After s17 Complaint - what now

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After s17 Complaint - what now

Post by Ermintrude » Sun Nov 24, 2019 6:39 pm

Just over a year ago I had involvement with Children's Services due to my teenage son's bad behaviour, including criminal damage in the home leading to his arrest. This all happened very quickly as he went from very well behaved to difficult in less then a month due to gangs, drugs etc
We had asked for help, and school put a referral in which was turned down then his Early Help worker (who I was told was Youth Offending Team due to the arrest) put a referral in to CS.

The Early help worker put referral in on a Monday, Son was seen by Social Worker on a Tuesday, We were emailed by Social Worker on Wednesday saying she had to see our children. I asked that my daughter was seen at home not school - but was told they were doing a s47 review and she had to be seen in school.
It then turns out the strategy meeting was held on the Thursday (agreed s17) and following this the Social Worker came out to meet us. We were not told of the referral by Early Help, and no mention of accessing the children's medical records was made.

We asked for help in setting rules with our son as when we removed the PS4 for not going to school was when he became violent.
Prior to things going wrong we had had a good relationship with our son and would text when he needed to be home at night - never latter then 9pm and only staying with friends a few times a year agreed in advance with confirmation from the other parents.
The Social worker spent 3 hours with us and him, in a very highly charged environment as he would get angry, shout, threaten me and start smashing things.
The result was the Social Worker agreed with every thing he wanted, including being allowed out from 3pm Friday until 9pm Sunday, and not having to go to school 2 morning a week.
During the course of the assessment the Social Worker threatened us and the children that they would be taken into care.

When the assessment was completed, it was full of factual inaccuracies, and only sent the day before the CIN meeting, it also made many statements about me, that I disagreed with such as
'Mum's mental health is such that she has taken to leaving the house when the child is violent' (I had left when threatened with a knife by someone bigger and stronger then me, and also once with his younger sister when he was throwing things at her)
I sent a long email outlining the factual inaccuracies, and had a email these would be corrected.

We had the CIN meeting and I felt very unheard, and it was incredibly obvious the Social Worker believed everything my son said, and mis represented many things I had said to make me look bad.

We were then given a long term social worker, who refused to discuss the assessment as she had not done it, and could not explain what had been said. We received no support except a safety plan which said we had to do things we had already done (like remove knives - which had happened before CS involvement), or be subject to Prelaw proceedings.

The case was close 8 months latter, with little change to my son's behaviour, then reopened 1 month latter - reassessed - no further action.

I have now put in a complaint to the council and they have agreed that the assessment was unbalanced, and rewritten it, but will not confirm that things that were written were inappropriate ie that leaving house if threatened with violence is a sign of mental health issues (I have been physically assaulted since the assessment), they have agreed the rules put in place allowing my son out all night were inappropriate, and that there were mis-understanding around consent.

I have also put in a Subject Access Request - but it has not been completed in the legal timelines.

What should I do now, as the rules put in place put my son in real risk and I believe lead in part to his permanent exclusion from school, and all the issues have now given me anxiety and depression. The rules taught my son that if you don't like rules put in place by your parents cause so much criminal damage and chaos and the Social Worker will give you what you want.
It has become clear during this that Children's Service act totally outside the law, and should not be trusted verbally at any time. I was lucky this was only a s17 but rather then get help which I desperately needed I got lies and inappropriate rules.
I have only managed to get issues I can prove in writing acknowledged, not things said verbally, although my notes from meetings confirm what I think was said, and they seem to have no notes. ie I said self harm was discussed on 16th - they said Social Worker told us on 24th but there are no notes to support this.

Even the complaints department don't seem to understand the law around consent, and the difference between s47 and s17, or the GDPR act.

It has taken 5 months to get agreement the rules were inappropriate, the assessment was unbalanced, and processes not followed taking me hours of time. In our case it is clear that Children's Services thought I was evil and stupid, even when I have shared the actual legal framework with them.

What can I do to get redress from this, and also safeguard my family in case there is future involvement from CS as my son is still fairly troubled.

Many thanks and my heart goes out to those of you dealing with care proceeding where so much is placed on one's person's potentially incorrect assessment of a family

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Re: After s17 Complaint - what now

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Fri Jan 03, 2020 2:10 pm

Dear Ermintrude,

Welcome to the Parent’s Forum.

You have described your experience of getting section 17 family support for your family which seems to have fallen short of what a parent should expect to get.
I can see how you have battled to get some of this acknowledged via children services complaints procedure.

You ask what you can do to get redress against children services for the mistakes they have made.
Are you still worried about any future support for your son-you say in your earlier post that he is still troubled. In your last post you say you will never trust Children services again.

Are you pursuing those complaints that have not been acknowledged by children services complaints to the next stage of the complaints procedure?
Here is our advice sheet about complaints which sets out the process which may ultimately end in the local government and social care ombudsman dealing with any outstanding complaints.
Here are our FAQ’s about complaints. .

I have previously mentioned on the Parent’s Forum the Mutual Expectations Charter which aims to promote effective, mutually respectful partnership working between practitioners and families. You could refer children services to this guidance.

In relation to future support for your son, it is not clear from your post, how old your son is and whether he still needs support. You mentioned to another parent a number of support organisations who can help, so I hope you managed to find the support you needed.

If you do need further help and support, please post again or call our advice line on 0808 801 0366.

Best wishes,

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Joined: Wed Oct 02, 2019 6:53 pm

Re: After s17 Complaint - what now

Post by Ermintrude » Fri Jan 17, 2020 10:23 pm

Thanks for the response.

My question really is what can Children’s Services do to put right the damage they caused to me and my family. They have agreed procedures were not followed etc

My son is 14 and has a number of issues which could result in more referrals to Children’s Services.

As I am now fully aware that Social Workers do not follow process ( or I believe the law but can’t quite prove that yet) and manipulate conversations and situations to make parents look bad how can I protect myself if I have to work with them again.
How can I prove what happened in a situation or rely on anything they say. They do not put things in writing and I have been unable to rely on verbal conversations as part of the complaint.
For example the social worker told me she was doing a s47 assessment on a phone call. I came off the phone call googled s47. She says she never said that, etc

I met the assistant director of Children’s Services and it has now been agreed the initial Social worker will explain the assessment to me. That’s a step forward but surely assessments should be clear enough that any social worker can explain them.
It will be an interesting conversation as there are huge amounts of error or made up unsubstantiated allegations.

It has taken over a year to get up this stage and I still do not have proper answers to most of my complaint.

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

Re: After s17 Complaint - what now

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon Jan 27, 2020 2:51 pm

Dear Ermintude

Thank you for your further post. I am sorry to hear that you are still struggling to get the response you are seeking to your complaint about children’s services’ previous involvement with your family and that your son is still having difficulties which you are worried might lead to social workers becoming involved again.

You have done really well so far in getting your concerns about what happened addressed including having an opportunity to discuss them with the assistant director of children’s services and now an appointment with the initial social worker involved to talk through the assessment. I think this is positive but appreciate that it does not fully reassure you. You are right that social workers often do not confirm conversations in writing and as a parent you often have to rely on the summary of information contained in the assessment report itself which is why an accurate assessment is so important.

If you have children’s services involvement in the future you could try to negotiate from the very beginning that written notes of all visits/meetings will be shared with you within an agreed timescale. Alternatively, you could email the social worker following a discussion to set out your understanding of what was covered /agreed and asking the social worker to clarify if there is a disagreement or misunderstanding.

In my earlier response I mentioned the Charter of Mutual Expectations which you could refer children’s services to as a good practice guide, if you think it is useful.

When you made your complaint you probably set out what you what you think children’s services have done wrong, how this has affected your children and your family and what you want them to do to put things right. You ask what they can do to put right what you believe to be the damage they caused your family - they may not share your view though. I would suggest that this is for you to discuss with the complaints manager but to be aware that if they have acknowledged errors, re-written the assessment and are meeting with you to discuss it then they may indicate there is nothing more than they can do. Have you identified what you would like them to do? If so, do discuss this with children’s services directly but be mindful of the limitations of this.

In our advice sheet on complaints there is information about other options if you exhaust the complaints procedure and remain dissatisfied.

In a previous post you mentioned contacting Social Work England, the regulator for social workers in England, so I don’t know if this is something you have followed up on.

Have you managed to access any support for yourself or your son to help you with the issues that are still happening? Your GP can help signpost you to local services. Family Lives can be a useful source of emotional support and practical strategies for parents, CAMHs can support young people with emotional and behavioural problems and organisations such as Respect Young Peoples’ Project and DVIP YUVA can provide support and services to young people and their families where young people are using aggressive behaviour at home.

I hope this is helpful to you. If you would like to discuss your situation with an adviser please call the freephone advice helpline on 0808 8010366 Mon to Fri between 9.30 a.m. and 3.00 p.m.

With best wishes


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