A Supervision Order was granted for six months for a teenage girl who, according to the judge, “needed to develop autonomy”. The girl had spent time in care before being reunited with her mother, who opposed the order.
The social worker said that respite [from her mother’s care] was needed for the child and the family support worker had tried to obtain this from the grand-parents, but this was very difficult as they were quite hostile. “We are trying to get an independent assessment of how the child is doing from outside the family,” she said.
Asked about assessing the grand-parents, the social worker said that this was difficult as there were doubts about them being frank with social services.
“The psychological report says [the situation] ‘requires a constructive multi-disciplinary approach’. What have you done about that?” the mother’s lawyer asked.
Social worker: “We tried it and it didn’t work. That’s why we are looking for a Supervision Order. The mother always backtracks on what she agrees.”
Asked about the child’s view, the social worker said: “We tried to obtain her views. We were interrupted in a very negative way by the mother. We have a lot of work to do to repair our relationship with the child.”
Asked if a change in personnel would help, the social worker said the mother found it difficult to maintain relationships with professionals if they suggested anything different to her view. The social work department would be open to exploring different personnel for liaising with the child.
The mother’s solicitor said that the child had expressed concern about going on respite, and asked how the CFA was dealing with that. “Gradually introduce her to a friendly family,” the social worker replied. “We do not envisage plucking her out of her home and putting her into another family. We do have work to do with the child and getting her to trust us. She’s acutely aware of the mother’s attitude to services. We need to get them both on board.”
The mother told the court that there was no need for any concern about her daughter. “Reading the report is like reading about two different people.”
Asked if she agreed with a multi-disciplinary meeting in the future, she said: “Not really. It affects [the daughter]. She gets very angry. Every day she asks are the social workers coming. She’s on edge when they are coming.
“She was traumatised when she was taken into care before. She was in voluntary care until she was seven. There was a Supervision Order when she was five. Afterwards she had nightmares. That’s where the fear of social workers comes from, she’s afraid she will be taken again. It is not coming from me, it’s coming from her own experience.”
The judge said to the mother: “I understand there is tension with the social services. This is not a blame game, it’s a question of working out if there are problems and what is the best way of dealing with them. You have had difficulties. You have engaged [with services] at crisis points and then when you feel you are OK you regard it as an intrusion. Is that a fair assessment?”
Mother: “I suppose so.”
Judge: “Your difficulties will have affected your daughter. She might need some help in her own right. A Supervision Order is where the social services are seeking to be involved when she needs help.”
Mother: “Putting her in another family is a problem.”
Judge: “She did go into respite before. How about seeing this in terms of her expanding her social setting, making new friends, etc?”
Mother: “She has friends.”
Asked by the judge if she would be prepared to accept her daughter working with a family support worker, she said she would. She told the judge she would be prepared to tell her daughter she would have no problem with it. However, she said she was not consenting to the Supervision Order and wanted her own family considered for respite.
The judge said she was taking into account the history of the situation, and had met the child the previous December. “I think there is a role to be played by the CFA, but in a particular way. The child does need to develop autonomy. I am prepared to grant a Supervision Order for six months to start work with the child through the family support worker.”