I've taken in a teenager, now what? Special Guardianship?

(8 Posts)
seriouslybaffled Fri 12-Apr-13 22:43:47

I've namechanged for this but have posted a bit about this before.

I've been looking after a 15 year old for the last 4 weeks, under what I was told by SS was a private fostering agreement. After she moved in with me what was originally meant to be temporarily, I contacted SS hoping to have her put with a foster family. I was told that as she was almost 16 (will be 16 next week) and technically did have a home to go back to (that's debatable IMO hmm) they couldn't offer her a foster family. Instead she was offered a halfway house type thing which she didn't want to go into and I didn't feel would be supportive enough- there are other issues I won't go into here. So we rejected that offer and it was decided she would stay with me, in what SS called private fostering- my 'foster daughter''s mum has consented to this set up because she wants nothing more to do with her.

I think she might be entitled to some support from SS even if she stays with me, but I'm not entirely sure what. I've done some reading and think the best option might be to apply for special guardianship, but again, I'm not sure how long I need to wait to do this/how to go about it.

Does anyone have any advice/experience?
Thank you.

NanaNina Sat 13-Apr-13 20:13:53

It all depends on the basis under which this girl came to live with you. Did you and her mom agree it, or did she come maybe as a friend of your own daughter or something like that. Did SS have anything to do with the placement - did they in fact place her with you. If they did then they should be involved.

However from what you say it doesn't seem like they did place her with you. Technically speaking anyone who cares for a child who is a non relative for longer than 28 days is a Private Foster Carer and the LA have a duty to assess that this is a suitable arrangment.

Given that this girl is 16 though, and they have offered her somewhere to live, even though it's unsuitable, I would be surprised if you get any more help. You would not be able to apply for an SGO given her age as she is only 2 years away from being seen as a minor and you need the LAs agreement in any event.

Sorry but I honestly can't see any way that you are going to get help from SS. I think this girl either has to go home or think again about the offer that SS made, or come to some arrangment with you about staying, though she won't of course be able to pay for her keep, as I am assuming she is still at school. I know it sounds tough but SSs are cash strapped and can barely afford to look after babies and young children who are being ill treated, so will be unlikely to offer any help.

seriouslybaffled Sun 14-Apr-13 18:22:59

Her mum is happy with her staying with me, yes, but SS were not involved with placing her here.

Thanks, don't worry, as frustrating as it is it does make sense. So the most likely scenario is that they'll assess the situation soonish (it's getting on for 28 days straight she's been here) and then assuming they find it suitable, we're left to it? I can live with that to be honest.

Someone else I spoke to about this said that DFD should probably be classed as Child in Need status but wasn't sure, does anyone know anything about this? Or is she too old? Judging by what I've found on the internet I think she should have been referred through school months ago, but I don't really know what I'm talking about blush

NanaNina Sun 14-Apr-13 20:16:25

To be honest even though this is a private fostering arrangement I doubt very much whether the SSD will even bother to assess you, given that she is almost 16. It depends on the LA as some have a special team for private fostering, but I would be surprised if they bothered.

The Regs about Children in Need state that children should be assessed when a need is known or referred, but there is no duty on the LA to provide a service. It doesn't make any sense, as no LA is going to provide a service when there is no duty, especially given this girl's age, so I'm afraid that's a dead end to.

You are obviously prepared to offer this girl a temporary home and I'm sure she will benefit from that, but afraid there is no way of help from SSD.

fisul Tue 28-May-13 19:28:32

Hi. I have only just joined mumsnet as I needed advice on this same topic. I too have taken in a 16 year old who can not return home. My first contact with SS resulted it a blank not interested. They have now become involved though younger sibling so have visited my home and the parents. SS agree that returning home is not an option and they are happy for her to remain with me. They have put her in contact with a youth worker and first visit is this week. So far funding has been £0 for nearly 6 weeks and they are non-commital about anything to do with money.
I would be very interested to see how your situation is going and if you did manage to get any funding.
Thanks

NanaNina Wed 29-May-13 13:44:44

Hi fisul - I can only refer you to the posts above that I sent to another MNetter. I would seriously doubt that any payments will have been made. The thing is that people often "take in" young people and assume that SSD will fund them and sadly this is not the case. They are fulfilling their obligations to her by putting her in touch with a youth worker. If she has left school and working she should be contributing to her keep, or in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance and again making a contribution, otherwise I'm afraid you will almost certainly not get any funding for SSD.

fisul Wed 29-May-13 19:06:38

Hi NanaNina. Youth worker is going to try to see if she is entitled to benefits in her own right as due to change in education all 16 year olds now need to remain in full time education or training. Thats great but that money wil be required to fund her travel to college. I did suggest the supported lodging scheme as they agree that it is not advisable for her to return home but the youth worker and social worker were non-commital about this. I did offer to go through any vetting etc whilst she remined here but they 'needed to see if that was allowable'.
This is just so frustrating as I could ask her to leave and then they would have to take care of her as a 'child in need', but she is happy here, we are happy for her to stay but we need some financial support.

NanaNina Thu 30-May-13 00:37:17

Hmm you are not the first kind hearted person to take in a young girl and then find yourself without any financial support. How long do 16 year olds have to stay at school. I didn't think that had started yet? There was an Educational Maintenance Allwce of £30 per week but the Tories have stopped that. Yes, they could approve you as a Supportive Lodgings provider but that would mean they would have to offer funding, and they are most unlikely to do that. You see it all depends on who made the arrangements for this girl to be with you. IF SSD had placed her with you, then they would have to offer financial support, but if they had nothing to do with the placement, which I understand is the case, then they are not responsible for funding.

Even if you did ask her to leave, the LA would not have to take care of her as a "child in need" I'm afraid. The only duty the LA have is to assess whether a child is in need, but they don't have a duty to provide a service, which makes the whole thing a bit of a nonsense. As I've already said, as this young girl is already 16, they do not have any duty towards her as far as funding is concerned. If she left you and was actually homeless they would have to assist I think, but this could mean putting her in a hostel or a bedsit, and this of course is just awful for a young person who is vulnerable. I don't know where you live but if it is in an inner city, she will get less help than in a shire county. SSDs have in my view always been under resourced, but since this govt came in, they have slashed the budgets of all public services, and so SSDs are struggling to meet their statutory responsibilities eg child protection, (I have heard that they are having to leave children who are being abused or neglected at home because they can't afford to place them in foster care) so they are not going to worry about a 16 year old. It shouldn't be like this, but that's the reality.

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