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Family reunited

The Tait family were referred to the Edinburgh FGC team, due to concerns around drug/alcohol use, domestic abuse, and poor attendance at school. The family consisted of Mum (Carol), Ellie (7), Hannah (6), Robbie (4), Liam (6 months) and dad of Liam (James).

Initially Carol and James did not engage with FGC. However, the day before a Children’s Hearing (The Scottish system which uses hearings instead of family courts), where they feared their children may be taken into care, they invited me over. I was met by the entire wider family. Tensions were high however, due to the urgency, the family were able to come up with a very rushed plan for the Children’s Hearing.

The children were returned to their parents’ care, and the family began to engage with me in a more meaningful way. The concerns reduced, and an FGC, followed by a review, were held, alongside ongoing input from services. However, while some concerns seemed manageable, neighbour disputes arose and James’ mental health deteriorated, and fears about violence and domestic abuse came back. Eventually, Hannah, Ellie and Robbie were taken into foster care, and Liam placed with James’ mum and sister.

Carol took some time to find her feet after the children were removed. She moved in with her parents and split from James. 14 months later Carol and social work requested another FGC to plan for the children to return home. Things had changed significantly –a new social worker had been appointed and Carol had married her new partner, Harry.

Each child had their own struggle in their care placements, and Carol had to make very difficult decisions about her preferred next steps: should the children come home together or gradually, and if the latter, who needed to be home first and what sense would the children make of this?

At the family meeting, the family agreed that they would like the older girls to come home first. Harry had no parenting experience, and the first few weeks were difficult. Routines were established with considerable effort, and lots of tears all round. But social work said that they were committed to supporting the plan. With this support and a new trust in social work the family got through the teething problems.

Robbie meanwhile was struggling in care, so the family proposed that his strong relationship with his grandfather be promoted, and he began to spend weekends at granddad’s, instead of with respite foster carers. This remained in place as Robbie also moved home.

Finally, Liam came home. James’ mother and sister were deeply attached to Liam, and scared that when he returned to Carol’s care they would not see him, but they and Carol agreed that Liam would need them all to be united in order to go home successfully.

The family have now been successfully reunited for around a year, and social work have closed their involvement with Ellie, Liam and Hannah. Liam continues to spend every weekend with his paternal family. Carol and the children remain in frequent contact with their wider family, and have recently moved to a small town near Edinburgh to be closer to them.


A story from Scotland

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