B e f o r e :
IN THE MATTER OF THE CHILDREN ACT 1989
AND IN THE MATTER OF AND (CHILDREN)
|IN THE MATTER OF:|
|RE KK & KH|
Crown Copyright ©
"Global holistic evaluation and a balancing exercise in which each option is evaluated to the degree of detail necessary to analyse and weight its own internal positives and negatives and each option is then compared side by side against the competing option or options."
In Re B-S (Children)  EWCA Civ 1146 the same points were made again and analysed by the Court of Appeal. The case reiterates the need for, "Proper analysis, argument, assessment and reasoning." It also requires consideration to be given to the provision of assistance and support, which would allow a child to be placed with its parents or, in this case, the grandparents. In Re LRP (A Child: Care Proceedings Placement Order)  EWHC 3974 Fam further directions were given as to how Re B-S should be approached and applied. Consideration must be given to:
"All of the realistically available competing options. The realistic as opposed to the fanciful options. It is worth reiterating that the focus should be upon the sensible and practical possibilities rather than every potential outcome, however far-fetched."
It emphasised again that adoption was a last resort and that all realistic competing options should be looked at and assessed. Furthermore and eloquently the court discussed the nature and benefits of adoption if no other realistic option was found to be available on the facts of a particular case.
"The advantages of a placement order are many and obvious. Prospective adopters are required to submit themselves to a rigorous and very thorough assessment process over many months. Those who satisfy the selection criteria are ordinarily of the highest calibre. They may be confident they expect to provide extremely good parenting to any child who is matched with him in all areas of his/her development. The overwhelming probability is that they will be able to provide her/him with the priceless gift of a happy, secure and stable childhood from which he/she will derive lifelong advantages."
"Both Mr and Mrs H demonstrated in their changed scores between Mr Simmonds' first and second observations that they were able to make changes. It is difficult for me to ascertain that the first observation was unusually bad or whether they were able to utilise advice and guidance to increase their scores so significantly in the second session. If the latter, this offers hope that they would be able to use the model to increase their child-centred interaction and develop a warmer tune relationship with the children. The model is behavioural but time and again we have observed that when parents or carers start to act on the instruction and guidance given and see the difference this makes to the child and the way the child responds to them they begin to feel differently themselves and differently towards the child. This can set in motion a positive cycle, which leads to an internalising of the skills sought so that they are not just doing them but believing and feeling differently so that their interactions with the children are also different but become part of them rather than something they do. The model uses high degrees of praise to encourage and therefore Mr and Mrs H may engage better than they have with some of the professionals as they would feel less criticised. Nevertheless, there can be no guarantee of change. Indeed Mr Simmonds considers it unlikely that Mr H will achieve the necessary change.
As stated earlier, from the reports seen both Mr and Mrs H are starting from a very low level and in the dysfunctional range of parenting it is extremely unlikely that change of the type I have discussed above could be effected in the six sessions that I have given a cost estimate for. We could undertake an assessment of Mr and Mrs H as outlined in my earlier email. We could start in early mid April subject to a suitable venue being identified and complete within eight to ten weeks to file a report in early June. This report would be able to demonstrate how Mr and Mrs H were working with the model, if they can remember and utilise skills and changes from one session to the next and whether they are able to build and increase their child centred responses and decrease their child directed behaviours. It would also be possible to begin to see whether they value these changes and therefore might start to internalise them. Conversely, it would also identify if they were unable to make use of the model or if the pace of change would be too slow to be realistic in regard to the children being placed in their care. At this stage it would therefore be possible to identify if further work is needed or not. Even if they engage well it is very likely that further ongoing work would be necessary beyond this to be used as an intervention for therapeutic change rather than a brief assessment tool.
If it was decided to place KK and KH with Mr and Mrs H it might be possible for this to happy alongside the more therapeutic way, so they need not be in foster care until it was fully completed. The timing of this will need to be very carefully considered. There would need to be a degree of professional confidence that Mr and Mrs H had made sufficient progress that there would be no slippage if the children lived with them as this would be extremely detrimental to both KK and KH. It might be several months or longer before such confidence could be expressed and it is not possible to be definitive about a timeframe at this juncture."
That is from the email from Iris Brighton.
(1) engage successfully in an intensive parenting course of indeterminate length,
(2) maintain and sustain that which they learn, and
(3) the developmental setbacks and attachment difficulties would need to be addressed in respect of both boys, as opined by Mr Simmonds in his report.
Meanwhile, the boys would remain in foster care until their grandparents are ready to commence parenting. Mrs H may have the potential to care for the children with the support of her husband and Mr Simmonds may well be correct when he said in evidence that the best chance for KK to be loved unconditionally is by his grandmother but in my judgment and having read the details of the parenting course envisaged it is all, in fact, too uncertain. I am not convinced at all that such an intensive parenting course would be successful, having seen and heard the grandmother give evidence and taking account of the body of evidence surrounding the history of the grandparents' parenting of their daughter, nor that the grandmother in particular would be able to maintain and sustain any change in her parenting style. I have had the very real benefit of hearing her in the witness box and I regret to say that there was manifestly a lack of insight into how she parented her own daughter and how she had to change if there was to be any chance of her parenting her grandchildren. Her recent enrolment with the Incredible Years programme may well assist her with some skills and I hope it does but it is too little too late for these boys. I have also had the benefit of three independent assessments, none of them positive and all critical of parenting style.
I am very conscious that removal from the birth family is an option of last resort. I am very conscious of my duty to look at all the options globally; that I have done. Contrary to criticism of the guardian and local authority by the grandparents, I find they have done too. I am not at all persuaded the children's welfare will be promoted by having them wait even longer than they have already to see whether their grandmother can change her parenting style sufficiently so they can be safely and effectively parented. There is, in my judgment, much evidence to suggest that such change will take a long time a coming, if at all. I have already dealt with my grave concerns as to the parenting of their own daughter and my finding that history in this case is a good indicator of future care. My task is to evaluate all the options, as it was said in Re BS, undertaking a global, holistic and multifaceted evaluation of the child's welfare which takes into account all the negatives and the positives, all the pros and cons of each option. I have performed a balancing exercise. I have compared the option of the children remaining within the family with the grandparents with the only other option, which is permanent placement outside the family by means of adoption. The timescales for change by the grandparents, especially the grandmother, I find are wholly outside the timescales of these two very young children (leaving aside how these grandparents might cope physically with these boys as they become older and more demanding). They require security and nurturing in a permanent placement as soon as possible. This will deal to some extent with their development setbacks, a matter that cannot be left. The information from Iris, Brighton only confirms my view that even if the grandparents engage by the middle of June, many months would elapse before a judgment call could be made in respect of their sustaining and maintaining improvements and whether these children could be moved safely into their care. The simple fact is that at present the grandparents are unable to provide warm, nurturing and suitable parenting for the ever-changing needs of the children during their minority to a good enough standard. That is, I find, the evidence in this case.