County Council treats Grandparent as Second Class Carer
A 44 year old Northampton grandmother is to file a complaint about the “Second Class” treatment she claims she received from the County Council. She has waited almost 7 months for Northamptonshire County Council to start regular fostering allowance payments after she had agreed to becoming the long term carer for her grandson.
1. The grandmother has cared for her grandson since the 6th July 2011.
2. The child was removed by the Police. Social Services were contacted and the Local Authority was not happy about the child returning to the mother’s care.
3. The grandmother spoke to the Social Worker. She was told that she would be assessed as a foster carer and that she would be paid as a kinship carer.
4. The mother and father were both subsequently arrested and held in custody due to offences in relation to both drugs and theft. They were clearly not in a position to care for the child themselves.
5. A Child Protection Conference was held on the 15th July 2011. This clearly stated “The child currently resides in his grandmother’s care and the Local Authority is seeking to formalise this through a Section 20 agreement”.
6. In the Child Protection Plan it states “the Local Authority will liaise with family members in regards to K’s living arrangements, with a view to the child remaining with his grandmother for the foreseeable future under Section 20 the Children Act”.
7. The grandmother was told to inform the Police and Local Authority if she was approached by the father
Nigel Priestley, Senior Partner at Ridley and Hall Solicitors said
“These steps were clearly a direct alternative to care proceedings. My client is caring for one of the estimated 200,000 children being cared for by grandparents and kinship carers. They are the unsung hidden heroes who take on responsibilities at the drop of a hat.
Where the local authority places the child, they have responsibilities to support that grandmother. Northamptonshire were determined to duck theirs. First they refused to pay. Then they gave in. We won the first battle but they have still not started the regular allowance – or paid the back pay due to the grandmother. The County Council couldn’t treat its own foster carers like this.”
The grandmother who cannot be identified for legal reasons said:
I have been a kinship carer since July 2011. I have been pushed from pillar to post by Social Services. They have been made false promises several times e.g. ‘you will be paid by the end of this week’, or ‘you will be paid tomorrow’.
It is impossible for me to live without money. This request to look after came out of the blue. I hadn’t budgeted for suddenly being a parent again.
I am appalled by the way that Northampton Council appears to treat people. They said that they had no responsibility to support my grandson. In my view the County Council, in effect, are almost conning people out of money to which they are entitled.
I had to turn to Nigel Priestley at Ridley and Hall. I knew they specialized in fighting for grandparent carer’s .If I had not been able to find the initial money for the legal fees, I would not be being paid by the County Council at all. I should never have been put in this position.
It is quite clear that I am entitled to this money. I am sure that if Ridley and Hall had not taken on the County Council, they wouldn’t have backed down
I was given an emergency payment on 23rd December out of the money they owe me to help me through Christmas. This money has gone and the bills are still rolling in. A promise to pay is simply not good enough. I need to see some money and so does my grandson! At this time, I have not even been told how much money I should be receiving. I can’t bring up a 2 year old on fresh air. The County Council’s promises don’t put food on the table”
“If I had not stepped in my grandson would have gone into foster care. The County Council wouldn’t have treated foster carers like this. They treat grandparent carers like second class citizens.”
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