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Thursday, 08 November 2018

Council under fire after boy was placed with foster carers without grandparents' knowledge

Written by Brian Farmer

Council social services bosses have come under fire from a family court judge after a little boy was placed with foster carers when grandparents who might have offered a home were unaware of his existence.

Judge Mary Lazarus has complained about a "wide-ranging composite set of failings" by staff at Kent County Council.

She also said lawyers involved, and a guardian appointed to represent the boy, had to bear a share of the blame.

The judge has concluded that the boy, whose mother has mental health difficulties, should stay with the couple who are fostering him.

She said the boy, now around 15 months old, has settled well in a loving home and is thriving.

But she said if the boy's mother's parents had known of his existence they would "at the very least" have been considered as carers.

She said they had been placed in an "unfair situation" which should never have arisen.

Detail of the case has been outlined in a written ruling published by Judge Lazarus.

She had analysed evidence at a private family court hearing in Bromley, south London, a few weeks ago.

The judge said the family involved could not be identified.

"This was indeed a situation that should never have arisen, on a number of fronts," said Judge Lazarus in her ruling.

"It represents a wide-ranging composite set of failings on the part of the local authority, its social work child protection and adult mental health teams, the legal representatives of all the parties, the children's guardian and the court."

The judge said the boy's maternal grandparents should have been told of his birth and assessed as care candidates before he was placed with foster carers.

She said "at the very least" their position would have been "included in any consideration" of the case.

But she concluded that the boy should stay at his foster home "notwithstanding the unfair situation" his grandparents had been placed in.

Judge Lazarus said the boy's welfare was her "paramount concern".

The judge said he had "bonded and settled very well" with his foster carers, who had provided a loving home where he had "thrived".

She said moving the boy to his grandparents' home would disrupt his life and "pose an unacceptable risk of traumatic and damaging distress".

Judge Lazarus said he would stay in contact with his mother, her parents and other maternal relatives

She said the boy's mother had "long-standing" mental health problems and said his father was "unknown".

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Gareth Fuller / PA Wire.