SGO's

(18 Posts)
nanashell98 Mon 19-Aug-13 16:00:06

We have been assessed for an SGO for our grandchild, the social workers have said this has been positive and they putting to the court that our grandchild is placed with us, however this seems to be taking ages the IRH is on October 3rd then it will be the final hearing. If the court agrees with SS how long will it be after the final hearing that our grandchild is placed with us. He has already been with foster carers since the 27th June. We feel like we are not being kept informed. Anyone else been throught the same or could advice me on timescales. Thank you.

tropical1 Tue 20-Aug-13 14:16:25

Hi,
We have our two grandsons (3&4) under an SGO. They were both previously fostered (elder one by us) for over a year.
It was decided that they would not be returned to their mother in the Sept. We went to court in the October to say we wanted to apply for the SGO. we were then assessed, back in court in the February & the little one came to us almost straight away.
In the time between the court hearings, we had him over to stay at weekends/ christmas etc. So it was applied for & finalised within 5 months. I don't understand why it is taking so long to go to court? Could the Caffcas people speed it up? They had a lot of influence/power in our case.
Hope that helps. PM me if you want more info.

nanashell98 Tue 20-Aug-13 19:36:35

Thank you Tropical1 for answering, SS first started assessing us for fostering, then asked us to go for the SGO which we agreed to then they decided to just do the fostering then changed their minds again and told us they wanted to do the SGO!! Just to explain our daughters behaviour is very unpredictable and she hasn't co-operated with SS in the past this is the second time our Grandson has been in fostercare they are worried that if our Grandson is placed with us before the court date that our daughter would cause problems. We have never spoken to anyone from caffcas We have had 3 contacts (supervised) with our Grandson since this happened and they have only been in the last 2 weeks!!Now we are seeing him once a week, throughout the assessment they have told us everything we need to do and items etc we need to buy which we have done we have spent an absolute fortune, not that I begrudge spending any amount of money on my family it's just that obviously the court haven't said yes yet, but ss want our Grandson to come to us. I had an email today from ss and she said that the final hearing should be October/November which means we have been without him over 4 months it's just so heartbreaking.

hackneyLass Wed 21-Aug-13 20:55:55

Hi Nanashell

We're are in a similar situation to you with my 2 nephews (3, 4). The SW contacted us in February all of a rush, quick quick, tell us immediately if you will take the boys, court hearing in March. Since then the hearing has been rescheduled 4 or 5 times, now due in September. We are only told about delays at the last minute and not told why the delay: this month we were only told 2 days beforehand and everyone else in the process knew at least 2 weeks before - so at least we know where we come in the SWs priorities!

We also are told nothing about what is going on. We find out bits indirectly through one of the birth parents' solicitor & the foster mum - or by getting cross and saying we are thinking of dropping out, then they call us.

We have been told variously the boys will come to us very quickly after the court hearing (i.e. introductions start in a couple of weeks after the hearing, after birth parents visits have been wound down) or after we have moved to a bigger place which could be months (we can't start the process of moving until we know for sure the boys will come to us).

We have seen the boys twice since they went into care and now seem to be allowed to see them about monthly.

We spoke to the children's guardian once, she explained a bit about the process. She suggested we ask the LA to pay for us to see a solicitor about the support plan. Of course, havn't seen that yet, and no idea when we will see it, maybe will only be revealed at the court hearing.

We are finding the court delays difficult - partly because we havn't told any of our friends (other than the 3 we asked to be our referees) so over the last 6 months we have become cut off and isolated. Each month we think - it will be sorted this month - then another delay. Grrrr.

We got useful advice from the Family Rights Group www.frg.org.uk/, 0808 801 0366 (Mon-Fri 9.30am-3.00pm) - have you tried phoned them?

Blimey, sorry its so long!

It is great to find others going through the same thing - we should keep this thread going...

nanashell98 Wed 21-Aug-13 21:42:04

Hi Hackney lass it isn't just us then!! In all fairness SS have totally been on our side throughout and our independent SW is great, I am going to get in touch with SS tomorrow as I need to clarify a few things, like we have never been told if we need a solicitor or not, we've never met our GS guardian/caffcass person just a few things that keep cropping up. We are meeting his foster carers this weekend and I think this is our last supervised visit then we can just pick our GS up and take him out. He's been through such a lot in his short life already we just want him settled with us. We have been told that really everything should be finalised within 26 weeks if that is the case they are really pushing it. I am going to keep pushing them. I don't even want any payments from them, (not that i'm rich or anything) it's just that I would rather have him and muddle through. sad Keep me posted on your situation x

hackneyLass Wed 21-Aug-13 23:22:10

Hi nanashell98- How fantastic that you'll be able to take him out on your own - I'm sure that will feel great.

The LA paid for us to see a solicitor once because otherwise we would not be giving informed consent - it all came out the blue for us and very fast, I think we had 2 weeks from when they first suggested it. Also weird as we hadn't seen the boys for months (and didn't see them for another 4 months).

Your independent SW sounds great - I reckon we need someone to guide us through the process. 26 weeks is a government-imposed deadline - so cases shouldn't drag on. I think once the SGO is granted they are usually keen to move children as soon as possible.

The Guardian should be willing to talk to you and it seems in other cases can be quite helpful & influential.

Let us know how the visit at the weekend goes

And tropical1 - good to hear your experiences too...

nanashell98 Sat 24-Aug-13 11:42:05

I have had a letter through to today to say that a cafcass person is coming to see us at the end of September, I may be wrong, but as I said before, the IRH is on the 3 October surely this is leaving it abit late!! Any advice as to what these people will ask or need to see?? :/

NanaNina Mon 26-Aug-13 23:55:21

Hi - I am a retired team mgr of a Fostering & Adoption team for a LA, but worked independently after retiring, mostly doing SGO assessments for LAs. Firstly can I say that court cases almost always drag on and on and there are so many Directions Hearings before the Final Hearing. The court timetable should be set out and the Directions Hearings are to ensure that this is being followed. The thing is that there are so many assessments going on with the birthparents, psychologists, sometimes psychiatrists if there are mental health problems, social workers reports, guardians reports etc and if deadlines are not met, then there is a delay and often that can mean a delay of several weeks. All this is very frustrating for people in your position I know, but it is seldom the fault of the social worker.

You mention Nanashell that you have an independent assessor and I think it would be a good idea to ask him/her for advice as they will have more experience usually and the time to go through the court process with you. I used to always use the first session of an assessment in explaining the process and stressing that delays can occur.

Some of the applicants that I assessed for an SGO had a solicitor and others didn't, but it might be a good idea in your case, as it sounds like your daughter is opposed to the plan for the SGO in your favour. Mind having said that, I have not met a birthparent who IS in favour of the plan, because they have all wanted their child/ren back, when in every case I did no children were returned to the birthparents and the SGO was granted.

I can't believe that the LA have got you spending all that money on equipment before the SGO has been granted and I can't help wondering if they are trying t save money. Alongside the SGO report the LA have to do an "Assessment of Need" on yourselves, and this includes issues of finance and in particular any equipment you may need, and on going financial support, and this Assessment goes to the Judge with all the rest of the documents.

The other thing is that once an SGO is awarded to the applicants (usually the grandparents) then that legally immediately transfers the PR (parental Responsibility) from the LA to the SGO holders. However sometimes there can be an agreement between the applicants and the foster carers for the child to remain for a very short time, but for a specific reason. I remember a case I did and the grandparents needed to get the equipment and also needed to have a stair rail fitted and so it was agreed that the child would stay with the foster carers while they did this work. However legally the moment the SGO is made, you have the right to have the child placed with you.

nanashell98 Tue 27-Aug-13 13:30:27

Thank you NanaNina thank you for the message, our daughter put our names forward to SS to have our GS placed with us. They have now cancelled her assessment because she didn't attend appointments with the psychologists amongst other things, out of 16 contacts set up between our daughter and GS she has only turned up to 6 and the father hasn't had contact with our GS since he was first placed with foster carers. I appreciate things take time but. I think I will have a word with our independent today as he has been brilliant with us and hasn't held back on his opinions and advice.

hackneyLass Wed 28-Aug-13 21:40:24

Hi nanashell - it's mine & other's experience the Guardian from CAFCASS can be really helpful and influential. Ours has been the only one who clearly explains the process, what happened at the last hearing & what will happen next. She just wanted to talk through a few things, the usual things e.g. contact with birth parents, schools, housing etc. But asking in a way of "how can we make this work" not "what is your answer to this problem" which is the social workers approach.

Yes, everything is always last minute. But the Guardian told us lots of things that she assumed we had been told & hadn't. So don't worry, s/he could be a good friend to you in this process.

nanashell98 Mon 09-Sep-13 20:40:27

We have to attend the fostering panel on Friday will we get a decision the same day? Everything is getting really confusing now and it doesn't help when the people you need to speak to all seem to be on holiday at the same time sad On the plus side we don't have supervised visits now and we now see our GS for 3.5 hours at the weekend, would it be reasonable for me to ask for a couple more hours for a family occasion?? I don't want to seem too pushy, does anyone have any thoughts on this??

JaquelineHyde Mon 09-Sep-13 21:00:06

Hi nanashell, I just wanted to say good luck and try not to lose sight of your end goal as it can feel like wading through treacle blindfolded sometimes.

My wonderful mother (64) has an SGO for my sisters two daughters who are 5yrs and 24 weeks.

It was hell on both occasions getting the SGO but worth it for that final ruling. For both the first SGO and the second SGO my Mum had the girls placed with her whilst the SGO was arranged so I am not sure how things may differ as your GS is in foster care at the moment, but the SGO should be granted within 26 weeks and once it is your GS should be coming to stay with you.

I would definitely ask for a few extra hours for a special occasion and maybe investigate whether you would be able to have any over night visits in the run up to the SGO being granted.

nanashell98 Wed 02-Oct-13 12:40:59

Just a quick update, having never done this before it was never explained to us that we would have to apply to the court for the sgo we thought this was something that SS did on our behalf!!! We have now seen a solicitor as GS dad said he was going to contest the application, this was last Friday the IRH is tomorrow 3rd October everything is about as clear as mud now and I have had enough sad Heard from SS today and apparently dad not instructed his solicitor and now our solicitor is is doing our applications to present tomorrow I am so frustrated SS have not been clear and not kept us informed at all NANANINA can you offer anymore advice on this sad (I only saw our solicitor yesterday BTW)

auntycupcake Wed 02-Oct-13 17:33:36

hi nanashell...i feel your pain and urgent need of clarity. my partner and i recently became special guardians for our niece who has been with us under interim care orders since march.
like you, we assumed that ss applied for sgo on our behalf and weren't we surprised when we received a letter thanking us for our application for a sgo envy .
our sw was an absolute waste of time...always off "sick" when i needed guidance about sgo and cancelling welfare checks/sending someone on her behalf to avoid my questions.
so good to know you have a solicitor...without my solicitor i really don't know what i would of done. he explained absolutely everything and he didn't leave any stone unturned. he arranged all of the paperwork, applied for party status to the court, checked our financial assesment (and found it to be completely wrong...70 pound a week wrong angry ), he also put together the contract of expectations with ss. this document is prob the most important of all (other than the actual sgo grant!) and its imperative that you read it carefully and only sign when you are absolutely satisfied with it...this should be done before the court date by ss/sw. ours was completed in handwriting 5 mins before we were called into court! but luckily my solicitor was involved and by this point he knew me inside out and argued different points. so when it came to me signing...it was perfect. however i am now stuck with a horrible handwritten copy which doesnt look very official or important!
in my case my niece's mum (sil) was totally against the sgo and actually contesting the fact that my niece had been placed into care in the first place. this meant court was a very long process as they had to cross the parameters before they could even get onto the sgo application.
my brother (nieces dad) did not attend court and did not instruct his solicitor...but court went ahead without him.
in my case, there was a lot of sitting around and waiting in court to be honest but my solicitor was running around and updating me constantly.
is your application being contested by mum and dad? also do u know when the final court hearing date is scheduled for? again in my case the first scheduled final hearing was 10 mins long as my solicitor contested the financial assesment. it was then rescheduled for 2 months later...timescales could be different in your case as my niece was already in my care at this point and the LA solicitor argued that the period between hearings should not disrupt my niece as everything was working well.
i hope my experiences have helped in some sort of way...and i would be more than happy to answer any of your questions (if i can)!
my partner and i felt like we did not know what was going to happen, made totally worse by the contesting of the sgo and no one being able to give answers. time seemed to drag and your constantly thinking "what is going to happen?" "what else should i know and be doing?"
then after all the stress....afterwards you kind of feel like everyones forgotten about you! no ss involvement!!
have you met the independent guardian?? my niece's was amazing...and always said it how it was! i found myself ringing her the day before court to settle my mind!
hope it goes well for you tomorrow...write down questions you need answering tonight in preparation. there will be plenty of time for your solicitor to go through these with you before court. smile

auntycupcake Wed 02-Oct-13 17:36:47

forgot to mention...i met my solicitor for the first time at court!! put your trust in them...they handle cases like these all the time! smile

nanashell98 Thu 10-Oct-13 20:28:06

Well it's all over!!!! We were granted the SGO after 3 hours at court (5 min of which in the actual court room) Our GS comes to us on the 17th when his foster carers are back off holiday we can now relax abit. We are so relieved. Thanks to all of you that posted it is very much appreciated smile x

lovesmileandlaugh Thu 10-Oct-13 20:47:26

That is lovely news! Congratulations xxx

Frikadellen Wed 16-Oct-13 18:14:29

Lovely news and hope all goes well tomorrow

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