Cards on the Table

After the last blog post where I was waiting for a social worker to visit me on the Monday – they actually came on the Thursday!  No surprise really and that probably only happened because of my husbands skillful handling of phone calls and explainations.

Meanwhile, on the Monday, Biggey didn’t come home after school. School were so concerned about her they checked at4pm and asked me ring the police (again) and so we made yet another report of child missing. She rang home eventually from friends house and we collected her about 7pm.

On Tuesday whilst I was at work, school had rung hubby to say she had left school site and could he come.  It wasn’t even lunchtime. He had explain this to his boss too!  On his arrival at school, Biggey was back on school site but running rampage and managed to take a significant bite out of hubby when he tried to get her to car. As awful as this is, we were kind of pleased that school witnessed this.

Their final words were that they couldn’t cope with her in school and she should stay at home until after our (pre-planned) meeting on Thursday. Oh dear!!!!

Wednesday was difficult as both hubby and I were supposed to be working and in our type of work it’s not easy to just not go, to phone in sick or something else. Reluctant Grandparents stepped in from 25 miles away and juggled Biggey around caring for 90 year old Nanna.

Thursday arrived and so did two Social Workers. One from Safeguarding and one from Post Adoption. They were sorry that the Adopter Worker from last October was not available so sent someone else. Didn’t matter to me!  Turns out to be a bit of a result that we got this lady. She knew her stuff.  Saw us and Biggey could see the shame in Biggey straight away. I got Biggey to say a few words about how she was and what she thought of school. I then got Biggey to take puppy for walk. During that time I played them my videos of Biggey in meltdown. She totally got that we had a teen replaying early trauma. Yippee.   Poor Mr Safeguarding just sat and took notes!

We persuaded them to come along to the meeting at school that morning.

Later at school

12 of us squashed round the table (school were not expecting my entourage!). I’d even managed to get Camhs to come along too!  After introductions the new school Senco drafted outline of agenda.  I felt for her, she was new, was trying to make an impression. She would have done OK too, except recent events made this no ordinary review meeting.

I let her have about 5 minutes of her planned agenda the interrupted and explained that things had moved on significantly.

I played my videos, first of Littley saying how scared she was to live in our house at the moment. The second of Biggey in full meltdown. It lasted 50 seconds.  50 seconds until someone said can you turn it off.

I did turn it off. At the same time I pointed out that we are living with that noise, that violence, that aggression, that trauma, every single day. That particular episode lasted for over 3 hours the previous weekend and started again later in the day. I asked them to keep that sound in heir minds for duration of the meeting.

OK. So now I had their attention and I wasn’t about to let it go.

I reminded them that they had now said they couldn’t cope with Biggey. We were struggling to cope with Biggey. I wanted her at that school if they will still have her, yet we have to all acknowledge that she is struggling and currently plans are not working. I also pointed out that her Statement says it has concerns about whether she will manage Secondary school at all.

I was on a roll, I told them I was putting my cards in the table and it’s up to them to push back and tell me what can and cannot be done. (Deep breath)

She needs,

  • 2 days at school in higher support with specialist provision and more training of staff
  • 2 days in specialist therapeutic provision of (a local) farm school
  • 1 day at home with me to ensure time to re-connect / build attachment / work with Adoption support.

They nodded!  They bloody well nodded.

What? Really?  Surely it’s not that easy?

No, it’s not that easy!!

They did admit she is the most complex child they have ever had. (Wished they listened to me in first place then)

They also said its going to take time and need approval to get these things in place and that means protocol and red tape and Education Panels and places to be available. They did agree to make phone calls that day to speed things up.

In the meantime they will also request a provision for home tutoring (although home tutors do not tutor at home!!)  so that will need to be somewhere Biggey feels safe.  Libraries are often used apparently but may not be suitable for Biggey so I’m going to have to sort that out and pull some strings somewhere (slightly peeved that I have to sort that).

They have now asked that I go into school and talk to staff involved with Biggey – oh yes, that’s fine I said. (Slightly peeved that I offered last year and was told – by different people – that ‘it would not be appropriate’).

At my request, Adoption Support are going to begin an assessment in readiness for the Adoption Support fund rolling out in May.

I haven’t even mentioned the bits where I tweeted the Chief Exec of LA or emailed the Director of Children’s Services and Head of Special Needs.   I think they know who I am now. 

So the ball is rolling for change. A lot of this is what I asked for in October last year. Yet I asked different people with different evidence. Such a shame that it came to this.  So wrong that it all depends who you ask, when you ask, how you ask, how pushy you are and how bad it is.

That said, when schools go back on Monday after Easter holidays I have no idea where Biggey is supposed to go and I am probably left to sort that out myself too.

 

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Charm Offensive (mostly just offensive)

So today we had our Assessment of Needs. This was triggered off the back of my biggey running away two weeks ago. Mind you, I did ask for it too. I wanted to highlight just how things have changed and attempt to get someone to be involved and help us with the school issues and her self esteem and rages.

She arrived – late. Introduced herself and then said “what a big house you’ve got!” (It’s a regular semi!) I felt like I was in a scene from Little Red Riding Hood although did wonder if it was her or me who represented the wolf!

Tea and coffee sorted and I introduced her to my biggey who is currently refusing to go to school. Then we shut ourselves away. I gave her a brief summary of my girls history between what we were told and what we now know. There is a vast difference (which matches the Radio 4 discussion which took place at the weekend).

She looked surprised, shocked even, and wanted me to clarify or confirm her suspicions about who or what were involved with my girls’ early life. I refused to be drawn into speculation and simply told her I work with what the children tell me and I have no space or energy to speculate, guess or assume anything outside of the information which the girls or professionals have told me. It felt like she wanted a scandal or some gasping horror story. I wasn’t about to give it to her.

I moved her on to where we are now. She started secondary school in September and from the start it was difficult to get meetings even though they said they would and said they understood the importance. The meetings just did not happen. I outlined the issues:

Within first month she broke her ankle on a trip. Granted, they suspected a sprain but on arrival back at school her dad had to help her off the bus. Biggey says they did not help her when she was hurt.

Incidents of bullying in early weeks (schools words to biggey) and they did not inform me, they took very little, if any, preventative or protective action. We later found out the child was excluded so he must have been doing something significant but my girl felt she got no help and was not kept safe.

When her behaviour deteriorated she was given sanctions, detentions and inclusion rather than have conversations with us or look beyond the behaviour or even put in the support she was supposed to have in accordance with her statement of needs.

I reported several times that she was struggling and saying she does not feel safe. I asked for meetings. They said “a meeting is not necessary”. After 5 requests and involvement of parent partnership we finally got a meeting – a few days before Christmas.

During Christmas break they put a photo of her on the website. A clerical error apparently. They apologise for any upset in a matter of fact way and simply do not seem to grasp that this is a matter of this child’s safety!

On returning to school in New Year she lasted 4 days before coming home distressed and then running away. Police were called. She was found and so we get to this assessment. We have told school and the LA that we are going to look for another school for her.

We talked through what happens when she strops and is violent. What works, what doesn’t. I explained how much therapeutic parenting I have done and continue to do. How much trauma therapy we have had (and paid for ourselves). How difficult it is to encourage her to do anything much. Apparently I have a kind heart! I can’t remember exactly what I had said to gain that accolade but it was around dealing with the difficulties and violence.

She had a look round the house and exclaimed how tidy it was. I chose not to read into that, or to respond either way. She commented on girls posters of pop groups in bedrooms. Then told me it was all Take That and Boyzone when she was their age. I just mmmm’d, again choosing not to respond. Then she slammed me with the comment ” I bet it was The Beatles for you!” Cheeky little ……… (Bleep). I know I’m run down and a bit tired looking but she didn’t need to add 10 years or so to my age for goodness sake! I bit my lip and carried on.

She wanted a chat with biggey. I let them get on with it. She came back to tell me what they’d talked about. Biggey had mentioned all school stuff except for fact that she thinks birth parents will come looking for her. Miss SW took great delight in telling me in much detail how she had biggey draw a bag of worries and write these worries in it; then she took the piece of paper and the bag away and so now my girl has nothing to worry about! Ta Dah! Super! She’ll be just fine then. I tried to smile gently (I’m not certain I achieved that) and suggested that perhaps if it was as simple as that then we would have already done that over the last six years and perhaps so would the therapists who have worked with her. She waved the paper with the drawing on it and said that since they were all school worries, then when we find another school then everything will be fine.

I managed not to completely lose the plot at this point and tried to explain that there is more needed and more that could be done to help her and us as a family. Reminding her that whilst I put in all the effort to find, brief, train and work with school, manage her transition, calm, sooth, explain, rebuild the attachment, continue with the other family stuff, ensure littley has some time and work a bit too; bearing in mind how long I’ve been doing this for without asking for help or support, then there is a limit to my energies. So would they like to look at wider support now or wait until she has run away again?

I asked for access to mentoring, clubs, activities and whatever will get here out and about to partake in social and or sport activities. Anything that will help here to feel good about herself and have the potential to raise her self esteem. She will have a look. Perhaps we might want to think about Relate!?? She will have to go and talk to people. She will come back to me when they have looked at needs, clubs, availability, costs, funding and other stuff. It may take around three weeks. Lovely.

That was only part of my morning, just a small part of my day.

I have a kind heart.
I have a nice, big, tidy house.
I am doing a great job.
When I find a new school things will be fine.

Great. I’ll try and hold those thoughts in my mind.