Totally confused by Social Services.

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oldrocker72
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Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2016 1:57 am

Totally confused by Social Services.

Post by oldrocker72 » Sat Nov 14, 2020 3:18 am

Hi Everyone,

I've been in here for a while but never posted till now anyway back in Oct 2017 our son and daughter went onto a interim care order then in Feb 2018 they were put onto a full care order, and at first we had weekly contact but as soon as it went full time they changed it to once a month with our daughter and every 6 weeks for our son,

Our children are fostered in separate homes due to social services saying that they hate each other and liked to fight with each other that's why the contact with them is different, anyway we have had 5 different social workers and all of them have refused to consider reunification and have also refused to tell us why I've asked at least 3 times and asked 2 different director of children's services and the only answer they give me is because it's not part of the care plan,

But suddenly this year they have put in place unsupervised contact with our daughter and they have told us that contact with our son should be the same by next year we have had an assessment which the social worker did by using the parenting placement assessment and the social worker told us that they no longer have any safe guarding issues with us but she later changed it in the email to me to no safe guarding issues with the house, but it does mean the kids are going to be able to stop overnight, our daughter will be with us during the Christmas holiday she hasn't done that since 2016,

And yet when I asked if this is part of the reunification process they said no it's not it's just a bog standard assessment that we do from time to time but from what little information I have found out it very much looks like at least a partial reunification assessment that's being used they have even said they will look at increasing contact with our son again so we are completely confused by this and they are refusing to give us a straight answer on what they are doing,

Anyway if someone knows what they are doing please let me know because we certainly don't, I guess if they are doing reunification but they are just not telling us I wouldn't put it past them but then again they may not be doing anything,

Many Thanks.

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

Re: Totally confused by Social Services.

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Thu Nov 19, 2020 2:53 pm

Dear oldrocker72

Welcome to the parents discussion forum and thank you for your post.

My name is Suzie, online adviser at Family Rights Group. I see from your post that you are feeling confused about the current situation with children’s services as you have not received a proper explanation about their plans for your children who are in long term foster care.

Your children were made subject to final care orders in 2018 and now live in separate placements with foster carers. It appears that children’s services have reviewed the contact arrangements now that your children are more settled in their placements and a decision has been made to increase their contact with you. Children’s services should review contact arrangements when children are in care. You do not mention your children’s ages but their wishes and feelings is taken into account as well.

It is a very positive step that contact is being increased and that your daughter will be able to spend time at home with you over the Christmas period.

Have you been able to attend Looked after Child (LAC) meetings relating to your children? If so, these meetings are the forum for discussions about contact and other plans for the children concerned. If you have not attended meetings then, I suggest that you ask the social worker for copies of the minutes. You should be invited to LAC meetings.

The social worker should explain and be open with you about the reason for the assessment. I assume from what you say in your post that it might have been done because of the change to contact.

You may find it helpful to read our advice sheets:

Duties on Children’s Services when children are in the care system

Contact with children in care

I suggest you write a letter to the social worker asking for a written explanation of the reason for the assessment which has been done. You can also arrange to have a discussion about your concerns with the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) who oversees the care plan and issues regarding your children's welfare. The IRO is usually the person who chairs LAC meetings.

Regarding reunification, it is important that you consider the reasons why the children were removed from your care and what the judge said about why it was best for them to be made subject to care orders. It is important for you to do whatever you can to address those issues relating to safeguarding. If you believe there have been significant changes and the situation has changed, you can request that children’s services assess you with a view to the children returning to your care.

If there are significant changes and you can provide evidence of this, you may wish to consider making an application to the court to discharge the care order. Please read our advice sheet Reuniting children in the care system with their families for more information about reunification.

I hope this helps but if you wish to speak to an adviser you can telephone our free confidential advice line on 0808 801 0366. The advice line is open from 9.30am to 3pm Monday to Friday.

Best wishes

Suzie

oldrocker72
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2016 1:57 am

Re: Totally confused by Social Services.

Post by oldrocker72 » Fri Mar 26, 2021 3:46 pm

Hi Suzie,

Really sorry for such a long delay in replying to your comment anyway to answer your first point about their ages,
Our daughter is 17 will be 18 on Xmas day, and her contact has been increased to full weekend as from April so she is dropped of Friday afternoon and we take her back Sunday evening everything is arranged between us and the foster carers social have no involvement with that part anymore,

As for our son he will be 13 in May of this year sadly tho they are refusing to change anything about his contact, as they told us 2 years ago it would go unsupervised soon but like I said that what 2 years ago and nothing has changed apart from moving his contact to the school holidays and increasing the time by another couple of hours,

We haven't had a LAC meeting since January of 2020 and that's not going to be happening anytime soon, the social worker is still seeing the kids and talking to them about their feelings and wishes which for our son especially is to come home that's all he ever asks her, and we have been told by her that she's arranging a meeting between our son and her manager so she can explain to him why he can't go home until he's at least 18 maybe 24 but that depends on the results of his mental health assessment so we've been informed, this will be his 3rd assessment as apparently his previous emotional and mental health assessments came back with nothing wrong with him in that respect, but the social worker said to us "there has to be something wrong with him, we will just have to keep trying until we get the answer we want" that is a direct quote from one of the social workers,

Anyway the SW has explained that the assessment was because of our daughter coming to the house and they wanted to make it was safe for her to do so she even asked us some parenting assessment questions which we passed with flying colours, she even said that they no longer have any concerns with us as parents but sadly she denied saying that when I emailed her a week later asking for clarification on what the assessment was for and what she meant by no more concerns with us, she said she means with the house and I don't have a recording of the conversation so can't prove that's what she said,

And I know you said about doing a discharge of care order ourselves but unfortunately we both have issues talking in front of people so would like to know of any decent solicitors or Mckenzie friend who could do this for us on legal aid though as we I receive PIP and my wife gets carers allowance so money is tight for us, and yes we have made major changes to our parenting skills have done the Webster Stratton course therapeutic parenting course open university courses on children and the science behind diet and balanced eating in children and young adults, as you can see we have definitely made changes for the better but the SW isn't interested in what we have done because they are still saying that we can't change anything to get the kids home, anyway sorry for the long reply but I'm just trying to cover all the basis,

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Re: Totally confused by Social Services.

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Tue Mar 30, 2021 2:18 pm

Dear Oldrocker72

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

I am really pleased to hear that you and your partner are getting to spend weekends with your daughter, with the arrangements made directly between yourselves and your daughter’s foster carers. This sounds really positive, well done for your success in making this happen.

As your daughter is approaching 18, she should have a pathway plan and work should already have been done to decide about her living arrangements when she is 18. Perhaps she is ‘staying put’ with her foster carers? You should be fully aware of what is expected to happen when she reaches 18. Here is a link to our advice materials on: children in care getting ready to leave the care system.

I am sorry to hear that the arrangements for you to spend time with your 12 year old son are not going so well. I think, from what you say, that he is a vulnerable young person who may have specific mental health needs although no clear diagnosis. The contact arrangements have not progressed to unsupervised and you have not had an opportunity at a LAC review meeting to query this or formally request that an assessment should be done to explore this further.

I am not sure why there has not been a LAC review – held virtually during the current lockdown restrictions – and I think that you should contact the IRO directly to ask about this and to discuss your current concerns about the lack of progress in moving contact with your son forward. We have some up to date resources which will help you: our guide for parents with a child in the care system explains what you can do and how you can contact the IRO, while the current restrictions are in place.

You have described how your son is very clear that he wants to come home and that the social worker is equally adamant that this is not the plan for him. I wonder if he has a specialist advocate to support him and help him participate. If you think he would benefit from an independent advocate you could raise this with the IRO too as this is something they could put in place if they agree that it would benefit your son. You can find out more about children’s advocates here.

You have worked hard to boost your parenting skills and knowledge and I think have improved the home conditions as you are determined to make the situation better for your children. The advice I gave in my earlier response still applies ‘consider the reasons why the children were removed from your care and what the judge said about why it was best for them to be made subject to care orders’. You can also ask the social worker to tell you exactly what changes they think are necessary.

It is usually wise to focus on getting the best contact arrangements you can in place before asking to be assessed with a view to children returning home or applying to discharge a care order. So this might be the best area to focus on to begin with.

The links I provided earlier will also be helpful to you if you want to ask for a reassessment or apply to the court.

If you would like to discuss your situation with a solicitor you can search on the law society find a solicitor website and look for a solicitor who has children law accreditation.

You are very welcome to call our freephone advice line on 0808 8010366 if you would like to discuss the situation further with an adviser; the lines are open from 9.30 am to 3.00 pm, Mon to Fri (excluding bank holidays).

I hope this helps.

With best wishes

Suzie

oldrocker72
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2016 1:57 am

Re: Totally confused by Social Services.

Post by oldrocker72 » Wed Mar 31, 2021 6:56 pm

Hi Suzie,

Thank you for the response to my post you mention about talking to the IRO and SW about why our contact hasn't moved forward with our son, we did that only last year we asked the SW and the director of children's services about why it still hasn't moved forward or why they are not looking at reunification with us,

And the answer I got was the same one as the previous times I'd asked in 2018 and 2019 "doesn't matter what changes you make we will never let them home" and they also said "it's not part of the care plan so it will never happen" they also told us that if we want the kids home then it will have to be fought in the courts they also said they will do everything they can to prevent that from happening, so as you can see we have asked a few times and still got the same answer every time so discharging the care order for our son at least is the only way forward,

You also mention about the pathway with our daughter and she is on one but they have not asked her yet what she wants to do when she reaches 18 and she's told us that she will decide that nearer the time,

As for the LAC review we tried to do it virtually but the technology let us down several times so it was agreed by all parties to wait until the lockdown restrictions are eased in April of this year,

So as you can see that we have tried everything we can to find out what we need to do to get the kids home and move things forward with our son especially but we have been stonewalled every time,

Kind Regards,

**** (edited for reasons of confidentiality).

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Re: Totally confused by Social Services.

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Thu Apr 01, 2021 12:48 pm

Dear oldrocker72,

I am really sorry to hear that you were met with that answer when you asked about your son's contact arrangements. As mentioned in my previous post, it may be most helpful to initially explore unsupervised contact in the next LAC review with the IRO present. You mention that this should be taking place in April of this year and that you previously had technology issues. It may be helpful to ask children's services for some support in attending virtually if you think these problems may arise again. Again, it is best to focus on securing the best contact arrangements before considering applying to discharge a care order.

Nevertheless, if you think discharging the care order is your only option, I would encourage you to look at my advice upthread and to take a look at the links, which will support you in understanding what next steps you need to take.

With regards to your daughter, her living arrangements post-18 should be included as part of her pathway plan, and she should be supported with this by her personal adviser. Please do take a look at the links provided upthread if you would like to read more about this.

Best wishes,

Suzie.

oldrocker72
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2016 1:57 am

Re: Totally confused by Social Services.

Post by oldrocker72 » Thu Apr 01, 2021 6:44 pm

Hi Suzie,

We have already asked during 2 separate LAC reviews one back in 2019 and again at the start of 2020 and both times they said they are taking it under consideration and that's all they tell us,

As for the LAC review in April we will find out next week when we see the SW during contact with our son she will tell us when the date has been set,

And although our daughter is on the pathway at the moment they haven't asked her what she wants to do when she reaches 18,

And sadly a discharge of care will be our only course of action and yes I will check out the links you have shared,

Many Thanks,

Mark.

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