Back and more issues

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Ignatious
Posts: 51
Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2016 8:17 pm

Back and more issues

Post by Ignatious » Fri Oct 01, 2021 10:46 pm

Hi All, to Suzie, and anyone else who reads.

It's been a while since my last post (March 2020 I believe). A lot's happened as one can imagine.

Finally lost my children to a SGO (Local Authority Foster Carer's).
A Local Authority CAN apply to the court for a SGO,... how it happened in my case, they discharged the Care order and invited the court to replace it with a SGO in favour of the Foster carer's.

Currently have some issues I could do with some general advice on (probably moreso confirmation on my assumptions as opposed to legal advice)

There were 3 court orders with my last case;
The first, was the granting of SGO to <Foster Carer's>
The second, was discharge of the care order granted on <date> (And my perspective the responsibility of the Local Authority regarding my children (from a safeguarding point of view))
The third was the more substantive one,.. but it confirmed the following;
That 'all parties' agree the parents have / retain their PR as defined by CA1989 3(1)
That parents are entitles to receive information regarding child(rens) education, health, and medical (but it did not specify how)

My issues; The day after that court order was granted, I e-mailed the school (during summer break).
The school failed to e-mail me back, So a week after school returned, I called. (Head teacher told me she had responded, but failed to send it (was still in draft folder with 6 others))
I was informed information regarding my children was understood to be passed on to me via the (now) SG's (not the case / something I did not agree too)
I emailed the school with various points taken from Gov.uk publication regarding working with parents with children in care.

Under Education Law, I am recognised as a parent, and as the court order states, I retain all rights as a parent under CA1989 3(1), to which 'all parties' agree(d) (to include the Local Authority). And the court order states I'm entitled to receive the information.

Since contacting the school, the school has had discussions with Children's Services (who were involved regarding the Care Order, what had since been discharged), as well as the SG's.

They have made (for want of a better/crude remark) a threat that they are concerned with my actions are an effort to destabilise the placement/order and if I continue to persist, will take the matter back to court using the courts inherent jurisdiction.

My perception (to which I seek advice/confirmation/clarity) is the Care Order was discharged, thus removing the Local Authorities involvement (from a safeguarding point of view) regarding my child(ren). Can they now 'stick their noses in'?
As a father, who has PR (as confirmed by court order, which has not been limited, but clarified as all rights as defined by CA1989 3(1)), as someone who by court order has been informed I am entitled to receive information regarding child(rens) education be denied by the school?
(My interpretation of Education Law says no).

Kind regards to all,
Would love to read feedback on other parent's views, and if they/you too have had similar experiences.

Ignatious
I am a parent. My responses are not from any formal training background but from my own experiences, my own research and my own point of view.

Bossman1959
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2021 10:51 am

Re: Back and more issues

Post by Bossman1959 » Fri Oct 01, 2021 11:06 pm

Hi Ignatious,

I hear what you are saying with regard the child services as you say sticking their nose in. I am guessing this is down to foster carers being part of the situation unless they are not appointed by the LA.

However I do understand where you are coming from. If the child/children were with an opposing partner then you would be entitled to the information you seek from school. I don't see how they can make the giant leap to you trying to destabilise the foster care apart from thinking you are looking to use school for information to that end. However there would have to be an issue In school for you to use it would there not.

SW and Child Services are imo a law unto them selves at times. If as you say, they say they will take you back to court if you don't stop. Then I think my self I would provide them with the sections of the law which you base your decision on and ask them to confirm or deny if you are right.

That way if they were trying a bluff they can see it won't work. If they take you back to court you just explain to the judge. Is it the same SW working with this now. Maybe they don't have knowledge of the order awarded.

Not sure I have helped any.. hope I have, am sure sure will be along soon.

Ignatious
Posts: 51
Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2016 8:17 pm

Re: Back and more issues

Post by Ignatious » Fri Oct 01, 2021 11:36 pm

Reply re: Bossman

When I got the e-mail from my legal (who represented me in the SGO case, and who the LA complained to of my actions), ... I was buzzing. I generally think I have the proverbial moral high ground on this one. My initial feelings were "bring it".

The reply from my legal was he is without funding and can't represent me, and should the LA get back in touch, he would tell them to discuss things with me,... although he did say that under the circumstances, my position did not seem unreasonable. When I read this,.. my 'buzzing' elevated.

I am after information from the school, but that is something I am entitled too (under education law), as well as under GDPR (SAR's)

This is an example I copy and paste from the gov.uk publication, to which I then highlight my similarity.

Example
A non-resident parent who has limited contact with their children, contacts the school to find out how well they did in their exams. Both the children and the resident parent do not wish to share that information and they inform the school of this. The school refuses to release the information on the basis that the children are old enough to control access to their personal information. The school has therefore breached education law by failing to provide information to which the non-resident parent is entitled.

I am a non-resident parent, and I have asked for all information pertaining to my children. My children are not of sufficient age and understanding to be able to consent/refuse.

I have been totally excluded from the lives of my children, largely in part to the animonious relationship I have the the LA. With the SGO, I am now in a better position to seek to discharge the SGO (in the almost immediate future). My personal circumstances are changing / have changed and will shortly amount to significant (since making of SGO). I seek a relationship with the school in regards to my children's education (separate from involvement with the SG's). The school have been informed by the LA and with discussion with SG's that they thought I had consented to information being passed via the SG's. (incorrect).

The school's stance currently I think is to sit this out, which is why I have put in a formal SAR request, forcing the issue with a timescale.

I have contacted LA legal with my issues, addressing my (litigant-in-person) analysis to which I would reply with if they pursued the matter in court. (Again, I think I have moral high ground, and law on my side for a change).
I was due a response 2 days ago,. still waiting.
I am a parent. My responses are not from any formal training background but from my own experiences, my own research and my own point of view.

Bossman1959
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2021 10:51 am

Re: Back and more issues

Post by Bossman1959 » Fri Oct 01, 2021 11:52 pm

If I were you I would consider two other things.

The school must have some king of appeal process, I would look at activating this. If you don't get the response you think you should without a valid reason you can always complain to ofsted.

It has just struck me that ofsted is also where you would take a complaint about the LA children's care if you are not satisfied with responses from a complaint.

So the second thing I would do is complain to social care.

That's where I would be going two pronged attack.

Good luck.

Ignatious
Posts: 51
Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2016 8:17 pm

Re: Back and more issues

Post by Ignatious » Sat Oct 02, 2021 8:34 am

Bossman reply;

No two pronged attacks here,.. I'm stabbing with 4 of pronged forks and as many as I can hold at one time.

I have the email to do with the education law that I accusing the school of not adhering too.
I have the SAR request, which has/should be responded too within 30 days.
I posed a question which meets all the criteria of a SAR which is due to be responded too in 12 days time, to which I will remind school should be complied with (trying to force the issue) "you will answer my question" (It's backed up by regulations)
This should help enforce an ICO complaint should they fail to respond to my SAR's.
I will also have school complaints I can and will follow. Which could involve bringing in the Governors.
And like you suggested, OFSTED.

I have posted my relatively comprehensive argument to the LA who have failed to reply as yet. (Although early days)
I hope they do take the issue to court, I can defend my actions justifiably. Not least citing the date their responsibility was discharged, and how their interference now potentially violates my Article 8 rights.
I've also asked for a SAR from them too.

And cutting the fat off all the above. I do not want to become litigatious. I just want the school to deal with me directly as my children's father, who has parental responsibility for my children, therefore who is entitled to this information under education law, without the intermediary of the SG's. Who, (not saying they would or they would not) could restrict or withhold information.
I am a parent. My responses are not from any formal training background but from my own experiences, my own research and my own point of view.

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 3265
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Back and more issues

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Tue Oct 12, 2021 2:49 pm

Dear Ignatius,

Thank you for your post.

Your children were previously looked after and in the care of local authority foster carers under a care order. This has now been discharged and your children remain in the care of these foster carers under a special guardianship order. You state that the special guardian order at the final hearing outlined that you continue to have parental responsibility and that as a parent you are entitled to receive information about your children.

Since then, you have contacted your children’s school and have been informed that all information will be passed on to the special guardian and not directly to you. You are concerned about this and reference education law, stating that you continue to be recognised as a parent and that you entitled to receive this information. The school has contacted children’s services and with your children’s special guardians. Children’s services have responded by stating that they will take the matter back to court as they are concerned you are trying to destabilise the placement. You are unsure why they are still involved as the care order has been discharged.

You feel you have been excluded by your children’s school and would like a relationship with them as you hope to apply to discharge the SGO soon, and state that you did not consent to information being passed on this way. You have made a SAR and have also contacted the LA’s legal department with your position. You would like to know whether, as a father with PR, whether the school can deny the information you have requested.

Firstly, you are correct in saying that under a special guardianship order, you retain your PR. However, the special guardian also has PR and can exercise this to the exclusion of all others with PR. This means that although the special guardian should consult with the parents about important decisions relating to the child, the special guardian can make the final decision. Nevertheless, you are also right in saying that under the Education Act, you are considered a parent, and if your child attends a maintained school, you have a right to access the child’s educational records and information about the child. Therefore, the school should not have refused you access to this information. Please note that this same legal duty does not exist if your child attends an academy, independent or free school. You can read more about this here. My advice to you therefore is to put your request in writing to the school, referencing the appropriate law, and to request that information be shared with you as is your right going forward. I would also advise that you request a meeting with the school, the LA and the special guardians, in order to discuss how this issue will be managed moving forward and to ensure you are all on the same page.

In relation to the involvement of the LA – sometimes children’s services can remain involved in children’s lives after the making of a special guardianship order. As the care order is no longer in place, the LA does not have PR, but the law says that children’s services must make arrangements to help people in their area who are affected by special guardianship. Sometimes, children may be on a child in need plan – do you know if this is the case for your children. Alternatively, the support may be included in an SGO support plan. As your children were looked after prior to the making of the SGO, the LA should have assessed your, your children’s and the special guardians support needs. Do you have a copy of this support plan? You will find it helpful to take a look at our SGO advice sheet for parents here – and particularly pages 7-8, which discuss how support that is available to parents whose children are subject to an SGO.

Finally, it sounds as though there are some challenges in your relationship with the local authority and with your children’s special guardians. As I am sure you will agree, it is best for children when special guardians and parents can work effectively together, and you may therefore benefit from some additional support in strengthening this relationship. You can approach your local authority and request an assessment of your support needs, as mentioned above, or a review of the support plan if there is already one. Children’s services may be able to offer you some family mediation to discuss how future disagreements will be managed.

I hope you have found this helpful.

Best wishes,

Suzie

Ignatious
Posts: 51
Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2016 8:17 pm

Re: Back and more issues

Post by Ignatious » Mon Oct 25, 2021 2:09 pm

Dear Suzie,

Thank you for your reply.
To say my relationship with the (former) Local Authority is strained, would be an understatement.
I have looked at the Advice sheets you highlighted, and over the weekend contacted the Local Authority (that did the assessment for SGO for the court).

this is my reply

<Dear Ignatious>
Hope you are well.

As the children are on an SGO I am no longer their worker as they are closed to the Local Authority. Therefore we have no jurisdiction anymore, you will need to apply to court for permission to make an application and any assessment of can be considered within that process

Thanks
<Social Worker>
(Would this E-mail constitute a formal written refusal for not doing the assessment)
My question, Is this right?
According to the advice sheet, and my interpretation of statute (Special Guardianship Regulations 2005, Section 11) the answer is no.

I would assume my option now is to escalate the matter for representation (paragraph 19 of advice sheet). And or/make a complaint.

In regards to the'support plan', there is one,.. I wouldneed to track down the court bundle and go through it (again), but (off memory) there was no 'support' for parents,... they effectively just 'washed their hands' of any further/future responsibility.

*EDIT*
Now have a copy of the support plan, confirmed. No, zero, nada, support for parents.
Small exert from part of the plan; (for the now Special Guardians)
'Training is recommended in supporting children with special education needs'.

There could be a subjective argument that the child in question to whom this passage related could be classed as a 'Child in need', and thus be eligible for section 17 support.

Incidentally, this support is available to the Special Guardians via the LA's Training team. I would assume this training could also be offered to parents under the premise of if it's good enough for them (SG's) then it's good enough for the parent(s) which would help should help (paren(s)) in the future should child(ren) be returned.

Kind regards, And thank you in anticipation of a reply/response

Ignatious
I am a parent. My responses are not from any formal training background but from my own experiences, my own research and my own point of view.

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 3265
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Back and more issues

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Fri Oct 29, 2021 5:02 pm

Dear Ignatious

Thank you for your post.

From the information you have shared, the response from the social worker states the children are closed to the Local Authority and they do not have responsibility to assess your needs. The Local Authority who placed your children are responsible for assessing the SGO support needs for three years after the order is complete. After three years it becomes the responsibility of the Local Authority where the child and applicant live (if different). As previously informed …’the law says that children’s services must make arrangements to help people in their area who are affected by special guardianship.’ As stated in the SGO guidance, if the Local Authority decides not to carry out an assessment, they must give the person notice of the proposed decision in writing including reasons for the decision. If the local authority does not agree to assess, you will have at least 28 days to make representations in relation to the decision. What department responded to your request? Local Authorities usually have a department/person who oversee SGO support. If you are not sure I would suggest you go back to the Local Authority to check this with them.

In respect of the SGO support plan, you say there was nothing offered to you. Any needs identified should have been addressed within the court arena and agreed at this time. Of course, your support needs may have changed since then and this is the reason why you are requesting a further assessment.

In respect of any support or training for you, should your children return to your care. This would need to be assessed as part of a reunification plan and is likely to be addressed at this point.

I hope you find this information useful.  Should you wish to speak to an adviser please call our free advice line: 0808 801 0366 (Mon to Fri 9.30a.m. – 3.00p.m.) or please do post on this board if you have a further query.
Best wishes
Suzie

Ignatious
Posts: 51
Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2016 8:17 pm

Re: Back and more issues

Post by Ignatious » Mon Nov 01, 2021 4:00 pm

Dear Suzie,

Indeed, your latest reply was helpful.

I have since had a further reply

I am grateful of your email below. <edited for anonymity> County council has no statutory order in respect of the children. The provisions you have referred to do not relate to a change of circumstance assessment. There is no provision under the S.8 (SGO) section for a children’s services to re-assess a parent.
Your only mechanism is to apply for permission to revoke the SGO order at which if directed the local authority will undertake a child in circumstance assessment.
No doubt you will keep us informed as to when an application is made.
Regards
It is my intention to ask to make representations as outlined above.

Also received this,
I look forward to any application to vary the SG order. We are not automatic party but will be updated by the guardian’s no doubt as to when you lodge the application. I re-iterate that its not a refusal to do an assessment but that until the court grant’s you permission on the basis they accept there has been a change in your circumstances the local authority is under no duty to re-assess even if the children are subject to special guardianship orders.
Kind regards

(Note; Replies from LA Legal)
Ignatious
I am a parent. My responses are not from any formal training background but from my own experiences, my own research and my own point of view.

User avatar
Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 3265
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Back and more issues

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Fri Nov 12, 2021 12:06 pm

Dear Ignatious

Thank you for your update.

If you are planning to making a complaint or to apply to the court for permission to end the Special Guardianship Order for your children you can find out more about how to do so below:

Challenging decisions and making complaints, and
Special Guardianship: information for birth parents – page 11.

You can also seek advice from Child Law Advice if you are considering making a private law court application.

Best wishes

Suzie

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