Category Archives: Social Work

The Blame Game

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.

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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.

 

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An Open Letter

Dear Head of SEN and Disability at my local County Council

I wanted you to see the impact delays like the one in my daughter’s Education case have. Eldest was adopted by me at 4 yrs old and went through more in those 4 years than you would wish on your worst enemy.

We are on our 4th Local Authority (LA) caseworker, we have only met one. Tara was briefly no. 3 and has kindly picked this up as our current worker is off.

As everything is now so last minute I have no idea what I have to prepare for tribunal next Friday. Due to my ill health everything takes me much longer than it used to. I have no solicitor and of course Parent Partnership advisers don’t work at weekends. I will have to spend many many hours this weekend preparing and organising my thoughts on every single thing I have requested for the Education Health Care Plan (EHCP) and making detailed notes due to my short term memory difficulties (I’m on morphine up to 4 times a day plus other v strong medications). I may well find out at some point next week that some of what I have done is unnecessary as it’s already been agreed by the Educational Psychologist. It’s Eldest’s birthday this weekend, both my children have complex needs and take a lot of looking after.

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Photo by Ian Espinosa on Unsplash

I am sure this all sounds very minor to you but to me, a mother who is trying her hardest to support her children under difficult circumstances, it is not. Our paediatrician wrote to the LA in January 2018 to warn we were on the point of family breakdown if support was not forthcoming. Not because I am failing, but because parenting children like mine especially as a single adopter is overwhelmingly challenging.

I guess I am not expecting a response. I certainly don’t need your sympathy. But it would be wonderful if something could change for families like us in future.

Kind regards

3girlstogether

 

An appeal

Many readers will already know that I am mum to 2 wonderful daughters aged 9 and 10. Both of my girls are adopted and have complex needs including Developmental Trauma Disorder, Anxiety Disorder and Sensory Integration Disorder amongst other things. Things are very difficult for us at home and, just like with many other care-experienced children, my children work hard to contain and mask their feelings in school and then explode once at home with me in their safe place. Recently the children’s paediatrician has written a letter in which she said she believes unless things change it will soon become impossible to keep the girls at home and that she believes we will need secure residential placements for them.

I am currently trying to gain for support for the children on 3 separate fronts all from Leicestershire Local Authority:

1) An appropriate educational provision with the support Emma and Sophie need to feel safe, nurtured and to be able to make progress

2) Therapy which many highly trained specialists have recommended after thorough assessments of Emma and Sophie

3) Practical support for us to enable us to keep the children at home.

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I  am now in the horrible position of having to crowdfund to try to get the support the girls and I will need to stay together as a family. Some readers will have witnessed my struggles over the last 5 or 6 years to get help for my family. I have sold my wedding and engagement rings, I have 2 or 3 things I can sell on EBay and can hold a car boot or yard sale. After that we don’t have anything left to sell; I’m not a person with many things of value. I hate doing this with a passion. I feel like I am begging. But I don’t know what else I can do 😦

I innocently thought at the beginning of this process that if the girls needed support in school, therapy etc that there would be help out there for us.

THIS IS NOT THE CASE

I need to fund any extra private specialist reports, a solicitor to help me preparing to go to tribunal, and another solicitor to ensure the girls get the specialist therapy which all their assessments say they need and to try to get us some practical support at home. This latter may well involve taking the Local Authority to judicial review which would be a very expensive process.
Please click on the link to read more details and to donate even a small amount. Every penny will be appreciated by all of us:

Fight for Emma and Sophie

This little pair will be incredibly grateful and so will I xxxxx

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Is this the end?

We went to see my parents yesterday. My mum talked to me about the girls and told me if they end up going back into care over the next couple of weeks she will come to stay with me for as long as I need so I have support. And both my parents gave the girls special hugs as they said goodbye. My dad is a very traditional 80 yr old but as we drove off I looked back to see him gesturing to show he was still holding me in his arms.
Is this the end?

Is this the end?

 
At the time I was calm but I am sitting here sobbing now. I don’t want the girls to leave me, even temporarily. They will never forgive me, it will break them, it will break me. They are so little and they didn’t choose this, they didn’t choose to be the way they are. I don’t choose this either. I choose to have support for them and for us as a family. I choose for them to be given the therapy they need and we need as a family and for them to stay with me. This isn’t fair on the girls, on me, on my parents.
 
But this is where we are. Within a few weeks of my girls being placed in the specialised care placement they would need the LA will have spent many many times the cost of a year’s support from FF.  My solicitor is writing a letter to remind the LA of their statutory duties and to state that without them funding their FF therapy package the girls will imminently need to leave home. My paediatrician has already written saying the same thing.  I am writing to my MP  to update him this week but really we have no more options left.
And I am left asking how can this possibly be happening to us? 

The quest for access to the ASF

We had an initial meeting with therapists at the beginning of March 2016 after which a series of recommendations were sent to me and my LA. In essence the report highlighted the high level of risk in our family due to the girls’ complex needs and the urgent need for intervention. The Post Adoption Support manager agreed that we should proceed with applying for funding from the Adoption Support Fund (ASF).

Since the end of March:

I have tried to ring over 25 times where the PAS manager’s phone has not been answered and there is no opportunity to leave a message.

I have sent 7 emails which remain unanswered.

I have managed to speak to him twice, both times where he evaded answering the one question I would like answer to:

‘have you applied to the ASF for our assessment funding?’  

The last time I spoke to him after 1 minute he said he would ring back in an hour. I’m still waiting 3 weeks later….

I recently read Rachel Wardell’s excellent blog post on the ADCS website Relationships, Relationships, Relationships in which she talks about how important relationships are in social work and emphasises the power of good communication with clients. It really struck a chord with me and you won’t be surprised to hear that I wholeheartedly agree.

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As an adoptive parent I feel I am walking a tight rope when dealing with post adoption support. If I don’t keep trying to make contact then we won’t get the assessments we need and therapy will be delayed indefinitely. But if I annoy or upset him he can make things very difficult for us and even block access to the Adoption Support Fund. I’m finding it incredibly stressful trying to work out what the magic formula is.

I want to build a positive relationship with the PAS team for the benefit of my children.  I know they are extremely busy, underfunded and under pressure.

I have been full of empathy and understanding up to this point. I’m not some bitter adopter lashing out without thought or consideration against social workers.

I am a mum who needs help and support for her children NOW.

I’m shouting out for help for the girls and I’M NOT BEING HEARD