Q: Social Services have started court proceeding in respect of my grandchildren and they have been placed in foster care. I desperately want them to come and live with me but I have been negatively assessed by Social Services because they don’t think I am able to care for them. I don’t agree with the assessment and I think a lot of positive factors have been ignored. What can I do?
A: Grandparents often play a huge role in the upbringing of a child and they should not be dismissed easily as potential carers for children. When Social Services commence care proceedings they have a duty to look at the whether there are any extended family members who could care for a child and once a potential carer is identified Social Services will carry out an initial assessment.
Whilst your assessment is negative, that does not mean that you cannot challenge it. It may be that the assessment is unbalanced, has ignored important factors or that it has only considered you as a foster carer when there are in fact other different legal orders which could allow you to care for your grandchildren.
If you wish to challenge the assessment and apply to the Court for an order you will need the permission of the Court. When considering whether or not to give you permission to apply for such an Order, the Court will look at specific factors, including the connection between you and your grandchildren and whether your application may in any way be detrimental to the children. As a grandparent, you are not automatically entitled to legal aid but it is available in some instances. It would therefore be beneficial to contact an experienced family lawyer who can advise you.