YESTERDAY, Monday 17th July, we were visited by the social worker for the very last time.
We have held the SGO for just over 12 months. When an SGO is granted, when the child has come from the care system, they often come with a care plan for the child – and ‘support’ for the parent (s) looking after the child. Typically for 12 months but this can be extended.
This includes court ordered contact, frequency of contact for both parents, regular visits for the social worker and any additional factors deemed necessary.
I am pleased to report this care plan has now come to an end and the social workers are no longer involved with H and the care we give him.
Social workers often get very negative press despite the fantastic work that they do. Other than frustrations at the time it took to return calls – or when we needed to speak to her it always coincided with the times she was on annual leave; our social worker was fantastic.
The same social worker had been involved with all four of my nieces children so knew the circumstances, the family and, more importantly, the mother very well. As H came along later, things that could have gone better during the older children’s court process and care plan were faced and amended and averted when we went through the same process.
We had remained adamant throughout the entire process – and subsequently with the care plan there would be certain requirements that would have to be stringently adhered to – and things that we were simply not happy to happen.
These included, but not exclusively to
Birth parents contact – we would not supervise any contact with either birth parent. I had done this previously with the older children prior to H’s birth. Neither would we be involved in transporting H to the contact centre or where contact was to take place.
Post care plan the contact has to be arranged and organised by the birth parents. We have a non-molestation order in place so we can not communicate easily with her with out it confusing her and the terms of the non-molestation. We also felt, if we were to turn up with her baby, the temptation for her to breach the order would be too much and wouldn’t be fair on her – or us.
We also insisted that our children and H’s welfare was paramount. We did not want our children to be negatively effected by the behaviour of my niece – or exposed to anything that would potentially harm or cause concern for them.
We have been open and honest with our children about why H was coming to live with us and why he lived with us. When they ask questions we answer them with enough information that they need. We haven’t gone into all of the detail or to the extent of my niece’s health problems. We have also, so far at least, managed to keep our frustrations and stresses away from the children – alongwith conversations about H’s mum and any antics that she had been up to.
It is a big relief to be free from social services but also a little overwhelming as if something happened, how would things go?
We have parental responsibility for H so we have final say in any decisions that need to be made for him. This includes, from now on, contact, frequency of contact and many other factors.
Contact is designed for the benefit of the child. Quite often the birth mother / father believe it is their right to see them. Unfortunately there will be times and situations where it is not appropriate.
From this day forward we are largely on our own – obviously with support of our families, friends and other SGO parents we have met via a Facebook page.