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Watchdog raps council over way grandmother foster carer was treated

PUBLISHED: 10:30 02 April 2019 | UPDATED: 10:30 02 April 2019

Norfolk County Council's headquarters at County Hall in Norwich. Pic: Neil Perry.

Norfolk County Council's headquarters at County Hall in Norwich. Pic: Neil Perry.

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A watchdog ordered council bosses to apologise to a grandmother who stepped in to provide foster care for her grandchildren - but who the authority then stopped paying to look after them.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman said Norfolk County Council’s actions had put the children in a “potentially vulnerable position” which was “not in their best interests”.

The children, known as G and H, had been removed from the care of their mother, referred to as Ms X, in 2016, when they were put on the child protection register.

Ms X agreed the children could live with their grandmother, Ms F, who was assessed as a foster carer. She was paid an allowance to look after the children and supported in moving from a one-bedroomed flat to a larger property.

But in 2017, the council said, as care thresholds had not been met and the children’s mother wanted them back, they would be removed from the grandmother’s care.

However, the children could not go straight back to the mother, so Ms F ended up looking after them until they could - but without payment as an official foster carer.

The ombudsman said: “Discharging G and H from care, at that time, also put them in a potentially vulnerable position and was not in their best interests.

“Ms F would inevitably struggle to manage to take care of them without fostering income and Ms X could not take care of them.

“Ultimately, Ms F was still being expected to look after G and H while this transition was being made but with no payment.”

The ombudsman told the council to apologise and to make foster care and rent payments to Ms F.

A spokeswoman for Norfolk County Council said: “We have apologised to Ms F and have carried out all of the ombudsman’s recommendations.

“We will always try to arrange kinship care for children where this is possible, so that children can continue to receive care within their family.

“Over the last two years our social work practice has improved significantly and we continue to support more kinship care arrangements, providing financial support and advice to extended family members caring for their relatives.

“In Ms F’s case, our practice fell short of the high standards we expect and we are sorry for the distress this caused.”

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