Any advice re social services?

(68 Posts)
Terrifiedmumofone Tue 24-Sep-13 18:59:11

This is not my normal user name.

I am a single parent of one little boy who is a happy, healthy little chap who is going for his first full day of pre-school tomorrow after having taster sessions for the past 2 days.

Before school started, his teacher came out to visit & I asked her if she knew of any registered childminders or similarly checked people in my area who I could possibly pay to walk my son to school & back as I have difficulty leaving the house sometimes.

The teacher contacted social services & all of a sudden I had some woman turn up on my doorstep & basically bulldoze her way through the door saying she was a health visitor sent by social services.

She began by telling me I was obviously ill as I looked dreadful, commented on my son having plenty of toys & so on, asked why there was a patch on the wall (I was in the middle of having some work done to the house which I explained) then left.

I thought she was social services (she said she'd come from them) & was very upset, I actually complained to the school but thought that was the end of the matter.

Today, about 10 minutes after I arrived home from the pre-school session I find 2 strange women at the door who say THEY are social services here to do an assessment.
They have a report from the health visitor, which includes amongst other things an allegation my son is chewing wires!
I had stupidly said I got all the wires buried in the wall when the tv was wallmounted so they couldn't be got at by kids, how is that a child chewing wires?

They tell me the health visitor was not from them.
She left no paperwork of any kind either, so I don't know where she came from or why exactly.
I refused to let them into the house & stated I wanted an advocate present as they were there on the basis of a conversation without a witness who could have disputed the information contai
ned within the report.
They would not give me a way to contact them or tell me when they would be back, did not tell me where exactly they were from & did not even know my name, just my sons name.

I am devasted.
I know I do a great job with my son & I should have nothing to fear but I'm now so scared they will take him away.

They said they didn't really know about advocates, but thought they might know someone who might be able to find one & then they said they'd bring one round.

I want to get my own advocate, but they won't tell me when they will be back (might be tomorrow, might be whenever) & I don't even know where to look.

I'm in bits.
I so regret asking the school about finding a responsible person who has passed the right checks & I feel like an idiot & I really don't know what to do because I have nobody to ask.

I have no friends or family within a 2 hour drive of my house, my family don't even know I have problems leaving the house & they wouldn't be of any help even if they knew.

I'm hoping someone has some advice for me.

Are they allowed to do this?
Shouldn't I be allowed to have my own advocate & a way to contact them to check they even are who they say they are?

I'm sorry this so rambliing, I can't stop crying & I don't know what to do or who to ask without making it worse.

foolonthehill Tue 24-Sep-13 19:36:39

this all sounds wrong to me.
If any of them were who they said they were I would expect them to show you formal ID, give you a contact number to verify who they were and where they were from and they would have NO problem with you checking with "the office" that they had been sent.

Is there someone in your life who might try to get at you this way??

If you have contact with a health visitor then they will be attached to your GP or health centre , you can check names and appointments with them.

If you have contact with social services then they will give you a case number, their card and a telephone number.

I would call children's services, say who you are and that you were visited on X day by 2 people claiming to be social workers.(BTW 2 people is unusual and they usually telephone first to check you will be there...they are busy people and they would know your name as well as your son;s). If they have no record of sending people then you need to tell the POLICE because impersonating a SW is a serious thing.

HHH3 Tue 24-Sep-13 19:38:22

Firstly, it sounds like you're doing a great job with your DS.

Yes, you have every right to have your own advocate there. And personally I think you did exactly the right thing by refusing to see them alone. At the very least you need someone else there as a witness.

You say you sometimes have difficulty leaving the house. Is there a particular reason for that (ie physical or mh problem)?

In terms of finding out about the women who came round, you could ring the main number for social services in your area. They should be able to tell you and even put you through to the team they are part of so you can try to arrange an actual date/time for them to come back.

I've had quite a lot of (personal) experience with SS which I'd prefer not to go into on here. But if you want to pm me I'd be happy to talk.

foolonthehill Tue 24-Sep-13 19:39:01

If anyone comes to your door again:
Ask for their identification tag and a telephone number for the office that they are from. Take the tag inside (leave them outside) and telephone the number. If they are legitimate they WON'T mind, they will admire your safe parenting.

scarlettsmummy2 Tue 24-Sep-13 19:40:32

Where are you? If you are in England, contact Gingerbread. They support vulnerable lone parents and could possibly provide an advocate.

Norudeshitrequired Tue 24-Sep-13 19:45:27

The local council should have a children's advocacy service which is independent and it's purpose is to speak up for children who are too young / unable to speak for themselves. As your son is very small you can speak to the advocacy service on your sons behalf and ask them to mediate with social services and provide some support.

If the people who came out can confirm that they are from social services then the best thing to do is cooperate fully with them. An assessment is standard practice when someone has raised concerns and doesn't necessarily mean that social service will need to stay involved. Social services might even be able to help get the support that you need to get your son to nursery without it costing you very much.

You might want to call the family information service for a list of childminders who can assist with getting your son to school, doing this now will show social services that you are proactive and able to sort things out for your sons benefit.
Try not to worry too much as social services have to investigate concerns raised by other professionals, however, lots of assessments don't go any further due to the concerns not being substantiated.

PleaseLetsGoToSleep Tue 24-Sep-13 19:49:22

I'm so sorry to hear this has happened to you, I can imagine how scared and angry you must be feeling.
Do you have anyone nearby who could offer some support? I'd advise ringing the HV, or ideally getting someone to do it on your behalf while you're present, and find out whether it was her who visited and any more info you can.
Also, google 'Family Rights Group', they may be able to offer some advice re. Social services.
Please try not to worry too much, it sounds like you've done absolutely nothing wrong, and it's just that social services have a duty to follow up anything reported to them.

Bumpiemalumpie Tue 24-Sep-13 19:51:05

Hi,

I am sorry you have had this experience. Can you PM me so that I can give you some advice. I am a Social Worker and want to support you but want to do so confidentially.

Thanks

cestlavielife Tue 24-Sep-13 21:58:36

Socail services can support you they are not going to take your child away. You can reassure them he is not chewing wires by showing there are none to chew for example. If they got things wrong you can tell them.

HOw ever you need to cooperate.
Do you see your gp for your problems leaving the house ?
Do you have a mental health nurse ?
Or is it a physical difficulty ?

The problem with childminders is you need to get your son to their house. As they work from their home. I don't know if any would provide that kind of pick up service. So a nanny or other person might be better. It is quite unusual so it is easy to see why it might have raised concerns and the teacher was right to follow it up though it could have Been done better .

If you have aphysical or mental health condition and you need someone to come to the house to support you then social services Can assess that need And maybe help fund it. But you need to tell them everything and go thru what the problem is and what support you need.
You do need an advocate here, you need to find someone local maybe a disability advice group ?

Terrifiedmumofone Tue 24-Sep-13 23:38:35

I wanted to say thank you to everyone who has replied, somehow just posting has helped a little.

I did try to pm the member who requested it, but think they may have gone offline before I saw the message.

My doctor is well aware of my problem being out of the house for long & the cause behind it (I had a lot of very bad things happen, in a very short space of time but they combined to give me a problem partly physical, partly emotional), so were my midwife back when I had my son & everyone else I've come into contact with since & not a single one of them have ever thought there was a problem with me or the way I care for my child or manage my life.
My doctor has known my son since he was a few weeks old & never expressed any kind of concerns.

It's not a case of me not wanting to cooperate, but the body language, tone of voice & even turn of phrase they use seem designed to upset.
When you add to that the appalling reputation of social services if your only experience is through the media I'm scared they'll do what they 'always do in the stories' you hear & be so busy taking away a child who had no problem they miss the one who badly needed their help.

Have you ever had a look at your child & wondered if someone is going to come & forcibly take him from you because you aren't following some unknown set of guidelines nobody else actually follows because they made you play what seems to be some vicious game where only they know the 'rules', only they know what will happen & when and only they make the decisions?
It is breaking my heart just to consider it.
I am already living every moment never knowing if there will be a knock on the door, who will be there & what they will do.
I'm normallly asleep before 8pm, now I'm too afraid to sleep.

I honestly think the whole experience is designed to unsettle, but I have enough on my plate with the whole starting school (he doesn't really want to go) without having people come into the house & tell me they will decide if my son goes to pre-school or not - something else the health visitor said, she told me it wasn't up to me & that I had to do what they said.
All this coming from my decision to take him.

I think I just feel so terribly sad now because my little boy starting school(it's pre-school, but he thinks of it as school) should have been a memory to treasure, but is now a time of fear & distress.
I've been preparing him for weeks, naming the school every time we went past to the shop, explaining it was his school where he would make friends with children his age & learn new games etc...
It was supposed to be a good thing, I even had a present for him to celebrate starting pre-school & plans for a special tea.
Instead I was so upset I forgot to give him the present.
I'll never get that good memory back, it's not something you can recreate.
Now I wish I could manage the journey to the next nearest school, which would involve at least 2 buses each way if they even had a space available.

As there is only one primary school he can reasonably go to, for me his whole time there will be tainted. (the preschool is part of the primary school)
If I hadn't wanted him to have the experience of preschool none of this would have happened.
He is already picking up on how miserable I am although I try to hide it, he keeps asking me what is wrong, am I happy etc...

I feel so much sympathy for anyone else who has been put in this position.
One day you're sat there laughing with your toddler at the way the letters jiggle around in the Montessori app if you pick them up & drop them, the next people are treating you like some kind of criminal & anyone you mention the situation to is bound to wonder what you really did to cause it, (I would have before it happened to me) but for me I feel like I just opened the door one day & some stranger punched me in the face.
I'm reeling & I will never ever place any form of trust in any member of that school again.

I'm going to google the number for my local social services dept tomorrow & I've googled some numbers for advocacy services in my area too because I am not happy for them to find an advocate for me & introduce me to that person the next time they turn up at the door unannounced.
I don't think that is in any way reasonable.

Sorry, I'll finish this post now as it's sounding ranty/whiny.

I really don't have anywhere else to take this and be as honest as I have been.
I still couldn't face using my normal username though, because even on here I'd feel too ashamed to be thought of as someone who social services assessed.

Terrifiedmumofone Tue 24-Sep-13 23:46:30

forgot to say, I was referred to have a psychiatric assessment, but they obviously decided I needed nothing from them & I haven't heard from them since.
I've never had a nurse or anyone except my gp who has never felt the need to refer me again, they sent him a letter saying I was in his care not thiers or something along those lines.
I forget the details it was years ago now.

Landofmyfathers Tue 24-Sep-13 23:56:15

I know that sometimes I doesn't feel like that but the health visitor and social services are there to support you and your ds. Agree with cestlavie.
Don't let this spoil this time for you and your son. You sound a lovely mum. The school has contacted ss to help you and your son. Really. Your GP might be able to help with your concerns.
Good luck and sleep well

cestlavielife Wed 25-Sep-13 13:05:26

do speak to your gp who knows you and knows your son and how well eh is looked after and can speak to SS on your behalf.

make a double appoitnment with GP so you have time to talk about what is going on and your fears.

explain to gp what it is you looking for with regard to help wtih taking your son to/from school (how often is it needed? is it every day/every week? is it regular days or only as and when needed?)

and ask GP to write to HV/SS and expalin what it is you looking for and why

i thnk gp who knows you is your key ally here . call and make an appt as soon as you can

Bumpiemalumpie Wed 25-Sep-13 17:58:38

Just to let those know who may wonder, OP and I are now in PM connection.

BurberryQ Wed 25-Sep-13 18:05:43

Social workers show formal ID cards and leave leaflets of who to contact if you are not happy with their visit. Every time.

There was a case in my town of a fake social worker going into a family home and undressing their young child. You were right to say no if you felt things weren't quite right.

My son has a social worker, but that is because he has a disability and I asked for one for him. They support us with things like direct payments, grant applications, etc.

Do try and track down the health visitor who visited you, and get in touch with your local SS department as they should be happy to give you a case number and contact.

BurberryQ Wed 25-Sep-13 18:59:59

re-reading your original post OP this sounds very dodgy and you should phone the duty social worker in the morning and find out where these women came from.

secondchances Thu 26-Sep-13 11:20:34

I'd have been inclined to call the police. A woman who said she was from social services entered your house, assessed your house & your childs toys. 2 women who claim they're from social services arrive at your door with no need to spot check, no word from them & they tell you the lady who was a health visitor was not sent from them.

You are doing a fab job with your son. Its awful you're getting accused just for trying to do the best for your son because as you said, you struggle to leave the house at times.

Madratlady Thu 26-Sep-13 13:41:46

Did you manage to find out what's actually going on yet? It does sound a bit odd.

onefunkymama Thu 26-Sep-13 14:48:58

This all sounds really wrong. You need to find out who these people are- it does not sound right at all. If you call social services you should be able to find out more and if you can't find out who they are, call the police, they might be imposters calling for the wrong reasons. I had a similar experience with a man saying he was from the tax office, he came in, turned out he was scoping the house for burglary.

BlackDaisies Thu 26-Sep-13 22:57:17

I hope everything is ok. Bumpiemalumpie I know that you are probably legitimate, but ultimately you are a stranger on the internet and "could" be saying anything. The OP needs to phone children's services herself and talk this whole situation through. ime they will be supportive, and also, ime, they NEVER turn up unannounced, but will always make an appointment.

CCTVmum Fri 27-Sep-13 00:36:27

If they refuse to show you ID next time ask them to wait and call the police. See how they explain to the police they are breaking the law!

Contact Barnardo's? But if they are Social workers which I suspect they are then they come around at times you least expect to check ie child is in bed etc

The Health visitor obv wasnt listening and when you mentioned the wires she added 2+2=10 and not listened to what you actually said.

If you have problems with anxiety and leaving house please go to your gp for help and medication, this will show you are being proactive to get better to look after your ds. Tbh engaging in MH services would be a positive step in getting Social Services happy in knowing you are being supported and not target your dc who has a wonderful mum doing a fab job. You would be able to get advocates via mental health too.

I think you can refuse access to Social services too just like you can with police, but that would make things worse and best to say come in, have a look around etc

BurberryQ Fri 27-Sep-13 08:50:12

they NEVER turn up unannounced, but will always make an appointment
they do turn up unannounced but would always show ID and leave clear contact details.

Norudeshitrequired Fri 27-Sep-13 11:35:39

When there are concerns about the child's welfare they do often turn up unannounced.

Terrifiedmumofone Mon 30-Sep-13 14:57:24

I still do not really know what is going on.

What I do know for sure, at this point is...

A different social worker (male) contacted my doctor & asked him to refer me to mental health nurses for an assessment a week or so before SS turned up at my door.

From the referral letter the doctor wrote it is not clear he was aware I have never met or heard of this duty social worker according to the appointment centre who read it out to me.
It basically just says he has been asked to refer me & includes the information that I was on fluoxetine for a while years back & had a grown up son who is doing very well in I T. (understatement of the century)

There is nothing in it I could see that is grounds for this great air of mystery.
As it happens, the woman I spoke to was the head of the team who deal with these referrals & has given me her direct no.
It is her opinion that an assessment is a waste of time & resources as they don't deal with help walking kids to school so they are not going to be able to be of any assistance.
I asked her if she thought saying I didn't want the assessment would give SS grounds to say I was refusing help & she recommended I get some advice from my advocate to decide is I should make the appointment but that I should know they really would just be doing a report for nothing as they don't deal with childminding.
In the meantime she is leaving my ability to get an appointment open.
As it would not be a priority however, I could be waiting weeks for this appointment.

I am waiting to speak to my doctor to find out if he knows why they contacted him.

I tracked the social workers down & they are for real.
A description of the womans actions at my door & saying she had dark hair is all it took to be put through directly to her desk.

I found myself an advocate who is being given the runaround a bit.

Despite getting advice from ICO on the distribution of information covered by the data protection act the SWs swear I can only be handed information in person.

Despite sending them a request for information dictated to me by the FRG they say they cannot share this information with the advocate.

Apparently the SW is going to 'drop by' on Tuesday to hand me the information after they have edited it (I assume to preserve the confidentiality of people who are not me)

This phrase (below) has left me even more confused because the dept I found the SWs in was Child social services so now I'm wondering what Adult Social Services has to do with anything.

"Because of data protection and conditionality this is a process Adult Social Services have to go through"

However, the second the advocate turned up on the phone, they were suddenly able to make an appointment!
Still not in writing but at least it's not just my word against thiers.

The earliest he can see me is Tues, they have made an appointment to come out for whatever reason they are coming out on Wed.

Incidentally, the lady who I sent a pm to did nothing but give me some much appreciated comforting, supportive words & broadly outline for me that there is an intial process in assessments & what it is.
Further research has confirmed her description was truthful.
Just so you know.
I think she probably is a genuine social worker, or certainly somebody who is involved in that area however I would never ultimately base a decision based on what someone said on the internet if that is your concern.

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