Kinship Foster Carers

(4 Posts)
zoe180180 Tue 04-Mar-14 17:05:09

Hello,
I'm writing this to see if anyone could give myself and my husband some advice.
This is a long story so please try to bear with me.
12 years ago myself and my husband agreed mutually to look after one of my husbands brothers children for a short period of time because they were struggling to cope, he was 16 months old and was 1 of a twin the other being his sister remained with his parents. In between this another child was born. They had 4 older children also and had been involved with social services previously. This arrangement carried on and he became part of our family. Around 12 months later, we had a knock on the door from a social worker asking us if we had him and if they could see him because he had not been seen by a health visitor for some time and their were concerns about his family.
Our little one was at nursery so we asked her to come back when he came out which she did.
She could see how happy he was (Thriving she said) and then told us that his twin sister had been reported to social services by their doctor due to extreme neglect and then the whole family of children were placed on the at risk register and that they were going to be removing his twin from their home into care unless it was possible to place her with us and her twin.
Obviously we wouldn't have let that happen so we agreed that we would take her under extreme resentment from her mother and father. And she was brought to us a week or 2 later.
I cant go into to much detail but their house was not the best and the children's mother and father were seeing other people and the twins and new baby were not even my Husbands brothers children as he had a vasectomy.
We were all kept up to date and went to case conferences and took the twins on regular check ups and so on.
Then shortly after Their mother got breast cancer which ran in the family on her side and to cut a long story short we ended up with the last daughter who was then 12 months old.
We had all the relevant checks with the police and doctors and attended meetings until one day they were satisfied that the 3 younger children were no longer at risk and were in a stable yet overcrowded home and were advised to get a residence order and that was it Goodbye and thank you. No financial help support groups nothing. We were just left to it.
Then we were introduced to a brilliant solicitor in Huddersfield. I'm not sure if we are allowed to use names so I haven't.
The solicitors took the LA to court and they admitted liability settled out of court and we now get full foster carers allowance.
What we wasn't told is that we would have social workers turning up at our door after 12 years and being told we had to go through the fostering process even though we have had them that long. And that our girls had to see social workers which is stressing them out as we have had to go into school and explain that there would be someone from social services getting in touch with them. My elder daughter is a peer mentor and said mum I look after kids with social workers and everyone's going to find out.
They don't want anything to do with them and are very reluctant to talk to them.
I am also a little annoyed to put it politely that they want something to do with us now that they have to pay for them. I also don't think we should have to pass a fostering test after 12 years?
Can anyone suggest anything? Or help in anyway as to what to do.
They wanted us to get a special guardianship order but our solicitor refused point blank saying they were just trying to get us of their hands.
Thank You For reading this extremely long post any advice would be great smile

scarlet5tyger Tue 04-Mar-14 20:52:05

I'm torn 50/50 with this one.

Yes I strongly agree that kinship carers should receive the same fostering allowance as "regular" foster carers, but I also think they should face the same tough regulations that foster carers do. That means I expect kinship carers to have to attend all the same training I do, attend the same LaC reviews, medicals, meetings with social workers etc.

I don't mean to tar all kinship carers with the same brush, just as I wouldn't dream of suggesting all foster carers are the same, and I'm certainly not directing this at you Zoe as you sound like you're doing a great job, but in my LA at least until fairly recently there were children placed with kinship carers who were frankly not much better than the homes they had been removed from - because it was a cheaper option than long term foster care. This changed when kinship carers became entitled to the same allowance a regular foster carer gets - because they had to go through a tougher fostering approval process, and also because social services remained much more involved.

Unfortunately because your own LA have left it so late (12 years!) the children in your care are undoubtedly going to be very anti. Have they met with the children yet? Most of the kids I care for are also very anti-social workers (having had it drummed into them that SWs are the enemy since before they could talk) but do manage to sit and talk with them for the 15 minutes it takes for the SW to see they are being well cared for.

Sorry I have little practical advice to offer.

zoe180180 Sat 08-Mar-14 15:41:16

Hello and thank you for replying.
I totally agree with what you are saying about having children placed in homes very similar by SW just to try and relinquish their responsibilities, Not for the best interest of the children.
After we won our case in court, within 2 weeks, The LA social workers and Fostering team got in touch with us to see how our children were which after 12 years I took personally.
They ad nothing to do with them for 12 years and then because they had to start paying for them, they wanted to be involved.
We arranged a meeting and they came to our home, checked everything was ok living arrangements etc and asked for their doctors dentist school details the usual procedure I expect to which we were happy to go along with.
The SW asked us to inform the school that they would be in touch which we did also.
We have explained it to our girls and they met their appointed SW on the day to which she gave them a quick brief about her role and what would be happening.
The fostering lady also came and advised us it would be in our best interest to go down the SG order rather than the fostering route to which our solicitor said no way.
I am more than happy for my girls to have a social worker and she can come and see them whenever she wants too.
I'm not happy about having to go through a full fostering assessment as these girls are family, We are never going to go further into fostering or foster anymore children. My Own 2 girls are now 22 and 23, one is doing a second degree in university in mental health she already has a first class honours in Crime and Investigation.
My other daughter Is also working in care. They both have mortgages and partners.
Surely by this alone and contacting the relevant services schools, doctors etc they can see we are good parents.
I don't think I put my point across in the right way. I am happy for any social worker involvement it is in the girls best interest. I'm just not happy about having to go through a full fostering assessment. Our children alone should speak volumes about how we bring them up but I do agree there are unfortunately still children in unsuitable homes just so the LA don't have to pay.
Rant Over lol smile

NanaNina Sun 09-Mar-14 23:37:20

I am absolutely staggered at the way this LA have treated you, and with 3 young children, it's unbelievable that they "advised" you to get a Residence Order, (RO) but of course I know that this has happened to many people in your position. The RO was the worst of all worlds because it meant that you shared Parental Responsibility (PR) with the birth parents and the LA were out of the picture and you were "off the books" - result for the LA. Also there were no Regulations attached to the RO about the needs of the children and carers and financial payments. Some LAs did pay fostering allowances for ROs but these payments were discretionary and so could be reduced or withdrawn.

Before ROs and Special Guardianship Orders (SGOs) came into being, children placed with relatives were fostered and the carers were known as kinship carers. The regulations for kinship carers was the same as for people wanting to foster children not related to them, and so the LA had to assess the kinship carers, and make a recommendation to the LA Fostering Panel as to the suitability (or otherwise) of the kinship carers. If approved (as most of them were because very often the child had been living with the relatives for some considerable time before the LA assessed them (but never have I heard anything like 12 years!). The kinship carers would attend the LA fostering panel where approval is given. The PR for the child/ren remained with the LA and they had a duty to review the placement every 6 months and offer support where necessary. Importantly age appropriate fostering allowances would be paid for the child until he/she was 18 years.

Once ROs came onto the statute book LAs saw a loophole and this was when they started "advising" people to apply for ROs. They now advise kinship carers to apply for SGOs because this transfers the PR to the relatives and the LA are out of the picture. However the LA have to carry out an assessment of need for an SGO and this involves financial need. I know that many relatives applying for SGOs now have it written into the court document that they are in need of funding until the child is 18. SO the SGO is ok for people like yourselves because you don't presumably want the involvement of social workers but only so long as it is written into the court documents and agreed by the Judge

I think it is absolutely brilliant that you "found this solicitor" and that he took the LA to court. I would be very interested in the identity of this solicitor and the grounds on which he took the LA to court - maybe judicial review. I'm damn sure the LA "settled out of court" as they wouldn't want a Judge knowing the disgusting way that you had been treated. They do not have a leg to stand on because these children were placed with you by the LA - they can refuse to pay if people make family arrangements themselves without the involvement of social services, but this is certainly not the case here.

SO - where next. The thing is now that they are paying you fostering allowances (and back pay I hope) they have to approve you as foster carers, ridiculous as this is. This means that they will have to assess you and take up references and talk to your adult children etc. The LA really need to apologise to you fully and unreservedly for getting into this position and explain that they will have to carry out an assessment and it will have to go before the LA Fostering Panel, and thereafter there will be 6 monthly reviews etc.

I think the SGO might be a better bet and I think the reason your solicitor is against it, is because he is aware that the allowances are discretionary and the only allowance that is mandatory is the fostering allowance. However as I said before, I do know that many relatives in your position are now refusing to make an application for an SGO until they have it in writing and agreed in court that the equivalent of fostering allowances will be paid (increasing with the age of the child) until the child is 18. Your solicitor sounds very on the ball so maybe you could talk this over with him and I am sure he will know how to proceed. I think there are legal precedents that have been set about this matter of funding of SGOs and I'm sure he will know how to proceed.

Very recently on the Fostering thread there were some grandparents making application for an SGO for their grandchild but weren't told till the last minute that the LA were not offering funding and they went to Court (without legal representation) and told the Judge that they could not agree to the order because of lack of funding. They said the Judge was "brilliant" and sent the social workers off to get it sorted immediately and they got it written into the court documents about funding till the children were 18.

My guess is that the LA won't be too ready to rush down the SGO route because in the assessment that has to be done, they will have to explain what has happened and SGOs are heard in court by a Judge and they will surely be severely criticised. I suspect they would prefer to go to the friendly LA Fostering Panel and get you approved, so that everything is legal.

Can you PM me the name of the solicitor but more importantly on what basis did he take the LA to court - would be very interesting to know as there are many others in a similar position. Feel free to PM me and happy to help further if necessary. I would in an event be interested in the outcome.

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