Home visits

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worriedmum81
Posts: 47
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: 3010
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

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