One step too far now

(10 Posts)
NotmylastRolo Thu 21-Mar-13 14:20:52

Dh and I are not happy. Social services wrote to fc's birth mum recently and gave our full address in the letter to her. We have asked for our home address to be kept confidential. Birth mum is a Class A drug user and is also a drug dealer and keeps dangerous company. Foster child is not allowed unsupervised contact for this reason and we have an exculsion zone around her home that we cannot enter with the foster child in case we bump into her.

The same thing happened last year and we complained. We complained this year too but like last year it is brushed off as one of those things. Surely this is a direct breach of data protection under the DPA.

No one at Social Services is concerned and their cavalier attitude sucks.

NanaNina Thu 21-Mar-13 18:36:45

I am a retired social wrk and was manager of a team for fostering & adoption for 15 years and I know that birthparents had the right to know where their child was living - this was contained in the Regulations attached to the Children Act 1989. No birthparent is allowed unsupervised contact if the child is being Looked After by the LA. However I don't understand about the exclusion zone - have the sws arranged this - I've never heard of this but I have been retired for 8 years.

Is this the same family who had your address last year and if so you presumably haven't had trouble. Ask the sw if they have a duty to let birthparents know where their child is living and I think you will find that is the case.

lovesmileandlaugh Thu 21-Mar-13 18:58:37

That is really interesting NanaNina. We are coming up to panel, but we've been told that our address is not given out, although sometimes it does happen.

Although I have also been told to be on your guard for being followed (in the car), going home from contact, and to maybe go shopping or somewhere public if you suspect it to be the case.

At no time have they indicated that the birth family have a right to our address. Another question to ask for us... thank you!

fasparent Fri 22-Mar-13 00:11:51

You are not alone in this , this happened too us few months ago can not go into detail , but can say ours was details given too member of public not related too child which could be transferred to criminal community.

fostermumtomany Fri 22-Mar-13 04:02:48

my best friend was just approved at panel last week, she has been told that sll birth parents have a legal right to know where their child is living. the only exception is where there has been sexual abuse.
now I aske dmy ssw about this as it didn't sound right to me but apparently it is right. the law states that birth parents must and will be informed of their childs address.
im not happy about that to be honest, without wanting to sound judgmental, some of these parents are less than desirable are they not and I do not want them turning up at my door!

musickeepsmesane Fri 22-Mar-13 09:56:25

I am in Scotland which may make a difference. We have had a protected address for several placements tho' the town we are in was disclosed for contact. Unusually for us, our most recent placement has cooperative birth parents. I felt a bit freaked out when I was told the first thing birth mum did was google earth our house!! She has contact in our house but never comes near unless arranged. I have never heard of birth parents arriving at the door unannounced tho' it must happen?? I have heard of accidental disclosure of address, seems fairly common unfortunately.

scarlet5tyger Fri 22-Mar-13 19:17:33

I'm quite surprised that birth parents have a legal right to know where I live - I've always been told my address is not to be disclosed (although of course it has sometimes been accidentally left on documents) and in one of my latest placements I was even told it isn't to be put on official documents like GP or doctors registrations! (This in itself has caused no end of trouble - does any other FC have an easy way of registering a child with no address?? It took me weeks!)

NanaNina Fri 22-Mar-13 19:47:05

There does seem to be some confusion about this but as I said before I know it was certainly enshrined in legislation that birth parents had a right to know where their children were living. I suspect many sws aren't aware of this and get by on a wing and a prayer.

I suspect the lawyer for the birthparents in care proceedings would verbally slaughter the LA sw if the address of the foster carers had been with-held and that could effect the outcome of the case.

However as I said I have been retired from LA social work since 2004 so I don't know the current position.

I think it might be worth mentioning that when I started out as a social worker in the 1980s contact was always at the home of the foster carer, and so of course the bps knew the address. The only exception to this was in very rare cases where it was deemed too dangerous for bps to visit the home of the foster carer for contact and I can only remember 1 or 2 cases where this happened.

Foster carers struggled sometimes with this contact as you can imagine, but they knew this was the expectation before they were approved of course. Very occasionally a sw would visit with the bps but mostly that was not the case. Some carers were much better at coping with this than others. Many found that the young mum just wanted to chat to them and not bother too much with the child. Others brought bags of sweets and chocolate and handed them to the child and this caused problems, but the tactful carers said "best to save them till after lunch" or something. One frustration was bps not turning up and kids getting upset or bps turning up long after they were expected.

To be honest I cannot remember anything terrible happening in the LA for which I worked. Indeed a lot of carers said they felt the young mom needed fostering too. There certainly was no violence at all and despite all the worries about parents turning up on the doorstep demanding their child back, as far as I am aware this never happened.

We used to put on courses for foster carers on "Dealing with Contact" and it was useful for carers to swap tips for coping and whether they should stay in the same room or just occupy themselves around the house, which most of them did, rather than sitting in the same room with the bps. The best carers offered tea or coffee to the bps and I honestly think this contact helped the child far more than what happens today.

I don't recall how this supervised contact away from the foster home began. As I say it used to be used in the very few cases where it was felt to be necessary, but somehow it became the norm. I think it is so bad for babies and children to be driven many miles away for contact at a "contact centre" which is an artificial setting I think, and if the child is very young, contact can be daily. I also gather than some LAs are telling foster carers that they must do the transporting and not even paying mileage, which is awful.

Would be interested in any comments about the "old" way of contact in the home of the foster care.

musickeepsmesane Sat 23-Mar-13 13:20:05

At the moment only BM comes to our home. I was a bit worried first time but it was fine. The SW was there too though and I just supplied lunch, bit of chat and then went to another room. All other contacts have been a mix of meeting out for lunch and wandering around a shopping centre, special rooms in nurseries or SW office. The shopping centre one is weird. No real value to it. The offices were quite intimidating for the kids and nursery/play area was very successful in that the kids had fun. Parents found it difficult to rein the kids in then though and there seemed to be no real depth to the contact. If I was to have had some of those parents in my house I would imagine it would have made the children feel very unsafe. We have dealt mostly with young, violent parents with no thought for their kids. I don't know if anyone will agree with this but I do feel that the younger parents these days are much more aggressive and troubled.
I remember wanting to take one young mum in particular home with me sad She was so young and mixed up. She said at one point she would like to live in a town like ours where none of her 'friends' would know her.

NotmylastRolo Sat 23-Mar-13 14:19:47

Thanks for the replies.
Nananina - the exclusion zone was never written down but the child's SW strongly advised us to avoid a 1 mile area around birth mum's locality and not to take the foster child there in case we bumped into her. Birth mum has a serious Class A drug misuse and alcohol misuse problem and the lifestyle (prostitution and hard use) was one she did not hide from our foster child who was birth mum's main carer and emotional prop.

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