Can you voluntarily put child into care?

(30 Posts)
MyAngels Sat 23-Feb-13 13:21:02

What will happen if you try?

The relationship between my SIL and her 14 year old DD has broken down to the level that SIL is happy her DD to go into foster care. My niece does not want to live at home (usual 14 year old stuff) and her mum is not brilliant at discipline (admits to the "anything for a quiet life" school of parenting). SIL is taking her DD to granny's this afternoon and leaving her there with £100 and their social worker's phone number.
Social services appear only to want to help with pointing SIL in the direction of parenting classes at times she can't go to because of work.
I don't have teenagers yet, so don't know what to suggest to help the situation.
Any ideas?
Thanks

Maryz Mon 25-Feb-13 10:27:04

Best of luck - I do hope her Granny can help her.

It is tough coping with a teenager at the best of times, but when things go wrong it's quite scary how little help there is.

MyAngels Mon 25-Feb-13 09:49:42

Hi all
I saw SIL yesterday and DN is at granny's although there is no longer talk of SS getting involved, thankfully.
SIL's mental health has never been great and I can see her ability to manage all of this declining (she is also trying to move house - stressful enough). So I will endeavour to give as much emotional support as possible as I can't do much practically (can't go on the parenting course, do her shift at work while she goes etc), but can assure her she is not alone, and also that she needs to try something.
Yes, there has been a lot in the background that I didn't say - SS could help more (I have suggested family therapy before (there are lots of things that this would help with), but don't know how easy it is to get. If its anything like getting any kind of mental health help, I'm not holding my breath.
Thanks all

MyAngels Sun 24-Feb-13 09:21:17

Hi all

Thanks for all the helpful responses. I really appreciate them. I can't reply in detail at the moment - I have my DC to look after (age 5 and 3) and they are a handful (one reason why I couldn't manage to look after a difficult 14 year old as well!)

Maryz Sat 23-Feb-13 19:36:03

I would have let ds go into a care home, had they offered because he hated home so much and was determined to destroy us all sad.

However, they offered a choice of adult homeless hostel (populated by adult addicts and the base for a lot of teenage prostitution) or sleeping on the street.

So I managed.

If SS would just work with families of teenagers more it might help.

I am reluctant to condemn any parent who can't cope without knowing a lot more about what they are being expected to cope with.

lljkk Sat 23-Feb-13 16:53:33

Yes it is possible, OP, but means a lot is taken out of SIL's hands.

Friend asked SS for respite care with her 14yo (tearaway). Was probably the only way forward and best way (at risk behaviours involved), but... the 14yo fed everybody packs of lies, did her best to play off SW with foster parents & rile her parents against all. I don't mean to sound so foul, the 14yo is lovely when she's lovely, I'm quite fond of her. But the teen found herself in a delightful game of manipulating everyone. Parents meant it to only be a few weeks of respite and it turned into many months, maybe years. I'm fuzzy about where she's living now (2 yrs later).

Lucyellensmum95 Sat 23-Feb-13 16:45:39

perception - i think you are right there. Although my DDs behaviour was not that bad in the scheme of things there was a reason i think. We had not long lost my dad (he was like her fatehr to be honest) and I had just had another baby (within weeks) i think all of that happening in a 15 yo life was going to have an affect.

Lucyellensmum95 Sat 23-Feb-13 16:42:56

All those who think that she should rearrange her work do go to "parenting classses" - maybe she thinks that the parenting classes are a waste of time and quite frankly i don't think you can learn how to parent really. I think what they need is one to one family therapy and help to relate to each other as you can't pigeon hole people into a one size fits all mentality. So just because she doesn't think she will benefit from parenting classes (i would rather stick a fork in my eye to be honest) it doesn't mean she doesn't love her daughter.

InNeedOfBrandy Sat 23-Feb-13 16:40:21

My dad put me in care, he refused to take me back, refused to let me stay with his mum and I refused to to go with him. He literally left me at ss offices and didn't give them a choice. There was good points being in care like being able to do whatever you want and no one able to do fuck all if you felt like staying out for a week/getting drunk and fucked up/ refusing to go to school but it was awful knowing no one actually gave a real shit about you.

perceptionreality Sat 23-Feb-13 16:38:37

I do know that teens can be a nightmare. A friend of mine had terrible trouble with her dd who had been doing very well at school and was a responsible girl who suddenly started hitting her and getting in trouble with the police. It turned out that her father (who never saw her) was stirring up trouble by sending her messages on FB about her mother. It was eventually resolved though and everything ok now as far as I know.

So I suppose I am saying is there an underlying reason for all this? Could it be unpicked somehow? (the reason for the girl's behaviour)

MrsDeVere Sat 23-Feb-13 16:31:35

She is very unlikely to go into care unless she absolutely insists that she wants to go into care.

She may do this by telling SS or she may do this by ramping up her behaviour until her family feel they have no choice but to agree.

At 14 she doesn't have a clue what is best for her but she can be bloody sure she thinks she does. This may mean stealing, being violent, running away and indulging in risky behaviours.

Sometimes parents will agree to a section 20 because they fear what will happen if they don't 'give in'.

Lots of children who are accommodated by SS in this way will hightail it back home in weeks. Even those who have been given the holy grail 'temporary accommodation' That means an actual flat, with a fair amount of cash (by a 16 year old standards).

FWIW SS are supposed to place children of this age in FC and not in group homes but there are not many places available. They are absolutely not supposed to place them in hostel type placements.

We don't know what has been going on with this family. I would want to know a lot more before I could make any sort of judgement. Teens are the hardest age group IME. Give me a newborn or a mad toddler any day.

Lucyellensmum95 Sat 23-Feb-13 16:29:30

I should think they absolutely will take her - my DD got it into her head to go and "live" with her BF when she was 15. Things were fraught at home but on reflection it was teenage angst - so no serious behaviour, no involvement from SS before. Anyway - I refused to let my DD stay at her BFs even though his mother was condoning it (i was a terrible mother that took away my DDs hair straighteners because she was literally unable to turn them off hmm so she actually bought my DD a new pair angry ) So i called the police - the police agreed with me that my DD was not to stay there but she refused to come home (the cow!) So the police said that the alternative was for her to be taken into temporary care - as it was i asked a friend if DD could stay with her over night and it was fine. I think it all shocked DD that it escalated to that point so quickly - she was home the next day grin and soon dumped the twat boyfriend.

So yes i woudl have thought tht they would do so - it does sound like your SIL and her DD clash terribly, its not uncommon and teenagers can be a bloody nightmare - my DD has left home now - she is 22 and is doing ok, has lovely DP a job and a nice little flat together (on the sea front how jealous am i!) We have a good relationship but in all honesty, i don't think we can live together - doesn't mean i don't love her and wouldnt die for her though!

perceptionreality Sat 23-Feb-13 16:15:26

A 14 year old can't possibly know what's best for her though.

'A teenager, bent on a certain course of behaviour, can cause total chaos.'

I don't doubt this, honestly. But who could let their child go into a children's home, knowing that they are only likely to end up worse off and a target for further problems? I couldn't walk away not knowing where my child was or what was happening to them each day, no matter how hellish things were with them at home. And there must be a reason why the dd is behaving this way - a child cannot be blamed for their behaviour imo.

This is not to say that I don't empathise with the SIL.

MrsDeVere Sat 23-Feb-13 16:08:03

A teenager, bent on a certain course of behaviour, can cause total chaos.

If she has been playing up a bit and mum decides to dump her, fair enough, judge away.

If this has been going on for months and months and now mum is being expected to take unpaid leave from work to go on a parenting course, after trying all kinds of talking, sanctions and whatever else,

judging someone for not wanting to put their job at risk for something they are pretty sure is not going to help?

I don't know what is going on but if this young lady has decided she wants to go into care it is unlikely that her mum going to parenting classes is going to stop her pushing until she gets what she thinks she wants.

Greensleeves Sat 23-Feb-13 15:22:05

Not everyone can "rearrange" work to accommodate other commitments, some employers simply won't have it. Many many jobs in fact wouldn't allow for this. She presumably has to prioritise feeding the family and keeping a roof over their heads hmm

How awful for them all. I'm not judging your SIL either btw.sad

Maryz's advice is excellent as usual. The girl has no idea what being in care at 14 is like.

Are there any other relatives who could have her for a few weeks and maybe host some mediative talks between mother and dd?

flow4 Sat 23-Feb-13 15:17:25

If it's really just "usual 14 year old stuff" plus "anything for a quiet life" parenting, then the chances of your niece being taken into care are almost zero.

It costs hundreds of pounds a week to keep a child in care, and it is a very, very last resort.

If your niece's granny has her, then SS will not take her. Granny will have to throw her out too. Even then, SS's first, second, third and fourth resort will be to try to get your niece back with her mum, or failing that, another family member (including you).

If everyone connected with the girl refuses to have her, then she is most likely to end up in B&B accommodation in the short-term, and a hostel in the medium-to-long term. Placement with a foster carer is very unlikely.

I would never judge a parent in this situation - it is almost impossible to know just how awful a teenager is behaving at home, because almost all of them behave better elsewhere and save their worst stuff for 'behind closed doors'. It might be that your SIL is really desperate. If you want to help, giving her direct support, or helping her access it, is probably the most useful thing for you to do.

perceptionreality Sat 23-Feb-13 15:12:41

'She's basically saying that work comes before her daughter'

Exactly. I'm afraid I do judge someone who would do this to a 14 year old. I am sure things are very difficult but someone who really loves their child will do everything to work out difficulties - this doesn't appear to be the case. Parenting is bloody hard but you don't just get to throw the towel in. I can understand that sometimes children need to go into care when their parents are too ill to look after them but because they are getting in the way of a work commitment? The mind boggles. Childrens homes are horrible, unstable places for a child to be. However difficult and or hostile the dd is, underneath she must be very hurt to know her mother wants her gone.

HecateWhoopass Sat 23-Feb-13 15:10:26

Does the grandmother know that this is happening?

I am not an expert, my boys are only just teens, but I did used to work as the residential support at a project for young women with behavioural problems. This doesn't make me an expert or anything, but I do have some small experience with families in crisis and with troubled teenage girls.

If the grandmother has agreed to take her, then I would suggest you do nothing beyond supporting them all and perhaps finding out where they can go for help at this point. If she's agreed to help out in order to give them both some space then that's ok. They can work from there, get some help, get talking.

If she's just planning on dumping her there without agreement, then the grandmother must choose whether to accept that and turn it into the above, or phone social services and report the child as abandoned or something.

If I had a say, which I know I do not, I would advise against telling social services she's abandoned her at her grandmothers.

Your sil should not dismiss these classes. She should move heaven and earth to make it work. Find out if she can swap shifts, or if there are classes anywhere else at other times, etc. She has to make the effort. She's the adult here and if she's not in control or doesn't understand how to parent a teen, or is really struggling - the onus is upon her to learn and to change.

theredhen Sat 23-Feb-13 15:00:15

By not re arranging her work to go to parenting classes, your sil is not really trying everything she can first in my opinion. She's basically saying that work comes before her daughter.

I'm sure some sort of respite would be good for both if them though and give them some time out. I know social services do this.

Could sil find the time to commit to parenting classes and find some sort of family counselling first though?

MrsDeVere Sat 23-Feb-13 14:41:54

Your DN can ask to be taken into care and her parents can agree to a Sect 20.

However, it is very hard to do this because if SS did for every family having difficulties with their teenagers....

It is unlikely the child has a proper understanding of what being in care is really like. As PP have said, it is unlikely she will get a foster carer and (depending what side of 14 she is) she may go straight into a hostel type situation.

I wouldn't judge a parent for 'dumping' their child unless I knew the whole story. Teenagers can deliberately push to this point because they are convinced they will get a flat or live in a Tracey Beaker style kid's home if they get SS to take them.

If GM can take her to give a bit of respite that is probably the best thing all round. Give SIL time to cool down and DN a change to realise that she will be expect to follow rules there to.

mindfulmum Sat 23-Feb-13 14:34:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

perceptionreality Sat 23-Feb-13 14:27:07

I can't believe anyone would just dump their child tbh. How awful.

FashionFail Sat 23-Feb-13 14:21:48

Does your SIL think a care home will act as a wake-up call? That her daughter would come back after a week or two with a more constructive attitude?

Maryz Sat 23-Feb-13 14:00:32

I would have thought the relationship must have broken down beyond the girl not wanting to live at home and the mum not having time for parenting classes.

If your sister genuinely cannot cope with a seriously troubled child, then yes it is possible (but very difficult) to persuade SS to take her into care. But is that the best thing for her? Because going into care doesn't mean a lovely children's home or a caring foster family. Not at 14. It is much more likely to be some sort of teenage care home with teenagers with real difficulties - often from violent and abusive homes, often with major problems with drugs and alcohol, often with early school leavers or kids who have never really gone to school at all sad.

There are parents on Mumsnet who have had to do this - but it is very much a last resort.

Can you help? Can her granny take her for a week or two? Is there any sort of family counselling/mediation available in your area, possibly run through the school or through SS?

Finally - you say "the number of her social worker" - does that mean there has been SS intervention before? If there has, the chances of getting help are higher. If it is just the number of the local social services office, it is very unlikely they will just swoop in and take her away.

Meglet Sat 23-Feb-13 13:55:08

A week with her Gran might not be a bad thing. I stayed with my grandparents for a week when mum chucked me out, she'd tried to leave me at the SS office but they wouldn't take me.

I certainly wouldn't put a child into care whatever they're doing, I don't think anything good will come of it. Our home was a battle ground but it came good in the end, going into care would have done more harm than good.

Booyhoo Sat 23-Feb-13 13:45:27

where is the child's father? is there other family that could take the girl temporarily to let mother and daughter have a bit of space from each other? does granny want the girl with her?

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