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Where do I go from here ? Social Services. (long sorry!)

(50 Posts)
mumgointhroughtorture Sun 05-Feb-17 10:10:34

My kids are in long term foster care and have been in care since May 2012. I get 6 times a year court ordered contact. Since my children have been in long term fc my DD (nearly 10) has missed several contacts. Then the middle of last year our social worker at the time became so overwhelmed with the job she started failing in her responsibilities. I went to management and she left the job. She gave my DDs carers the wrong contact details in June last year and she missed the contact. So we were at this point owed 3 hours for contact. We were took on by another sw and within a couple of months she found she couldn't work with my DS (nearly 13) so he was given a male sw . My DD's sw was absolutely fantastic to start with. She was encouraging me to do assessments to get my DD home. She was ringing me daily and Then we got to Christmas .

Christmas contact was arranged and we were given an hour less contact coz of the contact team messing up dates. I complained and my DS's sw said to take the contact and they would make the hour up . My DD decided apparently she was finding contact hard over xmas so she told her sw who arranged with me to do the contact herself the second week in January. This week came and went. Despite me complaining to her numerous times. I spent a whole day ringing SS and got fobbed off , everyone was in meetings or engaged . Management won't even take my calls. The receptionist just kept trying to get me to speak to my SW and put me through to her. At that point I had a contact in place for 28th Jan and I knew her plan was to hold it out til then. I told her this and she said it wasn't.

So the 28th Jan came. I asked the contact centre manager to make sure both DC were coming to contact at the cinema . She said she would check and get back to me. She didn't. Day of contact came and the worker couldnt get in touch with DD's carers so assumed they were on their way. Then she said my DS was in respite and neither his own carers nor the respite carer had any idea contact was happening. So his SW hadn't informed anyone and my DD didn't turn up either despite repeated calls to her carer. I phoned and text her SW and no response. Then halfway through contact the worker said my Sister and my Nephew wasnt allowed at contact and they had to leave! The sw had took them off the contact even though it was agreed by the LAC reviewing officer that contact was family every time now. We spent half an hour with the worker on her phone backwards and forwards with calls to confirm this. This ruined contact for us all.

So now I'm owed 9 hours with my DD and an hour with my DS.
The LA have broke a care order , I'm ordered to see my DD 6 times a year , last year I saw her 4 ! When I told the SW she tried to tell me my contact was reduced to 4 times anyway , I told her No , the LA wanted 4 times but it was agreed with the previous sw that I'm a positive in my 's lives and she was happy to keep it at 6. She then backtracked and agreed it was 6.
I've not seen my DD since October. My DC dont get sibling contact so they haven't seen each other either.
I wrote off a 6 page email to the chief of our LA SS Monday morning. I got a reply back saying that he would look into it but haven't heard anything since. No contact with the SW's. No management involvement. I work full time now 8-4pm and can't answer my phone during work hours. I want to take it back to court but I would probably lose my job taking time off because I've only been there 3 weeks. I feel like I'm banging my head against a brick wall whilst losing my DD. Shes been lied to a lot during this and atm they keep telling me shes not in a great place and shes playing up at school and feeling really unsettled. Shes been moved a lot and shes struggling to attach to anyone and then they do this. I feel like they are trying to mess my DD up even more. Surely if a child is struggling with attachments the last thing you do is take away her parents ?!

I have never missed a contact myself , I fight really hard to stay in my kids lives. But I feel like I'm being pushed to give up with my DD. I won't because I haven't come this far to give up. When I told the SW I was looking to get legal advice on this she told me to do what I've got to do so is she pushing me to go back to court ? she's changed so much the last few months. She was pushing me to get my DD home at one point and now shes pushing her out my life . I just dont know what's going on and what to do next ? I feel like I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't. I'm trying to better myself , getting a job and getting the money to get a new house for my children to come home but every step I take I get knocked back 6. What do I do now?

TeaBelle Sun 05-Feb-17 10:16:22

Go and speak with a solicitor. They will be able to advise you and may be able to communicate with the local authority without the matter needing to go back to court. In respect of your letter to the chief exec, if it's being treated as official.complaint they will have a set amount if time to reply to you which will longer than 5 working days

mumgointhroughtorture Sun 05-Feb-17 10:22:25

I tried ringing a new solicitor yesterday that a friend recommended but she was probably not in work due to it going to an answer machine. Il ring after work tomorrow and try to get an appointment.

I'm just missing my Daughter and feel so awful because who knows what shes being told. She may be thinking her family dont want to see her which couldnt be further from the truth. I've lost jobs , my home , almost my sanity fighting for my kids and I haven't come this far to give up now.
I suspect I'm going to have to have some patience ain't I and get some advice in the mean time.

Ginsodden Sun 05-Feb-17 10:27:16

Ring the Independent Reviewing Officer. Sounds like it could be sw incompetence, but prepare yourself for the possibility your dd has said she doesn't want contact. If it is incompetence then the IRO will challenge this. Hope you get a resolution soon x

Skooba Sun 05-Feb-17 10:29:19

SS round here is shambolic, sounds similar to where you are. Good SWs have left, the rest are largely straight from uni. Even involving your MP (MSP actually as we are in Scotland) doesn't help. Shortage of staff is main problem plus no funding.
Solicitor is the only way, if you can afford it, or are entitled to Legal Aid.

BarbarianMum Sun 05-Feb-17 10:33:44

Don't give up. Find a solicitor. Don't jeopardise your job, once you've been there a bit longer you'll be able to book holiday when you need a day off and holding down a job will reflect well on you when you do go back to court.

Finally, don't take this personally. No one is actively trying to separate you from your children, you are all just caught up in a malfunctioning, under- resourced system that is stretched to breaking point.

mumgointhroughtorture Sun 05-Feb-17 10:42:22

I have rang the IRO numerous times over the past few years. The last sw was awful at her job and he didnt want to know. He just kept telling me to speak to the sw. He only got involved the one xmas when the sw didnt arrange for my DD to have her xmas presents in time for the 2nd year in a row. He then decided to ring her and let her know I have got them and she will get them when the sw could come to her. it took her til the end of January.

I rang his office last week and the receptionist put me back through to SS. I actually feel like there's a notice on a wall in all their offices saying if it's Mumgoingthroughtorture no one is in the office ! We've moved teams now but the last office their receptionists knew me by voice I rang so often to chase stuff up or complain. That makes me sound nuts but I'm not actually complaining about little stuff. Most of my moans are huge fuck ups on their behalf.
When your 12 yr old DS turns round and tells you his sw is a waste of space and he can never get in touch with him thats when you know there's a problem. He hates sw's with a passion. He said so last weekend. He is so used to disappointment my heart goes out to him. They told him he was getting a "forever home " and hes on his 7th placement so far . He's given up on everything. I'm trying my best but I feel exactly the same.

mumgointhroughtorture Sun 05-Feb-17 10:50:59

I totally understand the whole lack of money and resources. Its the main reason I haven't took it back to court because I want to sort this without costing the system money when the sw has said herself all the judge will do is order her to do assessments on me to get my DD home. My Children won't ever be able to come home together due to sexual contact between them so it's taken me all the time to find peace within myself having one child home without the other . Its the hardest decision I've ever had to make in my life. How can a parent choose between their children ?! I have done everything they want me to do . I've gone above and beyond but now this system is destroying my bond with my DD. Grrr . Its so frustrating .

flapjackfairy Sun 05-Feb-17 10:53:32

You surely get invites to the 6 monthly lac reviews where iro conducts a meeting with all involved?
Could you take a legal representative with you to make them sit up and listen?
Also do start an official complaint against ss by the right channels . They will not want a complaint against them when they are officially inspected and will have to deal with it and cant ignore you.
Also copy in the director of childrens services everytime you email . And email as well as ringing as it will be a paper trail for you as evidence should you need it.
I am a fc and believe me it is v unlikely to be a vendetta . There are some shockingly incompetant sw out there and even the best are simply unable to keep on top of their work load and have to deal with emergencies first so have little time for sorting issues like contact.
Hope you get it sorted .

Ginsodden Sun 05-Feb-17 11:01:27

Disappointed in the IRO! Flapjack is right, official complaint through the council complaints officer.

mumgointhroughtorture Sun 05-Feb-17 11:05:15

They won't allow me to go to Lac reviews. They moved the children an hour away originally and said the reviews were done at the school which was only a few streets away from the fc home. Then the SW left the carers address on paperwork!!! Then they moved them to another home in the same town and said the reviews were done at the fc's house so I couldn't go. I have asked numerously. I have put it into previous complaints and still been refused . Now my DS is back in our home town and he goes to a local high school I'm allowed to go to his coz this new sw gave me the details but still no mention of my DDs. This sounds ridiculous but I'm fighting them on so much the lac reviews seem trivial compared to everything else. They used to arrange a meeting for me with the sw and the Lac reviewing officer a few days/ weeks after the meeting but I would also have to chase them for that.

I understand why so many parents give up on their kids. Not through the lack of love or want to stay in their lives . If other parents have the experiences I've had with ss I understand. Ive got a good family and a great bunch of friends to scream at when I need to. Thankfully.

mumgointhroughtorture Sun 05-Feb-17 11:24:12

Everyone I know says If they didn't know me personally they would think I'm making all this up. How can a system thats meant to protect kids fail my kids so much?!

During the court case the judge even then sent them to answer to the highest judge in the court coz they messed up the court case so bad. He told them then that this is 2 kids lives they are playing with and 4 years on they have learnt nothing. The Guardian in court gave them his backing for the order on their word that they found them a forever home and didnt move them around. He told me LA's have been known to ship kids out to private carers around the country then ship them back once a cheaper LA placement comes up and this is exactly what they've done.

My DS has been in 7 placements and my DD in 4. They put them witb their 1st forever family and it broke my sons heart when they moved him from them after 2 years. Hes never got over leaving that couple. I found out recently the woman carer had a drink problem.

They moved them to a woman with a severely disabled foster child who she then adopted . My Son was then moved back to our home town and he had to leave his friends , his sister , his school and start again all on his own! My DD was left with the carer and I had concerns she was bringing up herself. She didn't go anywhere and was left to her own devices a lot. I went mad when she told me she spent her birthday money off the dogs (I bought her presents and clothes, shoes etc) on a school trip !!!!! and the sw nor the Lac reviewing officer thought there was a problem ?!!
I still buy both children all their clothes , shoes , toys, computers , dvds etc. My son had £250 on clothes and an xbox 1 and games for xmas. The carers dont have to buy either of my kids anything . But I do this for My kids. I don't want my DS to get bullied coz hes not got the right trainers or adidas tracksuits.

I try my absolute best to stay in my kids lives. I have a 14 week old Nephew, my DD 's little Cousin and she hasnt even met him yet . He was born the day of the October contact. My DS absolutely adores him but my DD is missing out on this time with her little baby Cousin and its breaking my heart sad

EssieTregowan Sun 05-Feb-17 11:28:34

This all sounds incredibly difficult. Are they in care because your son was abusing your daughter? How old are they? I'm not sure I really understand why you are only allowed such minimal contact.

flapjackfairy Sun 05-Feb-17 11:30:06

Another thought! Your children can request an independant advocate to speak for them and represent their interests so that may be helpful.

flapjackfairy Sun 05-Feb-17 11:40:27

If you have parental responsibility then you are legally entitled to attend or if that is considered a security risk you can put your opinions forward on a consultation form. They cannot ignore you.
Get legal advice. You may well qualify for legal aid.
Re permenant families it is hard as sometimes placements end for all sorts of reasons sometimes beyond anyones control (such as carer developing a problem with alcohol as in your case). Ss cant always prevent that and an older boy with the kind of issues you have hinted at is always going to struggle to find a long term placement sadly. I am not making excuses for ss they sound appalling frankly but just saying that lots of moves is sadly not at all unusual.

mumgointhroughtorture Sun 05-Feb-17 12:00:09

Flapjack I asked for an advocate for the children and the Lac reviewing guy said he was an advocate and he didnt think the children needed 1. At one point both kids were allowed into the meetings coz they asked to go in but that hasn't been mentioned since.

When Children go into long term fc esp in ways my children did they give minimal contact to break the family bond. They did psychological reports on the children for the court case who said for a child to keep a thriving bond with a parent they need fortnightly contact . The psychologist then fell apart on the stand and her evidence to this was torn apart.
SS try to get 4 times a year contact. When the children were in care on a sec 20 I was entitled to 3 times a week for 2 hours. They moved them to a placement so far from school they had to travel by motorway so I asked for twice a week so the kids weren't put under so much pressure travelling in rush hour traffic on top of a long day at school. My DD had only just gone 5 and she was struggling. She asked me at one point if it was coz I didn't want her anymore why she couldn't come home. Those words will haunt me forever. They were put with a different cultured fostered carer who was a lot stricter than I am. She told me 1 time Mummy when we go to the park the carer just sits and reads her magazine, she doesn't come and play with us like you do 😭 sometimes I just wanted her to not tell me anything coz it was ripping me apart . and due to not knowing where the sexual behaviour had come from there was no way I could get them home.
Even now nearly 5 years on theres still no definite reason for what and why it happened.

mumgointhroughtorture Sun 05-Feb-17 12:09:38

Flapjack theres no security issues at all. My son goes to school on a bus that leaves our home town and I have a friend who's DS is in my sons year at high school and I told the SW I wasnt happy with how he was being left to walk to school along very main roads on his own for nearly 2 miles. The sw said the carer walked with him but my friend almost reported it herself when she saw it. He had only just gone 12. I have never been a security issue to them. Ive been left in contact with the kids on my own whilst workers have been to the toilet or park the car around the block. Ive always said what realistically can I do with 2 kids with no money ? I can hardly hide them in my cellar. Ive always done everything by the book. I want my children home because I'm the best parent I can be to them not because I want to put their safety at risk.

I think I've rolled over far too much for far too long and I aint shouted loud enough so now I am they aint taking me serious enough.

BorrowedHeart Sun 05-Feb-17 12:19:37

This awful to read, if you don't mind me asking (you don't have to andwer) why were they taken? I really hope you get sorted, I can't imagine the heartache of not being with your kids let alone not seeing them when the contact is so limited as it is.

flapjackfairy Sun 05-Feb-17 12:23:59

I am not suggesting you are a risk just saying that that is the only reason not to allow you to be there in person. And if you are not supposed to know the address and it is held there they can use that as a risk. I am not saying you will hurt your children . So again i repeat they cannot stop you attending and putting forward your views and this is important because this is your main opportunity to have your views recorded on an official document. The lac review and reviewing officer hold some power in this process so use them to get your point across as much as possible.
As regards contact yes it is true that long term placements have v limited contact as there is no plan to return the children home. Contact is often only 3 or 4 times a yr so 6 times is good under the circumstances . They need to start honouring them properly

LadyHelenOfShitsville Sun 05-Feb-17 12:28:24

Sorry don't understand this. Why are you not allowed one of your DC living with you if the abuse was between them and there is no risk with you? This happened 5 years ago?

flapjackfairy Sun 05-Feb-17 12:32:13

Oh and yes insist on an advocate and your children have the right to have their views put forward at lac reviews and attend if they chose !

mumgointhroughtorture Sun 05-Feb-17 12:53:33

Borrowed my DS announced to a teacher that he was having sex with his sister. My DD Dad was an absolute no words to describe him and he threatened to take the kids from contact 2 weeks into a sec 20 and so on a Friday afternoon during the euro 2012 football games we was hauled into the courts til 10pm and the children become part of an interim care order.
I was a complete mess. Hes been diagnosed with being having narcissm PD now so my life was an absolute mess. My DS has always been an handful. I was begging school for help with him. I was still on the playground til 4pm most nights talking to teachers coz his behaviour wasnt right. (5 years on and SS were meant to have been applying for a statement for school for him coz they are throwing autism and then ADHD at me but they don't know, carers struggle though to and he just keeps getting shunted to respite rather than getting support. Apparently the words of the old sw "no matter how much therapy you give some children it might never help them and you have to face that thats who they are !!!" )
I moved the kids Dad out for him to rent a room over the road . I stayed in a rship with him like an idiot coz I thought he was a good dad. He was a hands on Dad and he did love them but our rship was so volatile.

Well I lost the kids to long term even tho they knew we weren't together . I guess not knowing the facts of the situation meant if they had come home the situation mayve continued coz we had no idea where the root was. Ss made a huge mess of the court case. They are only meant to 26 weeks in court at the very maximum. They had 32 weeks then walked into court with not a clue where the kids were going. They hadn't even started the fact finding work or match work to find suitable carers. Their excuse was the person dealing with it had been on long term sick and my children's case had been left in unopened emails for the entirety of the court case. Then they hadn't served my DS'S bio Dad so they used another day to find him then had to get him into court . I had given their legal his address months before. The judge ordered management and different people from the LA into court the next day then wasnt satisfied with their explanation so sent them to answer to the higher judge. The Sw was a very experienced court sw. She had won every case she had ever done. She was evil. She told me in one meeting " Oh it's ok Mum you can move on and have more kids with someone else dont worry! " I went to a mental hospital after this and the psychiatrist I saw encouraged me to put in a complaint coz he said I'm strong enough to take that , some other parent a comment like that could tip her over the edge ! Me being me didnt want to make a scene so I didn't. But she was almost in tears in the court arena. on the phone telling the person on the other end they were losing these kids !!! She was the nastiest person I've ever come across.

I took it all badly. Lost my house eventually coz I couldnt cope without burying my head in the sand. Everyday hurt to open my eyes. This situation is like having a death without a funeral. Then every 2 months having to rip off the plaster and bleed again to band aid it back up after 3 hours.
I do my best though. I find fun places to go. Both kids enjoy contact but I know my DD finds it hard , I see her wiping tears from her eyes sometimes when its time to go. She tries to hide it and acts all happy. But I know she misses us as much as we miss her. I rarely cry now but writing this I have tears rolling down my cheek coz its still so painful and raw.
I did post a lot of this a while ago and had a lovely poster giving me support. It just feels like though as soon as I deal with one problem they throw another one at me.

All I want is to see my kids. Enjoy time I'm entitled to with them . Be involved as much as I'm legally entitled to and work with them to get them home where they belong. I won't give up that fight til my Daughter is back with me .

flapjackfairy Sun 05-Feb-17 13:03:18

Oh hon sending you a huge hug xxx

mumgointhroughtorture Sun 05-Feb-17 13:04:32

lady helen its not so much a case of not allowed its a case of the sw doing what she says she will do. Shes agreed to do the assessments but then shes gone awol. I live with my parents atm so il need a house to do my assessments but I don't want to get a 2 bedroom I cant afford if the assessments aren't gonna be done.

The problem with ss is a lot of parents assume the system works and its the parents who are failing. But One time my old sw said she could only have 20 cases at any time , she had 28 cases at that point. I think the Lac reviewing officer is meant to have 50 , some are working with 70-80 cases at any one time. How can 1 person realistically get round to work with 28 famillies ? My DDs Sw has rang me at 9pm whilst sitting in her car on her drive. I know part of the problem is once they have your kids in care they don't worry about them like a child in need with their parents. NSPCC have told me this. So if they have an hour to work with a parent they will I guess rather spend it helping a child in need rather than a parents assessments to have theirs home. Maybe I'm wrong ....

I have nothing to lie about btw , I put my hands up to my faults. Ive done the domestic violence course level 1 , 2 and 3. I was about to volunteer with them before I got this job. Ive done the triple p parenting course and I've asked about safeguarding courses and sexual awareness courses I'm willing to do those if the SW can sort those. Anything they want me to do Il do it.

The Guardian in court took me into a room and told me himself "I know ur gonna get these kids home. You get and do your courses and you will get them back. He didn't expect the kids to be moved from place to place. The kids also have to be in a good place too not just myself.

BorrowedHeart Sun 05-Feb-17 14:05:20

That sounds awful sad I don't get why you couldn't at least have your daughter if it wasn't you that was causing any harm. It all sounds like one big mess, I just don't understand how ss can get away with being so scatty, yet if a parent was to slip up even just the once they are on your case quicker quicker than you can say help. If you were asking for help from his school etc I don't get why they were taken, I just don't understand it all. There never seems to be a clear cut removal system, some kids are removed based on assumption while others than can be proven to be in harm are left. I'm really sorry that you have lost so much time with your children, hopefully (and I know it's a long time to wait) but maybe once your daughter is 18 you can spend as much time as you and her like together, no one will be able to et in the way then. I really hope all gets sorted, please keep us updated, even if I don't fully understand what is going on, you have my complete support.

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