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Just recieved my viability assesment report and...(12 Posts)
Further to my other thread. I have recieved my report and am more unhappy than I was before.
Basically it is an outstandingly glowing report. Everything is very positive about our parenting skills and what they think we could offer the girls.
It states that the only reason we have been refused is because of our Christian belief in forgiveness.
I wrote a letter to my uncle when he was first imprisoned. Explaining that he wasn't beyond redemption or God's forgiveness. The social workers have said in the report that this suggests that we would allow him to see the children even if he is not allowed. They have based our refusal on an assumption. A wrong and invalid assumption.
Our christian beliefs also teach us that submission to authority is important. I have told the social services that we would happily abide by any restrictions they imposed upon us. But it appears they dont believe us Our solicitor said if we pay them they can represent us in court on thursday. But we cant afford it. They said we could drive up on thursday, we wont get into court as we are not party to proceedings but they might hear us out. We cant afford that either.
The only hope we are clinging too is the children's gaurdian. I have telephoned her and urged her to look closely at our report (she hadn't seen it at that point), and ask the courts to reconsider assessing us. She was having an advocacy meeting to discuss this this morning. I just hope she can see sense.
What else can I do. I feel if we were Muslin or any other religion they wouldn't dare discriminate against our belief's but because we are christians in a supposedly christian country it is ok.
We have been nothing but honest with them. Patient and courteous. They dont seem to understand that the same reasons we have acted this way to them (they messed us around alot)is the same reason we believe in the forgiveness of my uncle. But we are still bound to act within the law and any requirements set by them.
I feel let down by the social services, I just feel it is an incredible injustice given that the rest of the report was so good.
I have many years experience in fostering and adoption for a LA but am now retired. I have never heard of anything so ridiculous. I don't know the details of your case, but assume these are children of relatives you are wanting to foster? The SW has a duty to ensure that under no circumstances would you allow any contact between the children and the perpetrator of the abuse (presumably your uncle) but your christian beliefs that he is not beyond redemption (which is not something that many people would agree with) but you still have a right to your beliefs.
What matter is being heard in court on Thursday - is this the final hearing or just a directions hearing. Your solicitor should be able to make you party to the proceedings which would allow you to be heard in court.
If the children's guardian is on your side, you stand a very good chance as guardian's are very influential in court,
Happy to help any more if I can.
Pinkdolly - have just read you other thread so am a bit more in the picture. Am I right in assuming that this is a sexual abuse case? If so the sw has a duty to ensure that there will be no further contact of any kind between the children and the perpetrator. I'm afraid to say that pereptrators of sexual abuse are very very unlikely to change and any kind of contact would put the children at risk. Forgive me if I have got this wrong, but it just sounds like it to me.
However you appear to have made it clear to the sws that you will not allow contact if this is what is required. I was a little concerned that your uncle is terrified of the children being adopted and him never being able to see them again, because if my assumptions are correct, he should not be allowed contact. The sws are clearly concerned on this issue.
However if they have realy only "assessed" you for 30 minutes on the phone this is quite ridiculous and goes against the National Minimum Standards of Fostering Regulations which is a legal issue. It sounds to me as if they are trying to "blow you out of the water" which is totally unfair. Clearly I cannot comment on your suitability or otherwise, but you have the right to be properly assessed. In fact if the sws go to court and make it known that they have ruled you out on the basis of a phone call, they can expect a rocket from the judge!
Someone has mentioned Special Guardianship Order and you have a right to make application for this Order. You have to give the LA 3 months notice of your intention to make this application and they are duty bound to carry out an incredibly comprehensive assessment. The issues that have to be covered in this kind of report have actually been laid down by parliament and has to be followed precisely. A SGO if granted gives you parental rights of the children and is only 1 step away from adoption. The completed report has to go to court and a judge makes the decision, whereas a fostering report just goes to the Fostering Panel. If the social workers give a positive recommendation they also have to complete another report for the Judge on what support services they intend to offer (e.g. practical/financial etc) If the Order is granted you are no longer connected to the SSD unless they ask for a 1 year Supervision Order,which is meant to offer you support. The SGO secures the children's future, but the LA would have to be absolutely certain about the contact issue because if a SGO is granted, you are as I said no longer connected to the social services dept. If you google Special Guardianship Order there is loads of information.
Someone mentioned that guardians are there to see that sws do their job properly and this is not the case. The task of the guardian is to ensure that the best interests of the children are served. He/she will instruct a solicitor to act for the children in court. She will make thorough interviews of all concerned and will make a recommendation. Sometimes guardians agree with the LA and sometimes they oppose them, but as I said before, guardians are very influential in court.
If you can let me know where you are up to with the court proceedings I can advide further if you wish.
Thanku Nina- The case is a sexual abuse one against his wife, but with the youngest being present, the youngest being under a year old at the time (i dont know exactly).
My uncle has just said he would be happy if someone from his family has the girls even if he is unable to see them. I suppose he would hope that when they were old enough (over 18) they might come looking for him).
On thursday the social workers have to submit all the viability reports to court to ascertain whether any interested parties will be given a full foster carers assesment (so a directions hearing). Care proceedings were started in April.
I know most people would not agree that my uncle should be forgiven for his crime. But we are called not to judge, so we dont. At the time we have given our absoloute assurance that would abide by the rules of the SW and we would.
If the same sw would be assessing us for a special gaurdianship order and they have already made theri mind up, are they likely to just go through the motions and give say no at the end anyway (I feel they had already decided against us before the assessment).
I have spoken to the childrens gaurdian and she has been extremly helpful. She said if she felt the SW hadn't given a full and proper assesment or that we should have been passed then she will say something in court.
But she hadn't read the report herself at that stage.
I did re-iterate to her that we would never allow my uncle to see the girls if he wasn't allowed.
oops, sorry forgot i namechanged for something else earlier
Hi pinkdolly - as this is just a directions hearing, you have time on your side. I understand now that the LA have just done a viability report in the hope that the court will agree there is no need to carry out a full assessment. As the guardian is helpful it sounds like she will "fight your corner" in court.
I'm not sure if it would be the same sw for the SGO because different LAs have their own arrangements for assessments. If you apply for a SGO there is absolutely no way that the sw can "go through the motions" because the matters that must be addressed are laid down by parliament and must be followed to the letter. If you do go down this route you can ask the assessing sw to let you have a copy of the details of the SG report. SWs carrying out SG reports (and I have done several) whilst working as an independent sw, know that they have to really be ultra careful and evidence what they are saying because a Judge is going to be reading the report, which for a sw is more anxiety provoking than the report just being submitted to the Fostering Panel.
I'm not sure why you don't have a solicitor to represent you - are you not eligible for legal aid? At the final hearing anyone who has written a report must expect to be cross examined at length and if the recommendation is not positive, then the solicitor for the applicants will spend a significantly long time cross examining the sw in question, and the judge makes the decision based on all of the facts.
The one thing I wonder about is the fact that the children you want to care for are very young and the same age as your own children. Have I got that right? This could present some difficulties in terms of meeting the needs of all your children, though by no means impossible, and you say that the sws are positive about your parenting capacity.
Keep me posted.............if you wish
Thanx Nina- We do have a solicitor, but our legal aid does not cover us for in court representation. We would have to pay for that and we just cant afford that.
So who would I apply for a sgo? through my solicitor?
I am waiting for a phone call this afternoon from the girls gaurdian to let me know what she thinks of our case.
Yes the youngest is 3 months older than my youngest and the oldest is 3 months oldar than my dd3. We know this would prevent challenges. But in the past I have home-schooled my 4 so used to having them all at home (now 3 of them at school). DD3 will be full time in october. And my youngest was a nightmare baby, had terrible colick for 6 months and cried all the time. It was really really hard work but I feel it has prepared me well for having more children.
Yes the sw were very complementary of our parenting skills and felt we had a lot to offer in that department. There was no mention whatsoever in the report that they felt the ages of my 2 youngest would cause any problems in looking after the other two.
I will let you know when i have heard anything else.
Thanx again for you advice
I think you need to think of the best way of securing the future of these children for their lifetime. Permanent fostering for such young children is inappropriate really because they won't have a normal life, sws will always be in and out of their lives, reviews every 6 months etc etc. Also the children will feel different from your own children. They will be different of course and you can't alter that, but the difference would be underlined by continued social work involvement. The only advantage of permanent fostering is that the LA have to pay fostering allowances (they don't usually pay kinship carers a fee as they do ordinary carers) but they allowances have to be paid.
With the SGO the children's future will be secured. There is a right of appeal from a parent but this is not automatic. The Judge has to be convinced that there has been a fundamental change in the circumstances of the parent before he will even agree to hear the case. You do need to be sure about finances though because these are discretionary and can be withdrawn, and with 2 extra children you are certainly going to need financial assistance. It is however written into the SGO rules that no placement should break down for financial reasons. The SGO is relatively new legislation (about 4 or 5 years ago it came into force) and is much the best route for permanency in situations like yours.
You ask how to go about it. Firstly you need to have some written information/guidance about SGO and the sws should be able to provide this for you. This should explain what is entailed. If youy decide to go down this route you advise the sws that this is your intention and write a short letter to say that your intention is to make application to the court for a SGO in respect of the 2 children.
It is then up to the sws to put the wheels in motion to carry out the assessment and give you explanations and answer any queries that you might have.
Most applicants have a solicitor to advise if necessary and to present your case to the ccourt. However it is not essential, but if you were unable to afford this, then you could represent yourselves in court. Much will depend on the recommendation of the report. If it is a positive recommendation and the Judge agrees, and the sws have covered everything (including support services) then he will make the Order.
If it is a negative recommendation that is when you will really need a solicitor to ac for you, to cross examine the sw who has written the report and he/she will need to be able to answer any questions put to her. It is more usual for counsel (a barrister) to appear in court but the solicitor does all the work behind the scenes if you see what I mean.
Who is caring for the children at the moment. Where is the mother - do you already have a good relationship with the children. If so this should carry a lot of weight. Also the guardian's take on the matter will be important.
If it is agreed at the directions hearing that you should be properly assessed then you simply tell the sw that you wish to make application for an SGO (don't let them talk you into a Residence Order) because there are no rules and regulations attached to Residence Orders like there are for SGOs, and it entails less work for the sw!
I am still concerned that you are not getting legal aid - is this because of your income.
I will have a look on the sites where you can get info on SGOs and come back to you.
If you just type Special Guardianship Order into google a whole load of stuff comes up BUT I'm sorry I had forgotten that there are rules about who can apply for this Order.
If the children are in the care of the LA (and I am assuming they are) then you can only apply with the consent of the LA, OR with the consent of those who have parental responsibility for the child, which of course is the parents, so if the children are in care you will need their consent to apply for an SGO. Sorry I had forgotten there were rules about this.
However If the directions hearing direct that you should be properly assessed you could be assessed for permanent fostering and if the recommendation is negative,, you can appeal to the Senior Managers of the LA. If it is positive,, then you could take the children on the basis of permanent fostering and once they have lived with you for 3 years you are entitled to make application for an SGO.
Have a look at the sites. A good site is the British Agencies for Fostering and adoption (BAAF). There is also a Family Rights group (you'll have to google them or info may be available on the BAAF website) who may be able to give you good advice.
Sorry if I have confused you - I'm a bit rusty in parts!
I expected something like this from the other thread & it looks like an expert found you!
Not sure I can be any more help but will watch the thread in case.
Hi I am after a little bit of advice my husband and I have just need given a negative viability assessment for the long term care of my grandchildren, they are saying the reason behind this is a historical domestic violence incident and that I have broken the care plan by letting my husband see them but they are still in my care jointly with my mum
Hi I am after a little bit of advice my husband and I have just been given a negative viability assessment for the long term care of my grandchildren, they are saying the reason behind this is a historical domestic violence incident and that I have broken the care plan by letting my husband see them but they are still in my care jointly with my mum
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