Case Studies

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For health professionals

Ivanhoe is 10 years of age. He is staying with his ‘auntie’, Ms Lawrence. He has recently been registered at the local GP practice and on his first visit to the GP it is discovered that he is from the Caribbean. His ‘auntie’ tells the GP that his mother died a few months ago and it was decided he should come to the UK to live with her.

The GP asks Ms Lawrence to confirm her relationship with Ivanhoe and discovers that she is a friend of the family and not a blood relative. He realises that this is a private fostering arrangement and asks Ms Lawrence whether the local authority is offering any help and advice with this arrangement. Ms Lawrence informs him that there is no need for their involvement as she is very happy to be helping out and Ivanhoe is no trouble. The GP tells her about her duty to inform the local authority because this is private fostering, gives her the contact details of the local children’s services office, and talks to her about how they might be able to help her and Ivanhoe. Ms Lawrence thanks him for the advice.

At a follow-up appointment the GP realises that Ms Lawrence has not been in touch with the local authority. He explains to her and Ivanhoe that he has a responsibility to inform them and asks their permission to do so. Ms Lawrence reluctantly agrees. Ivanhoe does not want social workers in his life because he has a friend at school who has a social worker. The GP explains that he will be contacting the local authority because he has a responsibility to ensure that Ivanhoe is safe and being well looked after while living away from home. He is concerned about all the upheaval Ivanhoe has experienced in recent months, and a worker from the local authority would visit him regularly and make links with his family on his behalf. Later that day, the GP telephones the children’s services duty team to notify them.

For Police

Daniel is 15 years of age. He is picked up one Friday night with a group of boys in the local park. There was a fight and a local resident called the Police. One boy with wounds to his head is taken to hospital. Daniel and the others are taken to the Police station and their parents are contacted.

Daniel reveals that he is living with Ms Green, a 30 year old woman who works in the restaurant where Daniel has a Saturday job. He has been living there for the past couple of months following an argument with his parents with whom he has had no contact since.

Ms Green informs the police officer that Daniel’s parents are not in agreement with this arrangement but will not have him home until he apologises and changes his ways. She had not anticipated having Daniel to stay for such a long time but doesn’t want to throw him out either as she worries about where he might end up. She is unaware that this is a private fostering arrangement but agrees to contact the local authority as Daniel is sleeping on a broken camp bed and she would like to give him something better, but can’t afford it. She is happy for the Police to notify the local authority also, as she now understands that they can help Daniel and his parents to ’mend bridges’ and start living together again.

For schools

Lucy is 5 years old. She has a hearing impairment. She is known as Lucy Smith and has a 7 year old ‘sister’ who also attends the local school. Ms Smith explained to her class teacher that Lucy’s mother is a friend of hers and has gone abroad for work. Ms Smith says she agreed to care for Lucy until her mother is able to return to the UK.

The teacher realised that this is a private fostering arrangement and asked Ms Smith whether the local authority was offering any help and advice with this arrangement. Ms Smith said that there was no need for their involvement as this was strictly between herself and Lucy’s mother. The teacher told her about her duty to inform the local authority because this is private fostering, gave her the contact details of the local children’s services office, and talked to her about how they might be able to assist. Ms Smith was taken aback and non-committal about getting in touch with the local authority.

When the teacher raised the subject with Ms Smith again, a week later, he realised that she had not been in touch with the local authority. He explained that she had a responsibility to inform them and asked her permission to do so.

Ms Smith told him that is was none of his business. He talked to her and Lucy about what he would need to do next and why it is that the local authority needed to know that Lucy was safe and well while being looked after away from home, and would offer support and advice to all parties.

He discussed the matter with the designated teacher for safeguarding who notified the local authority.