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.

itwillgetbettersoon Sat 23-Nov-13 12:06:42

I know nothing about this situation but would it help if the OP visited the social services office and asked to speak to someone who could explain what is happening. It seems to me that the OP is terrified and confused like most of us would be in this situation when we don't know what is happening. Perhaps the ops brother could attend with the OP.

Someone has posted a helpful link which you should contact.

You need to stay calm and try to find out what is happening. It must be very frightening.

runnerblade Sat 23-Nov-13 07:36:33

Terrified, if there are mistakes in your files, corrections/additions can be made to the file in line with the DPA 1998. Principle 4 of the DPA states that 'Personal data shall be accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date'. Information here: www.ico.org.uk/for_organisations/data_protection/the_guide/the_principles
And of course you can access all data held about you/your DC (though in my experience, this sometimes goes 'missing' for weeks or months and you have to pursue it). As others have said, work with SS to address 'issues' while putting together your case for complaint.

Mapleduram Thu 21-Nov-13 21:10:30

Hi Terrifiedmumofone.

All this must hurt terribly but the received wisdom in this situation is to play the game and go along with social services. That, it would seem, is the quickest way out of the predicament.

In the meantime you could put in a call to these people:

Family Rights Group
www.frg.org.uk/about-use

Keep us posted and do look after yourself.

Mapleduram

bubblebabeuk Thu 21-Nov-13 16:34:58

I dont have any relevent experience in this kind of thing. I just wanted to say no matter how stressed you get stay polite and in control. Please eat properly, whilst it may be great. you have lost weight it may also be interpreted that your not looking after yourself and there fore not your DC (in their eyes at least). Thinking of you OP.

DoubleLifeIsALifeOfSorts Thu 21-Nov-13 16:21:53

Sounds horrible. You need to find an advocate who understands the system, or a legal representative - and you need to do this as a matter of urgency!

The way you are dealing with it isn't going to work, as other posters have said, your attempts to stop the huge juganaught that is children's services will only end in disaster. Every time you refuse to see then or engage with them, it's evidence they can use against you. I know it's not fair or reasonable, but it's true. Complain and take them to court - afterwards, start the process now, but don't derail their process as it will be used against you.

Don't get angry in front of them, don't insult or shout at them.

Terrifiedmumofone Thu 21-Nov-13 16:00:18

Thank you.

I don't actually know how to get hold of her but I'll figure it out.

I've been told I can expect a summary of the minutes for that meeting some time between 3 weeks & 3 months after the meeting took place.

The plans put forward then that I saw were all from social services and mostly rejected as inapproapriate or unreasonable by the Chair and apparently the bits that got left had amendments made when I was out of the room.

I got no plans from anyone else - should I have done?
I didn't actually even get copies of all the reports.

I'm pretty certain taking him to nursery was part of it but I was doing that anyway and have continued to take him so I'm not sure whether it was part of the official plan or not in the end.

There was a demand I get a mental health assessment, on the grounds of having apparently refused one.
I hadn't actually refused and had made the appointment as requested (which hasn't happened yet) so I don't know if it was still part of the plan or not anymore.
I had bought the appointment letter to the meeting so the chair saw it.
It was one of the two corrections she allowed.

cestlavielife Thu 21-Nov-13 15:48:39

a teacher of any sort is a "profressional" - will have been on child protection training at some level etcetc.

so the little exchange you had has turned into this, sadly.... as was said, you now need to jsut play along, get the relevant assessments and provide copies to all and sunddry (scan and email cc everyone) just saying "here is the report from xxxx. the conclusions in paragraph xxx state that xxxxxx"

no point arguing over dropping percentile or not - get him weighed and measured now at GP and recorded then go back in three months and repeat. so from now you get consistent record.

with growth clinic when my dd was not growing, they discounted everything in red book and started from the date the properly trained measurer at growth clinic took all measurements - she then went back six months later to assess rate of growth etc. (it was bad so she had tests and was diagnosed coeliac ) . the red book recordings are a guide really, not gospel.

if hv has real concern, she should have referred to community paediatrician by now. you could ask for that referral. more appoitnemtns for you and ds but you now have to go thru the motions...

dawdyman Thu 21-Nov-13 15:42:45

Independent Reviewing Officer - the person who chaired the meeting. They may seem fierce, but their job is also to make sure the SW is following proceedures. Therefore they will not be happy if you don't have a copy of plan.

cestlavielife Thu 21-Nov-13 15:39:59

independent reviewing officer - who chaired the meeting (probably)

Terrifiedmumofone Thu 21-Nov-13 15:36:49

Sorry, I don't know what IRO stands for, did I miss it somewhere?

It occurs to me I don't actually know if there are other people I'm supposed to be engaging with & I don't know who could definitively tell me.

dawdyman Thu 21-Nov-13 15:33:51

if you don't get a reply today.... email tomorrow... be polite and you will get a response...

was there a phone number on the family support workers email? given them a ring, if they are not in or the social worker isn't in, ask for the duty worker and leave a message with them if they are not able to help you.

If you have the IRO's number, copy them into your request for information..

Don't stop, don't give up!

Terrifiedmumofone Thu 21-Nov-13 15:28:52

I have emailed the family support worker and the social services lady to ask but the health visitor point blank refuses to give me a way to contact her and didn't answer when directly asked by my advocate.

I only got the social services email address because the family support worker cc'd her into a brief email to say she'd be round next Tuesday.

I have asked.
I can't make people answer.

Honestly I'm not trying to have a fight with them I just don't know what to do and nobody will tell me.

Terrifiedmumofone Thu 21-Nov-13 15:23:21

He never was in the 50th centile on an accurate chart.
He wasn't actually in the 50th centile on their chart either.

They said he went from 50th to 9th.
Their chart showed him bobbing briefly above the 25th by a hairsbreadth at a few months old then being on the 9th at his development check.

He's been bobbing around the 9th centile for most of his life apart from a brief flirtation with the 25th centile line when a couple of months old.

dawdyman Thu 21-Nov-13 15:22:08

You seem very competent on the computer, so email the LA. do you have the social workers email address? if not, PM me with the LA and I can probably help you work it out. You need to start a paper trail... so you can show you have asked for information. The Independent Reviewing Officer who chaired the ICPC should be able to help ensure you have the information. You should have copies of all reports, minutes and such.

dawdyman Thu 21-Nov-13 15:17:35

Please.... you must engage....

You cant fight, argue and complain against the machine and expect to win. It will cause you more stress and pain.

Also, don't wait for them to tell you, be proactive.. phone the Social Worker or the person who took the minutes and ask for a copy of the plan. There would have been one distributed at the meeting you were unable to attend.

You are not subject to a plan, your son is. Your son is subject to a Child Protection Plan due to the Local Authority being concerned that your son may be at risk of neglect.....so prove them wrong... put your energy into jumping through the hoops..

Terrifiedmumofone Thu 21-Nov-13 15:17:30

dawdyman,
I was typing when you posted so I've only just read your posts.

You're right I really don't like the whole situation but I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing because I'm not being told anything.

Both my advocate & myself have asked for this information, nothing has been provided.

I think I'm really frustrated because I haven't got a plan to engage with and I don't know how to deal with the lack of information.

I am well aware the only way out of this situation now is to go through it, but I'm just kicking my heels being asked nothing/told nothing.
I have nothing to work towards.

The school said they wanted an assessment, I got one because it's the only thing I know they want.
Now they say they don't want it.

Terrifiedmumofone Thu 21-Nov-13 15:07:47

Wow, I see I'm cross posting.

As I said, I'm still sat here 2 weeks later with no plans, I haven't been told what kind of plan it is I'm on & neither has my advocate.

He has asked for them but nobody seems to want anything put in writing.

I offended a nursery teacher, she filed the initial complaint.
Her report was full of nonsense (like oak laminate being bare wooden floors with no carpet) although it had been heavily edited for the conference removing some of her more outlandish claims such as her diagnosis that I had agarophobia (I don't) were removed.
She was referred to as 'professionals' in the meeting rather than as a nursery school teacher.

For some reason everyone is fixated with accusing me of threatening to homeschool my son as part of some masterful plan to hide him from professionals (that was the accusation in the meeting, that they wouldn't be able to keep tabs on him)
He is 3 years old and I signed him up to nursery which I personally regard as a great big clue that I don't want to homeschool him and apart from when he was too sick to attend for 3 days he turns up at school, clean, in clean clothes with freshly brushed teeth and washed/brushed hair (he has a bath about an hour before school every morning) on time every day.

The health visitor (not the one at the meeting) was sent round by the school I've now found out, she was all fired up by the rubbish the teacher had told her about me being a fruitcake with a mental son living in a tip.
She basically barged her way in looking for an argument and got one.
I don't respond well to threats.
She also told me she was from Social services which I later found out to be untrue.
I didn't insult her, just told her she was talking rubbish and that I was not legally required to send a 3 year old to school when she threatened that my son would be taken into care if he didn't go to school.
At that point, term hadn't even started.
She offended me so much I phoned the Health Visitor office up and said I didn't want them to come around ever again because of her behaviour.
Social services took it upon themselves to contact the health visitor to tell her I'd threatened to harm her (I said I wouldn't let her in) so they assigned a new one.

I know the school were shocked that I know who made the complaint and they seem to be trying to walk a fine line between supporting their member of staff and being honest.
They spent more time & energy quizzing me on how I could know for certain it was a teacher than on anything else.

So, they say my son has lovely manners, then say they are concerned about his language development.

Nothing in the original complaint seems to have been upheld, all focus seems to have switched to the faltering growth allegation and a load of nonsense saying I don't have a strong bond with my son (the evidence being his faltering growth) or I'm perhaps too ignorant to know how to feed him which has only been said by people who don't know us (most of whom had never met us)

My GP is a pleasant man but wants to stay out of it.
To be fair, he barely knows my son who has never been sick apart from the odd cold & he barely knows me.
I don't think we have seen him 5 times ever.
His nurse does all the injections & stuff that kids get.
He's only been my GP for a couple of years.

As far as the contacting my doctor before they offically began their report, I'm still waiting to get some proof of this and finding it hard.
All references to anything before the date of what seems to be the second call have been removed from later documentation.

dawdyman Thu 21-Nov-13 15:04:22

IneedAwittierNickname - You are so right about everything there.

IneedAwittierNickname Thu 21-Nov-13 14:59:14

I agree with what others have said, when you get the plan, stick to it. Do what they ask of you, even if you don't see why.

My SW recommended I attended a parenting course (even though my parenting skills weren't questioned confused) I attended one - I got a certificate and everything lol! I learned absolutely NOTHING on that course, the techniques we were taught were all the techniques I already used with my DC. However, it is now on file that I was compliant, and worked with SS. I attended all the meetings, cancelling anything else I had planned.
Their dad OTOH refused to attended parenting classes, never once came to a meeting and basically refused to engage with SS other than to bad mouth me!

SS have since told me that if he should ever try and get custody (or is it called residency now?) of the DC like he has threatened, that even though I have had SS intervention in the past, the fact that I engaged with them and he didn't will go in my favour.

Sometimes it feels like you have to jump through hoops with SS, but jump through them with a smile on your face otherwise they will use it against you smile

dawdyman Thu 21-Nov-13 14:58:37

regarding the criminal court... if local authorities waited until a child was at risk beyond reasonable doubt before they acted, there would be a significant number of children suffering all manner of abuse without protection from the Local Authority.

dawdyman Thu 21-Nov-13 14:50:40

ok, I will be as helpful as possible here.... but you are also not likely to like some of it.

Regardless of your complaints, regardless of how good you think you are as a parent (I am not disputing), now you are in this position, you must engage with the process. Your complaints can run concurrently, but you best and quickest way to resolve the professional involvement in your private life is to engage. The Local Authority have pulled a range of professionals together who have agreed that your child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm in your care.

By not engaging, you will heighten their concern. From a Social Work perspective (right or wrong in your case) a parent not letting them in to visit will concern them. Part of their procedures when a young person is subject to a CP plan is to visit unannounced. Also, they may view your complaints as deflecting from the real issues... They are tasked with monitoring the welfare of your child. If you do not allow them access, you will not help your cause.

the meeting you missed this week was an initial core group meeting. This meeting monitors the implementation of progress of the plan. non attendance will not look favourably. If you do not cooperate with the plan, the next conference (3 months after the first) will see another plan made... and that plan will be in place for an additional 6 months.

The CP process is an intimidating one for parents, and you are up against it, and it can feel unfair.... your best means of getting back to your usual way of life is to show the professional network your son is thriving and not arguing with them about dots from a biro..... There may well be some dodgy social work and HV practise going on... but you can continue to complain through the correct channels at the same time.

If it is felt you child has speech and language difficulties, is it not worth an assessment? Why not make use of the support?
You didn't say which centile your childs weight has dropped to from the 50th centile?

Terrifiedmumofone Thu 21-Nov-13 14:34:09

On a brighter note however, the stress has caused me to lose a stone in the past month!

This whole situation does leave me deeply worried on many levels.

If they think my son is in so much danger, then where are they?

What if he really was a child being starved and neglected so badly he actually needed the help?

If this had been taken to a criminal court, or had to abide by the same rules of evidence it would have been thrown out of court.

I'm really troubled that everything seems to be so subjective and there also seems to be no allowance for the system to admit a mistake.

I've easily disproved all the evidence (such as it was)& nobody is interested.
All the 'errors' will stay on record unchanged forever.

It seems my only hope of this ending is if the same people who gave false evidence provide favourable reports of my improvement on the plan I haven't been told about in 3 months time when it gets reviewed.

cestlavielife Thu 21-Nov-13 14:29:55

yes you need a copy of the " plan to follow with clear measurable objectives and time frames etc..." until you get that what are you supposed to do? if you get further contact tell them "I am waiting for the plan"

also yes try local orgs eg barnardos etc - see what is local to you.

cestlavielife Thu 21-Nov-13 14:28:11

so what is on the plan?
what are the action points?
are you failing to do any of them?

try and tick off what you supposed to do so you show you cooperating...

a drop in centile is not evidence of neglect at all. it all sounds really bizarre.

have you made an appt with your gp? if there were drops in weight he would eb checked, look at issues like coeliac disease etc.

lets say there was a drop - then there should be an action plan to take him to gp and perhaps run some blood tests to see if he malnourished has coeliac or whatever. so take him to gp and get him checked there and referred to a community paediatrician for review. frankly, hv weighing machines all different and you could get a drop in weight just due to different day or different weight machine. does he appear healthy and happy? is he growing?

the sp and lang assessment - well let's say he DOES have some difficutlies - again that doesnt mean he neglected. anyone can have a child with delays. and in any case you have a profresisonal now saying he is on track and doesnt need intervention.

i think your best bet is to 1. consult a lawyer and 2. in meantime just cooperate as much as possble and ask them what is the action plan?
what are they putting in place to support you?
and calmly submit copies of professional reports showing you HAVE consulted on the issues they raised and there is no action to be taken.

as was said - a child in need if he should have delays in speech would just qualify him for more help - perhaps what you asked for in the beginning...

snack in nursery - well so long as he has some water at some point in the day he will be fine. eg he has breakfast with you, then goes to nursery - not having a drink til one or two pm really wont harm him.

keep copies of all letters, make notes on when they rreceid, email or write your record of any meeting or conversation adn email it to the relvant person so you have your recollection down and gives them chance to refute.

have you any idea where this has all come from and why? (you dont have to say but someone somewhere is out to get you...is there any reason at all? anything in your past or who you associate with that implicates you in anything? )

IneedAwittierNickname Thu 21-Nov-13 14:21:02

That's how it felt to me too, like some terribly unfunny joke sad
I don't know the difference between the plans, but was told that the CPP is worse. This was 2 years ago now, so the names may well have changed.

I found contact to be sporadic, and it takes SS a long time to send out paperwork ie plans. I found the SureStart family worker to be fantastic, and also Barnados Community Mums and Dads, don't know if they have that in your area?

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