A great beginning to a conversation when it’s followed by “You’ve won a million dollars.”
A devastating beginning to a conversation when it’s followed by “The case has been to court already,we got the GOM 18 order on the first appearance and “Jade” is going to be moving on from your care.”
And the worst part of this story is that this little gem of information came about by accident. I doubt we would know even now had I not asked the question on a question asking rampage.
It all came about last week. We were getting ready to go interstate to visit MMs family. MM was at work. I had taken the day off to pack. “Jade” was booked into child care for a few hours so I could do the last minute grandbaby shopping and some packing without her help (read as come cuddle me some more). But unlike a regular work Thursday when “Jade” gets to day care at 8 am, we had a nice sleep in and were booked in to start at 9 am. As it turns out, a very lucky decision.
At 8.30 am the phone rang. It was a support worker at day care to collect “Jade” and take her to access, with her father. What? This hadn’t been organised with me. We wouldn’t have planned to leave on the same day as access with her father. Not after the last time when she was so upset for the rest of the day. So, the support worker called “Jade’s” social worker who called me and left a message (because I was on the other line with MM and more than just a little upset)that said they can’t stop her father from having access with his child, so I had to let “Jade” go. The support worker called me back and said the same thing. Then I started with the questions.
Who was going to supervise access? Support worker said she was…Wrong answer, only Social worker or “Jade’s” regular support worker are to supervise access with Father.
Have you supervised access with “Jade” before? Yes, twice…Wrong answer, “Jade” needs to be with someone she feels comfortable with for her second visit with her father.
When was the last time you supervised access? 3 weeks ago….hmmm..interesting, day care provider hasn’t met her before. I know she supervised 5 weeks ago, with the social worker, maybe her maths is out.
Where will access be held? At a playground in a shopping centre.
My response. I will let you know if “Jade” can go once I’ve spoken with my support worker. This isn’t ok to spring an access visit on us when it’s been known for some time we were going on holiday today.
The awesome support worker that I have was straight on to the phone on my behalf. She was as surprised as I was as she had not been given any notification the “Jade” was going to be having access with her father either.
“Jade’s” social worker got her senior practitioner to call me and try to explain things and calm me down and let “Jade” go. I explained I wasn’t against access with her father, just she couldn’t go today. I promised if they named a day and a time the following week I would personally bring her down, just not the day we’re going away. She said there seemed to have been a communication problem, I agreed, but told her it wasn’t my problem, the problem was their office had failed to communicate with me. At that point I asked what else they haven’t communicated. Such as, when is the case going back to court. The reply.
“Oh? Didn’t we tell you? The case has been to court. We got the GOM 18 order on the first appearance.”
I was gob smacked. Angry. Devastated. Heartbroken.
I asked why we weren’t told because we wanted to put in a submission to the court. They asked what sort of submission. I told them it was a submission as to why we would be the best placement for “Jade” long term. You could hear the senior prac back pedalling in her mind when I quoted some of the child protection act at them which states that any interested person who has at any time had the care of the child has a right to be heard despite the fact the applicant is not a party to the proceedings.
It turns out, “Jade” didn’t need to go to access that day after all.
MM told his boss about what had happened and he got sent home from work to be with me…thank you super boss!
I can tell you, we got packed quick smart and left, via my parents house…thank you mum for the massive amount of home made cookies for our road trip. Thank you Pa for the debrief and suggestions.
I think I spent the better part of 6 hours crying that day. I find it so hard to believe that “Jade” is going to be leaving us and we haven’t been given an opportunity to put forward an argument as to why she should stay.
MM and I hatched a plan on the first leg of our journey. Write the court submission anyway. Write a cover letter. Send them to the social worker, her senior practitioner, supervisor, manager of their office, the chief executive of the department and the minister.
We understand that it in all probability it is too late to change the course of events. “Jade” will leave us. But what we might be able change is how foster carers are treated in the future. We hope to change the attitude of social workers towards carers. We want the department to stop using their one size fits all policy of children should be placed with family first and siblings should be placed together.
We understand in an ideal world this policy fits, but in “Jade’s case, and I’m sure there are others, we could encourage and maintain healthy relationships with her family if given the opportunity and we really don’t think that it’s in her best interest to be placed with her brother. We also believe it would be bad for her attachment to break the strong bond she has with us to start over with a new family at this stage in her development.
We hope to make it so that all carers are given their right to have a say if they should choose, as most don’t know it’s an option.
We hope to make it so that the department stop trying to make all cases fit in one policy, but rather look at each case on it’s own merits and make decisions that way.
From our heartbreak, maybe we can make it better for others yet to come.