Case Study 1
Type of Assessment : Relative Assessment
This matter involved a little girl aged 6 who was subject of a Care Order and living with her grandparents where she had spent the majority of her life. Her mother had learning difficulties and had placed her at risk of sexual abuse as a result of her association with predatory sexual offenders.
The Local Authority, informed by a previous independent report, were concerned regarding the grandparents’ age and intended to remove the child and place her in mainstream foster care.
No regard had been given to the child’s secure attachment to her grandparents or the research regarding outcomes for children entering the long term mainstream Care system.
Our associate’s assessment concluded that the child should remain with her grandparents under a Special Guardianship Order with support.
• This piece of work prevented potentially devastating implications for this child, were she to have been removed from her grandparents.
• It saved Court time and Local Authority resources.
• It also highlights the need for quality standards in independent social work, since not all independent social workers manage to achieve and maintain professional standards commensurate with the importance of the role or are subject to quality assurance procedures.
Case Study 2
Type of Assessment : Parenting Risk Assessment
The child in this matter had been removed from the parents’ care as a consequence of father’s poor impulse control and violence towards a previous child. Care Proceedings were initiated and moved to the County Court. A Psychologist undertook an assessment of the father and concluded that he posed a low level of risk in relation to future violence based on her view that he had made significant progress. On the basis of this conclusion, the Local Authority moved towards reunification. The Children’s Guardian sought an independent Risk and Parenting Skills Assessment. The Judge concurred with this request and this Agency was instructed in the matter.
After thorough assessment, including critical examination of the reported progress of the father, this Agency concluded that father posed a very high level of risk of future violence to the child. The Psychologist was robustly challenged on the opinion reached in her Psychological Assessment. The Psychologist reviewed her conclusions and eventually concurred with those held by this Agency.
• As a consequence of ISWA’s intervention, the Judge supported ISWA’s recommendation that the child should not be reunified into a highly unsafe family environment.
• The child successfully moved on to adoption with the Court recognising that a potentially serious outcome had been avoided.
Case Study 3
Type of Assessment : Parenting & Relative Risk Assessment
This matter involved three children, aged 7 years, 5 years and 18 months when the Care Proceedings commenced. The children’s names had previously been placed upon the Child Protection Register as a consequence of issues relating to domestic violence, substance and alcohol misuse. The children were removed and placed in the care of maternal relatives following an incident when the youngest child was seriously injured due to inadequate supervision.
The case was quickly transferred to the County Court because of its complexity. The Local Authority concluded at the end of its assessment that neither parent was making progress. In the context that the maternal relative carers were struggling to meet the children’s needs, and having ruled out the paternal family as relative carers, the Local Authority’s Care Plan was towards adoption.
The Children’s Guardian instructed ISWA to undertake an independent assessment. That assessment concluded that each parent had started to recognise the mistakes they had made, was attempting to make constructive progress to address their individual difficulties and, as a couple, were attempting to resolve their relationship difficulties. In addition, the assessment recognised the potential strengths of the paternal family to care for the children.
In this context, ISWA made a number of recommendations for assessment of the paternal grandparents as relative carers, for a Family Group Conference to be convened to assess potential to harness the families’ resources and for therapeutic assessment of the children and parents together. These recommendations were supported by the Judge who ordered that ISWA should undertake these pieces of work.
As a consequence, paternal grandparents were assessed and approved as relative carers. The children were successfully placed with their paternal relatives, whilst constructive intervention and assessment took place with them and their parents, both separately and jointly. After such intervention, this Agency reassessed the situation and recommended that the children be reunified with their parents, subject to a Supervision Order. The Judge supported this recommendation.
Three years later, the children remain successfully within their parents’ care and are developing extremely well according to reports from all agencies involved. Consequently, there are no longer any Court Orders in place.
This comprehensive intervention has resulted in a range of considerable savings to the public purse:-
• The Court Hearing time was greatly reduced and the Final Hearing, listed for five days was vacated, in the context of agreement.
• The Local Authority involved did not have to meet the costs of recruiting, training, supporting and funding adoptive placements for three children.
• The children were able to remain within their birth family.
• The Local Authority was subsequently able to withdraw from involvement in the family.