So, we have a CAO, my children spend equal time with both myself and their Mother.
Every weekend I pick them up, my 10 year old Daughter comes back ill, bad tummy, headache, tired, etc, this weekend my Daughter and my 7 year old son, have both come back with colds.
Sounds stupid, but they come home, they have their 5 a day if not more, plenty of fluids, good sleep and within a couple of days my Daughter is back on top of the world.
I have been through Social Services, and Child Services, been through Court, on several occasions, not about this issue, but more concerning matters, and to be honest it feels as if no one really gives a damn. A tap on the wrist, don't do it again, or we will put some support in place for 6 weeks, which after the support is finished, it just goes back to normal.
I guess, I really don't know what to do about it. I'm feeling pretty worn out, as if whatever I do, isn't enough. The kids obviously want a relationship with their Mum, they want to go, and I understand it, but I do feel that they are not being looked after properly.
What is it that you are saying the mother is or isn't doing?
What support would you like from social services or the courts or child services? That they are not providing?
I feel that the kids are being neglected when they are with their Mum, not getting the proper amount of sleep, nutrition, attention etc. Talking to her literally does no good.
I have had safeguarding issues in the past, whilst they have been in the care of their Mum. My Daughter has come home, and said that she's worried about her brother being hurt, because he's been hit by Mums boyfriend etc. It just gets swept under the carpet by Social Services. It was alleged by my Daughter, and later backed up by my Son that he was placed in a footwell of a vehicle whilst travelling with the neighbour aa there wasn't enough space for all of them. This was denied by Mum, and when questioned by Social she called the children liars and was warned of the impact on their emotional wellbeing.
I think the examples are you are giving are quite different to each other. The safeguarding concerns you have valid grounds but unfortunately as is often the case there are slaps on wrist etc and a little bit of advice.
Re the lack of sleep, nutrition, attention etc these are all challenges that parents up and down the country face and courts do not get involved. In my opinion (and others may jump in to disagree) all you can do is try to talk, educate, support your daughter when with you and bring up with good habits that carry over to time when with mum.
I agree with above. If social services havent done anything up until now then by raising further concerns its likely to make things worse for you.
Have you talked to the school to find out how they are performing? The school should know if they are troubled, although with the recent lockdown, it might be more difficult. However, you could talk to them and explain your concerns. There might be some counselling they could offer. If they are being harmed then social searches should be made aware. The school might be better placed to get to the bottom of it.
Personally I would not return the children to the mother. I would also apply to the courts for an emergency hearing and keep the children until heard. She can’t do anything other than go to police who May visit you to check children are ok. She could apply to the courts, but the children would stay with you and means you get to have your say in court. I would definitely speak to the school and gather whatever evidence i could. You could also speak to their GP. The courts will involve CAFCASS and a section 7 safeguarding will be done. You will at least know you have done everything you can to protect your children from what you believe to be an unsafe situation for them. A relative of mines ex has just done exactly this.
You should only not return the children if there are clear safe guarding issues. Issues such as lack of sleep, nutrition, attention wouldnt fall into this. If you did go down the route of keeping them and the mother was successful at court, she could then stop access claiming that you have harmed the children by keeping them from seeing their mother, psychological trauma etc and you would then end up going through all sorts with cafcass and the courts etc.
I just would like to pick up the subject of your concerns regarding your children's health and nutrition. (I am not in the position to be able to comment on the other issues) This may or may not be helpful for you, but is there anyway that you could together with your children make a little booklet of their favourite meals and drinks that they could take to their mums ? This may encourage their mum to cook with them and this way it ensures their level of nutrition is being maintained.
Sometimes, when a child is unwell with things like a tummy ache, cold, etc, it can be a sign that they are anxious about something, which will cause physical anxiety symptoms as well as internal anxiety. Try and spend some 1-1 time with each of your children, perhaps using an activity to aid conversation, and ask them how things are at school, is there anything worrying them etc. Sometimes children will also talk when you least expect it, when helping with chores, or at bedtime - so be prepared if you've asked the questions, they may need time to process things before answering. Another idea is for you to have a notebook that you leave in a certain place for the children to write down anything they feel worried about or may have a question about.
It reads like you want the best for your children, keep up the good work and keep talking to your children and spending as much time with them as you can.
Obviously if you do have any safeguarding concerns, then these must be reported through the correct channels.
Wishing you all the best, Fegans PSV