What happens to a neglected child?

(8 Posts)
NanaNina Tue 05-Nov-13 17:25:24

I am a retired social worker and middle manager in LA Children's Services - I retired in 2004 but worked for 9 years independently for other LAs.

Firstly I really find it hard to believe that the mother has not had contact with social workers. They are duty bound to have contact with a birthparent from whom a child has been removed. Also they have a duty to arrange contact (supervised if necessary) between the mother and child.

The child has been placed with the grandparents because the LA have a duty to ensure that a child is placed with members of the extended family if they are suitable, before placing the child in foster care.

When a child is removed from a parent this can be with the parent's consent or without the consent if a court agrees that the child is not safe with the birthparent. The LA sws will be having to do assessments of mother in order to see if there is any way the child can be returned. There will need to be psychological and psychiatric assessments too. The LA will need to consider whether the child could be returned if the mother had extra support etc., and they should be working closely with the Mental Health Team and it could be that her mental health condition can be stabilised. Sometimes people with mental health problems just don't take their medication and so become very poorly again.

IF however the LA are of the view that the child will not be safe if she is returned then they have to start Care Proceedings in the Court and then all sorts of assessments are undertaken by a variety of professionals. The child's best interests must be kept at the heart of the matter. It may be that the grandparents have agreed to keep the child on a short term basis in the hope that she can return to mother, and this might be a possibility given that she has I assume lived with her mother for the past 7 years?

The LA have a duty to make a care plan for the child's entire childhood and beyond (and the 7 years thing is nonsense I'm afraid) and therefore they will have to assess whether in fact the grandparents are able to care for the child until she is old enough to live independently. If they feel that is not the case, then they will have to consider other routes to permanent care by way of adoption, long term foster care or a Special Guardianship Order. I won't go into too much detail as I have few details to go on.

Feel free to PM me if you wish.

dawdyman Tue 05-Nov-13 16:45:23

It does depend a lot on the level of involvement social care have had to date and how mum has responded to the support offered. I am assuming social care had some involvement in the placing of the little one with grandparents? 7 years is a strange figure, I can only assume that there is an assumption that by the time she is 14 she will be better able to assert her wished and feelings and 'talk with her feet' so to speak. I am not clear on the legal status of this little girl?

It's difficult to comment as it sound like you are in the dark about the finer details, but as said above, if mum wants to care for her child, then she needs support to be able to show the professionals that her standard of parenting is 'good enough', which I am afraid on the face of it does not sound as though it is.

As said before, the welfare of the child is paramount when a court makes a decision about a child, I am afraid they will have sympathy with a parents illness, but when that illness impacts on the childs welfare they will make decisions based on the child's best interests.

Mum needs support in accessing and engaging with mental health services. She needs support in being proactive and making contact with social care and finding out what she needs to do to have her child returned to her care and doing it.

MP letter do have to be responded to, and they will make sure a local authority follow due process... but I can recall times when responding to letters from MP's actually took away my time from working with a family.

fasparent Sat 02-Nov-13 00:34:00

Seems as though there may be safeguarding issues, would seek advice from 3rd party professional's , a difficult post too advise you on , suggest
NSPCC or such like.

Roshbegosh Thu 31-Oct-13 23:22:09

The child is clearly at risk with the mother and that is not likely to be the best place for the child. A seven year old wandering the streets at night seeking help with a mother full of paracetamol at home. What a disaster and the child could have been the one to find her body if the mother's suicide attempt had succeeded.

There is supervised contact though so that should be safe and they are not separated. At some point a decision will be made based on the health and capability of the mother, the grandparents and what is best for the child. The child may go to short or longer term foster care, stay with grandparents or return to the mother. It is sensible to wait and see how the mother is progressing first.

SundaySimmons Thu 31-Oct-13 22:17:27

I don't think anyone can stipulate a time, anything can happen in seven years!

I have a relative who works for MIND, the charity to help those with mental illness.

http://www.mind.org.uk

They may be a useful source of information and help.

The sad thing is if this lady was suffering from an injury or physical illness which she has recovered from, her child would be returned to her. mental illness is not seen in the same way and there is still a stigma attached to being unwell through mental illness.

The child's welfare is paramount but it can also be very damaging to be away from her mother if they have a loving relationship. Grandparents are wonderful but it is very hard to raise a child when you are elderly and even more so if they are of a generation that struggles with how young people are today. My parents are wonderful grandparents but are very old school and would struggle to be parents today with their old fashioned views.

You may find help from your local MP, it's their job to help and not everyone realises just how much a good MP can do for them. For example, I cannot praise the MP David Amess enough, he will do anything to help or put you in contact with people who can help if it is not within his remit.

A letter or phone call to social services carries more clout if sent by an MP than this mum trying to approach them on her own.

bananananacoconuts Thu 31-Oct-13 21:47:49

Thank you sunday, i had always thought the best place for the child was with the parent. They were known to social services before this incident so maybe this is the straw that broke the camels back so to speak. For some reason some of the relatives seem to think child will be with the grandparents for 7 years now. I don't know where the figure has come from, but it's as if they're thinking of it as some kind of set period of time, then child will be able to go home. Also the grandparents are very frail so am not sure they could cope with this particular child for 7 years.
I'll advise her to visit GP. Social services in this area has a terrible reputation so this is probably why there has been no contact.

SundaySimmons Thu 31-Oct-13 21:36:54

Depending on whether the mum has recovered and received treatment and is assessed as being able to look after herself and her child she may be able to get her child back. Unfortunately it differs from area to are and whilst some social services are very supportive, there are some that act dreadfully.

I am surprised that mum has had no contact from social services as she should be receiving some kind of support if she has been unwell.

The mum needs to see her GP, speak to social services and possibly involve her MP if no one is helping her.

Regardless of the neglect of the child, the lady was suffering and ill at the time and whilst it was right to ensure the child was taken to a place of safety, the ideal situation would be for mum to be well and daughter returned with ongoing support on a regular basis.

bananananacoconuts Thu 31-Oct-13 21:11:32

Apols if this is the wrong place to post. Am a very regular poster but this will probably out me so have name changed. Just need a bit of advice on how the system works.
Someone has recently had their child removed from their care because child was left home alone at night and got out of the house and was roaming the streets. said child is 7, parent has a history of mental illness and on the night in question, took an overdose of paracetamol and wanted to end their life.
Child is in elderly grandparents care, they are frail and although will not relinquish responsibility, it is not an ideal scenario.
The parent of the child has had no contact from social services although there does not seem to be any restrictions on seeing and contact with the child (albeit supervised by the grandparents).
I know there is no definitive answer, but i wondered what the chances would be of the child returning, and what sort of minimum timescale it would be before this was considered, or if there will be no chance if her returning at all?
Sorry it's slightly drip feedy, but i'm trying to be careful.

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