Is this a breach of confidentiality?

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Is this a breach of confidentiality?

Post by charmed1 » Sat Jan 11, 2014 10:26 am

Hello everyone. Need some advise please as to whether the children's social worker has breach confidentiality. My husband had a call from his Mum last night and she detailed a conversation she had had with the social worker. Mum In Law had called the social worker to arrange contact for both herself and my Mum with our kids in the half term holidays as she has done before. The social worker then went onto to tell her about the result of the final hearing. Not only that she appears not to remember the facts as set down by the judge.

My Mum has been told previously by the same social worker that my husband and I having PR need to be consulted before any contact with and the children can be arranged. This does not appear to be the case with my Mum In Law who the social worker is happy to talk to and arrange contact without our knowledge. The social worker also does not appear to have a grasp of the law as she has stated to M in L that should our kids be put into long term foster care we lose PR completely and even though the judge has stated no direct contact no adoption the social worker has told M in L again that it's up to the adopters if they allow direct contact or not. We are fuming as neither of us have told our mothers everything as it's our choice not do so.

Is the social worker in breach of confidentiality in this case. There is a LAC review in a few weeks. Should I mention it to the reviewing officer? I have emailed my solicitor as this is not the first time she has said inappropriate things. Any advice please is very helpful.

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

Re: Is this a breach of confidentiality?

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon Jan 13, 2014 12:24 pm

Hello charmed1

As you point out, you retain parental responsibility for the children under a care order, shared with the local authority. Your PR would only end if an adoption order was granted. As you are aware, Children’s Services can overrule you in decision making about the children but you retain the right to have some involvement in this process. The social worker is wrong, therefore, to state that your PR would end if the children go in to long term foster care.

The situation regarding contact is, unfortunately, more complex. When the placement order was made, any previous contact arrangements would have ended also. It is for the local authority to decide what contact arrangements are in the best interests of the children unless the court also made a contact order at the same time as the placement order.

If an adoption order is granted at a later stage, any existing contact order would end. The judge would have to consider making a new contact order at the same time as the adoption order. Whether or not a contact order is made at this stage would often depend heavily on the views of the adopters. The judge clearly advised that ongoing direct contact was in the children’s best interests, however, so the expectation is that any potential adopters would need to be aware of this. If the children are matched to adopters who do not agree, the judge could refuse to make an adoption order in their favour or make a contact order against their wishes but this would be unusual.

It is very important, therefore, that you continue to be clear about the level of contact that you feel is in the children’s best interests and your intention to ask the court for a contact order should an adoption order be sought. See our advice sheet about open adoption for more information.

Regarding confidentiality, as the local authority share parental responsibility for the children, the social worker does have a legal right to share information about them where this is in their best interests. It is poor practice for such sensitive information to be shared without your knowledge or consent, however, unless the social worker can justify why doing so is clearly necessary.

I would certainly advise that you raise your concerns about this in writing with the social worker/ manager and the IRO and that you ask for it to be discussed at the review in a few weeks time. I would also advise that you ensure the matter of ongoing contact is discussed at the review.

I hope this is helpful.

Best Wishes

FRG Adviser

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