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Why a reluctance to go for a Court Order

(22 Posts)
p99gmb Wed 23-Mar-11 19:38:33

Hi everyone.

Just wanting some insight into why SS may be reluctant to go for a court order..

Been fostering 6 months and have 2 siblings placed with us for 6 mths so far but voluntarily. Had been left inappropriately with an aunt, SS had been working with mum, and 'heresay' of neglect.

Mum refused to see kids for first 5 weeks and despite SW saying on the day she brought the kids to us that she was going for a Court Order, hasn't.

Contact been very hit and miss. Verbally agressive to professionals infront of the kids and some basic needs not being addressed in the 2hr supervised contact.

Then a month ago, a PLO meeting was held as she was threatening to take the kids away. Given 6 weeks to get her act together and not miss one contact session, else they'd go for the order 'immediately'. Well, she missed 2 and no order was made. A review after the 6 weeks was that we'll see how the next 4 weeks ago and then review it all again.

Contact is going well. Its more the 'behind the scenes' work that isn't going well at all. Yesterday and today, apparently all hell has let loose and when turning up for contact been very aggressive and swearing, throwing things across the room. SW told us they'd see how things went...

She was in ill for 7/10 days back in Nov last year, and when I ask the SW they say if they went for a court order they say she'll throw the 'i've been ill' card..

Have any of you experience of situations like this, and if you're out there NanaNina - be really glad of your view...

fostering Wed 23-Mar-11 22:07:39

It costs money for a court order and plenty of work to prepare for court.
Time and money, 2 things SW's have in short supply

maypole1 Wed 23-Mar-11 22:25:25

The legal team might not think mums case meets the thresholds last thing they want is to be berated in court

Sorry to tell you we were in a similar situation to you almost 3 years on and its only just gone to court for a full care order they allow the parents more time to muck about god only knows why

maypole1 Wed 23-Mar-11 22:39:32

For some reason the judges in the court love to give the parents chance after chance after all they dont see the children crying when the parent hasnt turned up or the parent telling the sw to shove it all they see is parents suited and booted saying it wasnt their fault the sw didnt .......... Or i wasnt told .......... By sw

I wish the judges really took on bord the parents no shows has on the children

Sorry to be glum but welcome to the world of fostering were the parents wants out weigh the childs needs

NanaNina Wed 23-Mar-11 23:06:35

I agree with Maypole that the LA lawyer may not think that there is sufficient evidence to prove to the court that there is a need for an Interim Care Order (this is the usual course of action whilst assessments continue) prior to a final hearing. The fact that mother is agreeing to the children being looked after on a voluntary basis would make it more difficult to prove the need for a Care Order. Within the terms of the Children Act 1989 there is something called the "no order principle" which means that the Judge has to be absoutely certain that an Order is necessary to protect the child. Again where there is parental consent to the children being looked after, there would have to be very hard evidence that an Order was needed to protect them.

Every looked after child has to have a Care Plan and I am assuming that the care plan at present is for the children to be reunited with mother at some point in the future. While ever this is the care plan, it would make no sense at all to go to Court for a Care Order. It is only when reunification has been ruled out and the care plan is changed, to place the children for adoption or permanent fostering, is the right course of action to apply to the court for a Care Order (for permanent fostering|) or a Placement Order (if the plan is adoption) I don't think you gave the ages of the children.

Another difficult (which Maypole alludes to) is that once an application is made to the Court for a Care or Placement Order, every person who makes a statement to the court - social workers, team managers, psychologists, pyschiatrists (in some cases) GPs, Health Visitors, and any other professional who has been involved with the children, must be absolutely sure that they can evidence what is in their statement. It is no use saying "I don't think Mrs x can provide safe suitable care for the child" - evidenc has to be provided i.e "on (whatever date) i witnessed Mrs x slapping the child repeatedly for a minor misdemeanour. All professionals will be subjected to 3/4 hours of cross examination by the lawyer for the parents, and whilst I don't object to this, as this is childrens lives we are talking about, they do need to be able to give evidence based responses to the lawyers or barristers for the parents.

I do understand the frustration of foster carers, who are of the view that the parent's needs are put before those of the child, and I have a great deal of sympathy with this view, and think that decisions about a child's future should be made much earlier, but the double bind is you can't go to court until you have sufficient evidence. I have to say I have found judges very astutue in weighing up the evidence presented by the LA and that present ed by counsel for the parents. If the judge is convinced that the LA have made every effort to work in partnership with the parents (another duty enshrined inthe Children Act) and that has failed and is convinced by the evidence presented by the LA, then he will make an Order. If however he is of the view that the parents have not been given every opportunity to have contact with their children or is not convinced by the LA evidence, he will not make the Order and send the soc works off to make further assessments. Then of course the child is left in limbo with all the problems that that poses.

I would ask you social worker what the care plan is for the children you are fostering. You should know anyway because you should be invited to any case conferences or statutory reviews on the child. This might make things a little clearer for you.

maypole1 Wed 23-Mar-11 23:50:41

I do agree with all you said but it seems they are seeing if the parent will fail at the child exspence

So they can evidence this somtimes it cancels out the good that is done by removing a child from a home early buy then exposing them to weekly no shows. BY their parents my issue is not that they have to gatjer evidnece of the parent not attending but the amount of no shows it takes before they call time onthe whole thing really 5 weeks of no shows pretty much tell us somthing .

Gurr chin up pet i think though sw should not really be making threats if their not going to follow it to the. End like our wise old nanna said talk to sw also would find out when the lack is .

I would ask for a contact review were you can out line the problems of mum not turing pu maybe they can sortsomthing out were by if they dot here from mum by a certian time the day before to confirm the contact then they will take it shes not coming

maypole1 Wed 23-Mar-11 23:51:25

Sorry for my spelling darn i pad

caz2go Thu 24-Mar-11 09:29:30

Our f/d has a full care order ,but by the time this was made she was deemed too old for adoption (9) she is now 10 .
She is with us on a permanent placement and has contact with Mum 6 times a year which is supervised .
It breaks my heart when lo is so looking forward to seeing mum and she doesnt turn up,saying she needs to move on with her life ! ,as lo is on a full care order I cant see this changing as its allready been to court .
caz x

p99gmb Thu 24-Mar-11 18:49:11

Thanks everyone for your insight... I suppose it makes sense that if they don't NEED to go for one, they don't - although we were told it would help because then they could have a psychiatric assessment done on Mum as part of the process.

LO's are 2 and 2.9mths old - so I think (and hope) that the SW's aren't going to allow this limbo to go on for too much longer - the care plan was for them to return home, but after 6 mths in care and things no better, I think they have even mentioned that the kids need a permanent home, somewhere if not with mum.

Its all so sad, she herself was in care, and so the very people who now want to help her are the people she feels let down by, and so the vicious circle goes around..

Contact didn't happen at all this week - but at least we had it sorted out in the very early days that I don't leave the house until she has arrived at the centre, but saying that, the older LO does ask if mum's open!!

Next LAC review is end of April so will see what the plan is... last week SW said we could take them abroad (after initially saying no) so I guess that gives us some indication of how things are (not) going..

This 'limbo' is taking some getting used to!!! wink

fostering Thu 24-Mar-11 19:59:44

Nananina - have you ever thought of writing a book?
"Fostering made easy"

NanaNina Thu 24-Mar-11 21:03:13

Oh fostering - you are funny - and so complimentary - thing is there are lots of books about fostering as you probably know, but they tell you what is supposed to happen as opposed to what does actually happen! Glad I can help bit on these threads.

shaz298 Thu 24-Mar-11 22:19:54

Nana, maybe you can do a How fostering really is and why, book then.

slipperandpjsmum Fri 25-Mar-11 17:27:45

Nanaina I am a Social Worker and agree with your comment about what happens and what is supposed to happen. All other assesssments have been stopped for our LA now. SW are usually the only assessments going to court as a result of cut backs.

NanaNina Fri 25-Mar-11 18:13:54

Shaz - not sure I could do that for a variety of reason, the main one being I have never written a book in my life!! Seriously every LA is different but because of the viscous cuts in all public services, there are going to be more and more difficulties in social services. I do of course accept that some sws would be best off in another job (have met a few in my long career!) but to be honest the job is becoming almost impossible - 30 and 40% vacancy rates in the inner cities, sws off with stress related illness, impossibly high caseloads, little support for sws,managers who are either inexperienced or incompetent (or both) but they are being squeezed by senior managers to make cuts.
Having said all that I know how frustrated foster carers have got at some of social services rules and regs and inconsistency, dependent on the social workers involved etc. I suppose I am saying things will get worse as these cuts really begin to bite. I blame this coalition government - don't usually talk politics on MN, but I do feel strongly that they are cutting all public services and dismantling the NHS - better stop before I get carried away.

NanaNina Fri 25-Mar-11 18:22:41

Hi slippers and pjs - bet you look forward to those after a hard day at the coal face! Not sure how long you have been around but I remember a time when this was the norm, just the sw and guardian's report went into court. I know how things changed, and that a psychologist assessment is the norm now. In a way I think social workers have become de-skilled as a result of all these other assessments, and they are the ones that know the case inside out. Mind I am aware that sometime psychologists reports are really useful they (and guardian's reports) are very influential in courts aren't they. Another subtle way in which social worker's reports are overlooked.

As I was just saying to shaz things are only going to get worse aren't they and I honestly can't imagine why anyone would want to go into child protection these days. After I retired in 2004 from the LA I worked for an agency but on an independent basis (was self employed - the agency just made a lot of money out of us!) and I have done several independent parenting assessments when it has been agreed bythe judge and all the parties. No doubt these wil stop too. Have also done assessments in private law in the family courts re residence/contact battles but decided not to go near them any more as they were far too fraught!

I am still in touch with some of my old colleagues and they tell me it is dire now in children's services and this was one of the shire counties and we got 3 stars! (Not sure if they still have them) but it has all gone downhill apparently so god knows what's happening in the inner cities.

slipperandpjsmum Fri 25-Mar-11 21:31:31

Do you do supervision on a private basis NanaNina?????

Again agree with everything you are saying but must add I am an Inner City Child Protection SW and I love my job.

NanaNina Sun 27-Mar-11 19:43:35

Hi Slipper and pjs - congratulations at loving your job as a sw in a cp team in an inner city......I take my hat off to you! I loved every day of my job too, (though not cp in innercity) fostering & adoption tm mgr in shire county for last 15 years of my work. Maybe I am being a bit too pessimistic and I honestly am pleased tohear that sws in cp can still love their job. I suppose now I am out of sw all I really hear from my old colleagues is that "everything is awful and there's no money and can't recruit and retain staff etc."

Not sure if you are serious about private supervision but always happy to help on the threads wherever I can. It would be interesting to know if the LA you work for is experiencing significant vacancy rates, staff off with stress, agency workers etc.

When I was working independently I did a lot of work for an inner city SSD and I felt really sorry for the sws as many of them were overloaded with case loads and had not got managers experienced or competent enough to help them. I did loads of "supervision" on the phone with these sws because I felt so sorry for them. My involvement was assessment of prospective adoptors and foster carers and SGOs. The poor social workers had no idea about planning for permanency and often the managers were just as bad, so I did a lot of work that I wasn't paid for but as I say I felt so sorry for these young soc wrks battling away without any real support. This LA was in fact declared "unfit for purpose" by OFSTED.

Anyway it has done me good to know there are still cp sws out there in the inner cities getting a lot of enjoyment out of the job. It has given me a useful and different perspective of life at the coal face!

p99gmb Sat 16-Apr-11 19:35:24

Kids not seen her for 2 weeks - she now pregnant shock - SW went to see her yesterday to tell her that going for a court order..

Still reeling from it all - what an introduction to fostering - what did we expect tho - silly us!!

Anyone any experiences similar to share?

NanaNina Sat 16-Apr-11 21:33:43

p99gmb - glad the LA have finally got their act together and are going to court. I imagine their application will be for a Placement Order give that these children are relatively young, and it should not be too difficult to find an adoptive family for them.

Didn't realise you were new to fostering - I don't think this case was particularly unusual to be honest because as I said before the LA have to be able to demonstrate to the court that they have tried to keep the family together and made efforts for mother to have contact with her children. Sometimes it is playing the waiting game re contact, so that they can go to court saying "out of x number of contact arrangements set up, mother only kept to the arrangement on x number of occasions. Every sw knows onlytoo well that it is no use going to court unless you can evidence that the children have suffered significant harm and rehab is not in their best interests.

There will lots more thrills and spills in your fostering career. Not sure if you are IFA or LA carers but certainly most LAs provide on going training for carers and there are formal and informal meetings of foster carers - coffee mornings etc and you can learn a lot from experienced carers.

p99gmb Tue 28-Jun-11 19:30:53

Ok, well heard today from mum that the court date is Friday.. apparently been a long wait due to not being a 'priority' as kids already in care (s20).

Mum said she didn't think they'd be granted PR and was going to appeal against it.

Its a Protection Order they're going for, not a placement order.

Anyone know if she makes the appeal on the day before the judge or if PR is granted to the LA does she appeal afterwards?

Anyone know if its usually granted to the LA?

Guess I got a few sleepless nights to come... I dread to think what will happen if they don't get it granted.. she could demands the kids back immediately!! <<selfish emotion>>

NanaNina Wed 29-Jun-11 20:27:55

Hi p99gmb - just happened to see this and remembered it from back in the spring. To be honest I don't understand your post. If this is the final hearing then the LA have to state in their care plan what arrangements are going to be put into place if the judge agrees that the children should not be re-united with bm (assume she is contesting?)Are you in the UK as if not I don't know about the child care laws (even in Scotland they are very different)

If you are in the UK I don't know what a Protection Order is - there is something called an Emergency Protection Order and it may be that the LA are going for this if bm is threatening to remove children - if I remember rightly, they are looked after under S.20 aren't they (voluntary) - EPOs are a way of the LA getting Parental Responsibility for a child. The matter is heard in the family proceedings court and magistrates like the parents to be present to hear their side of the case. The decision will be made at that hearing, but only lasts for 7 days and that gives the LA time to get in an application for an Interim Care Order, that is assuming the EPO is granted. The ICOs will continue while assessments are made etc and there will be a final hearing to decide on the child's future.

If it is not this, then I don't realy understand what is happening.

What does occur to me though is that your sw should be keeping you abreast of developments and explaining exactly what Order they are going for in court. It is wholly unprofessional to keep the foster carer out of the loop. You need to assert yourself and ask the sws what exactly is happening in this case.

p99gmb Wed 29-Jun-11 20:54:56

thanks for taking the time NanaNina.. really hoped you'd see it..

its not a final hearing.. i've been told its a Care Order to let the courts decide if the kids should be returned or be placed for adoption.. if PR is granted to the LA, they'll start 9 months (minimum) of assessments on mum, a child guardian will be appointed to see us with the kids, to observe mum with the kids etc etc.. this is what i've been told.. you may remember these are my first and so i've seriously got my L plates on!!

yes, kids have been with me for 10mths voluntarily on a S20..

I guess its this Interim Care Order.. it sounds like it..

Mum told me - I've not even heard from my Sw or the kids SW.. despite being promised to be kept in the 'loop' and the more I ask, the more I feel like I am being kept out of the loop so I made a decision to stay really quiet and wait to hear from them.. I'm still waiting..

Does she contest it at the hearing or does she do this after it (if) has been granted? In your experience do the LA's NEARLY ALWAYS get the care order granted? I'm really trying to put my trust into the SW and her legal team but I feel so drip fed information that I can't help but have doubts..

then again I say to myself that its not really any of my business.. .its my business to look after the kids - period - but then I think that how can I plan (say a nursery place for september) if I don't know what their plans are etc etc... grrrrr

guess I don't want to appear as a 'needy' foster carer - I know they think I'm doing a brilliant job with the kids - they've told me... but I don't want to be a pain in the neck... confused

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