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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.

Let me drown

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

 

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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? 

Silence

Silence means I am overwhelmed by so many thoughts that I don’t know where to start.

Silence means I fear you may not understand my words nor my meaning.

Silence means I am worried about rejection or accusation.

Silence means I have said it all before and still it goes on….and on….and on….

фотограф Строганов Алексей http://www.BFoto.ru

“He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words.”
Elbert Hubbard

 

Back to school

So how has going back to school been for your cherubs? For us it has been a mixed bag really and has reminded me that the summer holidays at least gave me respite from the stresses school brings to both the girls and to me.

This weekend I have reflected on what is the minimum I would like from my children’s teachers? I have narrowed it down to five things! Perhaps this applies to all parents of children with any SEN and not only those with adopted children.

  1. Read the professionals’ reports. I know you are busy. You have 20 children in your class. I am also a teacher and I will teach about 150 students this year. I’ve been back in work 3 days and I have already read and made notes on key information for any SEN students I will teach next week. I have a list of students I need to find out more about. Isn’t that what teachers do?

 

  1. Accept that the professionals know more than you about their specialisms. I know you are probably an amazing teacher. That’s because you went to university and trained for that career. There are other people who have become OTs, SALTs, psychologists, psychotherapists and paediatricians. They are specialists in their fields and you need to accept what they are telling you. You do not know better than them because you read a book or an article online.

 

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  1. Listen to my child’s behaviour. My child is trying to communicate how she is doing. It’s too hard for her to tell you but she can show you with her behaviour so observe and then support her accordingly. If my 8 yr old is sitting under a table then I think you can see she is having a hard time and needs a break from the classroom. If my 10 yr old is chattering non stop about everything and nothing she is showing her anxiety about being in class and she needs a break from the room.

 

 

  1. Fiddle toys are not the answer to everything. I have provided both my girls with sensory boxes to use in class and you are very accepting of my child having free access to them in class. For this I thank you. But these are just one of the recommendations from professionals. I know it is easier for you to believe they are the answer to everything. But they are not. They are one small part of the package of support my child needs.

 

 

  1. Trust me as their parent. It seems difficult for you to accept that I know my children inside out. I know what they can manage and what they cannot. I know what they struggle with and how far they can be pushed them before they will crack. I support you and I can help you if only you will let me. How about it?  I’m up for it if you are!

A blog return

It’s been so long since I’ve blogged that there may be nobody left to read this! I think it reflects how hard the last year has been for us at 3girlstogether. There came a point where I felt that nobody would want to continue reading me talking about lack of access to ASF, lack of support from SWs and other profs, and patchy support at school.  I was even boring myself talking about the vicious circle we were trapped in.

Yawning-Smiley-Face

Today I have decided I will try to think about how far we have come since my last post. For this post at least I will gloss over everything else. So here is what has changed in the last 9 months:

  • We have survived another year at school.
  • We have accessed ASF for assessments by specialist providers and have (nearly) got the finalised reports and costings for therapeutic input and further assessments.
  • I have tribunal dates for the LA’s refusal to assess for EHCPs for the girls.
  • I have finally found a nanny/support worker who will enable me to work and also give me one to one time with the girls each week.
  • Our local peer support group is going from strength to strength and now has over 60 members.
  • The girls now have a paediatrician which means they can quickly access other specialist referrals.
  • In term time I do something that I enjoy one morning a week

Actually when I look at that list I feel a little bit proud of what I have achieved in 9 months. Maybe I should blog more often!

 

 

ASF (again)

Before I start a few ‘yes I know’s:

Yes I know we are lucky to have access to an Adoption Support Fund at all and those in Wales Scotland etc do not

Yes I know that therapy is not going to ‘fix’ my children

Yes I know there are cheaper providers of therapy available but those who know the girls, including professionals, have agreed on these providers as being in the best position to support us as a family

Yes I know that social workers have a difficult and often thankless job, have far too big case loads and too little time and in some cases training.

 

I applaud the introduction of the ASF and am delighted that it is available to adopters like us.

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Here are some facts about the process we have been through to access ASF funding

We have had 2 assessments of need by 2 different local authorities in less than a year.

Both assessments of need conclude the same specialist provider should conduct comprehensive multidisciplinary assessments of both girls

We had to have an initial consultation from this provider, due to the complex needs of both girls and of our family as a whole, which proved stark reading but seemed very accurate to those who know the girls, including two different PASWs from different local authorities.

This should be great news shouldn’t it!

 

Except this process has spanned 66 long weeks so far.

There was a 24 week delay between my current LA first submitting costings to ASF and them resubmitting the same costings after conducting an assessment of need that confirmed everything in the previous one.  They resubmitted on the day Edward Timpson announced new rules for ‘fair access’ to the ASF

Of course we meet the criteria for exceptional circumstances that the ASF sets out. That goes without saying.

Of course the LA ‘are not in a position to contribute to the funding’ so they will not match-fund for us.

Their suggestion is we have some assessments now and the rest in April 2017. That will be week 88 of the process. 88 weeks! How can this possibly be right?

I am going to have to borrow money to pay for some assessments which the ASF no longer funds but which it did when our application was first submitted but I can’t borrow it all.

 

I apologise because this is a pointless blog. I guess it achieves nothing except allowing me to vent a little.

But I feel like screaming:

MY GIRLS NEED AND DESERVE MUCH BETTER THAN THIS!