It’s crazy to think that I got my son back just because I asked
Janette is a young woman with a mild learning disability who was referred to her local independent advocacy organisation by the Children & Families social work department. Although her fifteen month old son lived locally with her aunt under a kinship care arrangement, Janette went round early every morning to provide all his care sometimes for 12 hours a day doing everything for him, feeding him, bathing him, changing him, etc.
She didn’t listen to advice from her lawyer because she was content with the situation, thinking that saying anything would only make things worse. But then her contact was reduced, she was forced to babysit other kids in order to see her son, there were problems with other members of her family and quickly she had no-one on her side.
The advocate found out that her son was living away voluntarily, which meant that she had originally agreed it was best for him. She did not, and said that she had never agreed to this. The advocate went through this with her and when it was explained so that she could understand everything, she realised that her son wasn’t ‘looked after’, meaning that he wasn’t ordered to by a court or a Children’s Hearing. She realised that she was actually providing all his care until she was stopped from seeing him altogether by her aunt.
Her advocate supported her to speak to her new social worker who agreed that this situation wasn’t good for him and also agreed that the situation should be looked at again Janette didn’t know she could do that and had always worried that asking questions would make things worse for them both. She couldn’t believe it when the social worker said there was no reason why her son wasn’t living with her.
‘I got my little boy back. It’s crazy to think that I got my son back just because I asked, but it’s true. It’s hard to explain how different it is to have him home instead of in my aunt’s house but it’s different. It’s up to me now. No-one else can do it, it’s up to me and I need to ask for help if I need it but I will do if it means keeping him at home. I can just relax now not feeling like someone is watching over my shoulder but knowing that I’m the one responsible for him all the time, it’s just great. I’m looking forward to things more now. I want my son to be happy and healthy and I will work with everyone to make sure that happens. I know now that I should ask for things if I want them and that I shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help cos of my learning disability.’
‘Advocacy gave me the courage that I didn’t have by myself. I hope Derek is able to stay with me permanently. I know that I can go back to my lawyer anytime I need her and she was really nice. I would know where to go for help and that’s something I’ve learned. I can stand up for myself and I’m a tougher person now.
Social Work didn’t use to listen to me at all because I had a learning disability and couldn’t understand everything that was being said. Then they began to listen more because advocacy was there. Then the worker changed and the new worker was much better so she was fine about listening to me and advocacy. I think it was easier for Social Work to speak to advocacy than me at times. I don’t need advocacy now ‘cos someone else maybe has their wee boy being looked after but can do it themselves. I hope they get the same help I did.’