Manchester Grandmother Receives Out of Court Settlement for Support
A 63 year old grandmother has received £4,400 from Manchester City Council in an out of court settlement in a battle to get support for her grandchildren.
In 2007 the grandmother took on the care of her two grandchildren, who were at the time aged 8 and 10, to avoid them having to go into foster care. She has continued to care for the children for the last 7 years.
The grandmother had applied for and been granted a residence order in respect of the children. She was challenging the council as they were not providing her with any financial support to help her to meet the children’s care needs.
The grandmother commented, “Things came to ahead in January 2007. The social worker was at the hospital with the children whilst they were being checked over for signs of physical abuse. The social worker contacted the children’s father. She attended the hospital. The social worker rang me and asked me to care for the children. It was made clear if I did not take the children they would go into foster care. The social worker took all three of my daughter’s children to my home.
There was a further meeting on the 20th January 2007. The social worker directed what would happen with the children – one would go and live with a relative, my granddaughter would stay with me and the other granddaughter would go back to live with her father. She only lived with her father for approximately four or five days before she was brought to me and left in my care. I contacted social services about this and was advised to keep her with me.
Social services directed what would happen with the children but I was not given any financial assistance and was just left to get on with it. Taking on three children was a massive commitment and I was left struggling financially. I only became aware that there was something that could be done to help with my situation after speaking with friends who had been in a similar situation. They urged me to seek specialist advice.”
The grandmother contacted Ridley & Hall. They corresponded with Manchester City Council which led to a lump sum offer being made by the council.
The grandmother commented, “It has been a year long battle. I didn’t know my rights and Social Services never told me about their duty to pay a residence allowance. I am delighted with the pay out. My grandchildren can now participate in activities and socialise like other children their age. I can now afford to send my granddaughter on her school trip.”
Ms Ling of Ridley & Hall said, “All the children were “looked after” as the social worker had accommodated them with my client which triggered section 20 of the Children Act 1989. The agreement my client made with social services that two of the children would be accommodated with our client was as an alternative to the children being taken into foster care with strangers. My client subsequently applied for a residence order. We firmly take the view that a residence order allowance should be paid in these circumstances.
I am very pleased with the outcome. Like many family and friends carers who suddenly find themselves in this position, this grandmother found herself in difficulty due to the lack of support from the council. It is important people get the right advice when they need it.”
One local authority has today reported that in their area the council’s social services department have taken 12% more children into care this year and are looking desperately for more foster carers. Their fostering department is already “overwhelmed and underfunded”. There are now 855 children in care up from 765 at the same time last year.
Local authorities are increasingly relying on family and friends carers to fill the gap by the shortage of foster carers. Fostering Network reports that nationally there is a shortage of over 7,500 foster carers.
Ms Ling commented, “In these circumstances, local authorities should value kinship carers and pay them appropriately.”
For more information contact Tracey Ling on 01484 538421.