The most important person at the centre of our work is the child, so it's important to look at everything from a child's view.
We want them to know we did our best, to get the best result for them and their families and sometimes that means taking tough decisions. We do this by working closely with their parents and other professionals and by understanding the history and motivtions of the parents.
Here we have a powerful and imagined story told from the perpective of one of the baby's who come to our houses.
A child's view of a residential family assessment
Background Information and Case Context
My mummy *Olivia became known to Social Services since the age of eight because my granny wasn’t able to look after her. Granny had a boyfriend who used to hit her, and when my mummy tried to get involved he broke her arm. My mummy then went to live with carers but she found it difficult to trust adults after being let down by so many people, and found these placements difficult. She missed my granny terribly, and wanted to stay with her. My granny moved away to another country, and it was then that mummy settled into her foster placement. She was able to tell these people that she was sexually abused by granny’s boyfriend and that granny was aware of what was going on, but didn’t do anything about it.
Mummy stayed with these carers until she was 14, and then she fell into a bad crowd who went around stealing and doing drugs. My mum got into a lot of trouble with the police and was then sent to a secure unit, because she was a risk to herself and had run away so many times from the foster placement. At 18 mummy was placed in a semi independent project. This is where she met her first boyfriend, Charles. They had a baby together, my big sister Rebecca*. Mummy and Charles argued a lot and Charles hit mummy. One day the police were called, the realised mummy and Charles had been drinking a lot and taking drugs and that meant Rebecca wasn't looked after properly. Rebecca went to live with an aunty.
Mummy later found out that Charles was not a nice person, as he had a relationship with mummy’s sister and they had a baby. When mummy found this out, she decided to leave Charles. Mummy tried to get Rebecca back, but it was too late as the Judge said that he did not have confidence that she had changed and was on the right path, as the social worker had reported to the Court that mummy was still using drugs, and Police had reported that she was sex working – I don’t know what this means, but I have heard it is not a safe way to make a living. Mummy became pregnant again. I don't know if I had a sister or brother as mummy was attacked by one of her ‘friends’ at her workplace, he beat her up so badly that he killed the baby. Mummy was very sad about this and she had to stay in hospital for a while as it made her very upset and she didn’t want to live. She had to stay in a hospital where doctors help you when your brain becomes muddled.
When she left the hospital, mummy met another man called *Brian. Mummy says that Brian is my dad. I’ve never met Brian. When mummy was pregnant with me he refused to have anything to do with her, and told her to “get rid of me”. Brian says that he’s not my dad and that anyone could be my dad. I don’t understand why he is saying this. Mummy told social workers that she met Brian when she was sex working. Mummy was allowed to have a pre birth assessment, i'm not sure what that is but she must have been good at it because the judge said mummy could have another chance in a residential assessment with me.
There were lots of staff in the residential Centre, and when we first arrived mummy cried and said that she was scared as she didn’t want to lose me but thought she would because of what happened with Rebecca. Staff spoke to mummy and made her feel welcome. They explained that this was a fresh start and that they were there to help her.I liked the staff, but they were not allowed to hold me because I was mummy’s responsibility and she had to show them that she could look after me. They showed her how to feed, and bathe me and change my nappy. Mummy also went to sessions. This is where staff gave her information about how to look after me, and play with me so that I could grow.
In the early stages, I felt hungry, scared and alone because mummy would forget to feed me. Sometimes, and I could hear her shouting at staff when they asked her to look after me. This made me very anxious especially when she was holding me whilst shouting as I used to think she was shouting at me, and that she was angry with me. This made me lose my appetite and I didn’t want to eat.
Staff understood that the reasons for mummy’s behaviour in the beginning, was because she was going through post-natal depression, and withdrawal symptoms. I don’t know what that is, but it made mummy very down, and she didn’t smile at me, and sometimes she didn’t pick me up when I called to her through crying. This made me sad and so I used to fall asleep in the day as there was no one to talk to. After the first 4-6 weeks, mummy settled down, and she worked very hard at the Centre. She listened to the staff and she looked after me very well. When I spoke to mummy she began to understand what I was saying and I began to feel like she loved me and I wanted to be around her more. When I was awake, mummy played with me, and I liked her playing with me so I tried my best to stay awake as long as I could so that I could spend as much time with her as I could so that we could play. I liked my mat and the colours. I also liked the duck noise the best!
Mummy passed her assessment with St Michaels and now we live in a hostel. Mummy wants a bigger place, but she has to wait as housing is in demand. Mummy and I have to go to groups in the world, where we meet other people. I also meet with the health visitor regularly. I try to grow but it is hard because I am small. But I am doing my best, and I have put on a lot of weight and soon I will be able to fit into clothes that are my size!
I still get to see the staff, and they like to see me and mummy when we visit. Mummy is doing so well now, she is working two hours a week to get experience, and she also goes to the Centre to run a project called Parent Forum for the staff. Mummy gives advice to other parents who are at the Centre. Mummy likes this, as she feels that she is able to do something positive now.
I am glad that the Judge gave mummy a chance to go to the St Michaels Fellowship, as without this, I would be living with another mummy and daddy, and my mummy would be alone and having to work in that awful place where she was unhappy.