Welcome to the parents’ discussion board and thank you for your post. My name is Suzie, FRG’s online adviser. I am very sorry that we have not been able to respond to your query sooner and to hear of your daughter’s situation and your concerns for her.
From what you say, your daughter is a very vulnerable young person and there are lots of worries for her about child sexual exploitation (and actual sexual assault as you describe), alcohol and drugs misuse and violent behaviour. She is being looked after (accommodated) under a voluntary arrangement
, although you have never signed anything to this effect, to your knowledge. Your daughter has been admitted to hospital, is not in school, has gone missing from care and suffered a sexual assault during the time she has been looked after in foster care.
Understandably, you are extremely worried about your daughter, feel that you have not been kept properly informed and have told the social worker that you would like your daughter to come back home but nothing has happened.
When you posted, your daughter has been in her placement for about 10 weeks. Since then she should have had her second looked after child review
which is where plans need to be considered for her future - her permanence plan
– so it may be that the situation has moved on since then and the arrangements for your daughter may have changed. However, I will answer your post as the situation currently stands. If children’s services have gone to court though and obtained an interim care order
then they would be entitled to make decisions for your daughter without your agreement, including about where she lives and the following information would no longer apply.
First, has your daughter been offered support in the aftermath of the sexual assault she suffered and is this now being investigated by the police and with children’s services? You should be kept fully informed about this.
You might also be interested in Parents Against Child Exploitation (PACE)
who have a lot of specialist knowledge and information to assist parents and professionals in keeping children safe. Here is guidance on child sexual exploitation
too, for your information.
Secondly, our advice sheet: children looked after by children’s services under a voluntary arrangement
explains in detail what your rights are and what you can do if you are not in agreement with your child remaining in foster care under a voluntary agreement. These FAQs
may also be helpful. Do have a read of them if you can.
The main things you need to know as a parent are:
• You should have been given full information about the proposal for your daughter to be looked after under a voluntary arrangement including your rights and children’s services’ responsibilities before she went into foster care (or as soon as possible afterwards if it was an emergency).
• You have always had the right to object to a voluntary arrangement (if you can provide accommodation yourself or for it to be provided by someone else e.g. a family member)
• Always discuss your plans first with children’s services if you want to end the voluntary arrangement; however
• You can remove your child from voluntary accommodation at any time – if you do want your daughter to come home you have to tell children’s services this clearly , and specify if you want her returned home straight away or within a certain time.
• Children’s services may go to court to seek a court order to keep your daughter in care if they think that returning home would be harmful for her.
As your daughter is so vulnerable, I think she needs a lot of support and protection whether she remains in foster care or comes home. Children’s services have a duty to carry out an assessment of your daughter and your support needs if she returns home. You can find out more about this is our advice sheet: reuniting children and families from the care system
. It might be that PACE (as mentioned above) could help you think about what would need to be in place to help your daughter. You could also ask for a family group conference
to help make a safe family plan, if possible.
If your daughter does remain in foster care then it is really important that you are properly involved, that your views are taken account of by children’s services and that contact between you and your daughter is properly supported. Have a look at duties on children’s services when children are in the care system
for more information about making plans for children and contact arrangements.
I hope this has been helpful, and that your daughter gets the right support. If things have changed or you have a new query, please do post again or call the Freephone advice helpline on 0808 801 0366 Mon- Fri 9.30 – 3.00 p.m.
With best wishes