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Child protection conference.One week till due date..HELP

(13 Posts)
sindento13 Thu 14-Jul-11 18:43:29

This is all new to me so bare with me.Im 39 weeks pregnant and had a knock at the door from SS last Friday.My partner of 2 years has been diagnosed as a "paranoid"schizophrenic ,and believe the baby may be at significant harm.These reports have come from his mental health team who he has been passed on to different ones everytime,they encourage him to talk about his past which is reason for concern(He is a recovering drug addict,been out of the detox for 3 years,on a methadone programme(for pains in his body mostly)so he is no longer dependent on any other drug,he also take sulpride for his mental illness..ANYWAY,they've got a conference for tomorrow and are already talking asthough our baby girl needs a child protection plan.When the social worker visited me she made out I would have to choose between my partner and my baby,later on the next day my partner made a phone call appoligising on how he reacted,I then get a phone call from SW saying the decision may POSSIBLY be me supervising all contact with boyfriend..What does this mean exactly?Would it only mean me being there,mean on certain times for a certain period of time?I'm worried sick how its going to turn out.Also I don't live with my partner,he's about 1 1/2 miles away but I have been planning on moving closer to him this week and the SS are yet to know this so that's going to make it worst if it turns out he'll not be allowed any contact with either of us.You may think its not a good enviroment to bring a baby into but I couldn't write everything,his life has changed dramatically since meeting me and I have never once seen him violent towards me or anyone else.Is there any advice u could give me?And also SS says we can say our own things at the conference,what could we say?what report?

purplekersleaf Thu 14-Jul-11 19:08:58

I would take the help and suggestions they give you, follow them as best you can and prove to them that you can both cope. Child Protection registering can add you or take you off as needed. You just need to accept they have concerns for the babies safety and they will have had more experience of couples like yourselves than you have. Prove them wrong then.

sindento13 Thu 14-Jul-11 19:28:06

Thanks puplekersleaf.That's what we are trying to do but it's been such a bad week.We should be happy nearing the babies birth but we haven't been.Is it possible that they could keep him away from the birth?And on what grounds?

madmouse Thu 14-Jul-11 20:20:38

It may well be that your child will need a child protection plan which may simply involve professionals wanting to make sure your baby is safe as reading your post the potential for harm is there. It sounds like he has been a serious drug user (it sounds like heroin, as you mention him needing methadon for body pain) and unfortunately when people use drugs they are selfish to the point of excluding everyone else. On top of that a serious mental health problem that per definitely involves some loss of grasp on reality.

They will be looking for reassurances from you that you realise how serious the situation is and that you have thought about how you will protect your child. They will also be looking for a willingness on your side to accept support from SS. It may in any event be useful for you to be assigned a social worker who can keep an eye on things.

When you get the opportunity to speak at the conference you can explain how much he has changed and that he was never violent. But if there is paranoia involved nothing is very certain.

Feel free to demand that they explain fully what exactly their concerns are and that they do so in plain language that everyone can understand. Also ask them if they have any suggestions or recommendations of what you can do or any support they can offer. I have attended these conferences before supporting other people and I would recommend that you take someone with you. A solicitor, a good friend, some GPs will attend too. Get that person to make notes so you know exactly what happened and what was said afterwards as there is a lot to take in.

Arcadia Fri 15-Jul-11 08:26:12

do you have a solicitor sindento? Legal aid is available for parents in this situation.

NanaNina Fri 15-Jul-11 15:31:05

Solicitors are not allowed to "act" for a client at a Case Conference. They can accompany the parents, but only as a support like any other non-professional. Legal aid dependent upon the client's income is availabel but not at this stage. If the LA apply to magistrates for an Emergency Protection Order or an Interim Care Order, then you would be entitled to legal representation.

Hope things went ok Sintendo - SS will be looking to ensure that your baby stays with but but is also not at risk of signifant harm from her father (assume he is the father) - the best way forward is to co-operate and make certain that you are not minising the difficulties of your partner. If he has beeing diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, this is a very serious and sometimes enduring mental health problem which will mean that he could be out of touch with reality, and so be a danger to the child.

Presumably the conslt pyshciatrist will be at the case conference, and as others have said, you need to take on board the concerns of the SSD, as they do not raise concerns for no reason. Any plan that is made to protect you baby must be adhered to. So sorry as this is awful for you so near to the birth.

Arcadia Fri 15-Jul-11 18:42:21

nananina I was more thinking in terms of advising op rather than attending the case conference. Legal aid is not means tested for child protection matters but it is true that there have to be certain triggers to be eligible. It's at least worth her looking into and don't think it should be dismissed out of hand. My firm advises people on the basis of a legal help for these kinds of matters.

sindento13 Fri 15-Jul-11 19:05:54

Arcadia,partner has been seeing a solicitor just to get advice,and use her if needed basically.Went today,funnily enough psychiatrist wasn't there,he was on"holiday"this was the person that had raised the concerns,yet there wasn't a report to read,just notes.Partner made it clear at the conference anything he tells them is in the past,even the chairsman said there wasn't much"evidence".Anyway they said he's not allowed to stop over with me at night,temporary for now,and have assigned the baby a pre-birth child protection plan and are in the process for core group assesments..What do these actually involve?They said I'd be supervising him,but they didn't say if it would be certain times,certain days so I have no idea.Will they allow him to be with just me and the baby any day we want as long as he's not stopping over with me?I thought they may want another family member there..I'm as lost as I was when I first went in

NanaNina Fri 15-Jul-11 22:31:43

Sintendo - it's bad that the psych wasn't there or couldn't send someone in his/her place. Was your P's GP present.

There are clearly some concerns about the safety of the baby and that is why they are saying your P should not stay overnight. The child protection plan should be clear, and state exactly what arrangements are to be made to ensure the safety of your baby. A core assessment is a social worker making investigations into your circumstances, your ability to parent your child in a safe way etc. and this assessment will obviously include details of your P (length of your relationship) and your views on the concerns that have been raised by the conslt psych etc etc. A social worker will come to your home to carrying out this assessment. Just be honest and tell them how you feel about your relationship with your P, whether you have any concerns, e.g. have you seen him in a delusional state related to his mental illness.

There is clearly no concern about your ability to parent, it is your relationship with the baby's father that is the concern, raised as you say by the conslt psych whose view will carry a lot of weight. Social workers are not going to take any risks if a person has been diagnosed as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia by a Conslt Psych. His GP should be advised of any diagnoses that are made, so maybe it would be helpful for him to go and see his GP to find out exactly what his diagnosis is.

A core group is when there is a child protection plan in place and the relevant people (including yourself and your P) meet at frequent intervals to check on the suitability of the plan and whether any changes need to be made.

I appreciate you are very vulnerable at this late stage in your pregnancy, but you must be more assertive with the social workers - they do tend to jabber on as though parents understand and forget that what they do every day is completely new for parents. If there is anything you don't understand (and there clearly is) you must clarify what they mean. I know it's difficult when there are up to 10/12 strangers sitting around a table, but you must speak up. If not then, get hold of the social worker after and get her/him to explain in plain english what they are saying.

It sounds to me that they are trusting you to supervise the contact between your baby and your P and not leave the baby alone with him, and not allow overnight stays. The fact that you are intending moving nearer to your partner won't go in your favour, but on the other hand, if the plan is that you are supervising all contact, then where you live shouldn't really be an issue.

I would caution once again to co-operate with the social workers and not to minimise your Ps mental health difficulties and use of heroin (I assume) in the past. Many people with mental health problems self medicate in an attempt to make themselves feel better, but of course that causes 2 problems, mental health problems and addiction to a particular drug(s).

As I'm sure you are aware a new baby can be a very stressful time for parents and you can'tknow yet whether this might add to your Ps mental health problems. This is why the social services will be wanting to assess over time whether the baby is going to be safe if in the future you decide to live with your P. They will be cautious at first, but if things go well, hopefully they (and you) will be satisfied that the baby is not at any risk from your P.

Happy to help further if necessary. Am a retired social worker and manager (25 years for a LA involved in CP, fostering and adoption)

Sorry Arcadia - I wasn't meaning to dismiss legal assistance "out of hand" far from it. I was just being factual. It is as you will know the duty of the social workers to ensure the birthparents are legally represented in any proceedings.

musicposy Sat 16-Jul-11 00:50:32

I had a situation when my two children were very young when SS decided DH was a possible risk to them. It was all hypothetical, based on a GP's report of some mental health issues etc, not quite like yours but I did have to have long interviews with SS and the children had some checks and interviews.

I didn't believe for one minute that DH was ever or would ever be a risk to the children (I wouldn't have been with him if I had), but to have said so in quite those terms would have made it look like a) I was sticking my head in the sand and b) I was putting DH before the welfare of the children.

So I was very careful to say that, although I had never seen any evidence of risk, I would be very alert, would supervise the children at all times with him until further notice from them, and would let them know immediately if I ever felt there was even the smallest concern.

They also said to me that I had to realise it may come down to me choosing between DH and the children and I was very, very adamant to them that I would choose my children every single time, without hesitation, and I would always, always put their safety before anything else.

I can't tell you what a difference this made and I think they were reassured that the children were in safe hands with me and they allowed DH to stay living with us. In the end it all blew over and they closed the case.

However, from my experience I cannot stress enough that you need to a) cooperate with them, b) make it clear you understand exactly why they have concerns about your P and don't try and make light of them and c) make it very clear that you will put the welfare of your baby above everything else and certainly above your relationship with your partner.

I'm sorry you're going through this at such a stressful time; I know how stressful it can be being in this situation. But it need not be a disaster. Having a baby puts a lot of stress on a couple at the best of times and I would say it's a good thing you have someone looking out for your welfare. Good luck smile

musicposy Sat 16-Jul-11 00:57:38

Oh, and by the way, I am now ten years on, with a 15 year old and a nearly 12 year old, both very happy, well balanced young people who've had a good, stable home life, me still with DH and not a moment's concern raised about him since. It was an awful time for us, but it can work out, so try not to panic too much. Just take on board what SS are saying and use it to the good.

NanaNina Sat 16-Jul-11 12:46:44

Brilliant post musicposy - spot on. Hope you will be able to follow the advice given sintendo as this is by far the best way to proceed. I can't imagine why you weren't told about the concerns until this late in your pregnancy, but I suppose that would have given you more time to worry.

Social workers are concerned that some mothers will put their own needs and those of the partner before the child's needs (and this does happen frequently). They also have to cover their backs because if anything happened to a child where medical evidence had indicated there was a potential risk to the child, they would be in the s**t to say nothing of the harm to the child.

Do hope all turns out well for you.

Madondogs Sat 16-Jul-11 15:25:49

Sintendo, another professional who can help you make sense of the process is your midwife. She will be part of the core group, along with the health visitor. Do you have a good relationship with your midwife? You could contact her and voice any queries. Good luck xx

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