A judge in a rural town concluded an in-care review of six children who were all subject of full care orders and said of a letter one of the children had written to her: “All people should receive a letter like that at least once.”
Six children from one family were all subject of full care orders. Evidence was heard from the social worker on behalf of the Child and Family Agency (CFA) and the guardian ad litem (GAL). The parents were not in court and were not legally represented.
The social worker gave evidence the children were all doing very well and had settled and had not changed placements since the care order was made. The children had had sibling access but with Covid it had been difficult. The foster parents had set up a WhatsApp group to facilitate contact between the siblings, this had evolved organically and all the children were happy with the access they had with each other. The social worker said the children were thriving.
The foster carer of the youngest child had applied for enhanced payment, as the youngest child had significant needs. This child was non-verbal, all appropriate assessments were being done. The foster mother had wanted the enhanced payment to help pay for specialised toys and a safety harness as the child was a flight risk. However, this application for enhanced payment had been refused. The judge asked if this decision could be appealed and the social worker replied that it was unclear.
The GAL gave evidence that the children were thriving and that he had been asked to hand a letter by one of the children to the judge. The GAL told the court: “[the child] only wanted the judge to see it and it was not to be shown to anyone else.” The GAL had not circulated the letter. The judge accepted the letter and read it and said: “My, this child wrote this. The spelling is exceptional. Everyone should get a letter like this at least once.” The GAL agreed with the judge and said this child thought foster care was great and that his foster mother was a great cook.
The GAL also stated that he was disappointed that the enhanced payment to the foster carer of the youngest child had not been awarded. The foster mother had itemised what the enhanced payment would be used for and why it was necessary. The judge said: “The CFA need to recognise the valuable work this foster mother is doing and if she does not feel valued or feels undervalued the placement could be at risk.” She asked the social worker to re-apply for payment and asked the solicitor for the CFA to write to the social worker that it was her recommendation it be considered so that this letter could be included with the application.
The judge said she was delighted the children were doing so well. She concluded the review and discharged the GAL for five of the children. She asked the GAL to remain in place for the eldest child as after-care planning would be starting for him and as he knew the children it would be appropriate he remain in place for this.