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Can anyone talk me down... Children's Hearing(10 Posts)
Our LOs have been with us for less than 2 weeks.
After a lovely family day out today we've came home to a letter stating we MUST take them to a Children's Hearing in 11 days time. This is the first we've heard about it. Never been mentioned by ours or our LOs social worker. Of course letter comes on a Saturday when there is no one available to call! The kids have never ever been to a hearing, they are far too young and most certainly could not cope with it. It's also the day after school term starts and this is a major fear for our LOs and would be incredibly confusing for them. Letter does not state why the Hearing has been called. There has already been a hearing to agree adoption plan and change of address to us. We're in a bit of a panic worrying about this, can anyone help...please.
Can I ask where about you are? I.e England, Scotland etc. This will effect the response you need.
can I suggest you post on the AUK forum, there are a number of Scottish adopters there who may be able to help
I don't really want to, SW let slip that they regularly check the board and this would be pretty outing. Thanks though
Scottish adopter and C&F social worker.
The children will still have looked after status at the moment, the children’s hearing will most likely be to either continue the supervision order or to change the condition of residence (eg to your address) on the existing supervision order.
It’s usual for the children to be attend the children’s hearing - it’s highly unlikely they’ve never been to one - I’ve seen babes in arms brought to hearings before now and the Children’s Reporter can compel them to attend. Depending on your local authority it may be possible to have them excused, but it’s entirely at the discretion of the Reporters Administration. You may also ask for the hearing to be postponed to allow the kids to settle into school - which may nit be possible if the supervision order needs renewed.
On a separate note, I’d seriously question the wisdom of putting them into school 3 weeks into placement - ours were placed over summer and started after the September weekend break, which was considered quick. Depending on ages it would be worth keeping them home for longer, especially if it’s a source of fear for them.
In saying that, the hearing itself should be relatively straightforward, the hearing invitation should tell you the purpose of the hearing.
Things I’d be checking are whether birth parents have been invited - unless the DC have been placed with you on a POA, the birth parents will retain parental rights and should be invited. If that is the case they should make appropriate arrangements for the DC/you/birth parents. I’d also check that your address etc will be kept confidential, not included in the supervision order etc. I’m surprised no one talked about the Hearing system to you given it’s the legal process for looked after children in Scotland, but have a chat with the DC social worker on Monday - it’s a routine part of the process.
Ah I see the change of address has already been agreed - it’s possible the supervision order needs to be renewed (though I’d expect them to have done that when they changed the condition of residence). Have the children moved local authority area in coming to you? In terms of the DC attending, if they are school age the chances are the Children’s Hearing will want them to attend - they have a duty to seek the child’s view, it’s intended to be a child centred process and the panel (made up of volunteers) generally want to see the children they are making decisions about. It’s not a court process, and is less formal than you might expect - if the DC aren’t excused they will be ok, talk to their SW about support for the hearing and bring someone with you who could sit with the DC if they need to leave the room. It’s not unheard of for children to attend part of the hearing and wait outside for parts - if you plan for the possibility of that happening it means you’re not torn between wanting to be with your DC but also really wanting/needing to be part of the discussion at the Hearing.
Try not to worry about it - easier said than done, I know, but it’s part of the process and the calmer you are about it, the easier it will be for your DC.
Thanks Jelly for your reply. The supervision order was renewed at the last hearing when the change of address was moved to us and we were also given full non disclosure of our name and address. Children haven't moved LA. We were told everything was up to date for now until we apply for AO. This so that the kids can settle into their new home, family and school without extra stress. We've been expressly told that the children have never attended a hearing in person ever. I think we're most concerned because the letter does not state why the hearing is being called and we were told there wouldn't be the need for another one just now. I know there is no reason to worry really but it's incredibly bad timing for the kids and their ability to cope with it just now.
Our SW has been really very good but the kids one.....well....
With regards to the starting school, it's been thought about very carefully by us and several professionals involved. We have a fantastic school who are on board with making school work for our kids and are supporting us with a carefully thought out programme.
If the DC have been excused before it’s likely you’ll be able to have them excused this time too but legally they need to be invited to their own hearing. You can ask the Reporter to excuse them, your SW can support the request. I understand your confusion about the reason for a Hearing now - the Reporter will be able to fill you in, if the order would usually be up for renewal it’s possible there’s been an error and you’ve been called because they’ve not noted the order was already renewed.
Thanks Jelly, you've calmed me down! Will get it all sorted out on Monday with a phonecall or two. Blind panic and sleep deprivation had set in. Thanks again X
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