Social Services catalogue of errors and lies

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Ribus
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed May 26, 2021 9:27 am

Social Services catalogue of errors and lies

Post by Ribus » Sat Jun 12, 2021 12:39 pm

Hi all, I joined recently due to Social Services involvement in my family, which is causing a huge amount of distress.

I'll try and give all the information I can remember but a lot has happened in the last six weeks or so.

My partner's eldest daughter has two sons with her husband. In May the mum became concerned about a swelling that had come up on the head of her 9 month old son, both her and her husband tried contacting their local medical centre, then 111, then 999 as no-one seemed concerned about it (their car wasn't working so couldn't take him to hospital). Eventually an ambulance took mum and son to hospital, paramedics and A+E both thought it was a cyst but asked a pediatrician to check. They did a CT scan and announced he had a fractured skull. Mum was obviously shocked by this news, and due to it being an unexplained injury, Social Services were notified.
I should also note we live in a different county several hours drive away so were unable to help physically at first.
After a few hours we could not get any response from mum or her husband on their phones, and later my partner's ex-husband contacted us to say the mum and dad were in police custody and we needed to go and look after the children. This was by now evening and we had to take my partner's two younger children with us. My partner's ex husband also made the journey and arrived before us. Several times on the drive S/S were calling asking how long we would be, despite telling them the distance involved.
When we arrived we learned mum was back at the hospital, she had been interviewed under caution and the 9 month old left with a social worker, but her shift had finished so the baby was alone in the room with nurses apparently checking on him. I left my partner at the hospital with mum and went back to the house where my partner's ex husband was looking after the three year old.
It turned out that the dad had been arrested at the house on suspicion of GBH and we had no idea where he was or when he would return - their three year old had been left with a social worker. The three year old is in the process of being checked for ADHD type traits and has strong separation anxiety, seeing his dad hauled off and being left with a stranger really hasn't helped this. They had let also let the ex husband in and and left without checking any ID, and he has an extremely common name!
The dad got home after 1 am, both parents had been taken to different police stations and their phones confiscated. The police also removed a baby chair, not a bouncer but a reclining type.
The following few days were a flurry of social workers and key workers visiting the house, mum and son were released after a few days and returned home, S/S insisting that only my partner or her ex husband could do things like nappies and baths, and one of us had to be with the children at all times. They then found overnight accommodation for the parents as they didn't want them to stay at the house.
S/S started referring to the injury as "non-accidental" rather than "unexplained". S/S got a court hearing where they were given 51% parental responsibility and a further court hearing where it was decided both children would be removed and put into the care of my partner and I at our home in a different county.
We are now about six weeks into this, my partner and I are temporary foster carers and going through the process of becoming permanent ones. The situation is further complicated by mum being pregnant and due in a few months, S/S stating they intend to remove that child from her as soon as it is born.
I should also mention that in mid-April a tile fell off the kitchen wall in their rented house and hit the baby on the head. They spoke to their local medical centre at the time who did not seem concerned with the symptoms. The incident was reported to their landlord at the time.
The parents were already due to move back to the county where we live, the husband having just passed his exams to join the police. They are now staying at my partner's dad's house close to our home.

Ribus
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed May 26, 2021 9:27 am

Re: Social Services catalogue of errors and lies

Post by Ribus » Sat Jun 12, 2021 12:40 pm

There's so much more to this story so I will try and explain as best I can.

The mum and dad became involved when mum was underage, social services in the county we currently live in were involved but decided no action was required at the time.
Mum became pregnant and gave birth just before her 16th birthday, again S/S were involved but were happy that the child was being looked after well and no action was taken. Both parents were living with my partner at the time.
The parents married, moved to a different county due to the dad's employment (military) and had the second son.

There have been a large number of problems with this case, starting at the hospital:

Baby at no time had an arm or leg band on to identify him.
Doctors reported that mum showed no emotion at being told her son had a fractured skull - she was extremely tired and in shock.
I overheard two nurses discussing the case and saying that the father had done it.
The baby's discharge notes referred to him as female and stated he had two teeth when he had five.
Baby was given a pillow in his cot (this will become more relevant later).
Mum asked on several occasions to see a midwife as she couldn't feel the baby move. This didn't happen.
During a telephone meeting involving the parents, myself, my partner, S/S and others, I asked the doctor if he felt that the previous incident with a tile hitting baby on the head could have caused the skull fracture, he said it would have been within the 48 hours preceding his admission to hospital.
Despite requests from the parents, S/S, PALS and the parent's solicitors, the doctor has refused to supply the images from the scan. As well as his head, they did a full body scan and checked his blood etc. He was found to be uninjured and in perfect heath otherwise. These images were finally given to the parents solicitors yesterday, after requesting them from S/S again - PALS told us they had been sent to S/S on the 24th of May but the social worker has denied having them several times, including during the second court hearing. We are not medical experts but having done lots of research and spoken to various other medical professionals, we cannot see any evidence of a skull fracture, just normal suture lines. We have also learnt that the "boggy swelling" described by the doctor normally lasts 2-3 weeks, this came and went in 24 hours.
The doctor insisted that baby had to return to the hospital for a follow up check, despite them now living with us in a different county. As I was away working and my partner does not drive, this would have meant taking a 9 month old and a 3 year old on several trains, during a pandemic, with a journey time of 6-8 hours in total. The doctor absolutely refused to entertain transferring the case to our local hospital or allowing us to get any checks done elsewhere. S/S said they would pay for train tickets but would not arrange transport. Eventually they relented and allowed the children's father to drive them with my partner in the car, as he had to return home for work afterwards he spent virtually a whole day just driving. The doctor did a second full-body scan but insisted he did NOT need to re-scan the head!
PALS have been very helpful but were mystified as to why the doctor was refusing to transfer the case or send any images to anyone.
Last edited by Ribus on Sat Jun 12, 2021 12:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Ribus
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed May 26, 2021 9:27 am

Re: Social Services catalogue of errors and lies

Post by Ribus » Sat Jun 12, 2021 12:40 pm

Onto problems with S/S:

The main social worker seems absolutely determined to demonise the parents, stating in letters to medical professionals and the court that there has been domestic violence and substance abuse - there has not and there is not one scrap of evidence to substantiate it.
She said she works with a lot of military families and it "goes with the territory"
She has on several occasions mentioned my partner's weight for no apparent reason. She also seems to talk down to her when either I'm not there or thinks I'm not listening in on a phone call, saying she can get me to explain things to her if she doesn't understand. My partner is far from stupid, works in a school and has several qualifications in child care and child psychology.
She put in her initial report that the baby was in a toddler bed - this was on my partner's advice as he is extremely advanced and was climbing the cot sides, so it was safer for him to be in a bed next to the parents - something the health visitor has agreed with now he is here with us. She also stated that he had a duvet and pillow - he had neither.
She also reported that the three year old had no bedding - it had been removed to be washed. Also the parents had put tape along the sides of the mattress as it was prone to sliding off the bed frame, potentially causing an accident. She reported this as if the child had been restrained with the tape.
She arrived at the parent's house and announced outside she was "here to take the boys away" in front of several neighbours.
She constantly smirks or smiles when delivering bad news, and was asked not to do so by both my partner and her ex husband on occasion.
She was obviously annoyed at my partner's insistence that she sanitised her car and wore a mask on the journey - something that no social worker involved has ever done when coming indoors. Her driving on the way to our house was also quite poor, becoming distracted by the children and staying in the outside lane of the motorway at all times, and had to be reminded not to speed too.
By this point I was at home, when the social worker arrived with my partner and the children she gave me a cheery greeting as if I was her best friend and would be pleased to see her, I find this revolting having just taken children from their parents.
Following my partner's ex husband telling her not to smile at his daughter while saying she was removing the children, she reported to her manager that none of us were complying with any authorities and insisted on a meeting where she stated she had other foster parents waiting to take the children.
She has stated in meeting that the parents pose a 10/10 risk of harm to the children including their unborn son, and has said this is one of the most serious cases their county has ever seen.
She has not submitted to court the reports by the key workers who attended daily in the early days of the case, all of them were very positive and several made sure they came back again as they enjoyed being with our family so much.
As mentioned earlier, she received the scans on the 24th of May, but said in court later she had not seen them.
She has cancelled the elder son's assessments for ADHD rather than transferring them to the county where we live, so they have to start the process again.
She has made contact arrangements as difficult as possible, initially allowing two hours per day, five days a week at my partner's dad's house - this meant if I was working she had to get a 9 month old and a three year old along a busy main road and back on foot in all weathers. She has now relented slightly and allowed three hours at our house seven days a week - but we cannot take the children out to a park or seaside with the parents, it has to be here. This was agreed verbally and agreed would be supplied in writing before a weekend - then she went on leave and didn't do it until the following week.
When taking the children, she was asked about contact by the parents and agreed they could video call as much as they liked. This was a blatant lie, after she left the contract agreement was emailed to my partner, who had to send it to me to check and verbally confirm with the parents as they'd given us a 15 minute window before a deadline with the court. Video calls were limited to 30 mins on alternate nights - when asked she said it was easier to lie than have a disagreement.
She told us she was applying to the court on a certain date - didn't do it until days later.
She was given court papers that stated all parties HAD to receive them by 4PM - she delivered them at 5.15, too late for the solicitors to see them before court the next morning.
She has barred my partner and the health visitor from TEAMS meetings that they were invited to with literally one minute to go before it started, but in the notes it is shown that they both attended.
Her paperwork is completely full of errors, every name of persons involved was incorrect at least once in her section 24(?) report, to the point that the judge had to stop a hearing so they could try and make sense of it. We have refused to sign it as it seems to suggest by doing so we agree that the baby has been deliberately harmed.
She stated in a letter that baby had a 6CM skull fracture - she confirmed she wrote the letter but clearly didn't, just signed it - the 6CM refered to the size of the swelling, there has been no statement about the size of the fracture.
The next court hearing date was initially set for the date the unborn baby is due - apparently the court had not been made aware mum was pregnant.
She accessed mum's medical records without her consent and had used her depression as evidence of "mental illness" in court. She was taking medication for her depression and her doctor was very happy with her condition. I am particularly disgusted at this as currently there is a drive to remove the stigma from mental heath conditions, and having been through depressive periods myself I understand how difficult it is to seek help - yet having done so it is being used to portray her in a bad light. Perhaps S/S would prefer her to struggle on letting the problem get worse, while caring for young children?
In a similar vein, S/S have brought up the elder child having a few hospital visits for minor injuries when he was younger, mainly banging his head on things - one of these while my partner was looking after him. They are making it look like there's a history of abuse/neglect, when in fact it was two (over)protective parents making 100% sure their son was OK. Kids hurt themselves, especially when they're learning to walk.

I'm sure I've missed out things, every day has brought new problems, errors and blatant lies, to the parents, us and even the court. Currently there is not a court hearing until November, the parent's solicitors seem to be unable to bring this forward and seem unable to show to the court that S/S have lied to and mislead them, and misrepresented the parents. I'm not quite sure what the point of them is if they can't do that. We feel 100% certain the baby has not been harmed by his loving parents, and are far from convinced that the diagnosis of the injury is correct in the first place. S/S in our county will not take the case on as it does not meet their criteria, they would need the opinion of several doctors rather than one. We also believe a pediatric radiographer should have confirmed the fracture.
The boys are with us and the three year old is struggling to understand why his parents have to leave every day after a few hours. My partner's younger children have been brilliant but she feels guilty that most of our time is being spent looking after their nephews and dealing with the mountains of paperwork from various agencies, helping the parents and dealing with social workers, heath visitors, fostering workers and everything else.

Any advice as to what we or the parents can do to get these two kids back with their parents where they belong gratefully received.

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 3110
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Social Services catalogue of errors and lies

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Thu Jul 01, 2021 11:23 am

Dear Ribus

Welcome to the parents’ discussion board and thanks for your post. My name is Suzie, FRG’s online adviser. I am sorry to hear of the difficulties that you and your family are experiencing and the distress this is causing. Please accept my apologies for the late response. As you are grandparents, caring for your grandchildren, if you have a further query our kinship carers’ discussion board may be a better place to post and get support from other kinship carers.

You raise a number of issues in your post. I will respond to the main points here and signpost you to other sources of support and advice .

1. Your baby grandson’s injury which has led to care proceedings.

I am very sorry to hear that the baby suffered a fractured skull. You have provided a possible explanation for how this may have occurred and have queries about the medical evidence and sharing of reports. I am glad that you are getting some help from PALs. At present the injury is being treated as potentially non-accidental and it is the subject of a police investigation. Children’s services have also gone into care proceedings and now have interim care orders for the children who, luckily, are placed with you and your partner.

As you are aware, it is a very complex issue and there are a lot of experts and agencies involved when there is a possible non-accidental injury. The burden of proof is on the local authority to prove. This is why it is so essential that the parents
work very closely with their solicitors (criminal and children’s law) to explore any possible explanations and also in relation to the medical evidence and any matters to do with the expert medical reports. This includes your concern about the delay in the hospital doctor providing the images taken of your grandson. I hope that the parents have instructed solicitors who are experienced in these type of cases. You have suggested that a paediatric radiographer should be involved; have the parents asked their solicitors to put this forward?

You might want to share these tips on working with your solicitor with the children’s parents to help them manage this well.

Here is some information on non-accidental injuries to help make sense of the situation, including how the court determines what happens on the ‘balance of probabilities’.

And this information on care proceedings may help you and the children’s parents understand more about the court process including the different hearings that take place. The timetable of dates for the court hearings is set out in the case management hearing but again the parents’ solicitors are best placed to advise on this or seek an earlier hearing if needed. The case management hearing considers key dates for the children and parents which should include taking account of the date the unborn baby is due to be born. I can understand why you queried why a court hearing was initially planned for that day.

Although you are the children’s kinship foster carers you may not be involved or joined to the court case. If necessary, you could consider applying to the court for permission to become a party to the proceedings.

2. Hospital-related issues

I can see that you have some worries about how the hospital has managed some aspects of your grandson’s care and at the behaviour of some members of staff there. You are getting help from PALs in addressing your concerns which is positive. It is not an area that we are able to advise on. Again, any relevant elements that impact on your grandson’s case should be raised by the parents with their solicitors.

3. Social worker’s practice

You describe the serious concerns you have about some of the ways in which the social worker has responded to you and your family and also about the content of her court statements and her role within the court proceedings. The court is the place where a social worker can be challenged or cross-examined on her report so again the parents can discuss this with their legal representatives – they can advise best on how to address. The local authority’s legal department are responsible for preparing the case and legally representing the local authority. Parents' solicitors can raise any procedural issues with them and via the court.

However, the concerns you have about how the social worker communicates with the family and how she behaves as a social worker can be raised with her manager or directly with the complaints department. You can find out more about making a complaint here. In addition, social workers are regulated by Social Work England so you contact them to help you decide whether or not to raise a concern about a social worker with them.

4. Pre-birth assessment

Your partner’s daughter is expecting a baby and is probably having a pre-birth assessment, and a pre-birth child protection conference . She has been told that the baby will be removed at birth. Just to be clear, children’s services cannot apply for a court order until a baby is born when a court will decide whether removal of a newborn baby is necessary or proportionate. It will be important that both parents seek legal advice about children’s services’ concerns and future action in relation to the unborn baby.

As a young parent, this advice for young parents may also be relevant to your partner’s daughter.

5. Contact arrangements

I am sorry to hear that there has been a lack of clarity and consistency around the arrangements for the children and their parents to see each other. It seems that this has moved on a little but if there are further difficulties these can be raised with the social worker and their manager, the parents’ solicitors and the Independent Reviewing Officer who chairs the LAC reviews. We have some useful advice on contact .

6. Advice for kinship carers

As you are being assessed as kinship foster carers, you can find out more about what this involved and how you can become fully approved here.

You may also be having a special guardianship assessment and you can read more about what is involved here .

Your main concern, as grandparents, is that the children are returned to their parent/s care. This will depend on the court’s findings and consideration of the children’s welfare and best interests. As part of your assessment as carers, the assessing social worker will want to know that you can protect the children from harm and meet their needs and that where there are concerns about the children’s parent/s they will want to be sure that they cannot cause harm to the children if the children live with you more permanently. It sounds as if despite the difficulties you experience in working with the current social worker you are clearly able to do this. You will have to be able to accept and work with the court’s decision if the parents are unsuccessful and if the children are to remain with you.

I have only touched on some of the areas you have raised but please do post again if you have questions or if you would prefer please call our freephone advice line on 0808 8010366 to speak with an adviser. The lines are open from Mon to Fri, 9.30 am to 3.00 pm.

With best wishes

Suzie

Ribus
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed May 26, 2021 9:27 am

Re: Social Services catalogue of errors and lies

Post by Ribus » Wed Jul 21, 2021 6:08 pm

Thank you for your reply. Things are now slightly improved as the representative of the fostering team has been fantastic, and has ensured her visits are at the same time as the social worker's, which has ensured she behaves properly and is accountable. I will share your response with the parents so they can discuss your suggestions with their solicitors

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