A Care Proceedings Case Study - Client Situation
Charlotte (not her real name) contacted our Care Proceedings Solicitors for help when she was told that Social Services were starting Court proceedings because of their concerns about her children.
Charlotte had 3 children aged 3, 5 and 7.
She’d been struggling with her mental health for some time and recently things had gone downhill at home. She’d started experiencing controlling behaviour and violence from her partner.
Charlotte felt that she had no one else to turn to.
Social Services were worried that the children were seeing the violent arguments between Charlotte and her partner. They were also concerned that the children were being left on their own for long periods of time and they had stopped going to school. They felt it was clear that for much of the time, the children’s needs were taking second place.
Social Services started Care Proceedings and indicated that at the first Court hearing they were going to ask the Judge to make an interim Care Order, to place her children in foster care.
How We Helped
Care Proceedings Solicitor Greg Moss met with Charlotte before the first Court hearing. She admitted that she was struggling to care for her children, and that she needed help. But she was really worried about her children going into foster care, even temporarily.
After talking to Charlotte, Greg identified a close relative who was happy to put herself forward as a temporary carer for the children. Greg immediately contacted Social Services to make sure that they considered Charlotte’s relative as the first option.
The social worker agreed to meet with her relative and assess whether or not she could temporarily care for the children and the assessment was positive.
At the first Court hearing, the Judge agreed that the children could temporarily live with Charlotte’s relative. The Judge also set a timetable for the rest of the Court proceedings, with a Final hearing taking place in around 6 months’ time.
Over the next few months, Charlotte re-engaged with her mental health team. Things improved a lot when her partner accepted that the constant rowing and fighting couldn’t go on, and he agreed to move out. In fact, he accepted that he had problems of his own which he needed to sort out.
Greg pressed Social Services to organise a meeting of all of Charlotte’s immediate family members and friends (a ‘family group conference’) to see what support they could offer if the children went back to her care. Many of her family members and friends had no idea of what she’d been going through and a detailed plan of support was drawn up.
Charlotte also attended the Freedom Programme. It’s a 12 week course for women who have been through domestic abuse. Through the Freedom Programme, she understood the impact of domestic abuse on her and her children. She made some supportive friendships with other women there who had been through similar experiences.
By the time we got to the final hearing, Charlotte had turned her life around.
Even though Social Services accepted that she had made great progress, they felt that it was too early for her children to go back to her care. This was because she was still quite vulnerable and they were worried that things could go wrong again. Because of this, they wanted the children to stay in foster care and they asked the Court to make a Care Order.
Solicitor Greg Moss argued on Charlotte’s behalf that she had made real and lasting changes. Greg showed that Charlotte now had solid support from her family, friends and mental health team. She also had a good working relationship with the social worker so if anything did go wrong in the future the alarm would be raised quickly. And her former partner had moved on to a new relationship.
Happily, the Judge agreed with Greg, and decided that the children should return home to Charlotte. They put a Supervision Order in place for 6 months.
Charlotte had no problem agreeing to continue to work with the social worker and accepting support and advice when needed.
She was delighted to have her three children back home.
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