Home visits

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worriedmum81
Posts: 50
Joined: Mon Aug 22, 2016 10:37 am

Home visits

Post by worriedmum81 » Thu Apr 01, 2021 3:08 pm

Hi, I'm looking for advice around contacts with my children.
A quick summary is that my children went into care in 2012, at the time I had 6 children, the 2 youngest were adopted but the older 4 were put in ltfc. In the past 9 years we have had frequent contact, but it reduced to monthly as the sw and carers felt it was disruptive to the family lives to see me more than that. My eldest son was allowed to move back in with me a little before his 16th birthday. He is now nearly 21, my daughter is nearly 18, and my younger 2 are nearly 16 and 13.
It was agreed several years ago that I could have phone contacts but that was prevented right up until covid hitting, when it was agreed that I could have video calls but the carer for my older 2 didnt like that and compromised with just phone calls.
It was also agreed 3 years ago that I could have 1 to 1 visits with my older daughter but again the carer didnt agree with this saying i might try to influence my daughter to come home, despite knowing I only have a 2 bedroom flat and my son lives with me so she knows that's not a possibility. We ended up having 3 solo contacts in the community, but supervised by a support worker at the carers insistence. It was agreed the next would be on our own but that didnt happen because of covid, and when I have tried to raise the idea of seeing my nearly 16 year old alone have been told he is too young and it could be disruptive to him.
Last time I spoke to him he asked if I could take him to the cinema for his birthday when cinemas reopen. I raised it at the lac review but was told the carer would ask him, and she said he doesnt want to go but I'm not allowed to ask him any questions about it. I'm being told my daughter wont be allowed to see me unsupervised until she is 21, as she said she wants to come to my 40th, and said 'I'll be 18 nobody can stop me' but she has been told her carers can stop her. She also wants to start visiting my parents house but been told she cant as they havent been assessed. They were assessed and passed when my son returned and he was younger so I cant see an issue with my daughter visiting as an adult. And tbh I cant see why my nearly 16 year old cant visit and for my 13 year old to be able to expect this soon as well.
Unfortunately I am told I'm not allowed to speak to the children about any of this, any calls are supervised by the carers, I'm not allowed phone numbers for my children, so it's when the carer phones that I can speak to them, and my daughter is only allowed social media as long as the carers have her passwords and can check all her messages. She also has to give her phone in at night and only has internet when the wifi is turned on but the carers insist that wifi time is only for college work online.
Sorry this has been long winded. Anyway, the social are still saying I'm not a danger to my kids and that contacts have always been positive so how do I go about helping my children to be allowed to visit me and my parents in a more natural way? When raised at the lac reviews its stated that the carers will ask but I'm not convinced that they do ask or maybe not in a way the children understand. When I do see them the kids ask when they can visit and when they can see me on their own but carers say they dont want to see me unsupervised so i really dont know what to do.

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 3057
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Home visits

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Tue Apr 06, 2021 3:52 pm

Dear worriedmum81

Welcome back to the parents’ discussion board and thank you for your post.

I am sorry to hear that you are still having difficulties in relation to the time you get to spend with your children who are in foster care. I can see that this has been an issue over the years and you have made a number of attempts to resolve this, without success it seems. I know that you were previously involved in a complaints procedure and wonder if that process has been exhausted?

It seems that the impact of Covid 19 restrictions has also impacted on the arrangements for you to see your children, and progress that you were hoping for has not happened. It also seems, from what you say, that the foster carer assumes responsibility for checking with your children what they want in terms of seeing you rather than the social worker or IRO checking this out independently.

Your daughter is 17 so should have a pathway plan setting out what will happen when she turns 18. Is the plan that she will ‘stay put’ with her foster carer? Have you been involved or informed about this process at all? At 18, your daughter will be an adult and will make many decisions for herself so I am unclear on what basis she is being told that supervised contact will need to continue until she is 21. You can ask the social worker to confirm to you in writing what your daughter’s legal status will be when she is 18 and what the plans for her to keep in touch with you and her family members are (and why).

I think that you need to (again) set out in writing to the social worker, their team manager and the IRO your current proposals for moving forward with arrangements for you and your family to see the children. If some family members (your parents) need to be re-assessed then ask that this be arranged, in an agreed timescale.

You may find this updated guide for parents whose children are looked after in the care system helpful during the current pandemic. Our updated website has specialist information setting out what you as a parent can do to make sure that your children in care can (safely) keep in touch with their family. It also sets out what happens when a child is getting ready to leave care or ‘staying put’.

Your children might benefit from advice and/or advocacy from organisations such as Become and Coram Voice. Here is a guide for children on working with advocates. You should contact the IRO if you want them to look into providing advocates for the children.

It may be that you will need to consider making a further complaint, if your queries aren’t satisfactorily responded to, or you could think about taking the matter back to court if necessary, to ask for a contact order to be made . However, try to see if you can find a way of working with children’s services to get better contact arrangements in place, first.

Some English local authorities are developing Lifelong Links services (specialist family group conferences for young people in or leaving care) to maintain family relationships for young people in care. If you are interested, you could ask the social worker about this or contact our freephone advice line on 0808 8010366 (Mon to Fri, 9.30 am to 3.00 pm) to check if the local authority you are working with is involved in this.

I hope this helps. Do call the freephone number if you would prefer to talk things through with an adviser.

Best wishes


Suzie

worriedmum81
Posts: 50
Joined: Mon Aug 22, 2016 10:37 am

Re: Home visits

Post by worriedmum81 » Wed Jun 16, 2021 8:58 pm

Hi suzie, I finally have some good news for you after 9 years. It's been agreed that I can have semi supervised contact with all 3 children (18 16 and 13 year old) and this will move to unsupervised contacts.
It is only on the planned contact times, so 1 and a half hours per month, and I've been told the carer can get it stopped if she feels that its disruptive for any of the children but it is a start.
I asked about my daughters pathway plan but it's been said that due to covid everything is still up in the air a bit and she is awaiting a social worker as the one who she was supposed to have has left. I was gutted that she couldnt come to my birthday as she had been talking about how excited she was to come see me and my family, but as she explained, her carer had explained how unfair it was to my son that he wouldnt be coming to see me, so she felt it better not to come which to me shows how considerate she is, but at the same time it does feel a bit manipulative of the carer as my daughter has twice made plans to come see me and also to see my older son once, but had to cancel. Hopefully now this will improve now.
She has also said that she is looking to get her own place, wanting to live near me so I am very hopeful there as well. I am aware she is torn due to leaving her younger brother at the carers but at the same time i hope she feels ready and supported enough to take the next step.

worriedmum81
Posts: 50
Joined: Mon Aug 22, 2016 10:37 am

Re: Home visits

Post by worriedmum81 » Wed Jun 30, 2021 10:45 pm

Hi suzie. Sorry to keep mithering but a bit of a mixed bag really.
I had he unsupervised contact on monday which I thought went really well. We were all relaxed and just enjoyed chatting and everything felt more normal.
Unfortunately half an hour before the contact I got a call from my younger daughters social worker raising concerns about the unsupervised contact. The social worker has said that we can do the unsupervised one as planned but the next one will be supervised by the carers. No other reason given except concerns in case I say something which could disrupt the placement. Again I reiterated that this is something I have never done and it's the last thing I want to do as I have always felt as my children are happy there is no need to change the status quo, especially considering I live in a 2 bed flat with my son, and work full time, so I wouldnt even be considered a viable option if the placement fell through. The social worker agreed and said that she doesnt think anything has ever been said that would warrant concern but its just in case.
She also warned me that my daughter hasnt been her usual happy self.
When I was with them my daughter opened up to me more about why she has been upset. The most concerning being that her french teacher accused her of faking anxiety. She has had anxiety for a long time, along with attachment disorders, so for a teacher to say that I was really horrified. She also was upset saying its not fair that she cant me more and was asking if she can see me 3 or 4 times a month. I knew I had to be careful here and suggested that we do phone calls in between as she was told previously we were allowed phone contact, but she said she wasnt allowed as her phone has been taken off her for taking too long getting ready for school.
I phoned her social worker the next day and was told that they are all aware of what the teacher had said as she has been "going on about it" for ages, and that if my daughter keeps asking about seeing me more just to reinforce that she is very busy and seeing me would stop her doing so many activities. I'm not sure I should be saying that to her though , because if she wants to see me and I want to see her surely it should be looked at again.
Have you any advice for me? Sorry to be so long winded again

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 3057
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Home visits

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Wed Jul 07, 2021 3:30 pm

Dear worriedmum81

Thank you for your further posts. It seems that, on one hand, the situation had moved forward in relation to unsupervised contact and then on the other, it has changed for future contacts back to being supervised again, (with limited explanation) . It is not clear why the decision has changed due to the concerns mentioned as this must have been considered prior to agreeing to the unsupervised contact in the first place. Your daughter’s well-being is relevant but from what you say this is not the reason given.

I think that you should email the social worker summarising how you think the unsupervised contact went, how it benefitted your children and asking for clarification on what basis the ‘concerns’ have arisen again resulting in the change to the arrangements. The arrangements for contact should be sensitively conveyed to your daughter by her social worker too. In your email, you could also query the current situation with your daughter’s phone and the arrangements for phone contact between visits. You could also use this opportunity to check out what support your daughter is getting and any feedback from the school about the teacher’s comments to your daughter.

This FAQ may be useful.

I hope this helps.

Best wishes

Suzie

MK3000
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Jun 13, 2021 3:40 am

Re: Home visits

Post by MK3000 » Tue Jul 20, 2021 12:09 am

worriedmum81 wrote:
Wed Jun 30, 2021 10:45 pm
Hi suzie. Sorry to keep mithering but a bit of a mixed bag really.
I had he unsupervised contact on monday which I thought went really well. We were all relaxed and just enjoyed chatting and everything felt more normal.
Unfortunately half an hour before the contact I got a call from my younger daughters social worker raising concerns about the unsupervised contact. The social worker has said that we can do the unsupervised one as planned but the next one will be supervised by the carers. No other reason given except concerns in case I say something which could disrupt the placement. Again I reiterated that this is something I have never done and it's the last thing I want to do as I have always felt as my children are happy there is no need to change the status quo, especially considering I live in a 2 bed flat with my son, and work full time, so I wouldnt even be considered a viable option if the placement fell through. The social worker agreed and said that she doesnt think anything has ever been said that would warrant concern but its just in case.
She also warned me that my daughter hasnt been her usual happy self.
When I was with them my daughter opened up to me more about why she has been upset. The most concerning being that her french teacher accused her of faking anxiety. She has had anxiety for a long time, along with attachment disorders, so for a teacher to say that I was really horrified. She also was upset saying its not fair that she cant me more and was asking if she can see me 3 or 4 times a month. I knew I had to be careful here and suggested that we do phone calls in between as she was told previously we were allowed phone contact, but she said she wasnt allowed as her phone has been taken off her for taking too long getting ready for school.
I phoned her social worker the next day and was told that they are all aware of what the teacher had said as she has been "going on about it" for ages, and that if my daughter keeps asking about seeing me more just to reinforce that she is very busy and seeing me would stop her doing so many activities. I'm not sure I should be saying that to her though , because if she wants to see me and I want to see her surely it should be looked at again.
Have you any advice for me? Sorry to be so long winded again
Omg!!! I Can not believe this is happening to you and your family, you have been robbed of so much precious time! Your children can fight to see you, I was in foster care myself and no way in HELL would I let the social workers tell me I couldn’t see my mum , your children have rights!! They absolutely do! They should have independent advocates!! Please look into getting them to see independent advocates, they are absolutely old enough to fight to see you!! Foster carers shouldn’t have much control at their age, this is so so upsetting to me , I am so sorry the system is so evil! I wish I could tell your children how much power they actually do have!! They can kick and scream and fight to see you! There is no way they can stop them , especially at their ages! Please don’t be afraid to tell your children to speak their mind to whoever will listen! They definitely have rights!

worriedmum81
Posts: 50
Joined: Mon Aug 22, 2016 10:37 am

Re: Home visits

Post by worriedmum81 » Mon Jul 26, 2021 9:43 pm

Quick update, I've just had the contact (officially unsupervised, but with both sets of foster carers being sat near us in the park). The younger foster brothers of my older children kept coming over to talk to us and asking for stuff to eat, which they know I never mind and my daughter had even bought a large bar of chocolate to share with them as well as with her siblings, but they were literally staying within a couple of metres. I went for a walk with my kids and they followed on scooters until we went to a higher area.
A few minutes later they appeared again, without their scooters and said their foster mum had said they could come with us while she looked after their scooters. This really upset my daughter, and she said its unfair and asked them repeatedly to go back to their carer and said she hardly gets to see me as it is. She ended up storming away upset and I had to calm her and she asked if we could hang out together after contact.
I said inwas happy to and she asked me to speak to her carer about it. At the end I spoke to the carer and she got really angry, not just at me but at my daughter as well. I explained that my daughter was upset at the boys following us about, which she then was raising her voice saying they werent following and saying to my daughter things like "I'll just stop the boys going to the park when you go then, is that fair for them?" Knowing that would upset her as she hates anyone being treated unfairly.
I then said my daughter (who is 18, so therefore legally an adult) wanted to stay with me a little bit and I could bring her home in an hour or 2, (this is not yet 6pm and she is not at college or work at the minute), I said or we could organise another time so she can actually spend time with me without the boys.
She snapped at me that she knows she is allowed to see me but that she is not going tonight as she had a late night last night. My daughter just put her head down and said goodbye to me. I genuinely think an hour with me, and being dropped off near her house by 7 wouldnt have been too late for an 18 year old really. I kept my cool and didnt get angry at the carer, despite her being obviously angry at me and my daughter but I definitely think I need to speak to her sw as it seems really unfair to my kids.

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