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Help! Been asked to kinship foster(19 Posts)
Dh has a godchild (age 6) who is currently temporarily living with her grandparents. however social workers have expressed concern about their age/health and it now appears that what was supposed to be a short term stint with them is going to be considerably longer as the mum is probably going to have the child removed on a more permanent basis.
A social worker is coming round on Wednesday to assess us and our family to see if she could be placed with us.
What questions should we ask him? I know zero about fostering, but I'm happy to welcome this little girl into our family if she needs it. I don't really know her well but Dh has had more contact.
So far my list of questions is
1) will they help get her into the local school?
2) will we have to drive her to the contact centre near her mum or will her mum have to make the journey to us? It's just over an hour drive.
3) will she need her own bedroom or can she share with our dd (age 8). We do have a room that could be turned into a small bedroom (I'd just need to clear out my sewing stuff and buy a bed, decorate, etc - dd has bunkbed already in her room)
4) what social worker help/support/training will be available to us in a kinship fostering arrangement? The little girl is lovely but has had quite a traumatic time and Id probably want advice on how to help her cope with everything.
5) we are in different counties - so will she be under the care of her current county or would be be assigned a more local social worker?
If anyone can answer my questions, or even think of additional questions I should be asking I'd be really grateful!
Unless you know already, you need to ask:
What order would she be placed on.
What rights does that give you (they all vary)
What financial support would you be entitled to.
What support to yourselves (short and long term) envisage.
How long do they anticipate social care being involved.
What will the level of contact be?
Who will supervise contact in the short and long term?
Hope this helps. X
I’d want to know about rights, under what circumstances it could be revoked and I’m afraid what money you’d get. Not because you wouldn’t do it without the money, but because being able to buy new furniture if you have to, take the pressure off via help around the house, a bigger car etc. will smooth over a lot of the bumps.
In my limited experience, they will try to dump and run, leaving you with sole responsibility but no actual rights. DO not allow this.
And don’t get too excited or invested in offers of support because it might well not happen.
Re contact, it’s complicated- if it’s in the child’s best interest don’t jump at the opportunity to make it near you not her mother. I’m guessing her life is quite chaotic and if it’s too hard to get to you it might well not happen
That's where the money comes in, if you’re supported enough so that if mum doesn’t turn up you can compensate slightly with a trip home via McD or a park rather than sitting their fuming at the petrol money or loss of earnings it’ll make it smoother for you all.
Thank you for all the replies. They are slightly scary
I don't relish the idea of a 'dump and run' - I guess I'd naively assumed there would be a gradual introduction involving weekend sleepovers before care plan was finalised - just to check it would all work out and little girl would be happy living with us. Is this something I could ask for/suggest/insist on?
I will insist they clarify our rights before we take the child - what should I be looking for?
Money - thanks for this. I hadn't thought about querying this. Will social services provide money to cover new school uniform, swimming lessons (both my dc go weekly), etc?
In terms of support, finances, rights etc it all depends what order she is placed on as there are 3 different possibilities. A care order means that essentially you are foster career and have no parental rights. The local authority hold parental rights and delegate to you. They will remain involved unless the base returns to court to vary the order but it will mean 6-12 weekly visits, training, panels, regular meetings, expectations of foster careers such as not taking out of school during term time. You will be paid as a foster career. special guardianship order means you have over Riding rights to the parents and it's similar to adoption. They have a duty to assess you financially but not to provide money. Child arrangement ordernis similar to to special guardianship however tour parental rights aren't as high and the authority have no duty to support you. In terms of introductions they will be under strict court timescales so may be under pressure to place her quickly to determine her long term plan which is normal. You should seek legal advice and a solicitor will support you and advocate on your behalf in court x
How will your other children cope?
How long are you willing to commit for?
What if you would like another birth child?
You clearly care for her already - how will you feel if she is moved on/back home?
May I say how kind you are and how lucky she is to be joining you ( she is clearly not lucky in another sense iyswim).
Social worker is looking at an sgo - but on questioning what help and support we'd get he said that for the first 2 years I'd have access to a designated social worker/team but after that we'd be completely on our own. Like a slightly postponed dump and run. So is actually true? I imagine that this girl will need an awful lot of support plus therapy to heal her mental trauma and 2years worth of support may well not be enough.
Financial assistance would not be guaranteed (dh earns a good salary) and would also be for max of 2 years - although we could ask her mum to contribute financially <hollow laugh at the likelihood of that ever happening>. So we would be expected to fund her totally for the next 12 years.
I did ask if I could request continued help from social services past the 2 years but he said no. Is this really true? Because if it is I'm shocked!
I don't know how any of this works, but I wanted to thank you for being so open to helping this little girl.
Hello again. Have heard from the social worker today. They want to put us forward as special guardians. However before we proceed any further please could someone tell me if it is mostly impossible for us to get more than 2 years support (both financially and in more practical terms) ? It's just that I imagine this little girl will need a lot of support now and also in the future to help her deal with her early childhood and I want someone else also fighting her corner rather than it all being down to me.
There are some embedded mental health posts in looked after childrens social work teams, but in my experience specialist support is very limited and you would likely be accessing it through the local CAMHS team along with everyone else.
Glad you are asking the right questions. You both need to reflect very seriously on what would be a very significant change for your family. Hope you and DH can have some frank discussions and don’t feel you can’t express any feelings - better on the table now. A frighteningly large number of adoptions ‘fail’ and it honestly is better to say if there are insurmountable barriers.
I am a kinship carer and get nothing, neither support or financial help from social services.
Unfortunately, like education and the NHS, SS are severely underfunded and if you don’t jump through the right hoops in the right order you may get nothing.
People often find that SGO allowances and support are stopped after a short time.
I would suggest contacting Family Rights Group on the above link.
Kinship Foster Carer’s fb group also has a lot of very experienced and knowledgeable people who can guide you through the process and answer your questions. I’ve learned so much from them.
Good luck and I am happy for you to contact me any time if I can help in any way.
The family rights group/link isn’t working but it is there if you google it.
Tried copying it again.
Their helpline number is 0808 801 0366
I have nothing helpful to add, but couldn't leave without saying how wonderful I think you and your husband are, and your children of course!
What an incredible selfless thing to do xx
Thank you all. I keep swaying between yes and no... it's concerning that no one has come on here to reassure me that social services will automatically do all they can to help!
@woodpigeons - is it that you don't get any help because you don't need it, or is it that you would like/do actually need some extra support but just can't access it?
Thank you for the link to frg - I will call them tomorrow for some more advice.
@BrownTurkey yes, lots of discussion happening between me and dh. We are both on the same page mostly but we keep thinking up 'but what if' scenarios and go back to talking again....
We're special guardians to our great granddaughter. We have had no help, financially or otherwise, since the order was made. SGO means effectively the child is your responsibility. We wouldn't not have her, but you have effectively adopted a child.
Good luck, best thing we ever did because we love her
@DragonScales our arrangement is considered a ‘private’ one by SS so we aren’t eligible for any help. They say they never had any parental responsibility. I don’t think that would be the situation in your case but just be aware of all the implications before you agree to anything.
As retired grandparents with a teenager we manage but extra money would mean more for our child.
I fought for support for 10 years but gave up eventually.
It wasn’t only about money. We have a child with disabilities and attachment disorder so support for him would have made a lot of difference. Luckily nursery and schools have been amazing. I don’t think we could have managed without them.
FRG are great and I would also think about joining the fb group. Lots of kinship carers there looking after grandchildren, even great grandchildren, their brothers and sisters, nephews, nieces, in fact all types of different family members. Lots of knowledgeable people with different experiences and all willing to help and support new members.
SS, from what I hear from others, do push for SGO as it effectively lets them off the hook. CAO (formerly residence order) also does so and the only way you can be sure of getting the support you want is by kinship fostering. I would think that in the short term, at least, that would be better for you.
It would also be cheaper for SS than paying a non Kinship foster carer as they get a two part allowance, a wage element plus money for child support.
Kinship foster carers do not get the wage element so although they may press you to get an SGO they are unlikely to refuse kinship fostering if there is no other viable alternative.
With SGO and CAO social services would no longer have any parental responsibility as this would be shared between you and the child’s parents.
The parental responsibility bit is crucial. Once SS no longer have it they no longer have any responsibility at all for the child. They might give some short term support but really they are under immense financial pressure so it cannot be relied upon.
You have such a difficult decision to make for your whole family. I am sure the places I have mentioned can give you a lot more information and help in making that decision and I am happy for you to PM me when I will be able to talk more openly about our circumstances.
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