Help for Grandparents and Social Services
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IMPORTANT: With effect from 22 April 2014.
The Family Procedure Rules 22 April 2014 will come into force for all family proceedings, including adoption proceedings.
Note: The Children and Families Act 2014 The Children and Families Act 2014 (CFA 2014) covers both public and private children proceedings. In public law proceedings, amongst other things, it imposes a 26-week deadline for care and supervision proceedings (as piloted since July 2013), it scraps the 28-day time limit for interim care/supervision orders and it introduces new provisions regarding post adoption contact.
Help for Grandparents and Social Services
2.Different Types of Care
3.If your grandchild is accommodated
4.If your grandchild is in care
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NOTE: This information as been written mainly for Grandparents and carers, but the information in it is also for other people, including other family members, who are involved in the welfare of a child and may become involved in family court proceedings. For specialist legal advice we recommend you seek the professional assistance of a experienced Solicitor. Finding a Solicitor
If you are a grandparent, and your grandchildren have been unjustly taken by the social services my heart goes out to you.
"I am a parent that this has happened to and I have seen my elderly parents heartbroken, in tears and in massive emotional pain because of their frustration and total devastation with the social services snatching their grandchildren. As well as the worry over how I'm coping without them."
It doesn't just affect the parent. It effects the whole family. If your children have been taken, or are going to be taken by social services you can apply for a interim residence order or a full residence order. (see care proceedings) on this website. Speak to a solicitor about your options. (But expect social services to use your age against you. I have seen it done many times, even when the grandparents are early 50's). Fight as hard as you can to keep the child/ren within the family.
2. Different Types of Care
The Children’s Act 1989 states a child as being "looked after" if he or she is in the care of (e.g. foster care), or being provided with accommodation by a local authority.
3. If your grandchild is accommodated
This means that the child is being looked after by the local authority with agreement of the parents/those with Parental Responsibility. The parents retain their Parental Responsibility and the local authority does not require it throughout the time the child is in accommodation.
4. If your grandchild is in care
This means that a child is being looked after by the local authority under a care order or an emergency protection order. (E.g. Fostered). The parents (and others with Parental Responsibility) retain Parental Responsibility, but the local authority also acquires it. * Note:- A grandparent only has parental responsibility if there is an order made by the court for it to be so, e.g. a residence order.
CONTACT FOR GRANDPARENTS - IF CHILD ACCOMMODATED
If your grandchild is accommodated only your daughter/daughter in law has parental responsibility, or your son/son in law if he qualifies (see the paragraph on Parental responsibility in "the care plan" on this website). She can decide whom her children can and cannot see. The social services cannot allow them to see you against her wishes. If your daughter/daughter in law does not want you to see the children you should try and persuade her to agree to this.
As a last resort you can apply to the court for a contact order. (see "completing a contact application" on this website).
CONTACT FOR GRANDPARENTS - IF CHILD IN CARE
If your grandchild is in care the local authority also have parental responsibility for them and they decide whom they see. Although it is absolutely unfair you do not have a right to contact with your grandchildren, unless you have parental responsibility. However, morally they should give you contact. Contact may be at a contact centre. (No matter how friendly the contact centre staff are, they are usually in line with social services so do not trust them, or speak much with them). If the local authority refuse you contact, you must apply to the court for leave to make a contact order under section 34 of the Children Act 1989. To do this you must speak to a solicitor and he/she will sort it out for you, or see "completing a contact application" on this website. You will have to go to court and the judge will decide what contact you should have. If you get contact the social services will probably try and stop it or cut it down as much as possible all the time, with ridiculous reasons such as "it's inappropriate", so read the tips below.
5. Indirect contact
Ideally contact should be face to face so that you and your grandchild can enjoy each other's company, as you did before they were snatched. However, if the local authority will not allow this, ask if you can have indirect contact, e.g.. writing to them, sending cards, photos and small presents. It is not as valuable as direct contact but it will let your grandchildren know you still love them and think about them. It will keep your memory alive for the child. Also ask if they can phone you, or you phone them. Ask if you can send them audio or video tapes. You can ask the court for indirect contact as well, if you apply for a contact order. (Expect the social services to say no. They limit contact as much as possible. They may want to read and see everything you want to send to your grandchild to check its its ok to be sent. You can write and tell them you are missing them and love them. But you can't say anything about coming home or they will not let the letter be sent. Try not to get frustrated with this. They do it with most people. They make you feel like a criminal, but you are not, so try and stay calm and let them do their ridiculous procedures. My mum and dad told the social worker that checking letters like that is like going back to World War II, when my dad was in the Merchant Navy and his letters were censored!)
Tips to use with social services, and at court in order for you to get, and keep contact:-
Remind them of your grandchild's rights by stating the following:-
"According to paragraph 15(c) of Schedule 2 to the Children Act 1989 the local authority have a duty to endeavour to promote contact between the child and....any relative.....".
"According to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights - Every child should have a right to respect for his family life."
Tell them/court how much the children are missing you, love you and how much you saw them before. Include all the things you did for them.
Tell them/court how much you are missing them, and are desperate to see them.
State the following or write a letter containing this, and if needed give a copy to the judge at court.
"We feel that it is absolutely necessary for the family, especially the grandparents to retain valuable family links with the children. Simply knowing that the family love the children and want to remain in touch will increase their self esteem. Family can provide a sense of stability and belonging, which we feel can be vital to the child's well being.
Grandparents who have been in the children's lives since birth can provide continuity and an understanding of family and origins. You are denying the children a relationship with the family representing half of their ethnic origin and identity. Grandparents are especially important"
6. Grandparents Helplines
Website: Grandparents Plus
Helpline: 0300 123 7015
Grandparents Apart Self Help Group - UK
Website: Grandparents Apart
Helpline: Tel: 0141 882 5658
Grandparents Action Group UK
Website: Grandparents Action Group
Helpline: Tel: 01952 582621
Grandparents Association UK
Website: Grandparents' Association
Helpline: Tel: 0845 434 9585.