foster carer while there is a care order in place. The other main route you might be interested in is a special guardianship order (SGO) which gives almost exclusive parental responsibility to the carer – again please see this information for more details especially advice sheet 2c which discusses SGO in the context of care proceedings.

As your granddaughter is now in foster care , she will have an Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) whose role is to review her care plan.

I know you have already emailed without success but if your granddaughter’s case is now going to be considered by the court it is important to contact the social worker again (copying in their manager, the IRO, legal department if possible) to formally request that you are assessed as a carer for your granddaughter (using the template letter if it helps) and setting out that you have been querying this for some time. Ask for a response within a given time (e.g. 7 working days). You could also contact the court directly.

You can also formally request that contact is arranged. However, while your granddaughter is in a voluntary arrangement, any contact arrangements have to be agreed with her mother so if she refuses children’s services cannot override this as when a voluntary arrangement is in place they don’t have parental responsibility.

If you would like to discuss any of this with an adviser please call 0808 8010366, between 9.30 am and 3.00 pm, Mon to Fri. Or post on this forum again.

I hope things move forward soon.

With best wishes

Suzie

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