I have found it increasingly hard to blog whilst there is so much going on in our lives. When I read our blog posts it would seem that we lurch from crisis to crisis and there never seems to be an end point. We still haven’t been to tribunal for the EHCPS (Education and Health Care Plans) and we still haven’t accessed any therapy.
But today I don’t want to talk about that. I want to talk about what can happen when SEN parents stand up for their children. I am not the first and I am sure I won’t be the last. Indeed there was an article on just this on the BBC news website recently entitled Parents ‘accused of exaggerating child illnesses’ which reported that the BBC had spoken to 10 families from Gloucestershire who say they’ve been accused of fabricating their children’s illnesses.
There was a time when I couldn’t imagine this happening to me. But this is what I have been through in the last few months. Initially the girls’ school made accusations about me which I was not told about and then a professionals’ meeting was called. Interestingly only a select group of professionals was invited by the post adoption social worker; none of our health care professionals were invited until I requested it and it was too late for most of them to attend. Most of those in attendance had never met my children or only briefly. The decision was made to refer us for a full family assessment by children’s services. I was told by post adoption support, those professionals I work alongside and I thought were supportive, that perhaps I wasn’t safe to have my children because of my disability and perhaps it should be a child protection issue. It was said that I was exaggerating the children’s needs and more besides. I was devastated.
Interestingly both the girls’ school and our county’s social care have been graded by Ofsted as Required to Improve, grade 3. The therapists who support our family just received yet another Outstanding grade 1 rating from Ofsted. Our paediatrician is well respected across the county. I wonder how anyone can question their judgement?
After a few weeks a social worker (SW) was appointed and the assessment was carried out. I was praised for being open and honest at all times. Thankfully the SW rejected ALL of the accusations made about me. He found no grounds for any concerns at all and talked about my depth of knowledge and valuable experience of parenting adopted children. He made it clear that he believed the accusations were made due to lack of understanding and knowledge from some professionals involved, particularly from the school leadership, and were without any basis at all. He also write that in over 20 years of social work he has never seen such extreme needs as those in the girls’ assessments.
Of course I am relieved. I am appalled that this can happen to somebody as ordinary as me. I am disappointed that those who should have stood up for us in fact stood by and let this happen. I am shocked that a professional can make statements with no evidence and because of that you can be told your children may be removed. And that in this day and age a disabled parent can be seen as a risk to their children as a result of their disability without any real evidence.
Children’s services are happy with me and immediately closed the case. Adult social care, who I had previously referred myself to for some practical support, are also happy with how things are going but are there if I need them.
In time I will request copies of all the information held on me so I can be sure any lies have been cleared up and professionals can be held to account. I think that is important as I know I am not the only one. But for now I am going to try not to think about it.
I have been vindicated.