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Here are some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on fostering.

Have been asked to consider caring for nieces/nephews. Help!

(27 Posts)
Chigley1 Sun 22-Jul-12 13:16:27

This is the first thread I have started on MN. I'm not even sure I'm asking for advice as I know that's impossible to give really but just wanted the views of people with experience of fostering. I will try to keep brief although it is a very long and sad backstory. I hope I'm not giving too much detail. If so I will delete.

A close family member has multiple children ranging from toddler to teenager in local authority care. We have had some dealing with the eldest and have cared for him for the odd week here or there at mum's request (prior to them being removed from parents). The others (particularly very youngest) we have had very little contact with. They do not 'know' us. I have concerns about them being separated. They are currently cared for in pairs.

We (DH and I) have now been approached by LA to attend a family group conference with a possible view to caring for one or more of the children. We have our own children of 8 & 3. We have one spare bedroom and our finances are pretty tight. I think the LA are intending for any caring arrangements to become permanent.

DH does not want to say no without at least attending meeting. We are both concerned about the impact on our own family but feel so selfish to even think it.

It is a huge decision isn't it? Liasion lady says the case is moving much faster than it would usually and I am conscious of feeling pressured into consenting to being assessed. Just wondering what the most important questions are that we should be asking the social workers when we meet? (very soon)

HaitchJay Sun 22-Jul-12 13:30:25

Ask what they plan regarding legal status of the children?
(Adoption, long term fostering, special guardianship order.) I advise reading up on them too.

Ask about financial support ( most cases this isn't available) especially if you will need to move.

How do they plan contact long term ( with mum/siblings)

What support is available for your family?

Your dh is right not to rush into things and not to be pushed although they will have timescales to make the decision.
Hopefully someone more knowledgable will come along soon but good luck!

Chigley1 Sun 22-Jul-12 15:00:03

Thank you, these are all things I have thought of but need to research a bit more. Are there rules or guidelines about taking children older or younger than your own? We are both self employed and work every hour to send our 2 kids to independent school but make massive sacrifices to do so. Would this go against us, or would they assume we would remove our two from school to help finance? There is no way we can afford to take in another child without assistancesad

NaturalNatures Sun 22-Jul-12 15:27:20

I did do this but in my case the parents weren't allowed contact. They knew where I lived though so ss had to take the children to an unkown address. I'm trying not to give too much detail sorry

SS helped with costs "unofficially" as there was no official help available, I don't think you get the same as a non related foster carer so you'd need to ask.

Do ask as many questions as possible, who has pr, can the parents visit (thats where it fell down in my situation).

It's not an easy situation.

scarlet5tyger Sun 22-Jul-12 15:31:41

I'm not that we'll up on kinship care, or whatever it is now called, but I know that in my area all kinship carers are now paid the same as a non related foster carer, but do have to comply with the same rules re training/inspections etc.

Chigley1 Sun 22-Jul-12 16:10:15

Thanks all. In reality we could only take 1 child. How on earth could we 'choose'?
My head says this probably wouldn't be right for our family but heart says we should help if we can. The last thing I want is to take in one of the poor mites then feel resentful. I feel so awful just thinking it. These are (understandably) quite challenging children.

NanaNina Sun 22-Jul-12 23:24:47

Chigley - if your head is saying that taking in a relative's child would not be right for your family, then you have to listen to your head. There is absolutely no good going ahead with this unless you and your DH are 100% sure that this is something that you want to do.

The LA are clearly hoping that relatives can care for the children, and to be fair they have a duty to ascertain if there is anyone in the extended family who can care for the children.

IF you do go ahead (and please don't let the LA social workers put pressure on you) to take one of these children, you are clear that you would need financial assistance. The thing is that in the past kinship carers were assessed for a particular child, the relative in question, and if approved, then then became kinship foster carers for that child, which meant that the LA were still the corporate parent of the child. Fostering allowances are mandatory and so they would always pay an allowance (but in some cases not as much as non relative carers) it would also mean that there would be 6 monthly reviews, and you would not have Parental Responsibility for the child.

However the LA have now found a nice dodge around this because they will be wanting kinship carers to apply for a Residence Order or a Special Guardianship Order. This means that the LA can close the case because they no longer hold PR. This is shared between the relatives with the careof the child and the birth parents, and this can cause difficulties. Once either of these Orders are made, you are on your own, and will have to sort out any dificulties that arise. Also importantly, finance for ROs and SGOs are discretionary and the Regs for SGOs (which are the most appropriate Order for a relative to have) state that the LA must make finance available to the relatives for the first 2 years of the child moving to relatives. In RO cases, allowances can be paid, but they can be decreased or withdrawn altogether, although the LA will probably tell you that you will always get the alowance, and this isn't the case.

Sorry if I'm piling too much info on you at this stage. You asked about age ranges - the ideal is that there is a 2 year gap between a fostered child and any birthchildren.

I am a retired sw and tm manager in this area of children's services, with 30 years experience. If you want to PM me I'd be happy to help, clarify, advise, whatever.

Chigley1 Mon 23-Jul-12 10:37:35

Thank you so much for your detailed reply. I have read our LA documents on kinship care, there are lots of references to RO and SGO and I do get the impression they are unlikely to offer any significant long term financial help. This alone would make it nigh on impossible for us. Are these allownaces means tested?

Also the parents have a rather violent (on both sides) relationship, and I suspect drugs involved too. I don't think they would bring trouble to our door but obviously as they know where we live what would be to stop them arriving unannounced? They currently have only limited supervised access.

NanaNina Mon 23-Jul-12 12:03:48

The thing is Chigley the only allowances that are mandatory are fostering allowances, and they have to be paid till the child is 18. Before ROs and SGOs came into force, kinship carers were kinship foster carers and ok it meant the LA always in your life (but usually one visit just before the 6th monthly review) but if you had problems or needed advice/support whatever you had the right to expect their involvement.

The allowances for ROs and SGOs are discretionary and to be honest I don 't know if they are means tested but i think not, and because they are discretionary, they can be reduced or stopped altogether. There seems to be a great deal of inconsistency about the amounts paid under these orders. I have a friend who has a RO on her nephew and gets paid £50 per week. Her mother has a RO on her grandchild and gets £125 per week, and they are both in the same LA.

The LA often don't make it clear that the only people who can apply for a RO or SGO are the applicants, and many applicants just don't realise this. They think it's something the LA can apply for, so make sure if you do go ahead that you are aware of this.

You could stick out and say you will only proceed on the basis of being approved as a kinship foster carer. They will then talk about it not being good for a child to spend his childhood in care and not fair for him etc and willassure you they will provide finance. What they won't tell you is that this is much much cheaper for them, because they can close the case (and you are left to deal with any difficulties that arise) and they can reduce the finance or stop it altogether if necessary. I have worked as an independent assessor for fostering and SGOs for 6 years after I retired for an inner city LA and the social workers were pretty clueless. One of them tried to tell me that it was legal that they had to pay for the child throughout his childhood and had told the applicants this, and of course they believed her. I did in the end put her right - I don't think she was trying to pull a fast one - she just didn't know about the Regs.

There is nothing to stop the bps turning up on your doorstep.

If you go for an SGO (don't even think about a RO - it's out of date and there are no Regs attached to it) sws like them because they only have to do a short report to court and hey presto, case closed , whereas the SGO report is far more comprehensive and they also have to do an assesment of your needs, including finance, and the judge won't hear the case unless they have done that......but in either order the bps are highly likely to be awarded contact - usually x 6 per year. YOU will have to deal with this, and either have them to your house or find somewhere else and you will NOT get any help from the LA.

So think twice and thrice is my advice!

Happy to gelp further if necessary

NanaNina Mon 23-Jul-12 12:06:52

meant happy to help not gelp!

Chigley1 Mon 23-Jul-12 13:47:27

Thank you so much; your advice is invaluable. I find it so sad that children are reduced to bits of paper and ticks in boxes. As a former primary teacher I left for that very reason.

I think even if I was 100% sure about taking in one of these children, our financial situation may prevent us from doing it if we cannot be given the support we need. How awful sad We will be attending the meeting to see what comes of it, at least we are now armed with relevant info and can't have the proverbial wool pulled over our eyes. Thanks again, will no doubt think of more questions in the days to come!

NanaNina Mon 23-Jul-12 19:22:16

Yes it is sad that children are as you say are reduced to bits of paper and tick boxes. My son and dil are both primary school teachers and of course this govt is wanting to privatise all public services and pay millions to private companies, regardless of whether they can actually provide a better service.

I think the best thing to do is to go to the meeting but not make any decisions on the day. Sorry I'm sure you realise this....another thought, you could go on the sites for "British Association for Fostering & Adoption" (BAAF) or Fostering Network, which is the national association for foster carers, where you will find a good deal of useful information.

Here to help if necessary.

Chigley1 Mon 23-Jul-12 19:27:47

Thanks again. Will probably be back here once meeting is over, I'm sure.

MadamFolly Mon 23-Jul-12 22:18:46

Something that strikes me is that your children go to private school and there is no way you could fund this for a foster child so they would immedietly be second class citizens in your home which is very unfair on them. And you can't withdraw your own children and disadvantage them to make things fair. sad

Chigley1 Mon 23-Jul-12 23:19:41

I appreciate your point, but not sure I would describe children at state school as second class citizens. My children are completely unaware that we pay for their education, or that there is any difference between their school and another. It simply hasn't come up, although I'm aware this may change as they get older. We couldn't afford to send a third child. But we may need to remove ours anyway if finances don't improve.
I'm going round in circles sad

bonnieslilsister Mon 23-Jul-12 23:24:39

My children go to private school and my 'foslings' are definately not second class citizens, nor feel that way either!

MadamFolly Tue 24-Jul-12 08:54:54

I'm not suggesting that state school kids are second class. I went state, I teach in state and I will send my kids state. I'm just trying to think about how the kids may feel about it.

I knew a family where the boys were sent private and the girl went state. She was terribly bullied at school and felt like her family did not value her as much as her brothers.

bonnieslilsister Tue 24-Jul-12 10:11:13

I think if you are doing short term foster care you don't have the option of deciding what school they go to anyway (even though short term is often not short term) and ss try to keep them at the same school if possible.

AlanaGenge Thu 26-Jul-12 13:23:57

Hi there,

I am currently interning at a Charity which help kinship carers. They give free help and advice to kinship carers (in particular relating to financial support). They also have a network of kinship carers, as well as free events which take place across the country. The website is www.grandparentsplus.org.uk and the advice line is 03001237015

Hope that’s helpful
Alana

Chigley1 Thu 26-Jul-12 13:55:48

Thankyou, will look it up. We have had our meeting and agreed to a viability assessment as I think it's the only way we will get all our questions answered. But still not sure it's right or even possible for us sad. Not sure how I'm going to deal with the guilt.

NanaNina Thu 26-Jul-12 20:28:10

I'm not sure a viability assessment is going to get all your questions answered Chigley - I think you should ask all your questions before you agree to a viability. Did they explain that a "viability assessment" is to see whether it is worth carrying out a full assessment. What is the age of the child you are considering and how does he/she fit with the ages of your birth children.

I really am concerned that you are going into this with a fairly strong feeling (unless I am wrong) that this is not going to be right for your family, and are possibly doing it because you are worried about dealing with the guilt if you don't do it. To be honest I don't think that's a good enough reason to take the step of agreeing to a viability assessment, because the assumption will be that you really want to do this (again I could be wrong - you could have made it clear that you were very unsure)

Sorry to sound so direct...........be interested to hear how things go....

Chigley1 Fri 27-Jul-12 09:15:09

Thank you so much for your concern, NanaNina. I think I will PM you later if that is OK?

NanaNina Fri 27-Jul-12 18:43:08

Yes - no problem.

kerry8888 Sat 11-Feb-17 09:37:04

Hello,

Sorry to drag up an old post and obviously hard feelings.
I am now faced in almost the same position as you were- and like yourself feel wracked with guilt and selfish for thinking that I shouldn't because of my own needs/wants.
Sorry to ask,I just wondered how did you get on?
Many thanks

xStefx Sat 11-Feb-17 11:03:00

My sister in law had to make this decision , her sister kept on having children and they kept on being taken from her. My sister in law has her own 3 children and decided against it ( it was a really hard decision) all kids have since been adopted and are happy.

Only do this if you think your children would cope? Having an extra child in their home permanently would change a lot. Good luck op such a hard thing to have to consider xx

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